Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sizing up the Dodgers' trades
By Derek Czenczelewski
ESPN Stats & Information
As the trade deadline looms, here's a rundown of some of the most notable Los Angeles Dodgers trades since 2005, using statistical analysis and the sabermetric WAR.
(WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement and is a relatively complicated formula that in the end answers the question, "How much value would the team lose if a replacement player took this player's spot?" The calculation turns out an approximate win total the original player holds.)
Now on to the trades (numbers updated through Wednesday):
• Best trade: Dec. 13, 2005 -- Dodgers trade Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez to the Oakland A's for Andre Ethier. (Dodgers' Net WAR Gain: 0, but rising quickly.)
The Dodgers traded the talented but volatile Bradley (4.8 WAR with team) for one of the league's current premier outfielders. Ethier (10.0 WAR) does it all, fielding and hitting well. In 2009, Ethier had his power breakout, hitting 31 homers while driving in 106 RBIs. He's followed that with his strongest season yet in 2010, hitting .326 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs.
Since being called up in 2006, Ethier has a .365 on-base percentage, .496 slugging percentage and .861 OPS of .861. He's also tallied 91 home runs, 359 RBIs and numerous clutch hits.
Bradley, however, has played for five teams since the trade: Oakland, San Diego, Texas, the Cubs and Seattle. While he has played relatively well, hitting .278 with a .384 OBP and 69 home runs over that span, he has proved time and again to be a clubhouse cancer, both on and off the field. A 10 WAR since this trade doesn't outweigh the cons of Bradley's demeanor. As for Perez, he hasn't played in the majors since 2006.
• Worst trade: July 26, 2008 -- Dodgers trade Jon Meloan and Carlos Santana to the Cleveland Indians for Casey Blake and cash. (Dodgers' Net WAR Gain: 6.8, but falling fast.)
Funny how just five days before making a trade to save their season, the Dodgers made a deal that will hurt them in the long run. The main reason for this deal was to add Blake's veteran bat while giving up Santana (2.1 WAR), who appeared to be stuck behind Russell Martin. Blake has been solid for the Dodgers, hitting .266 with a .343 OBP, 38 home runs and an 8.9 WAR, but the loss of Santana hurts.
To make matters worse, Martin has struggled since the start of the 2009 season. Since then, he has hit just .248 with 12 home runs and 75 RBIs in 229 games. This season has been dismal for Martin, who has hit just five home runs and driven in 22 RBIs in 86 games, all while batting a career-low .244.
Meanwhile, Santana has hit six home runs and driven in 19 RBIs in only 36 games since being called up. He's also batting .282 with a .431 OBP, all while maintaining a K-BB ratio of 23-32. The 23-year-old switch-hitting catcher has a very promising future ahead of him, and with the way he has played, the future might very well be right now.
(dis)Honorable mention: Jan. 14, 2006 -- Dodgers trade Chuck Tiffany and Edwin Jackson to the Tampa Bay Rays for Danys Baez and Lance Carter. (Dodgers' Net WAR Loss: 7.6 and rising.)
Baez (0 WAR) didn't last even a season with the Dodgers, while Carter is no longer in the majors. Jackson (7.6 WAR since trade) recently pitched a no-hitter and is 33-28 over the past three years with an ERA of 4.22. He was named to the 2009 American League All-Star team with Detroit.
• Best trade for all teams: July 31, 2008 -- Dodgers trade Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Red Sox sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, as well as Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to the Pirates. The Pirates dealt Jason Bay to the Red Sox. (Dodgers' Net WAR Gain: 7.5 and rising, slowly.)
The Pirates picked up four low to mid-level prospects, and while they probably could have gotten more for Bay, they had a poor chance of keeping him long term. The Red Sox managed to find a quality player to pick up the slack for the departed Ramirez, who essentially played his way out of Boston.
But the real gem of this whole deal went to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ramirez joined the Dodgers with a career .312 batting average, 510 home runs and a 59.4 career WAR. Down the stretch in 2008, Manny hit .396 with a .489 OBP while clubbing 17 home runs and driving in 53 RBIs in 53 games. Overall, since joining the Dodgers Ramirez has a 7.9 WAR.
Ramirez was suspended by Major League Baseball in 2009 for violating the league's drug policy. But there is no question as to how much he has reinvigorated baseball in Los Angeles and what he has provided statistically for the team.