Sunday, December 24, 2006

A White Elephant Gift or Not?

As I'm sure everyone has heard, the White Sox traded Brandon McCarthy and Rookie baller David Paisano to the Rangers for lefty John Danks and righties Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner.

Here's some background on the main players involved, before we take a look at the deal from the Sox side.

Over his career (151 innings), B-Mac has posted a 4.41 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Ever since his success down the stretch in 2005, he has been groomed to enter the Sox rotation. With the surplus of starters last year, though, he was relegated to the bullpen where he showed flashes of brilliance but seemed to struggle in such an ill-suited role. His career numbers only show part of the story. As a starter in 12 starts, he's 4-3 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, while often looking dominant. The two biggest knocks on B-Mac is his HR/9 rate and his apparent lack of potential. His HR/9 is 1.71 which is really high even when factoring in that he pitched at homer friendly, US Cellular Field. Because of that and other reasons, most people have Black Mac projected at best, as a third starter; I've heard a few comparisons to Eric Milton because of the homer rate. After seeing McCarthy, I'd say he could easily be a solid number 2 starter, but that's yet to be seen. McCarthy sports a sharp curve and a really good change. His fastball isn't overpowering in the low 90's, but with the threat of his change it's effective. He struggles when he leaves his fastball up and when he leans to heavily upon his change.

Danks on the other hand, still hasn't cracked the majors. If you take his stats at face value, it doesn't look like he's torn up the minors, but if you take a closer look, he's been pretty impressive. The most important thing to notice is that he's 21 years old, so he's consistently been among the youngest players in his league. Last year, he split time at AA and AAA and showed a knack for adjusting to his competition. He started out the year at AA Frisco and proceeded to post a 7.15 ERA for the month. After that he went 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his next eight starts before getting promoted to AAA Oklahoma. In his first 8 starts, he struggled posting a 5.90 ERA, but rebounded in his last 6 with a 2.32 ERA. If you take away his April and his first 8 starts in AAA, he looks really, really good. Danks has three plus pitches. His best pitch is his 1-7 curve. After getting drafted he also has added a good change, which he has developed extensively. He has been coached to not avoid throwing his curve too much, so that he doesn't hurt his arm. This tactic has expediated the development of his change. His fastball like McCarthy isn't particularly overpowering. He can get it up to 94 MPH. He added a 2-seamer last year, but I don't know much about its effectiveness.

Masset reminds me of Floyd in the sense that he has great stuff, but just hasn't made it big yet. He had Tommy John surgery his senior year, but recovered nicely from it. He has been up and down in the minors. In 8 starts at Frisco, he had a 2-2 record with a 2.06 ERA. At AAA, he made 7 starts and 17 appearances as a reliever. I can't find his splits anywhere, so I'm unsure as to wheter he struggled as a starter and was made a reliever or if it was the other way around or what. All I can definitively say is he had a 4.81 ERA and 1 complete game. He's been the closer for his Winter Ball team and been dominant, posting a 2.81 ERA with 15 saves.

As a Sox fan I'm torn over the trade. There are parts of me that like it and parts of me that hate it. I read one article and I'm happy about the trade, I read something else and I'm disgusted by it. I think I'm leaning toward liking this deal, but here's a negtive and a positive look at it.

Kenny = Jerry Krause = A fool for young talent

Kenny has sabataged the '07 squad in favor of trying to strengthen future teams. He has taken a team with the potential to win a World Series and effectively scuttled any hope. Last year the Sox had 6 good starters, now there are 4! The Sox strength was their surplus of pitching and now they have a deficit. We've all seen during this free agency period how nearly all teams are pitching hungry, which is how the likes of Gil Meche gets $55 mil. The only acceptable trade of McCarthy would be for an established pitching star. We need him or someone of comparable talent in the rotation. The whole reason the Sox were able to get rid of one of their starters was that they were able to plug McCarthy right into the rotation without seeing a drop off. Who's going to step in now? We're going to see the ridiculous 02-04 years all over again when the Sox couldn't buy a win out of the fifth spot in the rotation. Unless the Sox go to a 4-man rotation, they're going to be in a bunch of trouble.

What's the point in building so much for the future, when a championship is within reach this season. Kenny did well to strengthen the bullpen which was the big issue last season. Getting Toby Hall was a nice addition too, but the starting rotation, aside from jettisoning one pitcher, wasn't an issue. Scott Podsednik and to a slightly lesser extent Brian Anderson should have been priority number one after fixing the 'pen. Instead, the fifth starter is now the most glaring hole, a hole that didn't exist prior to this week.

Not only did Kenny sabotage the rotation, but he traded a sure thing for an unsure thing. By many account, Danks is a lefty version of McCarthy with simliar, albeit slightly better stuff. Danks has never pitched in the bigs; McCarthy has and has dominated at times as a starter. It's not as though Danks has torn up the minors, indicating that he'd make an easy transistion to the bigs.

Apparently, Kenny doesn't want to risk paying big bucks in free agency the next few years so he's mortgaged the team's immediate future.

Kenny = genius

My most account Danks is a yonger, lefty version of McCarthy with better stuff. Why wouldn't Kenny want to do this deal? Even straight up, the Sox would be getting a better pitcher. Danks has the potential to be a number 1 pitcher or a number 2 at best; Black Mac has been projected at best to be a 2, but more likely to be a number 3 or 4. There's a good chance he could even step up and fill the role of 5th starter. Last year, Baseball America thought he could very well get called up in '06 and pitch for the Rangers, but Texas wanted to bring him along slowly to protect his arm, so he remained in the minors. If the Sox want to bring him along slowly as well, they still have Haegar or Floyd to fill that 5th starter role.

Some people are pointing to the fact that Danks has struggled in the minors as a minus, but it's a positive when looked at carfully. He has merely taken time to adjust to the competition; once he's adjusted, he's been dominant. McCarthy wasn't all that dominant either. At AAA in '05 he had a 3.92 ERA, not bad but not lights out.

It's impressive that Kenny was able to commandeer Masset as well. He's another fireballer to put in the bullpen or another arm that could be worked on in the minors to become a starter. As long as Don Coop is around, the Sox are bound to have some of these arms pan out, and considering the amount of potential these two guys have as well as the others, the Sox are bound to have some stud pitchers.

The Sox also have the pieces to make an attractive offer for a good, young outfielder. Maybe they'll be able to pry loose Baldelli or Crawford from Tampa now.

There will be more coming on my views of Kenny's master plan. Keep your eyes peeled.

Edit: I keep reading about some issues of uncoachability with regards to McCarthy. Apparently it was brought up on the radio, and because of this Cooper "wasn't ready to assure him a spot in the rotation." This may have hastened this trade a bit.
Also, I realize it doesn't completely come out in the post, but I'm kinda on the fence about the trade, but I'm leaning toward liking it.


Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

So you're on the fence, huh Jeeves?

The way things look now, I'm inclined to give Haeger the main look for the 5th starter spot, cuz after his one horrid start he flourished in relief.

At best Haeger can be a solid innings eater; at worst we'll have to 1st round picks backing him up.

At least KW shored up the minors.

Now he needs to focus on fixing CF/ LF.

12/24/2006 1:17 PM  
Blogger Jeeves said...

I'm on the fence, but leaning toward the positive.

It just get queezy thinking about Danny Wright.

12/24/2006 1:35 PM  
Blogger Dre said...

I'm not liking the deal just because you give up a guy with 3rd starter ceiling, maybe even 2nd, for a guy who may have a #1 ceiling but hasn't shown it yet. Doesn't make sense. McCarthy can't be a free agent for five years. I don't know why you throw that away now. And he's from the organization, so you're messing with chemistry. I can see doing it for an established veteran arm, but not for prospects.

12/24/2006 6:00 PM  
Blogger Criminal Appeal said...

As I've mentioned elsewhere, the Sox are better positioned for long term success than ever before. Danks, Gonzalez, Haeger, Broadway, McCulloch and Floyd cushion the Sox against the insanity in the market. I'm happy to plug those guys in as they become ready rather than cough up millions for mediocrity like Meche or Lilly. Alternatively, the surplus gives the Sox a chance to put together a deal for an outfielder. You'd really think there'd be some kind of fit with the Devil Rays now.

12/26/2006 2:01 PM  
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