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Trader Byrnes (alternate title: Josh Byrnes as Ray playing MVP Baseball 2005)

January 10th, 2012 by

Josh Byrnes is one bold dealer at the helm of the San Diego Padres. A cynic might make a reference gunslinging, but I’m not the type to say that.

Here’s my take on the Mat Latos / Anthony Rizzo trades.

“…we felt that Alonso might fare a little better at Petco Park. The acquisition of Alonso provided us the flexibility to make this trade and acquire a quality, young power arm in Cashner.”

The Anthony Rizzo trade intersects the Mat Latos trade in many ways, and they deserve to be viewed together. When Yonder Alonso was first acquired in that deal with the Cincinnati Reds, analysts were split on whether he, or incumbent Anthony Rizzo was the better long term investment at first base. Keith Law, for instance, prefers Rizzo’s upside, while prospect expert John Sickels questions Rizzo’s performance risk.

What is clear is that Josh Byrnes favors Alonso to Rizzo. So lets include that in a new breakdown of the two trades. When looked at on the whole, here are the benefits our Padres get in exchange for trading Mat Latos:

Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger,  Andrew Cashner, Edinson Volquez, and the difference between Anthony Rizzo and Yonder Alonso.

Allow me to summarize:

  • A catcher with an above average bat and an average glove — a rare player and excellent prospect no doubt, but not elite level
  • Two solid relievers with good upside but question marks
  • A once promising pitcher who may turn things around, but may have attitude issues
  • However you judge the difference between Anthony Rizzo and Yonder Alonso

That’s the price Josh Byrnes and the Padres paid for Mat Latos, an elite pitching talent who is a likely rotation anchor for years to come.

Looking at the two trades combined is like a black light in a living room. Mind expanding.

The key to the trade becomes the difference in value between the two first basemen, and consequently, our faith in the Padres front office in making that evaluation. If the value of Alonso over Rizzo isn’t much, it sure puts a damper those deals.

The difference

I’m relatively agnostic on the question of who is the preferred first baseman. Remember, the value doesn’t come from the player himself, but the difference between the two. I’m skeptical of the Padres clear choice of Alonso, no doubt, as public opinions from people I respect seemed pretty mixed on the issue of who is the better player. But none of those people work as the general manager of a baseball team, or have access to the resources available to those who do.

Rizzo

What grinds my gears is the “Rizzo has slow bat speed” amateur scouting crowd. Those opinions were of course shared only after Rizzo’s slow start. And it’s a common explanation to bad performance from the scouting peanut gallery. Poor results at the plate? Must be the bat speed. I’ll believe the bat speed analysis when you point it out it before a hitter’s average tanks.

So who is Anthony Rizzo? He probably has more upside than Alonso, but with less of a guarantee.

Cashner

As for Andrew Cashner, he could become a very good reliever, potentially a top closer. And for reasons I don’t understand, the baseball world still values such players highly, as evidenced by Jonathan Papelbon’s 4 year / $50 million deal with the Phillies. Still, teams, especially rebuilding teams, shouldn’t be trading top prospects or elite starters for relievers. I just don’t get it.

And yes, he throws 100mph. We know. That little factoid has become part of his name in every writeup, like Chris Young’s name became Chris Young (he’s 6’10”!). Besides, Fernando Rodney’s fastball averages the same speed as Cashner’s, and it would take more than a couple $5 beers to forget our sorrows if Rodney is what Cashner becomes. A little more in the way of analysis would be great, thanks.

Conclusion

The Latos trade made sense, but it still hurt (I think I’m missing an analogy to Padres fandom here). Lets hope Josh Byrnes’s analysis includes something his homeboy Jed Hoyer missed out on, because that difference will be the key to these trades.

Posted in hot stove, players | 1 Comment »

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