Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

What I really want for Christmas this year is a plane ticket to the Winter Meetings in Dallas. That, and a miniaturization device so I can roam the premises and hear what the GMs are talking about. I know it’s a little more than I’ve asked for in previous years, but I also think that it would sate me more.

Peace,
Joe


Seriously, what would be more interesting to a baseball lunatic than hearing the names being thrown around in the Lone Star State? I also would like to find out if teams deal differently with the Yankees than other teams like most of us highly suspect, but can’t exactly prove.

But really, I just want the inside scoop on what Cashman is doing to solve the center field conundrum. Rumors have been abound recently about a rejected deal with Seattle, in which they would send us young center fielder Jeremy Reed in exchange for Carl Pavano. I can understand why Cashman rejected it, but if I was him, I wouldn’t end the exploration of such an exchange.

Reed would be an ideal fit right now, mainly because he is young and has shown tremendous potential. He would be one of two youngsters among a group of veterans, which is usually a good combination. He could bat in the two hole or late in the order, expanding the flexibility of the Yanks lineup.

Just because I love pointing out potent statistics, here are Reed’s minor league numbers (Iso-D is isolated discipline, OBP minus average, just like Iso-P is isolated power, Slugging percentage minus batting average):

YearLevelAvgOBPSlgIso-DIso-P
2002A - Kannapolis.319.377.448.018.129
2003A – Winston-Salem.333.431.477.098.144
2003AA – Birmingham.409.474.591.065.182
2004AAA – Charlotte.275.357.420.082.145
2004AAA – Tacoma.305.390.478.085.173


I have to say, those are quite impressive minor league numbers. The most important ones, in my opinion, are the isolated statistics. Hitting for average involves a certain degree of luck, hence the constant fluctuations of batting averages. But isolated statistics, most notably isolated discipline, try to curb that luck element a bit. For a bit of context, here are Reed’s numbers from his one full year in the majors.

AvgOBPSlgIso-DIso-P
.254.322.352.068.098


Remember, these numbers were accumulated at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, which could be part of the reason for the diminished isolated power number. And while a .068 discipline mark isn’t exactly enamoring, it is a mark that can be improved upon. Not everyone comes up as a rookie with the ability to take pitches.

So it would appear that trading Pavano, an expendable asset, for Reed would make sense. So why did Cashman reject it? Well, I’m sure he’s not going to jump on anything on the eve of the Winter Meetings, a forum for him to find the best possible price for Pavano, if in fact he is on the market. And while Reed may end up being the optimal deal here, Cashman should be able to squeeze a prospect out of Seattle.

Remember, Reed went down with a wrist injury at the end of ’05. Any time there is an injured player involved in trade talks, the team receiving said player has a bit of leverage. I’ll refer to the Javy Vazquez deal, in which the Arizona brass wavered at the last minute over Javy’s injured shoulder, forcing the Yanks to throw Brad Halsey in on the deal. Quite a considerable throw-in, considering Halsey had some major league innings under his belt. I wouldn’t expect a throw-in of the same caliber from Seattle, but maybe something along the lines of an undervalued relief pitcher.

The biggest problem in acquiring Reed, however, is the reality that J-Wright will be in the starting rotation. I have been on the record saying that I wouldn’t mind him as a fifth starter, but the closer that becomes to a reality, the more nervous I get. Plus, it lessens the depth the Yankees have with starting pitching, which is as invaluable an asset as any. With the top of the rotation consisting of older, more injury prone guys, having sixth and seventh options could be integral to success in 2006.

Throwing another wrench into the problem, should Cashman shop around and find that Pavano for Reed is the best deal out there, he may have considerably less leverage by the end of the week. That would probably mean no throw-in player. Even so, the deal seems to make more sense than the other options being thrown around.

I’ll be following this issue blog-style (linking to media sources and commenting), as well as most of the Winter Meetings. Should be a good week…