Trade Value

Dave · December 5, 2005 at 8:19 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I imagine most of you probably have read a Bill Simmons column at least once. While he’s not much of a baseball analyst, his stuff is a fun read, and he has a running column he does every year ranking the top 40 players in the NBA in terms of trade value. Analytically, its a puff piece, full of cliches and unsupported arguments that, in the grand scheme of things, mean nothing. But every year, I enjoy reading it. It’s not serious analysis, but variety is the spice of life. So, as we enter the Week Of Insane Rumors, I figured I’d kick it off with my baseball version of his idea, and rank the 40 most valuable commodities in baseball. I’ll let him summarize the rules, though I’ll change the examples for those of you who don’t follow the NBA:

A. Salaries matter. Would you rather pay Bobby Crosby $2 million for the next three years or Derek Jeter $44 million for the next three?

B. Age matters. Would you rather have Pedro Martinez for the next five seasons or Roy Halladay for the next 12?

C. Pretend the league passed the following rule: For 24 hours, any player can be traded straight up for any other player without budget ramifications. So if Team A tells Team B, “We’ll trade you Player X for Player Y straight up,” would Team B make the deal or not?

D. Concentrate on degrees. For instance, neither the Marlins nor Cardinals would pull the trigger on an Pujols-Cabrera trade. But at the very least, the Marlins say, “Wow, Albert Pujols is available?” while the Cardinals would say, “There’s no way we’re trading Pujols.” That counts in the big scheme of things.

E. Make the list in reverse order (Nos. 40 to 1). So if Alex Rodriguez comes in at No. 19, players 1 through 19 are all players about whom New York would probably say, “We hate giving up A-Rod, but there’s no way we can pass up that deal.” And they wouldn’t trade him for any player listed between Nos. 19 and 40.

Fair enough? Oh, and my own personal add-on rule: This is for fun. Try not to get too worked up over this. Feel free to disagree, make your own list, whatever. But try not to get offended, okay? Off we go.

#40: Daniel Cabrera, RHP, Baltimore

If you take away Felix’s command, you have Daniel Cabrera. Huge velocity, dominant groundball pitcher, impossible to hit, and crazy wild. Even when he’s not throwing strikes, he’s not bad, and if his command ever improves to passable, he’s an all-star. Also just 24 years of age and making the league minimum.

39: Felipe Lopez, SS, Cincinnati

After being a continual disappointment, he’s finally living up to his potential, hitting .291/.350/.486 and playing a passable shortstop for the Reds. Of course, that brings his career line up to .252/.317/.416 in 1250 major league at-bats, so there’s some pretty obvious downside, and he hasn’t been known as the hardest worker around. But shortstops who, at age 25, can post a .290 EqA aren’t exactly growing on trees. The chance that he’ll be a perennial all-star is worth the risk.

38: Nick Johnson, 1B, Washington

He went from the Future of the Yankees to the poster by for AFLAC, running himself out of the Pinstripes by continually finding himself on the disabled list. He’s always been a good hitter, but never stayed on the field enough to make it count. Well, at age 26, he’s finally put together a mostly injury free season, and he set a career high in games played, all while hitting .289/.408/.479. As a talent, he’s comparable to Edgar Martinez, and if he can ever stay healthy, he’s going to be a dominating offensive force.

37: Dan Haren, RHP, Oakland

The kid the A’s got from St. Louis in the Mark Mulder deal was a rock, throwing 217 league average innings for the league minimum and outpitching the all-star he was traded for in the process. Haren’s a command guy without a dynamite out pitch, but he’s a smart pitcher with good mechanics who is efficient enough to pitch deep in games. He’s not going to win any Cy Youngs, but he’s going to be a middle of the rotation starter until his arm falls off, and he won’t cost a significant amount of money until 2009.

36: Jason Bay, OF, Pittsburgh

Just signed a four year, $18 million contract with the Pirates that will take up through his arbitration years. That’s $4.5 million per year for a guy who just hit .306/.402/.559 at age 26. Talk about a bargain.

35: Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cleveland

Peralta just put up one of the biggest “Holy Crap” seasons in recent history, ranking as a legitimate downballot MVP candidate after showing little in his first 300 major league at-bats. He’s probably not quite as good a hitter as he was in 2005, but he’s an offensive force at shortstop, and he’s dirt cheap for the next several years.

34: Andruw Jones, CF, Atlanta

He almost won the MVP in his age 28 season and plays a premium defensive position, so why this low? He’s already extremely expensive and only has one more year left on his deal, after which he’s likely to become even more expensive. He also doesn’t strike me as a player who is going to age particularly well.

33: Scott Kazmir, LHP, Tampa Bay

If the New York Mets had compiled this list, Kazmir would be about 1,145 spots lower. Victor Zambrano? Ouch.

32: Rickie Weeks, 2B, Milwaukee

The best second base prospect to come along in years, he hits like Jeff Kent. He also fields like Jeff Kent. He has the tools to become a good defensive player, and his bat has the chance to be extremely special. Weeks is hard for me, because there’s a great chance that in a year, he’ll be in the top 10 on this list. But he’s not there yet.

31: Victor Martinez, C, Cleveland

Did you know he turns 27 in a couple of weeks? Because of catcher attrition, he probably only has another 3 all-star level years in him before the decline, but for the next three years, he’s an amazing bargain, and one of the most valuable players in the American League.

30: Lance Berkman, LF, Houston

The bat belongs much higher up the list, but he turns 30 in a few months and is coming off a serious knee injury, so he doesn’t offer much besides a thunderous bat. But man, what a bat.

29: Mark Teixeira, 1B, Texas

Just 25-years-old and already has 100 career homers and a .282/.362/.541 line in 3 seasons. Playing in Texas has padded his stats a bit, but he’s an elite young slugger who also just won a gold glove. If he had played for an organization that would have left him at third base, he’d likely be much higher on this list.

28: Travis Hafner, 1B, Cleveland

The Indians got him for Einar Diaz. He just hit .305/.408/.595 last year, following a .311/.410./583 season. Einar Diaz. And you wonder why I think Mark Shapiro runs the best organization in baseball?

27: John Lackey, RHP, Anaheim

Why doesn’t anyone realize how good this guy is? He took a big step forward in performance at the age of 26, and he’s one of the ten best pitchers in the American League. He’s also three years away from free agency. He, not Bartolo Colon, is the ace of the Angels.

26: Adam Dunn, LF, Cincinnati

His home/road splits don’t inspire confidence. He’s a bad defensive player. He’s not much of a baserunner. But Dunn has once-in-a-generation power. He’s a monster of a hitter, and with some growth, could be a hall of fame slugger. He just turned 26, and he’s got a long career of mashing ahead of him.

25: Josh Beckett, RHP, Boston

How often is a guy like Beckett traded? He just finished his age 25 season, is under control for two more years at reasonable prices, and has a 3.46 career ERA. A fantastic acquisition by whoever happens to be running the Red Sox at the moment.

24: Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago

The Pirates rushed Ramirez to the majors at age 20, watched him have an all-star season by age 23, and then shipped him out at age 25 for Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez. Just a monumental series of bad decisions in Pittsburgh, and now the Cubs get to enjoy the prime of Ramirez’s career.

23: Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia

Like Victor Martinez, he’s a “young player” who is going into his age 27 season. He might not have the longest career of the players on this list, but a second baseman who can hit like he does doesn’t come around every day.

22: B.J. Upton, SS, Tampa Bay

Was on the Aramis Ramirez career path before Chuck LaMar was shown the door. Now that competant people are running the Devil Rays, he should be developed like a player of his abilities should, and there are few better talents anywhere in the game.

21: Eric Chavez, 3B, Oakland

A great defensive third baseman, it’s also been said that Eric Chavez can hit a little bit. Especially against the Mariners. Now if he could only learn how to hit left-handed pitching.

20: Jeremy Bonderman, RHP, Detroit

He who laughs last, laughs best. Grady Fuson must be rolling.

19: Bobby Crosby, SS, Oakland

A guy who just plays way above his tools. Crosby’s got a shot to be the best shortstop in the American League for the forseeable future. He’s also not a free agent until after the 2009 season.

18: Carlos Zambrano, RHP, Chicago

When the Cubs were assembling their rotation of young hurlers, Zambrano was always listed last. He was the wild, emotional guy without a firm grasp of how to pitch. Without much fanfare, however, he has become a frontline starter. His combination of groundballs and strikeouts makes up for the fact that he’s also ridiculously ugly. He is what Daniel Cabrera aspires to.

17: Delmon Young, RF, Tampa Bay

If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will. He’s worth this ranking, despite never having played in a major league game. He’s that good. And he’s got a long, long career ahead of himself.

16: Ben Sheets, RHP, Milwaukee

Would have ranked significantly higher before the injuries. Was called the best kept secret in baseball for so long, he’s no longer a secret. He’s just a terrific pitcher.

15: Dontrelle Willis, LHP, Florida

The Marlins have had a ton of good young arms over the past few years. Beckett, Burnett, Clement, Penny. All gone. The D-Train remains. Turns 24 in January and already one of the best pitchers in baseball.

14: Jake Peavy, RHP, San Diego

If Ben Sheets used to be the best kept secret in baseball, its probably now Jake Peavy. This kid is something else. I’ll take him over Dontrelle because he has better stuff, but it’s basically a coin flip. These kids are part of the creme of the crop in the National League.

13: Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota

A 22-year-old catcher who can already hit .300, has amazing plate coverage, and developing power? He also has one of the best arms behind the plate in the game. Oh, and he’s playing for his hometown team, where he’s a local high school legend. I’m not sure the Twins would trade him for all of the next 12 players on this list, much less any of them.

12: Roy Oswalt, RHP, Houston

He’s pitched almost 1000 innings in his major league career and has an ERA of 3.07. If his arm doesn’t fall off, he’s going to the Hall of Fame. Not bad for a 23rd round pick.

11: Vladimir Guerrero, RF, Anaheim

$13 million per year gets you Rafael Furcal. $15 million per year gets you Vladimir Guerrero. Advantage, Los Angeles. No, the other one.

10: Mark Buehrle, LHP, Chicago

I’m prepared to get impaled for him being this high, but did you know that he has five straight seasons with 220 innings pitched, and has gone over 230 in the last four years. The man is the definition of a workhorse, and he’s pretty freaking good, to boot.

9: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York

The contract, and the fact that he’s now 30, make this the highest I can put him. But he’s the only player on this list who would still be inducted into Cooperstown if he never played another game.

8: Mark Prior, RHP, Chicago

Maybe I have a weak spot for Prior, as his performance the last two years can’t match that of several pitchers behind him. But watching him pitch when he’s going right is like watching a movie. He has three amazing pitches, great command, and he knows how to pitch. He just turned 25, and he’s the most talented pitcher in the National League. I have a feeling his next five years will be a lot more successful than the last five.

7: Roy Halladay, RHP, Toronto

Did you know he holds the major league record for highest ERA in a season with at least 50 innings pitched? Hard to believe a guy this talented could give up 80 earned runs in 67 innings, but that’s what he did in 2000. Since then, his ERA’s have ran 3.16, 2.93, 3.25, 4.20, and 2.41.

6: Rich Harden, RHP, Oakland

He just turned 24, and his ERA was 77 percent better than the league average last year. Health is a concern, but talent is not. And he’s dirt cheap for several more years.

5: Felix Hernandez, RHP, Seattle

I’ve written so much about Felix, I’m running out of interesting things to say about him. Long Live the King.

4: David Wright, 3B, New York

A few years ago, when Wright was having what appeared to be a pedestrian season in the Florida State League, I wrote an article at Baseball Prospectus and compared him to Scott Rolen. I got several emails that weren’t exactly friendly, lambasting me for saying a guy who wasn’t playing great baseball in A-ball was comparable to the best third baseman in baseball. In hindsight, they were sort of right. There is no comparison. David Wright is already better than Scott Rolen has ever been.

3: Johan Santana, LHP, Minnesota

Greatest Rule 5 Selection Of All Time.

2: Miguel Cabrera, LF, Florida

Most Similar Batters Through Age 22: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Conigliaro, Mickey Mantle. So, basically, unless he dies, he’s going to the Hall Of Fame.

1. Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis

From ages 21-25, an average Pujols season reads .332/.416/.621 with 41 home runs, 82 walks, and 71 strikeouts. If he had posted those numbers in the minor leagues, he’d be something like the best prospect we’ve ever seen. Since he posted those numbers in the National League, he’s something like the best hitter, at his age, of all time.


79 Responses to “Trade Value”

  1. JMB on December 5th, 2005 8:32 pm

    Cool beans. I was hoping you’d put this up.

  2. taro on December 5th, 2005 8:45 pm

    I think you underrate Felix.

    I’m serious… next year he tops that list.

  3. Philosopher King on December 5th, 2005 8:49 pm

    Great list, but I’ve got to note the ommission of Brandon Webb. He’s 25, makes under $1M, is the definition of an extreme ground ball pitcher, and his numbers compare to Lackey and Kazmir.

    Webb: 3.54 ERA, 2.9 K/BB
    Lackey: 3.44 ERA, 2.8 K/BB
    Kazmir: 3.77 ERA, 1.7 K/BB

  4. Mat on December 5th, 2005 8:51 pm

    You forgot to go off on a reality show tangent for 200-300 words. That would make it classic Simmons.

    Nice adaptation, though. I feel like it’s a much tougher task to figure out the order of everyone in baseball, considering the major league rosters are about twice the size of NBA rosters.

    The thing with Santana being a great Rule 5 selection is that the Twins had to put up with some pretty bad pitching in order to keep him. Then, it was like a switch turned and he was suddenly amazing. I’m sure there were quite a few fans in Minnesota wondering why they’d let a guy with a 6+ career RA and a 3/2 K/BB ratio get another chance at the bigs in 2002.

    And believe me, I’m not upset by this, but I think Derek Jeter should probably have made the list. He’s signed for a lot of money, but there are still plenty of teams who really believe in the “intangibles” stuff, and I’d bet Cashman could move him for a lot if he wanted to move him. If you don’t mind my asking, what was your main motivation for leaving him off the list?

  5. Dave on December 5th, 2005 8:57 pm

    I think you underrate Felix. Next year, he tops the list.

    Unless Albert Pujols is found to be 38 or something, I don’t think so. Pujols is the hitting version of Felix, just without all the risk involved. He’s unbelievable.

    Great list, but I’ve got to note the ommission of Brandon Webb

    I like Webb, too, and he was a late cut. The command issues were enough to put him behind Haren, for me. He is just a year removed from a 119 walk season, after all.

    You forgot to go off on a reality show tangent for 200-300 words. That would make it classic Simmons.

    I also failed to light myself on fire.

    And believe me, I’m not upset by this, but I think Derek Jeter should probably have made the list.

    I’m sure the Yankees wouldn’t trade him for a lot of guys on this list, but I don’t see any team giving up any of these 40 players for Jeter, either. His value to the Yankees is much, much larger than to other teams. That doesn’t translate to trade value, in my opinion.

  6. Mat on December 5th, 2005 9:08 pm

    “His value to the Yankees is much, much larger than to other teams.”

    Is this because of his image around New York or his skill set? I guess I was thinking that other teams would overrate his ability to boost the all-important clubhouse chemistry and the Yankees could get more talent in return for him than they would have to give up. Looking over the list again, though, I’m having my doubts. Those are some awfully good players.

  7. greatunibrow on December 5th, 2005 9:14 pm

    how can you say that Wright is better than Rolen has ever been? In 2004 Rolen’s numbers
    in 142 games and 500 at bats Rolen had 34 HRs while batting .314, ,409, .598.
    Wright on the other hand in 2005 160 games and 575 at bats hit 27 HRs while batting .306, .388, .523. Wright might become better than Rolen but he is not already better.

  8. Trev on December 5th, 2005 9:17 pm

    People who belong on the list:
    Bobby Abreu (if you can’t get Vlad for $15M, take him)
    David Ortiz (makes 6.5M in 2006, 7.5M team option for 2007)
    Brett Myers (better K/9 than Lackey [non-league adjusted], same ERA+)
    Brandon Webb (#1 BBRef comp? Bob Gibson.)

    Frankly though, I think the biggest stretch is Jeremy Bonderman. His K/9 dropped this year from 8.22 to 6.9, he’s never posted a league-average ERA (park adjusted) in his career. He could become very good, but he’s not there yet, and I’ve got to believe you’d take Beckett or Lackey over him.

  9. Dave on December 5th, 2005 9:24 pm

    Is this because of his image around New York or his skill set?

    Option A. He’s a legend in NY.

    how can you say that Wright is better than Rolen has ever been?

    Call it poetic license. Or writing hyperbole if you’d like. Splitting hairs between the greatness of Rolen/Wright wasn’t the goal of the post.

    Bobby Abreu (if you can’t get Vlad for $15M, take him)

    Except he’s not even close to being in Vlad’s class. And he’s 31.

    David Ortiz (makes 6.5M in 2006, 7.5M team option for 2007)

    He’s 30, he’s huge, and he has no defensive value.

    Brett Myers (better K/9 than Lackey [non-league adjusted], same ERA+)

    League adjusting the K/9 might be a good idea, no?

  10. Trev on December 5th, 2005 9:25 pm

    How about perennial all-star Miguel Tejada instead of Felipe Lopez? Sure he gets $12M a year for the next 4 years, but Eric Chavez is paid that much and he’s ranked 21.

  11. Trev on December 5th, 2005 9:26 pm

    League adjusting the K/9 might be a good idea, no?

    I knew that was dumb the moment I typed it. But I’d still take Myers over Cabrera, Haren, and Bonderman.

  12. NBarnes on December 5th, 2005 9:27 pm

    Ortiz’s ommission was something I wonderered about, too. He’s fat and 30, but he’s only under contract for one more year with a team option and is being paid a pittance. He’s not Top 20 material for this list, but he’s a valuable player right now and is not being paid much at all.

  13. Trev on December 5th, 2005 9:29 pm

    He’s 30, he’s huge, and he has no defensive value.

    Travis Hafner begins crying.

  14. Dave on December 5th, 2005 9:33 pm

    How about perennial all-star Miguel Tejada instead of Felipe Lopez?

    Tejada turns 30 in May.

    He’s not Top 20 material for this list, but he’s a valuable player right now and is not being paid much at all.

    Is two years of a DH at the cost of $15 million worth one of the elite young players in the game? Call me weird, but I say no.

    Travis Hafner begins crying.

    Hafner’s 28 and can actually field a position. And, really, the difference between him and Ortiz as a hitter is basically nil.

  15. Todd in Phoenix on December 5th, 2005 9:47 pm

    And then there is the nickname…

  16. Tom on December 5th, 2005 9:48 pm

    Where’s Ryan Howard?

  17. Dave on December 5th, 2005 9:50 pm

    At no point did I ever even think about putting Ryan Howard on the list.

  18. Trev on December 5th, 2005 9:50 pm

    Hafner’s 28 and can actually field a position. And, really, the difference between him and Ortiz as a hitter is basically nil.

    Hafner played one game at 1B last season. David Ortiz played ten. They’re basically the same player, and yeah, I’d take Hafner over Ortiz, but Ortiz was worth 85.8 VORP last year, and I’ll take that for $7.5M per.

    He can fill one of the spots taken up by Daniel Cabrera, Jeremy Bonderman, or Felipe Lopez.

    Felipe Lopez: 2005 season
    Home: 305/368/505, 16 HR
    Away: 277/335/435, 7 HR

  19. Conor Glassey on December 5th, 2005 10:00 pm

    How about some guys that “just missed the cut”?
    Were Grady Sizemore and Marcus Giles close?

  20. Donovan on December 5th, 2005 10:15 pm


    First off, great job. This is the perfect sort of off-season baseball reading I love.

    Did you think about putting Francisco Liriano on the list? His numbers were outrageous in the minors this year, along with great scouting reports. Plus he’s a lefty. If I was a GM, he’d make my top 40.


  21. Vin on December 5th, 2005 10:20 pm

    My only REAL disagreement is Mauer. If you called up Billy Beane and offered him for Chavez straight up, Beane would probably laugh. Same with the Brewers and Sheets. Same with a lot of the guys behind him. He’s a great hitter, no doubt but there are serious injury concerns that you failed to mention.

    His value to the Yankees is much, much larger than to other teams. That doesn’t translate to trade value, in my opinion.

    That’s what you said about Jeter, the same should apply to Mauer.

  22. Matt on December 5th, 2005 10:26 pm

    I love this. I love Simmons list every year even if a lot of it is silly. Half the fun is arguing selections and positions. Good stuff.

  23. Jim Thomsen on December 5th, 2005 10:36 pm

    What about Jeffrey Francouer?

  24. troy on December 5th, 2005 10:36 pm

    Great list Dave. Splitting hairs, but I too think Mauer is too high, given the injury risks. Of course, the same could be said for Prior (but you’ve already acknowledged that). I’d take any of the 5 players rated directly behind him over Mauer.

  25. DMZ on December 5th, 2005 10:44 pm

    My only REAL disagreement is Mauer. If you called up Billy Beane and offered him for Chavez straight up, Beane would probably laugh.

    If only because Beane’s been stuck on Chavez-as-super-superstar for so long. Joe Mauer was worth more than Chavez last year, when you account for position, and his salary’s going to be $0 for the forseeable future, while Chavez’s payday looms.

    Whether Mauer moves from behind the plate in the near or long term, that’s a deal Beane would take this… again, if he wasn’t so attached to Chavez.

  26. R. Wilkins on December 5th, 2005 11:04 pm

    3: Johan Santana, LHP, Minnesota
    Greatest Rule 5 Selection Of All Time

    Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 selection from the Dodgers, no? Granted, he’s someone who’s been a bit overrated throughout history, but still, the man hit an unadjusted .317/.359/.475 over 18 seasons that spanned through Dead Ball Era II. That’s roughly two decades of Ichiro, sans stolen bases. Without diminishing his accomplishments, I think Johan’s got a little ways to go.

  27. NBarnes on December 5th, 2005 11:05 pm

    Dave: I find your arguments that Ortiz doesn’t belong in the top 40 compelling.

    With Jason Bay’s mind-blowingly favorable new contract, I’d rank him higher. With Chavez and Vlad Guerrero both above him, I’m not sure what makes him worse.

    If Beane refused to trade Chavez for Mauer straight across, he should be checked into an institution for some time away from work. Chavez is good, but not actually amazingly good, and he’s far from cheap. Mauer will be better than Chavez’s peak some day very soon, possibly as soon as 2006, and plays a more premium position, and is free.

    I don’t see a name on that list I’d trade for Francouer straight across. Well, maybe Nick Johnson.

  28. tyler on December 5th, 2005 11:07 pm

    thought about a small edit for
    Miguel Cabrera
    “Most Similar Batters Through Age 22: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Conigliaro, Mickey Mantle. So, basically, unless he dies, he’s going to the Hall Of Fame. ”

    uhm… or if he gets drilled by a pitch and loses sight.

    love the list.

    thank god it was short on yankees. if one more yankee were to make it, i would ask you to just shoot my now, please.

    Mauer is not placed too high. period. i will not discuss this.

    Mark Buerle is the Joey Knish of MLB… a true grinder.

    Aramis Ramirez is the MikeMcD… started with a flash, faded out then resumed brilliance.

    Roy Oswalt just seems too small to throw like so hard. Can his frame hold up? He reminds me of the guy in Vegas that keeps dropping 100 dollar chips on all the hard ones, then let’s it ride after hitting… it is brilliance, a thing of beauty when you see it, but you also know that wallet just can’t take all that stress, and sooner or later he is going to crap out hard.

    Pujols is in the Pantheon, at the top level of the pyramid. He is one hitter the entire stadium stops whatever they are doing to watch, like Pedro in his prime.

    yeah… i read simmons too…
    great post.

  29. Senor Mateo on December 5th, 2005 11:19 pm

    Awesome. Just..awesome. Can’t see anything I would really change. Awesome.

  30. Jim Thomsen on December 5th, 2005 11:25 pm

    #28: To continue your “Rounders” analogy, Alfonso Soriano would be my “Worm” — flashy mechanics, poor judgment, ultimately not a player with whom you win.

    Who’s the Teddy KGB of baseball?

  31. tyler on December 5th, 2005 11:57 pm

    Teddy KGB? Easy. Steinbrenner.

    but if you want to go with a player, it has to be somebody who has killer instinct– that leads me to Big Poppi. but then he also has to be beaten at the end, and perhaps needs to play a villian role. though i would probably say MikeyMcD’s antogonist was Worm not Teddy, i think you have to draw somebody who is seen as wearing a black hat.

    That alone makes the choice easy. Barry Bonds as he is renowned for his career post-season failings, so you have the “lose at the end factor.” Having seen him play in both Coors and Dodger Stadium, i can safely say he is viewed as a villian by those that don’t appreciate greatness. And in my mind, nobody in American sport short of Michael Jordan has rivaled Bonds for killer instinct and pure dominance of their respective games at their physical peak.

  32. Trev on December 6th, 2005 12:00 am

    Who’s the Teddy KGB of baseball?

    Teddy KGB: A good poker player with one extremely obvious tell.

    Off hand? Eric Chavez sounds right. Good player, but can’t hit lefties.

    The “True” Teddy KGB should probably be a pitcher with filthy stuff (95+ mph, roll-of-the-table curve, etc.) who constantly tips his pitches.

    Randy Johnson this year?

  33. Chris B on December 6th, 2005 12:05 am

    I personally would put Jason Bay a little bit higher up, given his age and proven production in two seasons, but who cares. I love this sort of list as a discussion point.

    So what will Pujols be getting when he hits free agency? Or even arbitration?

    And, there is a lot of love for the A’s here – they have 4 players on it. Does any team beat that? Not from what I can see – the Indians have 3. If they added one of these top flight pitchers, they would be unstoppable.

  34. xxx on December 6th, 2005 12:09 am

    Joe Mauer walked just nearly as much as he struck out in 2005 as a 22-year old lefty hitting catcher. I think his value as a young hitter with a prototype 3-hole hitter swing who also plays a premium defensive position (you all know how difficult it is to fill certain spots) is enough for him to merit his ranking at 13th overall. Absolutely debatable though, that’s really the whole idea of something like this, no?. Great list overall, very thought provoking.

  35. JNR on December 6th, 2005 12:45 am

    Excellent list, I agree entirely except that I think Jason Bay should be higher, as the other folks have been saying. Gad, looking at a list like this makes my mouth water, I just wish more M’s were on it.

  36. rly723 on December 6th, 2005 1:00 am

    Where’s Huston Street on this list?? i noticed no closers on the list, but was he even considered? what he did at 21/22 yr old and a year out of college was amazing. h e has to be considered one of the future stars of MLB

  37. rly723 on December 6th, 2005 1:03 am

    also if beuhrle is on this list, i think zito should also…both are workhorses and pitch a ton of innings..beuhrle is 1 yr yonger..buttheir stats are very similar…zito with more SO’s, beuhrle less walks…zito has the lowest era 3.50 and most wins of any pitcher i believe under 30

  38. taro on December 6th, 2005 1:30 am

    And Felix is the pitching version of Pujols.. at $14mil less. Felix may already be the best pitcher in baseball.. and hes still a second year player!

    I honestly would not trade Felix for Pujols straight up. Would you?

  39. Typical Idiot Fan on December 6th, 2005 1:30 am

    Dave has such a hardon for Delmon Young it aint funny. Yes, I acknowledge that he’s a great prospect, but untradable except for the guys above him? I dunno. Anytime you assume a prospect is untradable you’re sticking your neck out. Granted, if you know the organization better and they have a top prospect (e.g., Mariners and Felix) then you can make a safer prediction. But are you 100% certain that Tampa Bay’s new ownership isn’t going to go nuts sometime soon? I mean, granted, this is the same organization that in the past has kept most of their current crop of players, but that was the past leadership.

    I just don’t know if I would be that confident if I were you. If the new Tampa owners get crazy and want to start competing with the Yankees now or soon, they might do something nuts like trade Delmon Young for a David Ortiz or Bartolo Colon.

    Or, let me at least be clear, the trade value for Delmon Young is great, but does a prospect belong on this list just because he’s going to be great prospect? There are dozens of other A list prospects that you didn’t put on there and I know there are other prospects you like. What about Stephen Drew, Brandon Wood, or … well heck, where’s Zach Duke?

  40. marinersanddrays on December 6th, 2005 2:01 am

    Idiot Fan-

    it’s tough to criticize tampa for keeping their current crop of players. many people will agree when i mention that they probably have one of the strongest crop of young players in the major leagues. Most of these players are tampa-developed, and many are just recently becoming major league ready.

    It’s also important to understand that a prospect like delmon young IS the devil rays felix hernandez, and because of that, he’s not going to be traded. He’s been called a future perennial MVP. Not many 19 year olds have that kind of hype surrounding them, besides felix that is. And would you trade felix for Bartolo Colon to compete with the Angels The devil rays have a smart new front office, and they know that the pay off of being patient with a Delmon Young Caliber prospect is far greater than the relatively short-term impact an Ortiz or Colon could have at a much greater economic cost.

  41. PaulMarrottWeaver on December 6th, 2005 3:08 am

    Lists like this are awesome. Quite respectable.

    I would like to point out that it is made from a certain perspective that values more the near long term. This is more trade value based on our ultimate dream of seeing the M’s build a dynasty. But if you’re a team that is very near playoff time, then certain players with very clear short term value would rise on to this list.

    For example, come playoffs, it’s trade deadline and my team has a chance to go all the way. Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, Manny Ramirez, etc. have become commodities worthy of exchanging for a good portion of the players on that list. Got a hole at second? Jeff Kent, Alfonso Soriano are suddenly interchangable with Kazmir or maybe Utley. It’s that sort of value system that helps to give suckier teams a chance to land some good players in a trade.

  42. Bela Txadux on December 6th, 2005 5:31 am

    My only quibble with the list is Mark Prior. On talent, that’s his slot for sure; on performance he doesn’t make the list. He’s young enough and talented enough that, like Halladay, he could have a 130 degree deflection in result, but. And to acquire him in trade, you’d have to pay like he’s already done it.

    I _love_ Jake Peavy and Miggy Cabrera; Bonderman too. The best three players most fans don’t know about. The Hafner trade is exactly why I like trades and wish the Ms FO was more dedicated to talent acquisition by that route. There are always fools out there, particularly in organizations deep in similar commodities: That is where the outrageous takeaways are to be found. Blalock, Texiera, and Hafner, so they moved the iron-glove for a ‘need’ position—but Hafner still hits like crazy.

    The only guy on the list I see who might be obtained in a trade by the Ms without giving up Beltre is Nick Johnson. Nicky DL is a _lefty_ Edgar, too. I’d say aye-aye to that, and Bowden at the Nats might well be talked out of him. . . . Or maybe if Beltre is put in play, somebody in the teens on the list might be pried loose, hey?

  43. Dave on December 6th, 2005 7:17 am

    How about some guys that “just missed the cut”?

    Okay, here were the guys on the outskirts who were lurking around but didn’t make the list.

    Brandon Webb
    Grady Sizemore
    Brandon Wood
    Brett Myers
    David Ortiz
    Jeff Francoeur
    Justin Verlander
    Huston Street
    Zach Duke
    Prince Fielder
    Pat Burrell

  44. Jake L. on December 6th, 2005 7:41 am

    I know this is going to be ask sooner or later, so I think I’ll take the leeap on this one……where for art thou, Ichiro!? I’m know that Ichiro is over 30, overly expensive, and……doesn’t have the usual skill set for a superstar right fielder. All of which are very important in this exercise. However, unless the M’s were engaged in a Marlins-level dump, would we even consider trading Ichiro! for the likes of Nick Johnson, Felix Lopez and/or Daniel Cabrera? I would think those teams (except for the Reds, and their glut of outfielders) would at least consider the possibility, at the very least. I know, maybe I’m just straining to get another M on the list, but I think it’s something worth discussing.

  45. Todd in Phoenix on December 6th, 2005 7:45 am

    #38 – Unless Pujols is really 40, I’d make that trade in a heartbeat.

  46. Myron on December 6th, 2005 8:00 am

    Dave, I seem to remember a comment you left back during the Season after Felix had been called up that the only players you would trade him for straight up were Pujols and Cabrera, which would imply a 3rd-place ranking on this list. But now you’ve put him 5th, behind Santana and David Wright. What caused you to drop Felix 2 slots?

  47. Dave on December 6th, 2005 8:10 am

    I rethought my position. Santana is already what we think Felix will be. As much as I love Felix, there’s still some shaky command there, and the chance of injury is significantly higher. The difference between Peak Felix and Peak Santana is minimal, while there’s a huge gap between Worst Case Felix and Worst Case Santana.

    And, well, David Wright is already an eight win player at age 22, makes the league minimum next year, won’t be eligible for free agency until after 2010, and has a significantly smaller chance of injury than Felix does.

    Felix’s potential is high enough to put him #1. But the risk factor slides him behind safer bets who possess 95 percent of his upside.

  48. Dave on December 6th, 2005 8:11 am

    where are thou, Ichiro?

    Like Jeter and the Yanks, I think Ichiro has more value to the M’s than he does to other teams. In the grand scheme of things, he’s still a 31-year-old corner outfielder making $11 million per season.

  49. tyler on December 6th, 2005 8:32 am

    i wouldn’t hesitate to trade Felix for Pujols if i had the opportunity… everyday players are more important than pitchers when they will challenge for the triple crown every year.

    no pitch counts…

    no season gone down on account of shoulder bursitis or elbow issues…

    Delmon is the real deal. He is already a better hitter than his older brother. though i wouldn’t trade for him straight up with felix, i would consider it…

    one pitch and a shoulder can blow…. hitters like delmon and pujols are much more “sure things.”

  50. tyler on December 6th, 2005 8:34 am

    oh… and to XXX who said “Absolutely debatable though, that’s really the whole idea of something like this, no?. Great list overall, very thought provoking.”

    i said, “I will not debate this. period.” because it is one of Bill Simmons catch phrases, not because i don’t think it should be debated…

  51. Jeff on December 6th, 2005 8:37 am

    Dave, love the list. What’s the reason for omitting Sizemore? Solid line-drive hitter, with great wheels, and glove. What’s he missing?

  52. Jake L. on December 6th, 2005 8:43 am

    The problem with Grady Sizemore is his name. It sounds like he should be a mashing corner OF/1B type, not a fleet-footed centerfielder. He should trade his name with Wily Mo Pena, and both their trade values would skyrocket.

    And, Dave, I figured Ichiro! belonged in the same group with Jeter and (perhaps) Barry Bonds, and not on this one. Since I couldn’t come up with a rational argument to get Jeremy Reed on that list, I went with that one. I still don’t like seeing Feliz Lopez up there, though…..

  53. chico ruiz on December 6th, 2005 9:12 am

    Thanks for the post, this is fun. I couldn’t help but notice that no relievers made the list, and I assume that’s due to a belief that in general their value is low. Even so, wouldn’t K-Rod deserve some consideration? He’s young, cheap, and has an outside chance to turn into Mariano Rivera. To a pennant contender, he’d seem to have as much value as a Scott Kazmir or Daniel Cabrera, don’t you think?

  54. taro on December 6th, 2005 9:39 am

    So your saying your saying that Felix is risky enough that you WOULD trade him for Pujols straight up? Or any of the four players rated above him?

  55. Will on December 6th, 2005 9:46 am

    Nice list – I especially like the comment in #11 – Vlad Guerrero. Perspective is fun, isn’t it?

    I do have one quibble with the list – you have young guys like Peralta, which I agree with, but at the bottom of your list, I would have inserted Jimmy Rollins.

    He’ll be 27, he’s been cutting down his K’s, great basestealing ability, and a wonderful hitting streak to end the season. Best thing? He just got signed for 5 years/40 million, which is a bargain looking at the signings going down this offseason.

    I wouldn’t rank him above Jason Bay, as Bay is a powerhouse, and the Pirates made a great move to lock him up, but I would have stuck Rollins on the list somewhere.

  56. mln on December 6th, 2005 9:51 am

    Speaking of Miguel Cabrera, there was an article in one NY paper that stated that the Marlins are even open to listening to trade offers for him or even Dontrelle Willis.

    Too bad the Mariners don’t have any young cheap MLB talent that would really interest the Marlins … except Felix and possibly Jeremy Reed.

    Felix for Cabrera? You know that would be tempting. Given a choice between comparable talents–one a pitcer, the other a everyday player–take the everyday player.

  57. NC on December 6th, 2005 9:52 am

    Maybe I’ve been out of it the past few years, but is the Pujols age question resolved to everyone’s satisfaction?

  58. Evan on December 6th, 2005 10:00 am

    I think Halladay’s easily a better pitcher than Santana. I suppose their relative positions are based on Santana’s age (and possibly cost – I have no idea how much Santana earns)?

  59. Adam S on December 6th, 2005 10:15 am

    What does Alex Rodriguez’s contract look like the next few years? I’m surprised to see him so high on the list. I realize the Yankess won’t trade him, but it seems like at $21 or $23 million, he isn’t underpaid anymore.

    Given the choice of Alex Rodriguez or Bobby Crosby/Peralta and Millwood and Burnett (with the cost savings), I’d take the package.

  60. Churchill on December 6th, 2005 10:19 am

    AROD is making about 16 mil per year from NYY.

    Texas is picking up the rest.

  61. John on December 6th, 2005 10:37 am

    I think Zack Duke from the Pirates should be on there.

    Talk about cheap,young, and productive last year.

  62. Chestor on December 6th, 2005 10:37 am

    Zach Duke shouod be on this list. No questions asked. Pitched great for Pittsburgh when brought up from minors. With a good team he can dominate.

  63. Deep 6 on December 6th, 2005 10:48 am

    Great job with the list. I question two things, but I know if I put one together (with my limited overall knowledge) it’d get torn apart.

    I remember being as surprised as when I saw Jason Bay listed 36th (So Low?) It was when I read about the contract he signed.

    I couldn’t put a player who’s making more than prabaly 30 of the others combined into a list like this. There’s no bargain in A-rods Guerrero’s or Jones’ (etc.) contract. Regardless of age I don’t see how anyone making over $10 Million can be considered equally. I think they belong on the other list (young or not). But it’s your list, so have it your way.

    Well I’d take Santana Pujols or Guerrero+cash for Felix, but then I’m not too familiar with Wright and Cabrera.

    A couple Minor league SS’s & OFers for Delmon Young…I might offer Clement after seeing a few months of Kenji…?

    And Ben Sheets would be a GOD at Safeco! I imagine he’s as available as Felix.

  64. brian on December 6th, 2005 11:22 am

    Where would the 2004 beltre be ranked in this list?

  65. Mat on December 6th, 2005 11:37 am

    “I think Halladay’s easily a better pitcher than Santana.”

    Easily? No one is easily better than Santana right now. WARP3 for the two over the past three seasons is 6.4, 11.2, 9.1 for Santana and 10.3, 4.2, and 6.9 for Halladay. And Santana’s 6.4 was in a year where the Twins had him pitch out of the bullpen for the first two months of the season.

    There are other numbers that go into this discussion, but to me it basically boils down to the fact that not only is Halladay not easily better than Santana, but Santana is better than Halladay.

  66. Sriram on December 6th, 2005 11:41 am

    Dave – if you were to compile the worst 40, would it start with Christian Guzman or Ryan Franklin :-)

  67. Deep 6 on December 6th, 2005 11:59 am

    Just looking at the pitchers on the list:
    Top 10 WHIP Last year among pitchers with at least 10 starts

    Pedro 0.95 (2.82 ERA)
    Halladay 0.96 (2.42)
    Santana 0.97 (2.87)
    Felix 1.00 (2.67)
    Clemens 1.01 (1.87)
    Petitte 1.03 (2.39)
    Peavy 1.04 (2.88)
    Carpenter 1.06 (2.83)
    Harden 1.06 (2.53)
    Sheets 1.07 (3.33)

    It looks like you ordered them perfectly, once you factor in money and age.

  68. Deep 6 on December 6th, 2005 12:02 pm

    Sriram, I’m sure you could do worse than that.

  69. Dave on December 6th, 2005 12:18 pm

    How about Garrett Anderson? He has 3 years and $36 million (including the buyout) left on his contract. For that $12 million per year, the Angels have a 33-year-old who hit .283/.308/.435 last year and has serious back problems.

    Either him or Russ Ortiz.

  70. Morisseau on December 6th, 2005 12:20 pm

    Nice. Thanks Dave.

  71. chico ruiz on December 6th, 2005 12:25 pm

    Re the bottom 40: Aren’t the Mariners still paying Scott Spiezio $3 million for 2006? How could you do worse than that?

  72. Jake on December 6th, 2005 12:35 pm

    By paying Scott Spiezio $4 million a year not to play, of course.

  73. Chris B on December 6th, 2005 1:25 pm

    Oh I think the extra million to get Spiezo NOT playing is money very well spent.

  74. Evan on December 6th, 2005 1:37 pm

    Matt – Way to use counting stats when Halladay didn’t pitch a full season.

    Using your numbers, Santana managed a WARP3 of 9.1 in 33 starts.
    Halladay got his 6.9 in only 19 starts (before a line drive broke his leg). WARP3/start, Halladay beat Santana by over 30%.

    That’s a pretty big margin.

  75. ray on December 6th, 2005 5:49 pm

    Very nice. I can’t wait for the top 40 worst list (least tradable).

  76. bookbook on December 6th, 2005 8:09 pm

    I might rank Oswalt even higher.

    I’d have to think that injury risk alone makes Nick Johnson less valuable a commodity than a few guys not on this list.

    Hank Blalock? I still believe.

    After Felix, there aren’t many Mariners sniffing the top 100. And that, my friends, is why we’re fighting to find a way out of 4th place…

  77. Mat on December 7th, 2005 12:32 am

    Evan -

    Exactly, I used counting stats. Pitchers are no good to the team if they can’t stay on the mound. Health is an ability. But go ahead, use rate stats, even then, there’s no way Halladay looks “easily better” than Santana.

    Take Support Neutral Value Added over Replacement, Lineup-adjusted (SNLVAR), per 10 starts for 2003-2005, since that was the original time frame. Santana comes out with 2.5 wins per 10 starts while Halladay grades out to 2.3 wins per 10 starts. Per Clay Davenport’s translated statistics, Halladay has about 6.8 K/9 for the last three season, Santana has about a 9.3 K/9. Halladay has about a 1.2 BB/9 the last three seasons, Santana has a 1.8 BB/9 or so. Santana’s HR/9 is .8, Halladay’s is .7.

    Halladay has no obvious edges on Santana, and Santana’s been healthier. Santana’s better than Halladay.

  78. Joe Towarnicky on December 8th, 2005 9:55 am

    I apologize if this is a duplicate post. Computer glitches apparently deleted my post before I sent it.

    Great Article. Well reasoned.

    But I think that you should have found a place for CCSabathia. IMO, every team would be interested if he were available. He’s not 25 yet, a lefty with lots of tools, five years AVERAGING 195 innings per year, not overworked but consistent. In addition, he already has a top 10 finish is wins, era, strikeouts, etc. I believe he’s poised to put these great tools/skills/output together for a few years.

    Even if he never makes the jump, you get 200 innings of better than league average pitching from a lefty who can have dominant stretches.

    He’s got some conditioning issues but can you say Mickey Lolich? And he’s just now starting to earn some $$$.


  79. Doug on December 8th, 2005 10:02 am

    Met fan here, and I have been arguing that there are 3 guys I would consider trade D. Wright for, and they are the top 3 on your list. When someone brought up Felix, I told them I would think about it. So basically, I think you nailed it.