Search This Blog

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Analyzing The Samardzija and Hammel for Russell and Straily Trade

Somewhere between the late hours of July 4th and the early morning of July 5th, the Chicago Cubs sent over starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A's in exchange for star SS prospect Addison Russell as well as OF prospect Billy McKinney and starting pitcher Dan Straily. Even though the Cubs now do not have the best rotation in baseball, I like this trade for both teams. Truthfully, you can't analyze a trade less than a day after it happens, and you need to the gift of hindsight to truly see which team won a trade. The last time the Cubs and A's traded with each other, the Cubs received fantasy stud SP Rich Harden, and the A's got 4 minor leaguers, including a young catching prospect named Josh Donaldson. At the time, it looked like the Cubs stole Harden away and was now in legitimate competition with the Milwaukee Brewers who had just acquired C.C. Sabathia. However, some six odd years later, the acquisition of Harden ultimately did nothing for the Cubs, and now Josh Donaldson is one of the best players in baseball. But with all of that being said, as of the making of the trade right now, I think it's a smart move by both sides.

Let's first start with the Oakland A's. The Athletics have the best record in the American League, and as of the writing of this post, have a 3.5 game lead in the AL West over the L.A. Angels. The A's have the best run differential in the majors (+129) and an offense that includes the aforementioned Josh Donaldson, as well as Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, and Brandon Moss. So far, the A's have had the 3rd best offense in baseball and the 2nd best offense in the American league behind the Angels.

Their rotation on the other hand, is being patched together by duct tape and smoke and mirrors. The A's do have the 10th best rotation in baseball, but it's filled with guys like Sonny Grey, Scott Kazmir, and former RP Jesse Chavez. While the A's have a great organization that can make guys like Chavez and Grey great pitchers, they also benefit from playing in that huge Oakland Colosseum ballpark that's advantageous for pitchers. The A's are looking long term and want a deep enough rotation to make it to the World Series. A rotation of Grey, Kazmir, and Chavez is fine for the regular season, but when they have to go up against Justin Verlander/Anibal Sanchez/Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers or even Jered Weaver/C.J. Wilson/Garrett Richards of the Angels, the A's former rotation just won't hold up. However, now? They absolutely will be able to go toe-to-toe with any rotation.

Jeff Samardzija is a top of the rotation talent who is under contract for not only this year, but next year as well. He currently has the 20th best WAR among starting pitchers while hosting a 2.83 ERA with a 3.07 FIP. Samardzija doesn't give up home runs, isn't getting lucky this year, and can strike a guy out. While he moves over from the National League to the American League, he gets to call one of the best pitchers park in the majors home, has a great defense and bullpen behind him, and there's not a single offense in the AL West that Samardzija will get to face that scares you.

But not only did the A's acquire Jeff Samardzija, who was clearly the centerpiece of this deal, but they also get Jason Hammel, who is fantastic depth and has experience playing the American League. Hammel is currently on a one-year deal, so he meant nothing to the Cubs this year, and was guaranteed to be traded like how Scott Feldman was a year ago. After leaving Coors Field, Hammel has had a pretty good career. He had a surprisingly great season for the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, and was having an above-average season for the Cubs this year. Hammel currently has a 2.98 ERA, a 3.16 FIP, and K/9 a tick under a batter an inning. Hammel also has the 11th best K/BB in the majors.

With this move, the Oakland Athletics deepen their rotation to maintain homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, as well as giving themselves an extra boost to make a deep run while in them. Billy Beane has had some fan-fucking-tastic regular season ball clubs (including the 2002 team depicted in Moneyball), but has never even made it to the Championship game, nevertheless the World Series. This move helps him reach that goal.

On the other hand, having a great rotation was worthless to the Chicago Cubs, despite them having one of the best in baseball. The Cubs are clearly in rebuilding mode, and has a shit ton of hitting prospects like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant who are currently in the minors and will eventually join 25 year old Anthony Rizzo and 24 year old Starlin Castro in the majors. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs are just collecting young hitting prospects and 20 year old Addison Russell and 19 year old Billy McKinney (who was the A's first round draft pick last year) fit right in with what their doing. Russell is an elite prospect who already ranks as the third best Cubs prospect right now, and McKinney is considered top ten. The Cubs are looking three years down the line when they have the best offense in baseball. I would bet you Russell moves from SS to 2B because the Cubs have Castro at SS and Baez will play 3B, or he'll move to the outfield where the Cubs prospects there are putrid (and another reason McKinney is so valuable to the organization). Considering how good the Cubs rotation has been this year filled with guys off the scrap heap, and having free agency pick ups like Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel continually work out for them, the Cubs have shown they can put together a rotation when they need to. They just don't need to have a good rotation now.

Speaking of pitchers off of the scrap heap, the Cubs acquired SP Dan Straily in this deal. This feels like a Jake Arrieta situation. Last year, the Cubs traded away Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles for RP Pedro Strop and SP Jake Arrieta. Arrieta was an elite prospect who was absolutely atrocious for the Orioles. After three years of the failing Jake Arrieta experiment, the Orioles gave up on him. Now, Arrieta has a 1.81 ERA, a 1.96 FIP, and K/9 of over 10. He's now one of the best pitchers in baseball, and this situation feels almost exactly identical to the A's and Dan Straily.

Straily is only 25 years old with big league experience. As a former top prospect in the Oakland system, Straily has had cups of coffees in the majors over the past three years. However, after posting an ERA close to 5 in only 38 innings this year, the A's decided to send him back to the minors again, because they couldn't afford to be patient with him. The Cubs on the other hand, have lots of time to be patient with Dan Straily. They're not even close to competing for a playoff spot this year, or even next year, and seeing as how they turned around guys like Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel, and Jake Arrieta, there's no doubt in my mind they can do the same for Straily.

That is why I like this trade for both the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland A's. The Cubs get elite prospects to help them win three years from now, while the Oakland A's get starting pitchers to help them win a World Series this year.


If you would like to comment on this post, please visit our Facebook page