Thursday, August 05, 2004


Trade Review

The Expos have made a couple of trades and while I think Minaya was pretty overrated before this year (check out his past deals - even allowing the excuse of his hand being forced they were pretty lousy), I think he pulled off some winners this time.

Carl Everett for John Rauch and Gary Majewski

Everett has pop, or more precisely he has pop when he's actually playing. If there is one place the Expos might have a surplus of talent on the offense side of the ball it's the outfield. Ok, "talent" might be too strong a word but they do have a decent number of young guys (Chavez, Sledge, Church, whichever of Broadway or Johnson they'd like to try tomove out there) that they should play out to see which (if any) are going to step up to be contributers 3-4 years down the road, which Everett is not.

As for the prospects, let me key you in on my thought process on these guys. At ages 17-22 a prospect is learning. He can have bad stats but still be a good prospect. He might be trying out new pitches, a new stance, whatever. His focus isn't on excelling, but on learning the right way to play. From 22-24 you got a prospect who is adjusting. Anything that he didn't get quite right, he's now refining. He can still have questionable stats but he should be progressing. By the time you are 25-26 you are settling, you should be finding your level. Maybe its in the major leagues or maybe you'll be at the deli slicing meat. You are barely a prospect. After 26, you should enjoy the best years of your career, hit age 30, get traded a couple of times as you behold what the ravages of age does to 5-tools or a decent curveball, hit age 34, go home and find out how much your autograph is worth at local card shows.

Rauch is basically not a prospect anymore. He's in his settling stage and frankly - it's not all that promising. Once the top pithcer in the White Sox system, he seems destined to be a #4/#5 innings eater if he's lucky. That's not a bad thing and it's not something the Expos don't need, but don't expect anything more than that from Rauch.

Majewski is 24 and refining. I'm pleased with his stats (note: I don't try to evaluate minor league stats that closely) and think he'll be a pretty good middle relief guy. Of course that's the 'spos strength right now, but an excess of decent relief pitchers is a good thing, especially come trade deadlines. There they can easily turn into decent position prospects.

Some people think they could have gotten more but all in all I think it was a fair value exchange, especially for an oft-injured 33-yrold malcontent (big words!)

Orlando Cabrera for Francis Beltran and Brendon Harris...oh and Alex Gonzalez

Originally the deal was going to be Cabrera to the Cubs, which is how we could send a guy to Boston and get three guys from Chicago. Once Nomar became available, the Cubs said "Oooh Daddy, that one's shinier. I want that!", the Red Sox needed a replacement (actually they really didn't - weren't they playing well without Nomar to begin with? Oh those silly Sox) so the Expos agreed to send him long as they could still get there guys from Chicago

Cabrera is good, no doubt about it. Better than he'd been playing this year, his potential lying somewhere between All-Star and solid contributer. But he did not want to play in Montreal, and I think it affected his play. Not to say he was purposely tanking. I don't think major leaguers do that. There's too much ingrained in them from year of ball that tells them to hit the ball in front of them or dive to make that play. It's instinct. If they're playing, they're trying. More like the thought of playing for the Expos was a nagging cold, bringing Cabrera down enough to have an extended slump. And if he was going to be like this all season - only to leave in the end, better to get rid of him now and get something in return. He'll be good in Boston, and wherever he ends up after that, but Expos fans can't worry about that because unless they were moving and a lot of money was tossed at him, it wasn't going to be with this team

Gonzalez is just there because. He should be as good at hitting as an unmotivated Cabrera. Fielding will suffer a bit but he'll be gone at the end of the year

I really like the other pickups they got. Neither of them are real young but both are ready to contribute now (or more likely - nex tseason). Beltran is a fantastic middle-relief/closer dominant in Triple A, a little wilder than he needs to be (22BB in 35IP) but with fantastic strikeout numbers(40K in those same 35IP). Batters don't hit him very well either, just .214 this season. His main problem is the longball. 8 given up in such a short period. Looking at his games played, he's generally really good 2 out of 3 times but that 3rd time, watch out. I'm saying that's transition kinks that'll be worked out in a year.

Harris has hit on every level he's played at, including a brief 3 game stint with the real Cubs this year. He won't be Albert Pujols (as some fancy baseball book apparently once compared him to) but he should be a very solid 3B. His fielding is nothing to write home about - but it is workable, unless they want to move him to 2nd (something the Cubs had been toying with). Luckily the Expos have a second baseman of the future (and present). I imagine he'll be next years starting third baseman.

Pierre Luc-Marceau for Jeriome Robertson

Marceau doesn't seem to be anything worth worrying about. His low minor league stats aren't awe-inspiring. I also don't think he's real young

Robertson, if you remember, had a great fluke 2003 winning 15 games despite having a 5.10 ERA. He's shown some skill (2002 PCL pitcher of the year) and pitchers develop a little slower than batters, but I don't see what he'll be doing here. Replacement 5th starter for Day? The Epxos have plenty of mediocre pitchers. Out of the bullpen work? The Expos could use another lefty (both Majewski and Beltran are righties), but it wasn't imperative when Eischen came back. I guess he'll be a lefty spot starter / long reliever to break-up the all righty rotation. I guess.

Overall judgement

The Expos didn't make out like bandits but they did strengthen next years team. The relief pitchers they picked up Beltran and Majewski, along with what they have already, should give the Expos a lights out bullpen next year. That could mean trade bait next september to get a can't miss prospect or two. Harris should be a regular contributer to the Expos for years, at worst a Joe Randa type of player. Solid, dependable. At best he could be something special. The starters though are nothing more than back of the rotation guys when they need an ace, or at least a consistent #2. They also didn't get the power they need. Losing Everett is fine. Losing Cabrera hurts, but it was going to happen. Overall good, but not great.

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