Evaluating the Hairston and DeRosa Trades

Two significant swaps have been made recently; the move of Mark DeRosa to St. Louis, and Scott Hairston going to Oakland.

Let’s view both deals through the Guttridge-Wang Trade Model, and see if it doesn’t provide some illumination.

Before we start; the WAR figures here are compiled from publicly available calculations of WAR, to which I apply aging factors and calculate weighted averages. For Major Leaguers, I use WAR calculations from FanGraphs, which are wOBA and UZR based for hitters, and FIP-based for pitchers. If and when Minor League data must be part of a projection (which generally means a player who has spent more than just rehab time in the Minors over the past 2.5-3 years), I use MLE FIP’s from Minor League splits for pitchers, and use Minor League Splits’ MLE on hitters to produce a wOBA calculation, which I then convert to WAR using Fangraphs’ methodology. The Minor League data will rarely be a big part of the equation, however; for anyone with less than a year of service time, we are using Victor’s previously described prospect slotting method. And trades of players with, say, 1.5 years of service time are pretty rare.

Are these the figures I would use if I were sitting in a front office? Nope. But for the purposes of understanding a club’s rationale and the implications of a trade, this will do fine. One thing this methodology does accomplish, that you don’t often see elsewhere; many/most projection systems fail to include 2009 data when projecting value for the remainder of 2009. As in, if a player had wOBAs of .320, .335, and .307 over the last three seasons (which would predict a .318, using 5-3-2 weighting), and was at a .343 wOBA halfway through 2009, his projection from here forth is not still .318. This should be obvious, but it’s a common mistake.


Thumbnail image for derosa 1.jpg
Got to love this for the Cards.
Middle infield has been a black hole for several years, and going from the likes of Brendan Ryan and Tyler Green to Mark DeRosa is a very large difference. I still think holding off the Cubs is going to be difficult, and they’ve got no shortage of WC competition. But it’s time for them to go for it… this move is consistent with that goal, and they don’t give up anything terribly precious.

Their bullpen is thin, and frankly, has been pitching a bit over their collective head. Nonetheless, the loss of Perez is not significant at current.

As I’ve mentioned before, these trades are not zero-sum equations (due to divergent near-term goals and varying ability to replace a given player). So the above assesment does not mean I believe the Indians ‘lost’ just because the Cardinals improved their lot drastically.

I just think they lost because this deal makes little sense to me. Sure, Perez is an arm with some significant upside (which I can attest to personally; I’ve stood in against him several times between the ages of about 13 and 18… not fun), and that projection is likely selling him well short (he’s dragged down pretty hard by ’07). But even if he takes a gargantuan leap forward in the next 12 months, he’s what… a 1-1.2 WAR player? 1.5, tops? Further damning is the fact that relief pitchers tend to be overvalued in the market (including the arbitration courts). If they’re pinning very large hopes on contending next year, and feel cheap bullpen talent must be a top priority towards achieving that goal, well… then okay. But did you really have to give up Mark DeRosa and his draft pick for the hopes that a 6th/7th inning guy will develop into a cheap 8th-inning guy? Let’s plug that into the model, and see what happens if Chris Perez shows up next year pitching like the Rafael Perez of 2007-2008. Heck, I’ll even slot them as ’10 contenders (a dubious thing to do on many levels) and effectively double-count Perez’s hypothetically inflated value.


derosa 2.jpgSo, for the Indians to come out anything better than basically a wash here, Chris Perez has to start pitching like a borderline closer next year and stay on that path as long as he’s under control. I like Chris Perez, but it’s a stretch to like this trade for the Indians.

Onto the Hairston deal…


(Ed note: Since originally penning this article, two significant things have happened. 1) I happened to meet Scott Hairston, and we spent 5-10 minutes talking about the trade and this article. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy. 2) Sean Gallagher has been identified as the PTBNL. I will let my original comments and graphs stand, but Kevin Towers hasn’t lost his mojo after all; this now looks like a pretty good trade from both ends.)

Makes sense to me from the A’s perspective, even though they’re not ‘buyers’ right now. But Billy Beane is always a buyer, or seller, when the price is right–as GM’s should be. The reason I like this trade is the entire basis for this trade model; Billy Beane found surplus value. Scott Hairston is more valuable than his salary, and was able to be acquired at a cost that was less than that difference. Whether it’s in 3 weeks or 6 months, Beane now has the option of parlaying that surplus value into a more specific piece he may need. Or he may decide Hairston is the best allocation of that resource, and keep him. But this was a simple asset collection; nothing less, nothing more.  

As far as the Padres are concerned, this is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Especially since I tend to find my thinking more in line with Kevin Towers’ moves more often than probably any GM in the game. Now, it’s said the third player is somebody at least moderately significant, and not just your garden-variey PTBNL. So I’ll reserve final judgment until more is known. But neither of the two known players are special; one is a live arm with a track record of largely dreadful results, and the other is a low ceiling-guy with lukewarm results. Italiano, being the higher upside guy… I can live with that incredibly-long-odds gamble, so long as he’s a bit of a tertiary player to the deal. But Kevin Towers is the master of finding 4th starters and solid middle/late relievers and platoon outfielders on the free (or virtually free) talent markets (in fact, it’s how he got Hairston in the first place), so he doesn’t need to shed meaningful assets in return for such talents. The PTBNL needs to be more than a good bet to be the next Justin Germano, or someone much more likely to realize his upside than Italiano.


7 Responses to Evaluating the Hairston and DeRosa Trades

  1. David says:

    You do realize that that PTBNL (most likely Todd or Samuels) was the bigger piece of the DeRosa trade, not Chris Perez, don’t you?

  2. Adam Guttridge says:

    No, I didn’t know about the suspected PTBNLs. But Perez has always been more highly regarded than Todd. And Samuels may have great stuff, but he’s also walked 8.1 per 9 IP thus far in his minor league career. I may bump Todd higher than the 500k present value figure listed for a PTBNL, but not enough to change the picture significantly for Cleveland. Maybe to 1.1m or so.

  3. David says:

    I’m not trying to claim it’s a slam dunk for the Indians, but I don’t understand your rational. You’re equating this season’s WAR (when they are not contending) to WAR in later seasons when they hope to contend. Also Josh Barfield is not their replacement player for DeRosa; considering that he never played 2B and that he was playing more OF than 3B\1B after Valbuena was called up, Matt Laporta, Ryan Garko, Kelly Shoppach, Ben Francisco, Michael Brantely, Andy Marte and/or Chris Gimenez would more accurate replacements.

  4. Adam Guttridge says:

    “You’re equating this season’s WAR (when they are not contending) to WAR in later seasons when they hope to contend.”
    Value is value. Value in the future is less valuable than value in the present (all things being equal), and value that works meaningfully towards contention holds a higher surplus value than that which does not. All those things are accounted for above. I even gave the Indians a 2010 contention bonus on Perez’s future value, which is VERY generous to do at this point.

  5. David says:

    I certainly disagree; value is incredibly relative. Haven’t you read any the articles that go into how a win is worth significantly more when it pushes them into the realm of contention (ie: a win that gives a pushes a club to 70 or 100 wins is worth something around 4x less than a win that pushes a club to their 90th win).
    Given that Cleveland will not be contending this season the added win or two from DeRosa is essentially useless, and canceled out by his remaining salary, while the wins that Perez and/or the PTBNL potentially hold true value. Valuing those wins as equal is a flawed model in my opinion; especially when the an incorrect replacement player is heavily weighted and half the trade is virtually ignored.

  6. Adam Guttridge says:

    I don’t value them as equal. I take that into account. Re-read the TH article.

  7. Sky Kalkman says:

    But did you downgrade DeRosa’s value to the Indians this season because they’re not in contention? And “anti-bonus”? That would seem necessary. If everything’s going to be translated into monetary terms, then you need to give context to DeRosa’s 2009 production. To the Cardinals, those 1.3 WAR are next to worthless and bring in much less revenue than they cost. If you agree that the Indians are probably a .500+ team in future seasons, paying for 1.3 WAR down the road is a much better option, even if you don’t give them as large of a contention bonus as the Cardinals 2009 situation has created.
    Am I right that your spreadsheet is unavailable publicly and that you haven’t shared your method of calculating present vs. future value? Just wondering if I’ve missed something somewhere. Thanks. – Sky

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