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Greinke Goes Hollywood; Liriano to ChicagoPosted on July 30, 2012 at 05:50 AM.
The 2012 trade deadline has been almost as exciting as the actually play on the field. With rumors rampantly flying around and stars actually changing teams, there has never been a more exciting trading season in Baseball history. With under 48 hours left until the end of the non-waiver trade deadline, the sheer volume of big names has been astounding. One future Hall of Famer, Ichiro Suzuki, went to the sport’s premier franchise. Hanley Ramirez looks revitalized in Los Angeles. The Tigers added two good role players while shipping out their best pitching prospects. The Blue Jays shook things up, while the Pirates proved that they were all in.
Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Angels may have swung the balance of power in the AL West when they acquired Zack Greinke from the Brewers. It places pressure on the Rangers to bolster their team as the Angels now have the best rotation in the sport. The White Sox took a chance on the enigmatic Francisco Liriano, while the Astros continued their much needed and long awaited true rebuilding effort. And, there is still time. With so many teams still in contention for a playoff race, the trade market has never been this alive.
The Los Angeles Angels trade Jean Segura, Ariel Pena, and Johnny Hellweg to the Milwaukee Brewers for Zack Greinke.
The Angels are in a battle for the American League West title as they are just four games behind the Rangers. They are currently the second Wild Card holder as their division rival Oakland A’s have surged ahead for the top spot. The Angels are seventh in runs scored, sixth in on base percentage, and fifth in slugging percentage. While their rotation was third in the league with a 3.95 ERA, their FIP is 4.20, suggesting some improvement needed in their performance as their defense has helped a bit. Their 6.85 K/9 is a mediocre 8th in the league. While Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson have performed to expectations, Dan Haren was underperforming before hitting the disabled list and has a history of second half decline. Ervin Santan has been awful.
The Angels helped improve all of these deficiencies with their acquisition of Zack Greinke. Greinke’s first outing, a 7 inning, 7 hit, 8 strikeout performance, was exactly what the Angels were needing. They needed a third, possibly fourth if Haren can buck his second half trend, starter in order to be a true playoff threat. Greinke gives them an elite level starter who could, if he pitches at his best, be their best starter for the rest of the season. He is a former Cy Young Award winner in the American League and has already proven he can pitch well in the American League and in a pennant race. While he pitched poorly in his first playoff experience last season, not much should be read into his three appearances. And, the Angels have to get there first so adding someone of Greinke’s caliber is a huge addition. And, while it looks like Greinke was simply just “good” in the National League, he was hurt by the Brewers poor defense as his FIP was 2.72 compared to his 3.67 ERA during his season and a half as a Brewer. The Angels are getting one of the best pitchers in the game. They now are armed for the last 60 games with the best rotation in the sport.
The Brewers never had a chance to re-sign Greinke. He was going to be a free agent and he was going to leave. They knew that when they acquired him from the Royals before last season, but their gamble did result in a trip to the NLCS last year. It was a good gamble, but it was time to move on. They get in return 22 year old Jean Segura, a legitimate shortstop prospect. In six Minor League seasons, Segura is a career .310/.364/.438 hitter who is showing some developing power to go along with his elite level speed. He was promoted by the Angels and appeared in one game, finishing with 2 strikeouts in 3 at bats. Segura was assigned to double-A, but he should see some time in Milwaukee this season. He is, undoubtedly, the shortstop of the future and does have potential to be an above average shortstop. The Brewers traded away Alcides Escobar to obtain Greinke. They get back Segura after dealing Greinke. Long term and in terms of potential, they are better off with Segura.
Ariel Pena is a 22 year old right hander who looks as if he is finally figuring it out at the double-A level. Signed at 18 years old, Pena is having a breakout season, starting 19 games and compiling a 2.99 ERA, 7.5 H/9, 1.1 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, and 8.7 K/9. All represent career bests for the hard throwing right hander who features a plus fastball and a slider. Hellweg is a 6’9” right hander who is 23 years old at the double-A level. A converted reliever during his first year as a full-time starter, Hellweg is a hard thrower who has struggled with command. If the Brewers can help him find consistency, they get a pitcher with top stuff.
Neither of the two pitchers are locks to be successful at the Major League level, but both have plus stuff and are still young enough to develop. In all, the Brewers do well to get Segura and two intriguing pitching prospects in return for a pitcher who wasn’t coming back next season. Whether or not they are better with this group of prospects or the group they gave up for Greinke isn’t an issue. Greinke helped them get to the playoffs last season. It was all worth it. The Angels, meanwhile, now have one of the best rosters in the sport.
The Chicago White Sox trade Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez to the Minnesota Twins for Francisco Liriano.
The White Sox’s key to this trade is their pitching coach, Don Cooper. Cooper is a legendary pitching coach whose reputation is well known. He, like Dave Duncan, has a knack of extracting a pitcher’s best season while under his tutelage. The question will be if Cooper can keep Liriano rolling and consistent for the remainder of the season. Liriano looks like he has fixed whatever bothered him at the start of the season, but his reputation of being inconsistent makes him a question mark.
Liriano burst on the scene as a 22 year old in 2006 for 16 starts. He looked like Johan Santana’s replacement as the next elite ace of the Twins. But, he had Tommy John Surgery and missed all of 2007 and made just 14 starts in 2008. He struggled in 2009, but seemed to find himself in 2010 as he finished 11th in the Cy Young Award voting. But, Liriano has done nothing but frustrate the Twins over the past two seasons. His awful April (0-3, 11.02 ERA in 4 starts) resulted in a five game ban to the bullpen. But, Liriano came back to the rotation and rediscovered his strikeout pitch, averaging 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings over the past month. At his best, he is a very good number two pitcher. Considering the White Sox didn’t give up much in terms of high ceiling talent, they are taking a low risk, high reward chance on the 28 year old free agent to be.
The White Sox needed a starter for a couple of reasons. Jake Peavy has been tremendous, but he is an injury risk given his lack of work over the past three seasons. Gavin Floyd is always better in the second half, but he is a back end of the rotation starter. Phil Humber has been awful. Most importantly, Chris Sale does have an innings limit. That hasn’t had nearly the same attention that Stephen Strasburg’s restrictions are getting, but Sale is just as important to the White Sox. Sale’s last start saw some diminished velocity. The White Sox were after Greinke, but after failing to obtain the right hander, Ken Williams quickly moved on Liriano. Now, Sale will actually be removed from the rotation for a bit as both a precaution and as a way of keeping him in the rotation later in the season and for a possible playoff run. Liriano has pitched well of late and the hope is that the White Sox don’t skip a beat without Sale for a couple of turns and then have a deep rotation for the final month of the season.
The Twins’ side of the deal is difficult to dissect. The White Sox have one of the worst farm systems in the sport yet they didn’t part with a prospect who ranked in their top ten. Eduardo Escobar is a defense-first shortstop who posted a career .667 OPS during his six seasons in the Minor Leagues. While he is just 23 years old, his plate discipline hasn’t improved at all. Pedro Hernandez is a 23 year old southpaw who made his Major League debut this season with the White Sox when the Red Sox blasted him for 12 hits and 8 runs in 4 innings. In 6 Minor League seasons, he has posted a 3.42 ERA, 9.5 H/9, 1.6 BB/9, and 7.6 K/9. At best, he projects to be a fourth starter. Although Liriano has been inconsistent and is an impending free agent, they should’ve done better. If not, the draft pick compensation would’ve been more valuable.
The White Sox are one of the hottest teams in the American League and they have added a reliever in Brett Myers, addressed their third base situation with Kevin Youkilis, and now added a starting pitcher who has pitched, at times, like a number one. Francisco Liriano may not be a difference maker, but he was worth the chance considering what it took to get him.
The Houston Astros trade Chris Johnson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Marc Krauss and Bobby Borchering.
The Astros just keep tearing it down, which is definitely the wise thing to do. This time, they found a taker for Chris Johnson, their 27 year old third baseman. Johnson is the epitome of a replacement level player, meaning he is an average third baseman. During his three seasons, Johnson is a career .274/.314/.421 hitter. The Diamondbacks have lacked a third baseman and fill the void with a player who is under their control. But, there is no ceiling here. They gave up two interesting prospects to obtain their new third baseman. While they do have outfield depth and neither prospect is a sure thing, the Astros did extremely well in getting anything with upside for their third baseman.
The Astros get the 21 year old switch hitting Borchering who is a legitimate power prospect. His plate discipline could be a problem, but he’s hit 15 and 24 home runs in each of the last two seasons. He already has 20 home runs this season. He strikes out a ton and doesn’t walk enough, but that power legitimate. They also get the 24 year old left hand hitting Krauss who has a career .279/.374/.485 batting line during his 3-plus seasons in the Minor Leagues. This season, at double-A, he already has 29 doubles, 15 home runs, and 61 RBI. He’s also walked 73 times.
While neither project to be a star, both are young enough and have enough offensive tools that can be useful, especially with the Astros’ moving to the American League next season. And, they were obtained for an average, at best, third baseman.
BORN: April 17, 1975 (38)
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