Monday, September 26, 2011

The bizarre trade of Pedro Strop

John Daniels of the Texas Rangers may be the most Jekyll and Hyde of general managers. He has made some historically great trades (the Mark Texiera trade comes to mind), and some historically poor trades (the Adam Eaton trade, sending Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young to the Padres). Even last year, he brought in Cliff Lee before the trade deadline and Vlad Guerrero out of free agency to help them win the AL Pennant, but also sent prospects away for Jorge Cantu and Christian Guzman, who did nothing. This year, he also signed Adrian Beltre, traded for Mike Napoli and brought in Mike Adams in a deadline deal, but he has also made some some strange mistake (the Rangers have clinched their second straight AL West title, so it is safe to say that the good moves have beat the mistakes at this point). Another move I find bizarre is the Pedro Strop-Mike Gonzalez deal made at the end of August. It was originally said that the Rangers would give up a "player to be named later" for Gonzalez, and I was thinking some longshot A-ball player. The next day it was announced that it would be Pedro Strop. On a baseball Facebook page, I suggested that this was a horrible move to part with such a good young pitcher. Someone shot back that the Rangers have plenty of good minor league pitchers and won't miss him. As a famous college football analyst might say, not so fast my friend. Just to give an idea how valuable Strop was to the AAA affiliate of the Rangers in Round-Rock, lets compare him to his teammates. Strop was tied for the team lead in games finished with 29, had the best ERA out of pitchers that pitched in at least 20 games, gave up just 2 home runs in 47.2 innings, had the most strikeouts out of the bullpen, and still has the team lead for saves. For the Orioles, he has been fantastic, appearing in 10 games and registering a .9 WAR (.09 WAR an appearance, Mariano Rivera is averaging just .06 an appearance this year). He has given up just 1 earned run giving him an ERA of .84 with a .656 WHIP. It is a small sample size, but he is pitching about as good as anyone right now. Mike Gonzalez has just a .1 WAR as a Ranger (in 6 games that is a .016 WAR per appearance). He had just a .2 WAR with the Orioles, so it is hard to imagine that they expected more from him. Worst of all, Gonzalez is a free agent at the end of the season, while Strop is not a free agent until 2016. Strop is making just $412,000 (about a WASP of 152 for his time as an Oriole), while Gonzalez is making $6 million (a horrible wasp of 20,000 for his time as a Ranger). One may argue that because the Rangers are in a pennant race, Gonzalez is in more pressure situations and more valuable because of it. That is not true either, his leverage index (what baseballreference and other sites use to measure pressure situations) is at .8, while Strop is at 2.0. This means the Rangers aren't even using him in pressure situations, while the Orioles are throwing out the 26 year old pitcher out in the fire (the average situation is 1.0)! Another amazing statistic for Strop, despite being a right-handed pitcher, his Batting Average against lefties is .133! Gonzalez is a left-handed pitcher and his BA against lefties is .208 (nothing to sneeze at, but righties are batting .283 off of him). In late/close games, Gonzalez has given up a BAA of .313. When the game is on the line, every hitter turns into Wade Boggs against Mike. He has also struggled against some of the teams the Rangers might face in the playoffs (Boston Red Sox are hitting .360 off of him, Yankees .306, Rays .261). Not good news for the Texas Rangers on this one.

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