Sunday, July 28, 2013
Which team will land Jake Peavy?
By Buster Olney
A multitude of teams are interested in acquiring 32-year-old Jake Peavy at the trade deadline.
ATLANTA -- There will be some deals in the next three-plus days before the trade deadline. But the fervor with which teams acted in the last week of July has largely disintegrated, because older players aren't valued and trusted as much as they were, and younger players are valued and trusted so much more.
Jake Peavy is the No. 1 starting pitcher on the market now because while the Phillies are open to listening to offers for Cliff Lee, and the Royals will take your phone call about Ervin Santana, nobody is sure whether Lee or Santana will actually be traded. In Peavy's case, rival executives are confident that the 32-year-old fastball slinger is going to get moved before 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
But it's in keeping with the recent luck of the White Sox that they are dealing a veteran player at the worst possible time to be marketing someone like Peavy, who is under contract through 2014 with a vesting option for 2015.
What the White Sox have indicated to other teams is that they want major league ready pitching in return for Peavy, which, in 2013, is like saying to other folks on a sinking ship that you want to acquire their lifeboat. Teams are not nearly as willing to part with that sort of commodity as they used to be.
Here are most of the teams involved in the Peavy trade talks:
• St. Louis Cardinals: If the Cardinals ever got serious about dealing for any player and stuck out their elbows, they would win, because they have more young, high-end pitching than any franchise in baseball with Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, etc. They also have some really good second-tier guys, like Joe Kelly, the 25-year-old who pitched well against the Braves on Saturday, and Kevin Siegrist, the 24-year-old lefty who was a 41st-round pick by the Cardinals in 2008 and has been extremely impressive so far in the big leagues.
The Cardinals are built on their young pitching; they trust their young pitching. They don't trade their best young pitching. Nothing in their recent experience indicates that they really need to trade for a veteran starter. They won the World Series in 2011 under Tony La Russa and made the playoffs in Mike Matheny's first year at the helm in 2012. Whether they trade for Peavy or Lee or some other pitcher, they know they're almost a lock to make the playoffs again this year.
They have what it takes to get Peavy. But it's less clear that they have a need for him, or the motivation to go get him.
• Boston Red Sox: They have the need, given all the physical issues with Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster, and they have the prospects to go get him -- although they have more to offer from the top of their farm system in position prospects than in pitching. However, the question that some evaluators have is how motivated the Red Sox are to acquire him.
Boston has done an excellent job of fostering its farm system. It added to it with the massive deal with the Dodgers last summer, acquiring Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. As one GM said last month: In the current market, the teams that have the biggest pile of prospect chips in front of them -- the Cardinals, the Rays, the Red Sox -- will maintain a commanding position in the market as long as they hold onto those chips. The Toronto Blue Jays once held that kind of pile, but once they went for it with the aggressive trades this past winter to get Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, etc., they lost that edge.
So the question that rival executives are asking about Boston GM Ben Cherington now is: How aggressive does he want to be? We'll find out in the next few days.
• Atlanta Braves: They don't have the sort of major league ready pitching that the White Sox are looking for, in all likelihood, except for one guy: left-hander Alex Wood, who was drafted by the Braves last year and reached the majors this year. With Tim Hudson out for the rest of the year and some of Atlanta's young pitchers, such as Julio Teheran, beginning to pile up innings, Peavy certainly would be an excellent fit for Atlanta.
But Brandon Beachy is coming back to the rotation Monday, and Mike Minor had a strong outing on Friday for Atlanta, which continues to hold a sturdy 8.5-game lead in the NL East while facing a relatively easy second-half schedule. Do the Braves have the need? Yes. Are they motivated? Not as much as they would be if they were fighting for their survival with Washington and Philadelphia, which might be why Atlanta will likely hang onto Wood and convince the White Sox to take other players for Peavy.
• Baltimore Orioles: They don't have a ton at the top of their farm system, and they're not willing to talk about their best young pitching prospects behind Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman. And they don't have a screaming need for Peavy. So the Orioles' best chance would seem to be to package some second-tier prospects together -- if their interest goes beyond merely pushing the Red Sox.
This is just a guess, like reading tea leaves, but I think the team that lands Peavy by 4 p.m. Wednesday is the Oakland Athletics.
• We've got the Braves and Cardinals on "Sunday Night Baseball," with Miller pitching against Kris Medlen.
• The Phillies' signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was the source of a lot of discussion within the industry Saturday, and given Philadelphia's $48 million commitment in guaranteed money, the consensus was this: The Phillies were a lot more comfortable with the information about the pitcher than other teams.
For some clubs, there is concern about his elbow, and about his two-year layoff. "When you sign players from Cuba, you have to take a chance, because there's a lot you don't know," said one executive.
The Dodgers took a shot with Yasiel Puig, paying him far more than other teams were willing to pay, and so far, it's paid off. The Athletics gambled on Yoenis Cespedes, and so far, that deal looks like a good one. The Yankees' investment in Jose Contreras a decade ago really didn't work out.
The range of possible outcomes with Gonzalez, one rival official said, is very wide. "And they've got lots of money to spend, so ... why not?" he said.
As Jayson Stark wrote the other day, however, the union is not going to embrace that idea because of the legitimate possibility that somebody makes a simple mistake, or if there's a false positive.
It seems that with so many smart people on both the union and management side, they could come up with a system that could satisfy both sides: Protect the players in cases in which it can be demonstrated that there was no intent to cheat, and on the other hand, give the teams protection in situations like Ryan Braun's, when the player cheated intentionally and benefited from the cheating.
At the very least, there can be a second strike adjustment: If you get nabbed a second time, like in the case of Manny Ramirez, then you get a lifetime ban.
The MLBPA also will need to discuss internally how to deal with players such as Colon, who has almost no disincentive to cheat. Colon is 40 years old, was suspended last year and is carving up hitters like he's back in 1998 -- when he was the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game. I don't know if he's cheating again, but I can tell you this: A whole lot of people in the sport believe he's cheating. And he really has nothing to lose if he was, like a 95-year-old who laughs off his doctor's suggestion to quit smoking.
From ESPN Stats and Information, how he won: A. Archer won on the strength of his slider, which effectively complemented a fastball that averaged 95 mph. He threw 31 of 41 sliders for strikes, and those 41 pitches netted him 13 outs without yielding a baserunner.
B. Yankees hitters chased 10 sliders out of the strike zone, the most chases that Archer has gotten from that pitch in any start in his career.
C. Archer was helped by what has been an inept Yankees lineup. With a lack of left-handed hitting options to choose from, Joe Girardi started five right-handed hitters. Those five were a combined 0-for-15.
D. Archer makes for a very tough challenge for a right-handed hitter. He's retired the last 27 he faced, the equivalent of a perfect game's worth of batters.
From the Elias Sports Bureau: The Rays are the fifth team in the last 10 seasons to go 21-3 or better in a 24-game stretch. All four of the previous teams to do it made the postseason, with only the 2004 Red Sox winning the World Series.
• One last note on the Royals: Sure, you can call them and ask about Ervin Santana, but remember what the cost will be: You start with value enough to offset the compensation pick that Kansas City will get if Santana walks away as a free agent in the fall. Then you add on the value that the Royals need to get to take to their fans to explain why they gave up on their season in late July, with the team playing well.
By the way: The whole "I'm not allowed to talk because it's a legal situation" is a bunch of garbage. Braun can talk if he wants; it's America. He is choosing not to talk because that is the advice from his representatives, who are looking to protect his interests.
But if he ever chose to be honest and open regardless of the financial risk to him -- to discuss Dino Laurenzi Jr., past PED use, lying to other players, etc. -- he's free to do that anytime he wants. This is just another decision that he's made, just as it was his decision to do a verbal victory lap after he won his appeal while knowing that he had been lying.