The Most Fun Trade Ever

Dave · November 28, 2007 at 9:21 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Tampa Bay and Minnesota have finalized a trade that is, if nothing else, endlessly fascinating. Details are as follows:

Minnesota sends RHP Matt Garza, SS Jason Bartlett, and RHP Eduardo Morlan
Tampa sends OF Delmon Young, 2B/3B Brendan Harris, and OF Jason Pridie

Delmon Young is, among other things, 22 years old, supremely talented, and was the #1 pick in the draft just four years ago. He’s got all-star talent, and is at a stage of his career where players of his caliber aren’t often dealt. For Minnesota to be able to acquire a guy like Young, at age 22, is pretty remarkable. And Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie could both help them win ball games as useful role players next year. The Twins picked up three players who can all help them win in 2008, make nothing, and should be in Minnesota for several years to come. That’s not easy to do, and they should be quite happy with their haul.

But just because this trade helps Minnesota doesn’t mean Tampa Bay got ripped off. I like this trade from the Rays perspective as well.

While Matt Garza is the sexy name, Jason Bartlett is exactly what this team needed – a legitimate major league defensive SS who can hit a little bit. We’ve talked before about how bad Tampa’s defense was, but swapping out Harris for Bartlett is going to be one of the largest upgrades any team makes this winter at any position. The difference between those two with the gloves is staggering. With Bartlett at short, Akinori Iwamura shifting over to second base, and rookie Evan Longoria stepping in at third, the Rays are actually going to have an infield defense capable of getting to balls in the hole and turning double plays.

The effect this trade will have on the Tampa pitching staff goes far beyond adding Matt Garza and his mid-90s fastball to the rotation, though that certainly won’t hurt. I’m not as big a Garza fan as some, but he has a live arm and stuff that can miss bats, so he’s worth taking a risk on. Teamed with Scott Kazmir and James Shields, Tampa now has three young arms who can get hitters out by themselves, and with the addition of Bartlett, they now also have the support of the defenders behind them.

Eduardo Morlan gives their bullpen another strikeout arm, and teamed with the rumored signing of Troy Percival, the Tampa bullpen should be deep with power arms next year. With Al Reyes and Dan Wheeler already around, plus a plethora of young kids fighting for jobs in the ‘pen, Tampa’s relief core has a chance to be outright good next year – a far cry from the total debacle it was in 2007.

Yes, they gave up Delmon Young, and usually the team that gives up the best player in any deal loses, but not in this case. Minnesota got better, but so did Tampa Bay.

And for once, it’s great to have a deal that was made strictly on talent evaluations. This is a baseball trade, and a fun one at that.


116 Responses to “The Most Fun Trade Ever”

  1. milendriel on November 30th, 2007 12:18 am

    Entropy: First of all, “Tampa Bay play in a dome” is actually acceptable. As an example of metonymy, what “Tampa Bay” is really referring to is “The players who comprise Tampa Bay’s team,” which obviously IS plural. Admittedly, it’s more of a British English thing: for example, you might hear a soccer announcer say something like, “Arsenal are in really good form today.”

    Second, I don’t understand your point about Bartlett. You say he needs to “rebound with the stick (regardless of his range in the field).” Um, why would you disregard his defense? That’s what makes him a good player. As far as his offense, he’s a lot better than most defensive wizards. He put up an 88 OPS+ in 2007 and had a 99 in a part-time role the year before. That’s a far cry from the 60ish OPS+’s you see from awesome fielding shortstops like John McDonald and Adam Everett. Obviously Bartlett is not in their class defensively, but he’s pretty good and has a passable bat. And, considering he’s replacing Brendan Harris, one of the very worst SS’s in the majors (who, by the way, only had a 106 OPS+ himself, so it’s not a huge offensive downgrade), the effect he alone will have on Tampa Bay’s run differential is staggering.

    Third, I don’t know why you felt the need to devote most of a long post to Young being better than Garza. Dave already said in his original post that Young was the best player in the deal, and as far as I can tell, no one has argued this.

  2. milendriel on November 30th, 2007 12:22 am

    Apologies for plagiarism of the word “staggering.” It was unintentional but apparently creeped into my subconsious from reading Dave’s post. 🙁

  3. induced entropy on November 30th, 2007 1:23 am

    TB play in a dome is just as acceptable as RBI’s, which was condemned by the original grammarian.

    Steve, I appreciate your logical arguments, but the case remains that at some point, even in choosing which statistics to cull, opinion will be formed. I do not need to delve as deeply into the statistical pool to establish mine in regard to Delmon.

    I’ve given my non-linear interpretation of the trade. That interpretation is by no means adequate to the USSM crowd, regardless of what expertise, knowledge nor experience I have.

    I shall now retire to my cave, and treat that limited world as my complete universe, and I doubt I shall ever reemerge again. May you all be better for my absence, as it will undoubtedly improve the acoustics of your statistical symphony. Adios.

  4. CCW on November 30th, 2007 1:26 am

    Steve Nelson: don’t lump me in with Entropy, bro. That was him, not me. Thx

  5. AK4Sea on November 30th, 2007 1:32 am

    This thread is almost enough to make me root for career-ending injuries to Young and Garza.


  6. Teej on November 30th, 2007 2:13 am

    I know we keep coming with the word-nerd stuff, and apologies to Dave and Derek if I’m just feeding it, but since I was a part of it above, I want to point out one more thing that I hope quashes some debate. (Plus I’m defending Graham, with whom I was in disagreement earlier over RBIs. So I’m fostering good will among the M’s community!) Anyway:

    It appears that a few readers here are from the UK, where the phrase “Tampa Bay play in a dome” is perfectly correct. In American English, it’s not. Milendriel mentioned this. British English and American English have many differences, but the one that seems to always stand out to me — and, I think, most Americans — is that Europeans often ascribe plural verbs to singular nouns when they represent multiple individuals. Here in the states, we don’t do that, but it’s perfectly acceptable for our British brethren.


    And to add something baseball-related, since I guess that’s the point here, I’m really torn on Delmon Young’s first season. What sort of stats should we be looking at when considering how Young’s problems this season? I’m looking at his K% and OBP, and they don’t look good, but the dude’s 22 in his first year. Then again, weren’t we all over Francoeur when had a similar season in 06? (raw power, great tools, zero plate discipline) I know it’s very early in his career, but those 07 numbers kinda scare me. Will a regression from his high BABIP (.343) mean more problems? Can the Twins’ coaches turn him around? How teachable is discipline? It will come with age to some degree, but how much?

    That was my attempt to turn the conversation away from something I know a lot about (English) to something I want to learn more about (baseball).

  7. DC_Mariner on November 30th, 2007 2:45 am

    I just looked at the Rays new stadium plans (or I guess, the artist rendering), and while it does look very nice, I kind of get the feeling that it is a stadium that will not age well. Not in the structural sense, but in the aesthetic sense. I think that 20 years down the road this stadium is going to be really ugly.

    I sure hope I used correct grammar in this post haha

  8. terry on November 30th, 2007 3:21 am

    [too high of an internet tough guy factor]

    JOE: (To Piripero) Get three coffins ready.

    MAN: Adios, Amigo.

    MAN 2: We don’t like to see bad boys like you in town.

    MAN 3: Go get your mule. You let him get away from you?

    JOE: You see, that’s what I want to talk to you about. He’s feeling real bad.

    MAN 3: Huh?

    JOE: My mule. You see, he got all riled up when you men fired those shots at his feet.

    MAN 2: Hey, are you making some kind of joke?

    JOE: No. See, I understand you men were just playin’ around. But the mule, he just doesn’t get it. Of course, if you were to all apologize.

    (The men laugh. Joe moves the poncho aside, exposing his pistol.)

    JOE: I don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’. See, my mule don’t like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you’re laughing at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you’re going to, I might convince him that you really didn’t mean it . . .

    (Pause as music builds, men draw their guns. Joe draws his and fires five shots, then holsters his gun.)

    JOHN BAXTER: I saw the whole thing. You killed all four of them. You’ll pay all right. You’ll be strung up.

    JOE: (Draws gun again) Who are you?

    JOHN BAXTER: I’m John Baxter, sheriff.

    JOE: Yeah, well, if you’re the sheriff, you’d better get those men underground. (Lowers poncho and walks off, passing Piripero.) My mistake. Four coffins.

    Fistful of Dollars, 1964…

    Oh ya…

    You might want to consider that they didn’t trade Delmon Young for Matt Garza. It was a six player deal. Minnesota got the best player in the deal, and then Tampa got the next three best players after that.


    This is a great distillation of the trade. BTW, I think it was Neyer who indicated in a story that he didn’t think this qualified as a blockbuster trade. I think it should. How often has a prospect rated as highly as Young been traded?

  9. Steve Nelson on November 30th, 2007 7:56 am

    #104: Steve Nelson: don’t lump me in with Entropy, bro. That was him, not me. Thx

    Sorry ’bout that.

  10. Steve Nelson on November 30th, 2007 8:02 am

    One added thought I neglected to add into my post #100.

    Numeric information is never a substitute for judgment and reasoning. Rather it’s used to calibrate our thinking. The deference we give numeric information depends on the quality of the numeric information.

  11. kwk on November 30th, 2007 8:28 am

    The Rays’ defense was hilariously bad last season, so I think it’s pretty cool that the front office actually recognizes it. Tampa may not pass the Sox or Yankees next year, but they sure will steal a handful of wins from them, which is good for everyone in pursuit of the wildcard.

    By the way, keep the snooty grammar correction posts coming. They’re exactly what I look for when coming to baseball blogs.

  12. terry on November 30th, 2007 9:07 am

    Not really, terry, because you’d leave the roof down and the tensile structure should be fine, as there’s no area for the wind to load. The field would get kinda screwed up, but the building isn’t going to fall down.

    Tarantulas don’t attack and kill people (well I guess they could kill someone who is allergic to them), but many people still find the idea of tarantulas to be creepy….

  13. msb on November 30th, 2007 9:38 am

    Saying now that Jones, Clement, Morrow are no long untouchable…whats he trying to do to this organization, destroy us on his last year of his contract, just though id throw that in there since were talking about trades. whats a hypocrite.

    I don’t recall Bavasi ever naming any specific player as ‘untouchable’, so how is he now a hypocrite?

  14. et_blankenship on November 30th, 2007 12:25 pm

    I just checked out Bartlett’s player page and it appears his game is evolving rapidly. He totally revamped his hitting approach last season, raising his pitches per plate appearance from 3.62 in 2006 to 5.12, an incredible jump of 1.5 per (I’ll pass on the research but I’m guessing any change of 1 or more is rare). His OBP suffered as a result, but regression is to be expected when a player is purging habits that probably date back to little league. His newfound pateince at the plate is exactly what the Rays have lacked in a lineup full of aggressive firstball hitters. Thinking the Rays will bat him leadoff is probably asking for too much, but Bartett would make a great #2 hitter as well.

  15. rsmithx on December 5th, 2007 2:18 pm

    Fanatical Twins fan here, so I do have a “dog in this fight” as it were.

    I think this trade helps the Twins. I have always liked Bartlett and thought he could be a long term piece, it seemed apparent and this confirms it, that the Twins always viewed him as a stopgap and I think this is trade is indicative that they think they have something in Trevor Plouffe and my guess is they hope that someone from the Casilla/Punto/Harris can hold down the spot until Plouffe is ready to be called up either in September or Spring of 09. This trade also effectively fills the DH position (moving Kubel and his bum knee into a full time DH) which the Twins have sorely lacked for YEARS.

    Matt Garza also seemed very reluctant to listen to Rick Anderson and his doctrine of mixing in changeups. When Garza was mixing in the off speed pitches he would do well, but then he would fall in to the “throw harder throw faster” mode where he just wanted to over power every hitter and he would end up getting toast.

    The ONLY thing that truly worries me is Young’s plate discipline. Unless a hitter has a natural plate discipline (ex: Mauer) the Twins hitting instructors have a long history of not exactly emphasizing plate discipline (Jacque Jones, Hunter, etc) and I fear that Young’s “free swinging ways” could run rampant and become a real problem. Again it comes down to how teachable he is and that remains to be seen.

    But on the surface, the Twins organization seems stacked with prospects like Garza (Swarzak seems to be coming along nicely) so trading from what I as a fan view as a strength for a potential super star position player (something the Twins sorely lack outside of the M&M boys from the big club down to single A) is one I am happy they made.

    Whether or not this trade works out for Minnesota I for one will not criticize it, every trade involves risk and I think this was a very smart “risk” that the Twins took.

    While I will always be thankful to Terry Ryan for saving the franchise, the Bill Smith era has me genuinely excited!

  16. Taylor H on January 17th, 2008 7:48 pm

    I think induced entropy may be gone for good. We can breathe easily now.

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