Sunday, June 15, 2008
Paul Sullivan, a comedian and a Red Sox fan who has made appearances on Cold Pizza (I know, those are some pretty amazing credentials) posed this question on his blog today. Sully thinks the Yankees should trade Moose now, while his value is high, because the Yankees are in a rebuilding year and could get an "impact" player for the future. For one, I'm not ready to give up on this season just yet. The Yankees are currently 3.5 games behind the Rays for the Wild Card spot, and as of today, have a positive run differential. They have won 17 of their last 26, and according to Replacement Level, have outscored opponents by 1.2 runs/game over that span, good for a 98-64 record when projected over the whole season. So the first part of Sully's argument is not really true. But say the Yankees decide they don't have a good chance this year, and officially deem it a rebuilding year, maybe through some declaration from Hank the Tank. What would Mike Mussina net in a trade? Probably not the "impact" prospect Sully believes he would. Which teams would be interested in his services? Let's look at some pitching-starved NL teams, the most realistic trade partners. The Braves, Phillies, Cardinals and Brewers seem like the best candidates. Would the Braves be willing to give up Jordan Schafer, Brandon Jones or Gorkys Hernandez? Would the Phillies give up Carlos Carrasco, Adrian Cardenas or Joe Savery? Would the Cardinals give up Colby Rasmus? Or the Brewers Matt LaPorta? I can almost guarantee the answer to all those questions is no. For one, Moose has been better than expected thus far, but is really just a hair above average, with a 106 ERA+. Also, he is a 38 year-old reliever with diminished stuff who seems destined for a collapse (I hope that doesn't happen, but its just a feeling I have). Maybe most importantly, he is owed $13 million this year. Given that combination, you're simply not going to get an A level prospect for a half-year rental. Now let's look at the upside of keeping him. If Moose continues to pitch this way, he will gain Type A free agent status. That means that the Yankees will get the first round pick of the team who signs him, plus a supplemental round pick. With those two draft picks, the Yankees will likely get better players than they would acquire through a trade.