Tagged: Kevin Mulvey

Revisiting the Santana Trade

johan-santana-4.jpgWith the recent call-up of right-hander Kevin Mulvey, now seems
like a really good time to re-examine the Santana trade.  Here is a
look at what the Twins got:

Carlos Gomez:

2008:  .258/.296/.360/.657 OPS   2.3 WAR
2009:  .253/.291/.358/.649 OPS   0.1 WAR

Gomez’s
horrible numbers at the plate are sort of neutralized by his defense. 
With a career 23.5 UZR in center, he is one of the top defensive CFs in
the league.  If he could just learn to hit, he would be one of the better
all-around players in the league, much like Grady Sizemore.  One of
the things Go-Go really needed to work on was plate discipline, and he
has indeed improved in this respect.  Last season, he swung at 36.8 %
of pitches outside the strike zone, while this season he has only
chased 27.6%.  Thus, his BB/K ratio has subsequently improved from 0.18
to 0.36.  So far, he has little to show for his improved plate
discipline, but he hasn’t seen much playing time this season with the
crowded outfield situation, either.  It’s doubtful that Go-Go will ever
develop much power, but given his age and a continued improvement in
plate discipline, it’s not unreasonable to expect league-average production from him eventually.

Philip Humber:

2008: 

Twins:     4.36 ERA   1.371 WHIP   1.20 K/BB    4.6 K/9   3.9 BB/9   11.2 IP
Rochester:  4.56 ERA   1.423 WHIP   2.16 K/BB   7.0 K/9   3.2 BB/9  136.1 IP

2009: 

Twins:     12.45 ERA   3.231 WHIP   1.33 K/BB   8.3 K/9   6.2 BB/9    4.2 IP
Rochester:   5.86 ERA   1.575
WHIP   1.97 K/BB   7.2 K/9   3.7 BB/9    73.2IP

Humber
was once the Mets’ top pitching-prospect, until he was sidelined with
Tommy-John surgery in 2005.  He’s been a mediocre starter for the Red
Wings, and at this point (he’s 26) doesn’t project to be more than a
long-reliever in the major leagues.  Not only have walks been an issue
for Humber at the major-league level, he’s also had trouble keeping the
ball in the park (his HR/FB% is 18.2).  The fact that nobody claimed
him when the Twins put him on waivers earlier this season (and that
they were willing to risk losing him this way), probably says a lot
about his value.

Kevin Mulvey:

2008:  3.77 ERA   1.351 WHIP   2.52 K/BB   7.4 K/9   2.9 BB/9   148.0 IP
2009: 
3.93 ERA   1.427 WHIP   2.13 K/BB   7.1 K/9  3.3
BB/9   103.0 IP

Mulvey
has spent the past two seasons as a starter in Rochester, and though
he’s been pretty successful, he’s struggled to pitch effectively on a
consistent basis.  Still, his K/9 rate is good enough to suggest that
he might make it as a fifth starter or middle reliever in the major
leagues.  If anything, a good performance with the big club would
probably increase his trade value should the team dangle him in an
effort to upgrade the bullpen or middle infield.

Deolis Guerra:

2008 (Ft. Myers): 
5.47 ERA   1.608 WHIP   1.00 K/BB   4.9 K/9  4.9 BB/9   130.0 IP

2009:

Ft. Myers:   4.69
ERA   1.390 WHIP   2.28 K/BB   5.9 K/9   2.6 BB/9   86.1 IP
New Britain:   5.59
ERA  1.655 WHIP   2.67 K/BB   7.4 K/9   2.8 BB/9   9.2 IP

Guerra
is the youngest and most intriguing of the three pitching prospects the
Twins got in the deal. The fact that he’s spent four years in A-ball
isn’t particularly inspiring, but he’s still only 20 years old and is
quite young even for that level.  Guerra was recently promoted to AA,
despite his poor numbers, in the hopes that a change in scenery will do
him some good.  It’s unlikely that he will ever develop into an ace,
and it’s questionable whether he will ever even reach the major
leagues, but it’s also too soon to give up on him just yet.

And here’s what the Mets got:

Johan Santana:   2.53 ERA   3.83 xFIP   1.15 WHIP   3.27 K/BB   4.8 WAR

Note
that I am only including his 2008 numbers.  I did this because, let’s
face it, his leaving was a foregone conclusion.  There is no way the
Twins were going to re-sign Johan, they would undoubtedly have been
outbid for his services by one of the larger-market teams.  This is
also why it’s not really accurate to say the Mets fleeced the Twins in
this deal:  the Twins were going to lose Santana anyway, and the Mets
gave up a ton of prospects as well as a ton of money to acquire him. 
Obviously, the Mets have come out on top so far, but dealing a
superstar near free agency is always an iffy proposition and teams
rarely get an adequate haul in return.  It’s not like the Delmon Young
trade, in which the Twins gave up two very talented young players who
were under their control for the next several years and got three
barely replacement-level players in return (and the centerpiece of that
deal is considerably below replacement-level).  That is highway robbery.

Now,
one can certainly make the case that the Twins didn’t have to trade
Santana, even though losing him was inevitable.  It’s true that the
Twins might have been better off with the additional draft picks they
would have gotten from whatever team he eventually signed with.  The
team almost certainly would’ve made the playoffs with Johan anchoring
the rotation last year, though I doubt very much they actually would
have won the World Series (having an unusually-high BA with RISP only
gets you so far).  But from all accounts, Bill Smith was left with
little choice but to deal the superstar, since Santana wanted his
contract situation resolved before the start of the season.  He didn’t
want to have to endure the media circus and speculation that dogged
Torii Hunter during his final season with the team, which is perfectly
understandable.  He also made it clear that he had no intention of
being a rent-a-player (like C.C. Sabathia last year) and since he had a
full no-trade clause in his contract, waiting for a better deal to come along at the trade deadline would have been out of the question. 

Smith was in his first season as GM
after Terry Ryan abruptly resigned, and was stuck with the unenviable task of trading the staff ace.  As far as whether or not they
would have gotten a better package from the Yankees or the Red Sox,
it’s possible.  However, we don’t really know what offers were on the
table, and if either team were really serious about trading for him. 
It sounds to me like Boston and New York were willing to wait for
Santana to enter free agency, rather than lose their top prospects in
a trade.  If both teams were serious about dealing for Santana, though,
and players like Ellsbury, Lester, Hughes and Cabrera really were on
the table, then Smith likely made a huge mistake in not pulling the
trigger. 

Advertisements

Mulvey Up, Morales Down, a Trade in the Works?

mulvey.jpg

As reported in the Star Tribune,
Kevin Mulvey has been recalled from Rochester to pitch out of the
bullpen.  Mulvey came over as part of the Santana trade, and this will
be his first call-up with the Twins since coming over from the Mets.  The Twins were trying to get
by with only 11 pitchers, but a series of shortened starts at the Dome
(and the injury to Kevin Slowey, which sounds like it might be getting better)
have made that impossible.  Mulvey has posted a 3.93 ERA, 1.402 WHIP,
2.13 K/BB, 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in seventeen starts for the Red Wings
this season.  Meh, these numbers aren’t great, but apparently he’s
going to be used for mop-up duty and should handle that role
competently.  If anything, he will provide some much-needed depth in the bullpen.

Back-up catcher Jose Morales has been optioned
back to AAA to make room for the extra pitcher.  Morales was mostly
called up because Gardy likes to have an extra catcher on days Redmond
is starting and Mauer is the DH, so he wasn’t really getting much
playing time.  Obviously, Morales has been having a better season at
the plate than Redmond, but Red has incriminating pictures of Gardy more experience handling the
pitching staff and I doubt the Twins are willing to eat what little is left of his contract.  Besides, the lack of production from some of the
regulars
in the lineup is much more troublesome than that from a guy who only plays once a week.  The Twins also could probably have optioned
Brian Buscher instead, since he also rarely sees any playing time, but
he offers more versatility in the field than Morales and often fills in
at third when Joe Crede needs a break.

The Twins have been linked
to a number of different players in trade rumors, most notably Freddy
Sanchez, relief pitchers Matt Capps and John Grabow from the Pirates,
and have apparently contacted Toronto about the availability of some of
their relievers.  There doesn’t seem to be anything in the works
though, and I’m guessing that Bill Smith felt those organizations were
asking too much in return (or the Twins just don’t have the prospects
Pittsburgh and Toronto are looking for).  Obviously, all that can
change with one phone call, so we’ll just have to wait and see what
happens.  I don’t really like to get into what moves the organization
should make, who they should be targeting in a trade and all that
because, honestly, I’m not all that good at it.  I don’t pay enough
attention to the rest of the league to know who might be a big impact
player that could help the team down the stretch.  As critical as I can
be of Bill Smith and the front office sometimes, I really do like to
think that they act in the best interests of the team, and there is at
least some sound reasoning behind some of the moves they’ve made, even
if they didn’t exactly pan out.  And I’m really not a fan of
rent-a-player deals, like the ones for Sabathia and Teixeira
last year.  Such trades seldom ever help the team make a deep run in
the playoffs, and more often than not, the player ends up signing
elsewhere during the off-season, leaving the organization scrambling to
fill the same holes they had before.  Only now the farm system is a bit
thinner on top of it, which is not at all a good thing for an
organization that relies as heavily on its farm system as the Twins.

  • Justin Morneau was miffed about the canned Canadian anthem

morny_angry.jpg

Morneau was reportedly annoyed that the American national anthem got
the celebrity treatment at the All-Star Game, while fans were treated
to a pre-recorded version of “O, Canada”.  Here’s what he told Joe Christensen:

“I wasn’t very impressed with that to tell you the truth. You figure they could find somebody to come and sing the song.
They have a hockey team here, the Canadian teams play here.

“It’s something that didn’t really go over too well. I think if it
happened the other way around, if they were playing in Toronto and they
did that, it would have been a lot bigger deal. But nothing you can do
about it.”

Obviously,
he wasn’t too worked up about the whole thing, but Morny really does
have a point.  It would be different if MLB were like football, in
which all of the teams are American-based and there is no need to
represent more than one country, but it isn’t. It’s more like the NHL,
which has both American and Canadian-based teams.  Prior to the start
of every hockey game, someone always sings both national anthems
whether the game is being played in the U. S. or Canada.  Besides, Toronto sent two representatives to the All-Star Game, one of which
was the starting pitcher!  Obviously, there are fewer Canadian baseball
teams than hockey teams, and there are fewer Canadian-born baseball
players than hockey players, but the canned treatment of the Canadian
anthem was a bit disrespectful to our neighbors to the north.  It’s not
really that big of a deal, but if MLB is going to take the time to
honor its Canadian representatives, then at least they should do it right.

Spring Training Update

Some of the Mets fans who read this blog have been wondering what happened to all of the prospects sent over in the Santana trade.  Here’s a quick update:

  • Carlos Gomez:  Go-Go was the only player sent over in the trade who spent theThumbnail image for mlb_g_gomez_300.jpg entire season with the big club.  While he showed tremendous range in the outfield, and has great speed on the basepaths, his offense left something to be desired.  I have already covered Go-Go’s offensive struggles in greater detail here.  However, he spent the offseason developing a better eye at the plate and his work does seem to be paying off so far this spring.  Go-Go is hitting .256/.341/.615 with 3 home runs in 39 ABs, though he still strikes out nearly three times as often as he walks.  Gomez is currently competing with Denard Span (who has had his own struggles at the plate during camp) for the CF job.  Whether or not he wins the starting job in the outfield depends on his continued success at the plate.

    Actually, there is a really good article about Go-Go in today’s Star Tribune.

  • Philip Humber:  Humber didn’t make the team out of camp last year, and spent most ofThumbnail image for HumberRW08.jpg the season in Rochester.  He struggled during the first half of the season, but eventually settled down and finished with an ERA of 4.56 and a WHIP of 1.42 which was good enough to earn him a September call-up.  Unfortunately, his audition didn’t go particularly well, as he gave up six runs on eleven hits in 11.7 innings pitched.  He’s been having a very good spring so far, with his worst appearance coming against the Reds when he gave up four runs on four hits in a single inning.  Since then, his ERA has plummeted to 1.13 in eight innings and is considered a top candidate for the long-relief job vacated by Boof Bonser.

  • Kevin Mulvey:  Mulvey spent the entire season in Rochester last year, and posted aMulvey.jpg decent 3.77 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, though he didn’t earn a September call-up.  Although he was a having a pretty good spring, giving up three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings, there just isn’t any room for him in the rotation at this point.  Mulvey was just reassigned to minor league camp so he can get some more work in before reporting to Rochester. He might see some time in the big leagues if one of the starters goes down with an injury.

  • Deolis Guerra:  Guerra shows the most promise of all of the pitchers who came from theThumbnail image for guerra.jpg Mets’ organization.  He struggled a lot during the season with the Ft. Myers Miracle, posting a 5.47 ERA and an even 71 walks and strikeouts. Most of his problem stems from a drop in velocity, most likely from the Twins’ attempts to tinker with his mechanics. Guerra’s only 19, though, and still has tremendous upside.  If he can regain his lost velocity, he might eventually live up all of the hype.

Update:  here is video of Guerra and his delivery, which explains the drop in velocity:

  • In other news:

Matt Macri, Luke Hughes, and Luis Matos were all reassigned.  Hughes and Macri were optioned to AAA Rochester, and Matos was sent to minor league camp.  Macri is a decent utility infielder, and is mostly a victim of a lack of roster space as Brendan Harris, Brian Buscher, and Matt Tolbert are all competing for the final spot on the bench. Hughes is a very promising 3B prospect, and he hit very well during camp (and in the WBC for Team Australia), but he still needs to work on his defense.  He’ll probably see time at second and in the outfield while in Rochester this year to try to find the best fit.  Matos is a former Orioles prospect who has never really panned out. At 30, it’s pretty obvious that he never will.  Matos batted .125 during camp and will probably have to fight for playing time in Rochester.

  • Frankie Says Relax: 

Francisco Liriano says he’s working on his command and is almost ready for the regular season.  Liriano is coming off of his worst start of the spring, in which he gave up three runs on four hits in five innings, though he still struck out five and only walked two.  Frankie has been struggling with his command a bit during camp, as he’s walked eight batters in 21.1 innings.  However, he still has a 2.95 ERA and 1.03 WHIP even with his control issues.  This is his second full season after having Tommy-John surgery in 2006, and whatever lingering questions about Frankie and his place in the rotation will probably be answered.

By the way, Wild rookie Cal Clutterbuck now has the NHL record for hits in a single season, collecting his 317th against the Islanders last night.  Hits are a subjective stat, so it’s not like anyone collected his elbow pads to put in the Hall of Fame or anything.  And the kinder, gentler NHL doesn’t exactly approve of that kind of thing anyway.  Also, after igniting a firestorm of (not undeserved) criticism for fighting with his visor on, Clutterbuck simply threw his helmet off before tangling with Sean Avery during Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers: