Trading For Prospects Does Work …..

June 09, 2010 |

I’ll be the first guy to admit that Nick Markakis has no clue of my existence on this earth. But, if he did, what would his opinion of my OPINIONS be ???

While he seems like an aloof, free spirit, Nick also gives me the impression that he’s a straight-shooter and capable of an honest appraisal of his personal efforts.

Thus, I really do wonder how he sees himself and his overall contributions, as he settles into the thick of his fifth full season in the big leagues. Is he satisfied with his overall achievements? At 26, does he feel his game is still improving? Does he feel that he’s living up to the $66 million contract?

These are fair questions.

I’d bet his honest impression is that he expects more from himself. Indeed, this is one of those situations where the fans are less critical of the player’s contributions. But, as we know, Baltimore fans love themselves some Markakis !!!!

If he’s so indispensable, why hasn’t Nick been an All Star ….. on such a crappy team full of “stopgaps” and “never were’s” ??? Where are the Gold Gloves ??? How about the occasional vote for MVP ??? Better yet, has he led the American League in ANYTHING ??? Yep – games played, in 2009. Congratulations …..

Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Nick Markakis is a good, durable ballplayer. He is not the problem for this team.

However, I still stand by my argument that his value can be a marketable commodity for a team that must start taking chances and calculated risks.

And, no, I don’t buy into the EXCUSES regarding a lack of bats surrounding Nick Markakis. The whole “they’re pitching around him” argument is an overblown consideration.

If opposing pitchers were truly pitching around him, he would be piling up the walks, right? He undoubtedly has the best eye and most disciplined stick on the team. Yet, throughout his career he’s only walked 294 times in 2908 plate appearances (-37 SAC, HBP, etc.) …..

Yup, the math says that’s a blistering 10% of the time. But, to be fair, he’s walking in 14% of his plate appearances, in 2010.

What does this suggest? PITCHERS ARE NOT PITCHING AROUND NICK MARKAKIS. In fact, they’re pitching to him !!!! He’s seeing plenty of pitches to hit …..

He’s Nick Markakis ….. not Albert Pujols.

Got it?

Once again, he’s a damn good ballplayer. He’s a nice complimentary member of a lineup. But, he’s far from being untouchable. His value should be gauged during the upcoming off-season.

In last week’s blog, I was clear on my feelings – any deal for Nick Markakis must yield “Major League Ready” prospects, not kids getting their feet wet at the AA level.

A few remarks by readers suggested that acquiring PROSPECTS “equates to setting the ballclub back.” Really? Are they on the verge of contention?

the common thought among many fans is trading for prospects is a GREAT UNKNOWN. While I think that’s partly true, the risk is certainly minimized by ensuring the prospective players have utilized tools and succeeded at every level.

No, I’m not gonna drop the “Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee” trade, again. But, here’s a few more STARS FOR PROSPECTS deals that worked out …..

2005 – Josh Beckett & Mike Lowell for Hanley Ramirez & Anibal Sanchez

This is one of those deals that has certainly benefited both teams. Beckett and Lowell helped deliver a World Series Championship and have been part of making the Red Sox a consistent contender.

Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez has quietly become one of the game’s best players.
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And, Anibal Sanchez is one of the National League’s most impressive young pitchers.

Who got the better end of the deal? In the long term, and if they keep the players, it looks like the Marlins probably realized the greater return. But, the Red Sox have their World Championship trophy. Regardless, the Marlins clearly benefited from dealing Beckett and Lowell.
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1991 – Glenn Davis for Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch & Steve Finley

Still hurts, huh? Some folks actually wonder about the long term damage this deal had on the Orioles. Imagine Curt Schilling spending his career in an Orioles uniform. Sorry, the vision we’ll all remember is far for damning …..
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Glenn Davis is still a bad topic for discussion in this town.
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1992 – George Bell for Sammy Sosa & Ken Patterson

Regardless of all the drama surrounding Sammy Sosa’s steroids usage, he became a bonafide slugger with the Cubs. He put hineys in the seats and made the Cubbies a contender.
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On the flip side, the White Sox wanted a slugging outfielder and Bell seemed to fit the bill. Umm ….. bad move.
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1982 – Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa & Ryne Sandberg

When the trade occurred, DeJesus was one of the best shortstops in the game. Although, he was the prototypical “Pre-Ripken” player. But, the 22 year old kid with “Sandberg” across his back would end up being the steal of the deal. He switched to 2nd base and today, he’s got a plaque in Cooperstown …..
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Do you think Phillies fans stil regret losing Sandberg? Well, just ask “Mike in Chase”.
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2003 – AJ Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano & Boof Bonser

The Twins swallowed their pride and traded the 26 year old Pierzynski, following three full seasons of a compiled .301 batting average and 30+ doubles. Not bad for a young backstop, huh? Pierzynski did not disappoint and he’s had a very solid Major League career.

Nathan and Liriano, on the other hand, have become dominating pitchers. Joe Nathan saved ONE GAME before joining the Twins. And, Francisco Liriano, is now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and nearing the explosive arsenal witnessed during his rookie campaign, in 2006 ….
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How is the TRADING FOR PROSPECTS idea working out for the Twinkies ???
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2008 – Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Tony Butler & Kam Mickolio

The O’s parted ways with one of the American League’s best starting pitchers during Andy MacPhail’s first off-season. At 28, Bedard has lived up to his fragile makeup and “soft heart” while spending most of his Seattle tenure on the disbaled list.

Meanwhile, Adam Jones has emerged into a starting centerfielder for the Orioles. Yeah, say what you want about Jones, but he’s exhibited the characteristics of a formidable big leaguer. Sherrill was an All Star for the Orioles, and Tillman is still regarded as a prime prospect. Of the handful of players, I still think Jones will have a very nice career …..
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2007 – Mark Teixeira for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus & Matt Harrison

On the surface, you might think “the Braves HOSED the Rangers”. Well, if you’re just considering Saltalamacchia, who appears to be a BUST, I can see the point. However, the Rangers hauled in much more …..
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Neftali Feliz has emerged as the Rangers closer, converting 15 saves, with a 2.73 ERA and ultra impressive 0.94 WHIP, along with 28 strikeouts in 26 innings. Feliz throws extremely hard (has hit 100+) and benefits from a power breaking ball and nice changeup. Oh yeah, he’s 21 years old.
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The other prime contributor from the trade is Elvis Andrus. He seized the starting shortstop job as a rookie, in 2009. He’s currently hitting .311, with 18 stolen bases. Like Feliz, Andrus is only 21 years old, as well.

When this trade took place, Rangers owner, Tom Hicks, defended it by insisting he couldn’t afford to re-sign Teixeira. Well, just 3 years removed, the Rangers are bankrupt and being operated under the domain of Major League Baseball. I guess Hicks wasn’t lying, huh?

As for Teixeira, the Braves turned around and dealt him before the 2008 non-waiver deadline. And, the Angels let him walk after the 2008 season. While I don’t argue his legitimate presence in a lineup, the Rangers got a good return for him.

So, what do these trades have to do with Nick Markakis? Well, they represent PROOF that acquiring legitimate, blue chip prospects for proven Major League players does work more often than on an “occasional” basis.

Once again, I don’t want to do anything rash regarding Markakis, but he might just bring a nice package of young guys (and I don’t mean Josh Bell types) to play here for years to come. Then again, a proposed deal might fail – plenty of those trades exist, too.

But, the Orioles are a miserable 16-42 – NOTHING should be off the table.

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