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Part 3 of the D-Backs Deadline Possbilities: The Jon Garland Trade Market

As promised, here is the third edition of my delightfully time-consuming (for myself, at least) miniseries on just who might be willing to buy what the D-Backs are selling at the trade deadline this summer.  Although this might be more adequately called the Jon Garland and Doug Davis Trade Market, I personally believe that the D-Backs are more inclined to extend DD for two years, which DD seems to be open to, and which would seem to make sense for the team.  After all, DD is a strikeout pitcher, but one that does not rely solely on velocity, so it's hard to imagine him suffering the kind of tanking effect that guys like Pedro Martinez have suffered when their stuff is no longer good enough to K batters. 

Over the course of a two-year extension, by the end of which the D-Backs may be contending again, it's hard to imagine that DD would still have value less than that of a 5th starter in the NL, and with uncertainty about Webb (who seems more and more likely to be gone), we could use a solid veteran to team up with Haren, Scherzer, and top-prospect Jarrod Parker in the rotation, with the final rotation spot being one of the jubilee of average arm prospects in the farm system - Billy Buckner, Bryan Augenstein, Cesar Valdez, Matt Torra, Barry Enright, and, perhaps a few years later, Pat McAnaney (I think it's pretty safe to assume Petit Unit is officially no longer in this team's future plans), or another free-agent stop-gap if none of those kids is ready for the show.

So, although Davis is probably the more valuable and marketable asset (and will be covered to some extent), Garland is more likely to be packing his bags and putting on a new uniform before the season is over.  After all, the signing seemed to preclude from the very beginning that if the team wasn't contending, Garland was going to be on his way out as a rent-a-starter to any contending team who has had their rotation ransacked by injuries, as there is always demand at the deadline for starting pitching.  For all of his shortcomings and his disastrous home/away split, Garland can, as is often heard about solid back-of-the-rotation starters, "eat innings" for a contending team.  He needs a potent offense, to be sure, but you could do a lot worse for a fifth starter down the stretch than Jon Garland, and he's someone who has shown that he can pitch in an American League rotation, which not everyone in the NL can pull off. 

Plus, the home/away split might end up showing other ballclubs, especially ones with bigger ballparks, that Garland can be effective once he gets away from the hitter's haven of Chase Field.  His ERA is 6.33 at Chase, and a shining 2.67 on the road, despite having a home record of 3-4 and a road record of 2-5 (further evidence that W-L records are a fairly useless stat in evaluating pitchers).  For as hard-luck as DD has been, road numbers of 2-5 with a 2.67 ERA are fairly hard to swallow.  Then, of course, there's also the rant factor, with Garland recently speaking out, perhaps in an effort to try to hasten his own trade, about the team's lack of effort and how they "played like a last-place team" in one of his recent starts.  All of this said, I would be stunned if Garland is with the team after the deadline.  The only real question is whether or not we can scrounge up enough interest in him to get a couple of GM's competing for his services and driving his trade return skyward.

Another consideration that needs to be made is what position in the standings the team is in.  Not to spoil any of the exciting analysis below, but to use the Dodgers as an example, their fifth starter position currently is in flux.  They recently had Jason Schmidt start a game, for crying out loud.  But they are so far ahead of their division that they're going to make the playoffs, and once the playoffs are here, they aren't going to need a fifth starter, as rotations shorten in the postseason.  Extra little details like this are important in determining whether or not a team will decide to make a move for a fifth starter.  If they think they need him in order to make a run at getting into the playoffs, then it makes sense.  But if they're already going to make it, there's no need to acquire a guy who won't start in the playoffs.

 

With all of this in mind, it's time to get down to business.  Since Garland is a rent-a-starter, with an un-pickup-able mutual option for next season at over $9M, the list of teams who may trade from him is strictly contenders, the same list I used for last night's Chad Tracy Trade Market write-up - the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Angels, Mariners, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Dodgers, Braves, Giants, and Rockies.  Analysis on DD will be done, but only for the NL teams, as his stuff makes him an NL-only starter.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: It's no secret the Angels are looking for a starting pitcher, due to the struggles of the 6.79-ERA-sporting Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar starting exactly one game all season.  The question is whether or not they're looking to bring back the guy they just let go in free agency, Garland.  Of course, the cash-heavy Angels are one of the more frequent teams rumored to be dealing for Roy Halladay, but Toronto GM JP Ricciardi seems to believe that Halladay isn't going anywhere, as nobody has met his demands for Doc.  This has left the Angels looking at just about everybody for starting pitching help, even scouting struggling Rays former Ace-in-the-making Scott Kazmir, despite his 6.69 ERA being just slightly less-horrific than Santana's.  They're comfortably ahead in their division, but it doesn't seem like they're comfortable with having to rely on Matt Palmer in the postseason.  A Garland deal would make a lot of sense here, as the Angels have the money to take on his salary, wouldn't need to give up much in prospect value, have a giant ballpark for Garland to work with, and have catchers who are familiar with Garland's stuff.

Seattle Mariners: If they were going for it, adding a starting pitcher wouldn't be a terrible idea, as the back end of their rotation has been in flux ever since Carlos Silva went to the DL in May (not that he helped much...).  However, much of what is being heard out of Seattle is that they're closer to selling their veteran starting pitchers, namely Eric Bedard and Jarrod Washburn.  If they decide at the last moment to make a run for it, a Garland deal wouldn't be a bad idea, as Garrett Olson can certainly be improved upon.

Texas Rangers: Dustin Nippert is filling in in the back end of their rotation.  That pretty much tells the story.  And with news that Vincente Padilla will now be known for all history for being the first big-leaguer diagnosed with Swine Flu (*GASP*), another starter wouldn't be a bad idea if they're going to make a run for it.  The ballpark is scary, as Arlington is well-known for home runs, but it's not like Garland is Yusmeiro Petit.  However, they may be content until Brandon McCarthy comes back from his foot injury, as he has begun long-tossing, before trading for a fly-ball contact pitcher.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox don't have a huge need for starting pitching, or at least not enough of one to justify Kenny trading more prospects for a Diamondbacks pitcher.  It's getting kind of redundant to keep putting the White Sox on this list because they're not going to make any more moves with us.

Detroit Tigers: Despite Dontrelle Willis, the Tigers have a very good rotation.  Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Porcello are studs, Armando Galarraga is solid and has his great moments, and recent call-up Luke French is putting together a series of solid, although short, outings.  Especially being in first place and likely going to a Verlander/Jackson/Porcello/Galarraga postseason rotation, there's not much need for Garland.

Minnesota Twins: Yeah, the Twins' rotation absolutely sucks.  But they're below .500, and while it's enough to technically be in contention in their division, it's not enough to warrant going out and trading for a guy who should be a fifth starter in the AL, but probably would be slated in as their third starter.  With the Metrodome also having the third highest park factor, it's not a great idea for the fly ball-loving Garland.

AL East

Boston Red Sox: The Sox are one of those rare contending teams who were actually looking to possibly trade a starter for a bat, at least before a few injuries set in and fudged things up a bit.  They have a surplus of starters with an even greater surplus of questions marks attached to them - faux-All-Star Tim Wakefield is now on the DL with a strained back, Dice-K is on the DL with a case of suckitude, John Smoltz has been shaky to the tune of a 6.31 ERA in his time in Boston, Brad Penny, while effective, isn't the ground-ball machine he once was, and Buchholz hasn't gotten through six innings in his either of his two starts, although one of them was an effective 5.2 IP, 1 ER performance against Toronto.  However, it's hard to see them making a Garland deal with thier still-undeniable mass of pitchers, especially since Garland is a fly-ball oriented contact pitcher, and Fenway has a scarily-short right-field foul pole.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have been quiet this deadline...  too quiet.  Especially since they're now throwing Sergio Mitre out there on every fifth day, whose first start was a 5.2 inning, 4 run (3 earned) performance that he "earned" a win for, and Chien-Ming Wang is now unlikely to pitch again this season (if they'd want him to).  The Bombers, despite their off-season spending spree on CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, certainly could use another starter to help them down the stretch.  The question remains whether or not they believe that Garland could survive in the salavatingly-hitter-oriented new Yankee Stadium.  A few more of those fly balls that he relies on would likely be home runs.  A possibility, but only if they think Garland would be a significant enough upgrade over Mitre to warrant giving up a prospect or two.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are an odd situation, because on the surface it would appear that they're in need of a fifth starter, as Scott Kazmir and Andy Sonnanstine, their two options this season for that role, have respective ERA's of 6.69 and 6.61.  However, there are also rumors floating about that they're looking to deal Kazmir (with the Angels reportedly being interested, for whatever reason) because their salary is maxed out for this season, and many of their players have pay-raises built into their contracts for next year (including Kazmir) that they cannot pay for as the roster is currently built.  So if they deal Kazmir, and then turn around and trade for Garland, who makes more money, that would, one can assume, put their payroll over budget for this season by about $1.5M.  This would mean that any deal would have to preclude the D-Backs sending a little cash to the Rays, which is certainly what the D-Backs would try to avoid doing, as their goals in sending Garland away are to get rid of his salary and take a flier on a marginal prospect or two.  To make up for this, in all likelihood, the D-Backs would ask for a return of a better prospect package from the Rays, which is really not all that unreasonable, due to the VORP he would have over their other options, and the situation the Rays face, being third in a division likely to send two teams to the postseason.  A Garland deal would certainly help them.

NL West

Colorado Rockies: For Garland, two words: Coors Field.  Yuck.  Davis, however, seems to be a pretty good Coors Field fit, since he's a strikeout pitcher, but really the Rockies have a pretty solid rotation, with nobody having an ERA over 5 despite the Coors Effect.  Partially, this can be attributed to Jorge De La Rosa's ability to shut down the D-backs, as his ERA would skyrocket from 4.78 to 5.71 without his three starts against the D-backs, in which he's gone 22.2 innings and allowed just three earned runs, but nevertheless, that's pretty good work from a fifth starter.  They could really use a bullpen arm more than anything (Chad Qualls' sinker would be a good fit if they'll pay the high cost and we're willing to trade within the division).

Los Angeles Dodgers: As mentioned in the third paragraph before the break, Garland or Davis would slate in as the Dodgers' fifth starter, but the Dodgers are a team that's clearly going to make the postseason, and as such, have no need for a solid fifth starter when rotations are going to shorten to four and then three for the postseason anyways.  They don't need Garland or Davis to get them into the playoffs, so they don't need Garland or Davis at all.

San Francisco Giants: Noah Lowry hasn't pitched all season, and Randy's chronic back issues have returned, making the Giants suddenly in need of another starter.  But wait, they have uber-child Jonathan Sanchez, the butt-child of Nolan Ryan and Pedro Martinez, who threw a no-hitter that should have been a perfect game against the Padres!!! ZOMGZ!!!!!  Sorry, he just got shelled for five runs in five innings by a real major-league baseball team, the Rockies, tonight.  Also, Ryan Sadowski, their miracle-replacement for Sanchez when he was demoted, just gave up eight runs in 3.2 innings to the Braves.  AT&T Park's park factor (sixth in the majors) is scary for Garland, but for Doug Davis and his strikeouts it shouldn't be too much of an issue.  Curious San Fran hasn't come up much as a landing spot for Dougie, they could really use him down the stretch and as their third starter in the postseason, behind Lincecum and Cain, and ahead of Zito and RJ (if he returns).

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: Dempster is slated to come off the DL on Tuesday, but nonetheless, the Cubs have some minor rotation holes.  Rich Harden has been very hittable this season, to the tune of a 4.76 ERA, and everyone knows that he's a massive injury risk.  Garland's numbers aren't that much of an upgrade over Harden, but Davis staying in the NL would be.  The problem, though, is what would happen to Harden if they do make a Davis trade, as he's being paid $7M, and that kind of starting-pitching investment usually doesn't get saddled in the bullpen, especially after he showed last season just how effective he can be.  Despite their minor issues, i have a hard time believing the Cubbies make a deal for a starting pitcher.

Houston Astros: Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez have the front of the rotation set, but afterwards, there are three guys sporting ERAs at or over 4.74.  Doug Davis would certainly be a welcome addition to the Astros, and even Garland would be a slight improvement.  The biggest question is whether or not they feel that they're close enough in the playoff race to go out and add a piece to make a run.  Despite the offense's success this season, chances are they're not going to catch the Cardinals, as a Doug Davis acquisition isn't enough to keep up after the Matt Holliday trade.

Milwaukee Brewers: By far the most-talked about landing spot for either Davis or Garland, and it's not difficult to understand why.  Ryan Braun blasted the front-office for not going out and acquiring better pitching.  Manny Parra and Mike Burns are stinking up the rotation to the tune of respective ERA's of 6.42 and 6.21.  Braden Looper is their #2 starter, and he's probably a good #5 or fringy #4.  Jeff Suppan, an average NL #5, is their third starter.  Davis and Garland would be miscast as #2 and #3 starters for this team, but if they're serious about making a run, especially after what the Cardinals have been doing, adding both of these guys would be great starts for the Brewers.  The problem is that the Brew Crew have to eventually stop emptying their farm system year after year in order to acquire pieces at the deadline to keep making playoff runs, and it'll be interesting to see if GM Doug Melvin will be willing to do so again, especially since they're not getting another Sabathia and they're not going to be guaranteed of anything due to the Cardinals' moves.  Definitely a huge possibility, though.

St. Louis Cardinals: A good rotation with the exception of Todd Wellemeyer's terrible season.  However, after the Holliday, DeRosa, and Lugo trades, it's hard to imagine that this offense won't destroy NL pitching on its way to a playoff berth, and at that point, you're left with three starters with ERA's below 3 and Kyle Lohse's respectable 4.35 mark.  For a short rotation, and with that kind of offensive power, this team doesn't need to add a starter in order to be a very legitimate championship contender.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Great rotation.  Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and Tommy Hanson.  Hard to do much better than that, and Doug Davis or Jon Garland aren't upgrades for the Braves.  They could use a bat more than anything.  Random thought: Derek Lowe looks a lot like Owen Wilson in this picture.

Philadelphia Phillies: Fairly interesting situation, they're apparently counting on Pedro Martinez to make a few starts for them down the stretch, and they're also the biggest name in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes, but since it appears they're not likely to win that competition, it leaves questions as to whether or not a rotation of Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton, and Jamie Moyer or Pedro Martinez in the playoffs can really allow them to repeat as champs.  Slotting in a Doug Davis or Jon Garland in that last spot would really improve their chances, especially if they're unable to catch their big fish in Doc.

Another night, another wrap-up.  All of the possible Garland suitors are the Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, Rays, Astros, Brewers, and Phillies, with the best matches being the Angels, Rays, and Brewers.  For Davis, if he doesn't sign an extension with the D-Backs, the suitors are the Giants, Brewers, Phillies, and, to a lesser extent, the Astros.  Garland appears to have one foot out the door, the other on a banana peel, and Josh Byrnes giving a swift kick in the rear, but I'm inclined to believe that Davis is staying in the desert, and that it's probably for the best.

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