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2002 Trade Retrospective

Since Jeremy Bonderman and Carlos Pena decided to beat up on my beloved Red Sox Monday night, I have decided to write an article detailing the careers of the players involved in those famous trades from 2002:

July 5, 2002: Traded by the Oakland Athletics with a player to be named later and Franklyn German to the Detroit Tigers for Jeff Weaver and cash. The Oakland Athletics sent Jeremy Bonderman (minors) (August 22, 2002) to the Detroit Tigers to complete the trade.

July 5, 2002: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the New York Yankees for Ted Lilly, Jason Arnold (minors), and John-Ford Griffin (minors).

That is the transaction data from Baseball-Reference by the way, which says it is copyrighted by Retrosheet, so I just wanted to make note of that.

So where do these four players stand now? Well, Ted Lilly is a Toronto Blue Jay and Jeff Weaver is a Los Angeles Dodger. Carlos Pena and Jeremy Bonderman remain on the Detroit Tigers, and the Athletics got Bobby Kielty for Ted Lilly when they later traded him in 2004. Here are their numbers with each team after the trades:

Ted Lilly 2003 OAK: 10 Win Shares (season), 98 ERA+, 4.6 WARP
Ted Lilly 2004 TOR: 16 Win Shares, 120 ERA+, 6.5 WARP

Carlos Pena 2002 DET: 11 Win Shares (season), .253/.321/.462, 112 OPS+, 1.2 WARP
Carlos Pena 2003 DET: 9 Win Shares, .242/.316/.448, 107 OPS+, 1.7 WARP
Carlos Pena 2004 DET: 12 Win Shares, .231/.338/.472, 112 OPS+, 3.1 WARP

Jeremy Bonderman 2003 DET: 2 Win Shares, 77 ERA+, 2.1 WARP
Jeremy Bonderman 2004 DET: 9 Win Shares, 92 ERA+, 4.7 WARP

Jeff Weaver 2002 NY: 14 Win Shares (season), 108 ERA+, 2.4 WARP
Jeff Weaver 2003 NY: 2 Win Shares, 73 ERA+, 1.9 WARP
Jeff Weaver 2004 LA: 12 Win Shares, 103 ERA+, 5.4 WARP

Bobby Kielty 2004 OAK: 4 Win Shares, .214/.321/.370, 79 OPS+, 0.7 WARP

Franklyn German's stats can be found here, but you might be wasting your time. Let me just tell you that his ERA's might look good on a foreign baseball team playing on Mount Everest.

Detroit got the most out of this deal, although adding Ted Lilly to the A's helped them win the division in 2002 and 2003, even if he only threw 23.3 IP in 2002 for them. Carlos Pena originally looked to be the big prize in this deal for Detroit, but now he is more of a role player in that lineup than a serious threat. Bonderman is the best player in the entire trade, because his upside is just immense. Bonderman's most comparable pitchers, from his PECOTA card:

1990 John Smoltz
1992 Alex Fernandez
1999 Javier Vazquez.

If Bonderman can succeed in turning into a Smoltz or Vazquez, which at this point is entirely plausible, than the Tigers definitely made out like bandits in the deal. Not to mention the idea that Jeremy Bonderman and Zach Greinke could have faced off on Opening Day this year made me dream of Clemens vs. Maddux version 2.0. Tony Pena, why would Lima Time start Opening Day...why? I digress though.

It is odd in a way that the Dodgers benefit more from having Jeff Weaver than the Yankees do, since Kevin Brown has struggled greatly in his time there:

Kevin Brown 2004 NY: 9 Win Shares, 110 ERA+, 4.1 WARP, 83 K

Does not seem too bad, until you see this:

Kevin Brown 2003 LA: 20 Win Shares, 169 ERA+, 8.5 WARP, 185 K
Kevin Brown 2005 NY: 6.63 ERA, 28 H in 19.0 IP, 12 K

The falling strikeout rate is alarming, as well as the hits and ERA, and this is not new information, but Kevin Brown is most likely finished as an effective starter.

Also, Toronto will get more use out of Ted Lilly than Kielty, unless he begins to hit well very well in Oakland. He cannot possibly be worse than Charles Thomas so far (-4.9 VORP in 05').

Billy Beane takes a lot of criticism for trading Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers, but you have to look at it from his perspective as a General Manager of a small market team. A situation presented itself where he could get Ted Lilly to solidify his rotation. Think back for a second: Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Ted Lilly...wouldn't you want Ted Lilly to be the fourth starter on your team? Beane cannot afford to wait for a young pitcher like Bonderman to make it through the minors and take his lumps in the majors all the time when he has a division to win. We also forget that the Tigers had Bonderman up in 2003, when he was 20 years old, which no other team outside of Tampa Bay would have even tried, and especially not the A's, who would not start his service time clock any earlier than they have to. The Athletics cannot afford to wait around for a highschool age pitcher to get through the minors, and that is partially what Moneyball is all about. Beane gets what he wants, but he'll also give up what you want, as is the case with Bonderman.