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Mike Napoli Traded To Texas Rangers For Frank Fransisco

In yet another jarring display of general ineptitude, Toronto Blue Jays GM (and newly-minted golden boy) Alex Anthopolous has traded the recently acquired Mike Napoli yet again—this time for the most fungible of baseball assets: a right-handed relief pitcher.

A dead-on average one, at that. 

It’s really hard to stress how odd this move is from the Jays’ standpoint. They’ve just traded a 28-year-old power-hitting catcher with three years of team control remaining for Frank Fransisco, a middle-reliever who will be a free agent at seasons end.

Even better—he probably won’t even net the Jays a draft pick unless he becomes the best closer in the league. 

Now, that’s not to say Fransisco isn’t without value; it’s just that there isn’t much there.

Over the past three seasons, Fransisco has averaged only 55 innings per year, accompanied with a relatively unimpressive 3.54 ERA. It doesn’t stop there—if you include the rest of his career, his ERA skips up to 3.75.

For contextual purposes, the cumulative ERA of all American League relievers was 3.89.

When Napoli’s offensive value is brought into the equation, the deal becomes even more lopsided. Napoli’s .831 career OPS is more than 150 points higher than the average OPS for catchers in 2010—but his defensive deficiencies put a damper on his overall contribution to a ball club. 

It doesn’t even make sense monetarily, seeing as Napoli and Fransisco will have salaries within $1 million of each other, once all is said and done with arbitration hearings. 

Okay, so it doesn’t make sense conventionally—that’s apparent. Nor does it fiscally; it’s a wash. How about using the dark magics that SABR provides? Let’s see what WAR has to say about the matter:

Napoli: 11.4 career WAR, 2.6 WAR per annum.

Fransisco: 3.8 career WAR, 0.8 WAR on a by-season basis.


The Texas Rangers, the other side of this transaction, really benefit greatly. They gain a legitimate starting catcher—one other than Yorvit Torrealba—and they ditch a non-impact reliever who was going to get fairly expensive fairly soon. 

Maybe we were all a little quick to crown Mr. Anthopolous as some sort of miracle worker for trading Vernon Wells. The only way this is can become a net positive for the Jays is if Fransisco is flipped for a younger, better piece in the future.

Based on how this past week has gone, he’ll probably manage to trade Juan Rivera for the son of God himself. 

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Vernon Wells Traded to Los Angeles Angels for Living, Breathing Human Beings

In a move that will almost certainly be dissected, panned and universally mocked by writers more intelligent than I, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have sent Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for Vernon Wells

Wells—who is owed $86 million through 2014—has already waived his no-trade clause and passed a physical in Anaheim. 

One must question the line of thought employed here by Angels GM Tony Reagins—has he just lost his mind, or was it already gone? Sending anything more than a lottery ticket would have been fair value, but to send two quality major leaguers? It’s indefensible. 

Now, don’t get me wrong here—Vernon Wells was a productive player in 2010. His .847 OPS was good for a 127 OPS+ and playing 157 is valuable in and of itself. However, when his defensive capabilities and plate discipline are taken into consideration, Wells becomes a much less appealing player. 

Wells, who was never a really amazing defender, has gotten considerably worse with age. His minus-31 TotalZone runs make him one of the worst defenders to play center field . On top of that, he’s one of the more prolific hackers in the majors. Wells only saw 3.24 pitches per plate appearance, “good” for fourth worst in the league, which resulted in a .331 OBP.

Who was behind him? Yuniesky Betancourt, AJ Pierzynski and Vladimir Guerrero. Out of the four, Guerrero was the only player to have an OBP above .340. Vlad, non-coincidentally, has superhuman contact skills and has value outside of drawing walks. 

Even if the Jays send significant cash LA’s way (e.g. more than $40 million), they’ve come out ahead. They’ve acquired Mike Napoli—a catcher/first baseman with moderate power, with middling defense and a similar inability to take a walk—and Juan Rivera, who at this point in his career is a dead-average fourth outfielder. Just getting rid of that tremendous albatross of a contract is amazing enough. 

Oh, and by the way: Napoli has been worth 7.2 Wins Above Replacement. As for Wells? Just 5.7. 

A tremendous trade—tremendously funny for everyone not receiving Vernon Wells, and what must be tremendously excruciating for Halo fans everywhere.

With the completion of this transaction, the Angels could have upward of $50 million tied up in three outfielders: Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, and the immortal Gary Matthews Jr. 

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New York Yankees Ink Andruw Jones, Best Center Fielder Ever

Late Thursday afternoon, after nearly an entire offseason of position-player inactivity, Yankee GM Brian Cashman inked the former Braves superstar to a one-year, $2 million contract, with another $1.2 million in additional performance-based incentives. After bolstering their bullpen with top-shelf relief arms, the Yankees’ acquisition of Andruw Jones fills the hole left by the late (not so) great Marcus Thames.

Jones, who turns 34 in April, is coming off a strong campaign in 2010 in which he hit .230/.341/.486 with 19 home runs in limited duty for the Chicago White Sox. A longtime fan favorite in Atlanta, Jones combined both power and speed to create one of the most dynamic players baseball had ever seen. After a somewhat disappointing (to say the absolute least) 2008 where he hit .158/.256/.249 for the L.A. Dodgers, Jones has resurrected his career as a fourth outfielder and designated hitter. His most notable achievement, however, is primarily defensive in nature.

Looking at Andruw’s page, the more casual fan might notice 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and consider him a very good outfielder—but even that’s selling him short. According to the advanced statistic known as defensive wins above replacement (dWAR), Jones is quite literally the greatest defensive center fielder in baseball history.  

If you’re like the majority of baseball fans, dWAR might be a little foreign to you. The statistic is based upon something called TotalZone—which is derived from detailed accounts of each and every game played since 1953. Over Andruw’s career, he has been worth over 240 runs above the replacement-level center fielder—replacement-level meaning a normal AAA player, or bench option. Those 240 runs put Andruw ahead of some of the most legendary defenders of all time—people like Ozzie Smith, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. The only player who was worth more than the newest Yankee was former Baltimore Oriole Brooks Robinson, who is the consensus greatest third baseman ever.

The Yankees expect Jones to be their fourth outfielder, and the reserve designated hitter against left-handed pitching. 


Author’s Note: This was intended for my school newspaper—hence the rudimentary explanation of dWAR. 

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