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Transactions Fever

The Hot Stove League has been boiling over recently and BTB has been on the case. Here are my notes on a few of these recent transactions.

Mike did a great job covering the Brandon McCarthy/John Danks swap. He does a good job breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each player in the deal. I do come to a different conclusion on who I like better. I prefer Danks, landing me solidly in the "scouts" camp. I see the upside on Danks as being much higher given his youth and the strength of his potentially devastating Curve/Change combination. Neither pitcher has eye-popping velocity but instead uses his fastball to set up the curveball. They each have numerous quality pitches that he can throw for strikes but mediocre command and flyball tendencies make the long ball a reoccurring problem. So we have to pitchers with low 90's heat, nice off-speed stuff, a problem with giving up 400 foot homers from time to time, good K/BB rates, and a history of commendable performances. Sounds like similar pitchers. The advantage going to McCarthy is that he has Major League success in his history while Danks has "only" reached the Pacific Coast League. He also has height going in his favor, as he's 6'7" compared to Danks's relatively modest 6'2" dimensions. In Danks, you have the advantage of age-he turned 21 this June while McCarthy is 2 years his senior. And you also have handedness, as Danks is a southpaw.

I've profiled Danks before on TYBITF. I compared him at the time to Barry Zito. That comparison still is valid, though I back away from it a bit as Danks has added the premium change. His statistical profile still makes him look a lot like Zito to me, but once he gets to the show, his walk rate might be a bit lower than Zito's and I don't know if he'll strike out as many batters as what Zito did earlier in his career, specifically in 2001.

To me, much of this trade comes down to the White Sox cashing in on their range of options for the rotation this year and getting a pitcher I think profiles as a better one than the guy they gave up as well as an interesting reliever prospect for their trouble. I like McCarthy, but I like Danks more. McCarthy can help out now, and that's important for the Rangers, but he only seems like a mid-rotation workhorse to me rather than a number 1 or 2. At worst I see Danks as a lefty version of McCarthy. At best, I see him as a real difference maker, a good number 2. Actually, I should never say at worst because with all pitchers, the at worst is that their shoulder goes boom and they become a human piñata.

My view on this trade is in stark contrast to my opinion on the Freddy Garcia deal. I don't really have much faith in Gavin Floyd after two straight seasons where he's been awful in the NL and merely ordinary (or worse) in AAA. I'm much more optimistic about Gio Gonzalez, but I'm not as high on him as I am on Danks. The fact that his walk rate shot up this season bothers me a lot. He has great stuff and he's young, but there's something there that scares me. Garcia is the kind of durable, reliable, competent veteran that is being overvalued in this market. The fact that you don't have a long term commitment to him is a bonus in my eyes. I think they could have received a better return for him than what they got or at least they should have received more.

On the subject of Barry Zito himself, it goes without saying that his new $126M contract is pure madness based on little more than the myth that Zito is an elite talent. Zito is a good starter, not a great one. I don't know about anybody else, but I would have rather taken my chances with Daisuke Matsuzaka, both the $51M posting fee AND his 6 year, $52M salary. I'd also add that it's rather funny that Zito and Vernon Wells got very the same number of years and dollars.