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Humberto Sanchez, Carl Crawford and John Smoltz

Humberto Sanchez’s name has been thrown around all over talk radio the past couple of days, and it’s possibly for the wrong reason.  After three mediocre seasons in A and AA ball, Sanchez has had a breakout performance.  He started the season in Erie and in eleven starts, he went 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA and he struck out 86 in 71 2/3.  He then got promoted to Toledo and proceeded to win the International League player of the week.  Since getting the promotion, he’s given up only one run in nineteen innings and he’s struck out 17 batters in 19 innings.

Pretty good numbers, and the reason his name is being thrown around is, because many people think Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander are just about untouchable, that Sanchez appears to be the primary trade bait to help put the team over the top.  A lot of names have been mentioned in trade rumors, but the two who appear to be the most prevalent are Carl Crawford and John Smoltz.

I think trading for Crawford would be a big mistake.  Yes, he’s definitely got some speed and he’s having a career year at the plate as far as homeruns, but his fielding has been off (-2 fielding runs above replacement) and he’s actually on pace to have fewer extra base hits then he’s had the last few years.  His homeruns are up (10) but his doubles and triples are way down.  I just don’t see him being that much of an upgrade over Marcus Thames.

John Smoltz is a different matter.  Even with the solid pitching by Zach Miner, having John Smoltz in the front of this rotation would be huge come playoff time.  The question then would be, would I trade Sanchez for Smoltz.

I say, absolutely.  And for a couple of different reasons.  One reason is, Sanchez hasn’t done much until this year and he was never really highly touted so I’m wondering whether he’s even for real.  John Sickels gave him a C rating in his prospect book although he does say Sanchez could be really good (or really bad, or somewhere in between).  Also, I think Baseball Prospectus’ mantra of “there is not such thing as a pitching prospect” would be another reason.  Sanchez isn’t a sure thing.  Smoltz is pretty close to one.

The ultimate irony of all this is, the Tigers traded John Smoltz, a pitching prospect at the time, for Doyle Alexander way back in 1987.  A lot of people blast that trade but I still think it was a good deal.  We wouldn’t have made the playoffs without Alexander, who went 9-0 down the stretch. And while we didn’t win the World Series, we would have never even had a chance without him.  So to now trade a pitching prospect for John Smoltz is, well, odd.

I’m probably going to get blasted for this, but I think if Joel Zumaya’s future is as a closer, I’d rather see him get shipped out.  As good of a closer as he could be, that doesn’t make up for a quality starter.  Just my two cents.

This whole blog just seems a bit odd! Carl Crawford not much of an upgrade from Marcus Thames???? What???? You can’t be serious! Sanchez for Smoltz? What would the Braves front office have to be smoking to make that deal? I’m not even gonna touch the whole “if Zumaya is gonna only be a closer then let’s ship him out” thing. I’m sorry, It’s all just a little too much for me to handle.

Posted by Jeff on June 20th, 2006 at 7:08 pm

I’m not sure what’s so odd about it. Marcus Thames (2.1 WARP) has actually outplayed Carl Crawford (1.8 WARP) to date in about 1/3 to 1/2 less at bats. The Braves are in last place and Smoltz just turned 39 so he’s likely trade bait. And relievers, even good ones, while not quite a dime a dozen, can be replaced and cheaply (although you wouldn’t know it from this organization, i.e. Todd Jones).

Posted by Brian on June 21st, 2006 at 2:20 am

You’re definitely correct about relievers, but having a potentially dominant one is a whole different story. We haven’t had that since 1984, and Zumaya has the looks of someone, if his innings are leveraged properly, who can turn the tide of a game in the late innings. Granted, if he was able to start I’d actually prefer that long term, but to trade Zumaya right now for just about anybody to me is insanity.

Posted by KS on June 21st, 2006 at 2:29 am

Why do people refuse to accept that Marcus Thames might be a good baseball player. To this point this refusal has cost the Tigers dozens of runs. I just don’t get it. He hits a homer about every 12 plate appearances over the past 3 years at both levels. What exactly is so bad about Thames? I really don’t get it.

Posted by Dan on June 21st, 2006 at 12:05 pm

Hey, by the way, great idea to lead off Inge and bat Vance Wilson 3rd today. It’s going great!

Posted by Dan on June 21st, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Just terrible managing today. Absolutely incompetent. Why do I only complain when Leyland makes mistakes while I never say anything when he does the right thing? Because he’s paid to NOT make those mistakes. He’s paid to know his job. Terrible job today. What the hell is he thinking?

Posted by Dan on June 21st, 2006 at 12:12 pm

Inge should never bat near the leadoff spot. I dont care how many homers he hits. He is never on base. he flat out refuses to get on base. Why not pinch hit for robertson in the 7th? terrible managing today…. horrific!

Posted by Michael on June 21st, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Jim Leyland’s dumb ass probably cost us this game today. Tell me to be patient when the Tigers finish one game behond the White Sox at the end of the season. With Buehrle going against Marquis tonight, it’s an almost certain win for the White Sox. Just total crap managing.

Posted by Dan on June 21st, 2006 at 12:53 pm

By no means was I dogging Marcus Thames. I’m just saying he is not Carl Crawford. Crawford can change the game in so many ways just with his speed and he’s proven himself over a couple of years. There’s no doubt he’s an all star performer. We know Thames can play but the question is how consistently will he play over the long haul (and I’m not just talking about this season). Crawford is signed long term and for a relatively inexpensive price for the callabor of player that he is and will continue to become. I love the pieces the Tigers have in their outfield right now. They are playing well and producing, but if you have an opportunity to add the likes of Crawford to your team I think you have to explore it. (And oh yeah, he’s a lefthanded bat and he’s excellent defensively) Crawford hitting at Comerica, I think would be a very nice addition to an otherwise power loaded (i.e. home run happy) lineup.

Posted by Jeff on June 21st, 2006 at 1:12 pm

keep dreamin guys! Crawford coming to Detroit is not gonna happen…the only player I would get rid of zumaya for would be Dontrell Willis and I think the marlins would want more than zumaya…give em craig monroe too!

Posted by Darryl on June 21st, 2006 at 5:23 pm

Why hasn’t anyone responded to me? Do I have to comment on this same entry six times before people pay attention to me? Waaaaa I’m a bitter asshole!

Posted by Dan on June 23rd, 2006 at 10:38 am

As long as you aren’t being bitter, Dan.

Posted by Joe on June 23rd, 2006 at 10:39 am

That wasn’t me. That was someone else writing my name. You’ll recognize my writing as that which makes sense.

Not everyone is a big a Tigers fan as I am. Sorry if it gets the best of me, but I want them to win, and if they don’t I want it to be because of something other than incompetence.

Get bent, phony Dan.

Posted by Dan on June 24th, 2006 at 1:42 pm

Wow. Shows the intellegence of Tigers fans. You’d need to give up Cameron Maybin for Smoltz! Plus although Thames is becoming a HR machine, he doesn’t compare to Crawford as far as potential and what kind of a career he will have.

Posted by Royals fan on June 24th, 2006 at 5:06 pm

I’m a believer. Thames just tied the game up in the bottom of the ninth with a two run shot.

And Royals Fan, nobody has said Crawford won’t have a better career then Thames. We’re all just saying that it’s not worth giving up a top notch prospect for him because he’s not “that much” of an upgrade over Thames.

Posted by Brian on June 24th, 2006 at 6:24 pm

And Ordonez just doubled. Winning run is in scoring position. They’re walking Carlos Guillen so Shelton will get to hit with one out and runners on first and second.

Posted by Brian on June 24th, 2006 at 6:25 pm

WOW!!! what a game… GO TIGERS!!

Posted by Darryl on June 24th, 2006 at 6:53 pm

Awesome. Why won’t the White Sox lose?!

Crawford is not an upgrade over Thames this season. Crawford will obviously be better going forward, but Thames is just as valuable right now.

Posted by Dan on June 24th, 2006 at 9:17 pm

This is the other Jeff, the one that used to write here.

I’m with you, Brian — we should listen to offers for Zumaya. I think we need to recognize that this is a good team that will be in competition all year, but one that has too many holes to be a favorite: lefty hitters, patience, etc. Given how much players like Farnsworth went for in the last year, what if we could do something like Zumaya and Sanchez for Abreu and, I don’t know, Arthur Rhodes?

Posted by Jeff on June 25th, 2006 at 3:46 pm

And congrats on all this traffic, Brian.

Posted by Jeff on June 25th, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Abreu in a Tigers uniform would be beautiful. Of course, the Yankees will be looking for an outfielder…

Posted by Dan on June 25th, 2006 at 8:12 pm

back to the drawing board and have fun with Sheffield the headcase. DH? Right. Fugetaboutit! Yankees will win WS in ’07 with Matsukaza and Zito along with Moose and a healthy Unit and the Wang Man. Gambler needs a hand wash and a suspension.

Posted by ram on November 11th, 2006 at 7:31 am

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