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Trade Analysis - Urbina / Polanco

Philadelphia Phillies trade 2B/3B Placido Polanco to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for P Ugueth Urbina and IF Ramon Martinez

So Wade finally pulled the trigger, seeing the writing on the wall, as they say.

And he got a fairly competant package back.

The Tigers got Polanco and addressed a pressing need at second base. Omar Infante had been disastrous so far this year, posting a line of .215/.259/.349, and Polanco's been better than that.

Polanco is a consistent, "nice" player. He's not particularly great, but he's OK. This year, he's doing a bit better in the batting average department but the XBHs are down.

  1. .289/.352/.447
  2. .298/.345/.441
  3. .316/.376/.416
The main negative about Polanco is the Secondary Average.
  1. .268
  2. .203
  3. .177
Polanco will represent an upgrade at second base for the Tigers, though. There's nothing there that  suggests any real changes from his norm, other than the dropping SecA. Because he's moving to a pitcher's park, I'd expect to see the power stay down with small drops in OBP and AVG, so a .295/.355/.405 line wouldn't surprise me. That's not spectacular, but it's serviceable. Polanco is also versatile, so he can slide into a few different spots for the Tigers.

Ramon Martinez isn't particularly good. Think of him as the "Diet Polanco," where the taste is unpleasant and worse than the original, but it looks a lot like the original and is a passable substitute. He will essentially be replacing Polanco as the team's swingman. Martinez had been with the Cubs for the last two years, doing rather poorly. 2005 has been a bit better.

  1. .283/.333/.375
  2. .246/.313/.346
  3. .268/.300/.286
And the Secondary Averages aren't pretty:
  1. .171
  2. .204
  3. .071
The key to the deal was Urbina, of course, the frequently dealt closer and setup man. The Phillies did need another arm in the 'pen, what with Worrell's struggles, and Urbina fits the bill. Provided that Madson continues to get work in high leverage innings, Urbina will be a valuable asset for the bullpen. He is what he is at this point in his career - a very good-but-not-great late inning guy. His K-rates have been consistently over 9 throughout his career, and this year is no different.
  1. 9.12
  2. 9.33
  3. 10.21
While it seems like Urbina has been around forever, he hasn't. He's only 31 years old and still definitely has some juice left in his arm. He could close on a few teams, still.

There are three things that concern me about Uggy's stats:

  1. In his last 81.1 IP, he has walked 5.1 batters per 9 innings. That's a bit too high to be considered a top flight reliever.
  2. Lefties are killing him this year, to the tune of a .289/.407/.511 line. That could be a question of limited at bats, but it's still a concern.
  3. Urbina is a dramatic fly-ball pitcher. On his career, his G/F is .73, and it's been consistently lower than .51 since 2002. Flyball pitcher + CBP = ?
I was much higher on this deal from the Phillies' side before I looked at those three things. I still think that they got the slightly better end of this deal, but it's not by much.

I wonder to myself whether or not Ed Wade actually considered the G/F aspect of this deal. My more general question is do GMs make deals like this by carefully examining everything, or just by saying, "well, Urbina's a top reliever. He's got a good reputation and helped the Marlins win a championship in '03." Did Wade just do the deal for the hell of it, or did he weigh the potential problems for a flyball pitcher at CBP? I'm curious.

In either case, I'll give the slight nod to the Phillies on this deal for a couple of reasons:

  • Urbina was one of the best relievers on the market for the stretch run this year, and the Phillies nabbed him for relatively cheap. To put it in perspective, in 2003, the Marlins gave up Adrian Gonzalez, Will Smith, and Ryan Snare. Gonzalez will be starting somewhere by next year, I assume, Will Smith is hitting .293/.376/.533 in AAA-Oklahoma (PCL warning on stats), and Ryan Snare is... well he's 26 in the PCL and holding his own. That package is better than just Polanco.
  • The Phillies, at this point, had little need for Placido Polanco. Having Polanco as a swingman was probably not going to be the difference between the Phillies being a playoff team and the Phillies not being a playoff team.