Saturday, October 28, 2006

Part 10: “ I think I'll buy me a ‘baseball' team” Money, Pink Floyd (with some modification)

Also known as the off-season that made Ricciardi earn every penny of his pay. This is the final part of the project, this hasn't been as much of an evaluation as a walk-through for you to make your own judgement. I hope everyone has enjoyed it, soon there will be a posting discussing JP's free agent signings.

The 2005-2006 off-season saw Blue Jays management add on to payroll in attempt to be more competitive in the tough American League East. The trades made were completed in an attempt to upgrade at specific positions and create roster spots for incoming free agents Bengie Molina, BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett. It is much too early to fully judge these trades, however it's never too early to pass over these deals with a critical eye.

19th trade: to Oakland: Chad Gaudin, Received Dustin Majewski
Gaudin, acquired for Kevin Cash a year previously, had not impressed the Blue Jays brass enough to keep a spot on the 25 man roster. Needing roster spots, Ricciardi returned past favors to his former boss and traded Gaudin to Oakland for Dustin Majewski. Gaudin impressed coming out of the bullpen, establishing a VORP of 19.6 and Win Shares of 9 in 55 appearances. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for a pitcher that was rushed to the Majors much too early by Devil Ray management. Majewski, a former third round pick of the A's, split his time between A and AA last season, but wasn't able to hit in AA. He's a corner outfield prospect that should be watched but he may never be much more than a reserve outfielder.

20th trade: to Milwaukee: David Bush, Gabe Gross, Zach Jackson, Received Lyle Overbay and Ty Taubenheim
This trade was made to solidify the first base position for the Blue Jays for many years to come by acquiring the 29 year old Overbay. The Jays gave up three talented young players in this deal, and in the first season following this deal, they are outperforming the returns. David Bush had a good season in the National League, establishing a VORP of 30.1 and Gabe Gross proved to be a solid player with a VORP of 16, Win Shares of 11 and hitting 9 home runs in just over 200 at bats. Zach Jackson got a couple cup of coffees in the Majors but should develop into an effective left-handed pitcher. Overbay was the second best hitter, according to VORP, on the Blue Jays as his line of .312/.372/.508 gave him a value of 36.0. He proved to be a consistent hitter and a great defensive player at first base. Taubenheim started seven games and was just above replacement level for these seven games. It's difficult to judge this trade after only one season, however it does seem that although the players the Brewers received had a higher combined VORP than the players received by the Jays, the old adage of whoever received the best player may be in use here. Overbay as of yet has been the better player and who knows if the Jays could have even kept Gross on the 25 man roster instead of losing him on waivers. The only real question is whether the Jays would have been better with Bush after the injuries to Chacin and Burnett and Towers' blow up.

21st trade: to Arizona: Miguel Batista, Orlando Hudson, Received Troy Glaus and Sergio Santos
This may be one of the most pure baseball trades made by Ricciardi as it was a two for two deal where it can be argued that the Jays received the better player while giving up two established major leaguers. The fact that Hudson's VORP was better than Glaus' during 2006 is hopefully a deviation from the norm, however as previously discussed on this page, Hudson's defensive statistics actually decreased during his first season as a Diamondback, to the point where he was actually costing his team defensively. The impact of a Troy Glaus on a line-up can be simply measured by his statistics however, as the players around him will receive better pitches because of his presence. The season had by Vernon Wells could very much be partly attributed to the impact of having Glaus hit behind him in the line-up. Let's look at the stats for the three main players in this deal to further evaluate:

Name VORP WS Salary Age
Orlando Hudson 31.5 19 $2,300,000 28
Miguel Batista 24.6 9 $4,750,000 35
Troy Glaus 29.0 16 $9,000,000 29

So the two players were able to be better produces than Glaus when combined and at a lower cost. The impact of Glaus on the lineup can be only measured when looking at the career season that Vernon Wells had in front of him. Considering Glaus had 20 some more home runs than Hudson and 40 some more RBIs, his lineup impact is quite heavy. Unfortunately he also grounded out into 25 double plays which is an extraordinarly high number. Hudson usually has a big defensive impact but as discussed previously he actully cost his team runs according to certain statistics. All in all, I think it's just a good baseball deal on both sides although with the struggles of Russ Adams, Hudson was missed at 2b.

22nd trade: to Milwaukee : Corey Koskie, Received Brian Wolfe
Pure salary dump by Ricciardi and co. Koskie no longer had room on the team after the acquisitions of Glaus and Overbay and his contract would have been burdensome. Koskie established a low VORP of 9.8 while playing in only 76 games. The Jays covered $7 million of Koskie's remaining contract to get him out of town, allowing the Brewers to only pay him about $2.25 million per year. Wolfe, a former sixth round pick, spent most of his time in AA New Hampshire last year making 24 appearances with an ERA of 5.74. Not a great trade, it was mostly Ricciardi admitting he had made a mistake by signing Koskie to the contract he was signed to.

23rd trade: to Cleveland : Bubbie Buzachero, Received Brian Tallet
This trade was made to add some depth to the left-handed pitching in the Majors and it worked out well for the Blue Jays. Tallet had an incredibly good season with the Jays and should have a big place as a left-hander out of the pen. This trade will be better observed as the years go on and the two players progress.

What an incredibly busy off-season with trades alone! The Blue Jays traded 7 players who would spend significant time on a Major League roster in 2006 and received 4 players who would spend time on their Major League roster. Management decided for quality instead of quantity, focusing on improving their corner infield positions at the same time as adding some pop to the lineup. They dealt out of a position of depth with their pitching staff, 4 of the 7 players traded were starting pitchers. This trading of depth may have been something management regretted when Josh Towers imploded and both Burnett and Chacin spent significant time on the disabled list.

So there you have it, every trade ever made by J.P. Ricciardi up until the beginning of the 2006 season. The trades made during the 2006 season are not included because quite frankly it is WAY too early to judge any of them. I hope you enjoyed the read, the entire document will soon be posted(with nicer tables). I'm moving onto other parts and other projects. Stay tuned!

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