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Michael Young is saying goodbye to Texas and hello to Philly
            After years of requesting for a trade, Michael Young has finally received his wish from the Rangers' front office. Young, 36, is heading to the Philadelphia Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla. The Rangers will pick up $10 million on Young's $16 million tab for the 2013 season. The trade was pending Young's agreement to waive his no-trade clause.

            Michael Young was the face of post-Alex Rodrguez baseball in Arlington. During his tenure with the red, white, and blue, Young hit .301/.347/.444 while spending time at every infield position and DH.  Additionally, Young had become the Ranger's all-time leader in games played, hits, doubles, and runs, all the while becoming one of the most popular and well respected players in team history. However, the Phillies are not receiving the player that accomplished all of those feats and accolades. Instead, they will insert Young as their starting third baseman just one year removed from one of the worst all-around seasons by anybody in recent memory. Young hit poor .277/.312/.370 (despite playing in one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball) and was a well below average defender (-12 defensive runs saved) during his limited time in the field. He compiled a -2.4 win season (second worst WAR in 2012), which more than likely contributed to the Rangers falling one game short of the division title. Now, the Phillies are expecting a sudden rejuvenation from a player that saw his walk rate and line drive percentage decline and ground ball percentage increase by over 6 points. If you're Ben Revere and you increase your ground ball rate, that's a good thing; if you're Michael Young, however, a lot of those ground balls will end up becoming outs.

            In addition, Young has experienced severe home/road splits that question his ability to hit outside of Texas' friendly confines. His home numbers (.320/.368/.479, .351 BABIP, 114 OPS+) present him to be an above average hitter while his numbers on the road (.283/.326/.410, .319 BABIP, 86 OPS+) make him look much more pedestrian. Even with Citizens Bank Park being favorable to hitters, it still does not match Arlington's offensive prowess and Young should expect his numbers to further decline. If there is one positive from Young's season, it is that he had the second lowest BABIP (35 points below career average of .334) of his career and his performance was likely further spoiled by this bad luck. Even if his BABIP returns to norm, I have a hard time believing Young will be anything above replacement level (0.0 WAR), especially so when his already atrocious defense should not take a transition to the hot corner well.

            While Young gives the Phillies a strong clubhouse presence and  someone who will not embarrass himself at third, is he really any better than Freddy Galvis ? Even with Young's "leadership" ability, he has complained frequently about his lack of playing time in the past, twice requesting for a trade. Ironically enough, the Rangers made the World Series the year he asked for a trade following the signing of Adrian Beltre. I am not going to try to insinuate any more about Young as a person, but can a guy's personality alone be worth $6 million? Regardless, I think it is telling alone that the Rangers would be willing to trade a franchise icon and swallow $10 million for a couple of relievers.

            As for the Rangers return in the trade, relievers Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla will be headed to the Lone Star state. Lindblom performed admirably in his 2012 rookie season, finishing with a 3.55 ERA, 110 ERA+, and an 8.9 K/9 ratio. Lindblom sits in the low to mid 90's, and flashes a plus slurve. Overall, Lindblom was a middle reliever in 2012 and should continue to be one throughout his career. As for Bonilla, he offers exciting potential after dominating (1.55 ERA, 12.4 K/9) in high A Clearwater and double A Reading. He mixes a 92-96 mph fastball and a strong changeup that features excellent movement. Some scouts believe that both of these pitches qualify as plus-plus, or elite level. He struggles with his control at times, but the Rangers added an exciting arm with the potential of a solid closer.

First Impressions

Winner: Texas Rangers. Despite losing a franchise legend, the Rangers are the victors of this trade. While the pitchers received offer only reliever upside, Young became a black hole of sorts and was overpaid. With this trade, the Rangers free up a bit of cash and should not find it hard to replace Young's on-field production.

Loser: Philadelphia Phillies. Although one would find it hard to believe that acquiring a 7-time All Star for a couple of relievers is a bad decision, this is what this trade embodies. Young really is not much of a player at this point in his career and offers little to no upside over any alternatives. While I do expect Young to rebound, it still should not be enough for the Phillies to get their money's worth.

-Aidan Flynn

 
 
     After speculation that the Phillies were dangling pitcher Cliff Lee for an outfielder like Justin Upton or Jacoby Ellsbury, they did end up trading a starting pitcher for an outfielder. However, that pitcher’s name was not the former Cy Young winner.  Vance  Worley was sent to the Minnesota Twins along with minor league pitcher Trevor May for outfielder Ben Revere.  With Ellsbury and Upton most likely commanding lengthy and expensive contracts in the near future, the Phillies decided to go with a less expensive option. 
     

     Ben Revere has played about two-thirds of a season each of the past two years with 117 games in 2011 and 124 a year ago.  In those two years Revere has shown he can hit for a decent batting average and steal a lot of bases.  However, he has proven to hit for almost no power as he has yet to go yard in a major league game.  In 2012, Revere batted .294/.333/.342 with an OPS+ of 89 and 40 stolen bases.  With his speed and league-leading ground ball percentage (67%), Revere figures to be slotted in the leadoff spot for Charlie Manual’s squad.  The one thing that is worry-some for the Phillies is that he does not walk nearly as much as he should.  He walked just 29 times last year in 553 plate appearances.  Revere is also a great defensive outfielder.  Playing some of all three outfield positions in 2012, Revere made zero errors, saved 8 runs and had 8 assists.  Revere had a WAR of 2.4 last season and being just 24 years old, the Phillies expect him to improve on that number as he will man center field at the bank in 2013.  

      The Twins biggest problem is pitching, as they were second to last in the American league with a team ERA of 4.77.  After trading Denard Span to Washington, the Twins have now given up another outfielder for two young pitchers in Vance Worley and Trevor May.  Worley has two years of major league experience but has not thrown more than 133 innings in a season yet.  He was much better in his rookie year, with an ERA+ of 127, than his sophomore season (95 ERA+).  One noticeable difference for Worley was his BABIP.  In 2011 batters hit .283 off Worley on balls put into play, and in 2012 his BABIP was .340.  This could be a sign of some bad luck for Worley in 2012.  He did however not strikeout as many batters in 2012 as he struck out 7.2 batters per nine innings compared to his 8.1 mark in 2011.  Overall, this is a nice addition to a Twins rotation that certainly needs 
some help heading into 2013.  

Nick Rabasco

      This trade saw another power arm head to Minnesota, this time with Washington state native Trevor May. May entered the season as the Phillies' top prospect. During his breakout 2011 campaign for high A Clearwater, May had a 3.63 ERA and struck out a ridiculous 12 batters per nine innings. However, 2012 was a reality check as May struggled mightily with his control (4.7 BB/9) and home runs (22 HR in 149 innings) in double A Reading. His mid-nineties heat with excellent sink and a plus curveball still allowed him to strike guys out (9 K/9), but not at nearly the rate he was the year prior. Despite his prototypical pitcher's frame (6'5", 220 lbs), he struggled with maintaining his stuff and velocity throughout games, which lead to poor pitch execution (often leading to a home run). This combination of control issues and fatigue could lead him to the bullpen, where his stuff could play up and minimize his shortcomings. If May manages to regain his control, he should be a solid middle of the rotation starter. However, the jury is still out on May's ability to throw strikes, with most feeling a transition to the late innings is inevitable. Regardless, the Twins added a talented pitcher that should help their club in some capacity by 2014. 

First Impressions 

Winner: Twins: If the trade was just Revere for Worley, this would have about as equal a trade as possible. Although May isn't special per say, his talented arm was enough to swing this trade in favor of the Twins, a team in desperate need of pitching.

Loser: Phillies: Again, not a knock on Revere, but the Phillies really did not need to include a top prospect. Either way, the Phillies got a more than serviceable outfielder that should provide excellent defense and hold his own in the NL East.


Aidan Flynn


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Ben Revere is taking his talents to the City of Brotherly Love.
 
 
       After another disappointing start that included the second shortest outing of his career, Roy "Doc" Halladay is experiencing his worst season since 2004. Halladay has 4.40 ERA (highest since 2000) and his numbers across the board have had serious decline. His K/9 is a pedestrian 7.43 (down from his 8.47 a year ago), his walks per nine are the highest since an injury shortened 2004 campaign), his left on base percentage is at a below average 69.2% rate (down from 78.1% last year and his 73.4% career average), and his ground ball percentage has also dwindled from his career average of 54.5% to 45%. In addition, hitters are hitting line drives (23.1% compared to 19.2% career average) and home runs (1.01 HR/9 compared to .75 HR/9 career rate) at a greater percentage off Doc than ever before. If those numbers are not shocking enough, how about that 51 starting pitchers have thrown more complete games this year than Halladay, the active leader in complete games.
   So what can be attributed to this statistical and performance slide? Well to start, Halladay went on the DL for the first time since 2009 with a strained latissimus dorsi. Even yesterday, after his seven run shellacking, Doc admitted he still is not 100% healthy. In addition, Halladay has seen a steady decline in his fastball, cutter velocity, and curveball velocity. As the case with a velocity decline, pitchers usually have less margin for error since hitters are able to adjust easier and punish mistakes. This is evidenced not only by his lackluster results but also a higher contact percentage rate against each of these pitches. However, pitchers with decreased velocity can sometimes face little performance tradeoff if their control is maintained or improved. Yet, as mentioned earlier, that is not the case as Halladay is walking more batters at a higher rate (5.3 BB%) since 2004. Of course this rate remains well above the league average of 8.5 BB%, but this still is not typical "Doc" and certainly has had some influence on his poor performance this season.
    So how much of this is attributable to injury, old-age, or bad luck. His BABIP of .299 this year is right at league average so bad luck on balls in play really is not a factor. However, his left on base percentage is well below his rate of the past couple of years (averaged a 78.58 LOB% from 2008-2011) and below league average (72%) so some bad luck may be the case here. However, most of the data does not point to regression to the mean which signifies that it is unlikely we will ever see Doc and his surgical precision again. Not to mean that he cannot remain a valuable middle of the rotation pitcher in the coming years (still has a very solid 3.67 FIP this season), but his times as a bona-fide ace are probably numbered.
   With only 1 guaranteed year remaining on his contract and a recent injury history, Halladay's 2013 campaign will be a pivotal stage in his career. At this point, Halladay is probably a borderline Hall of Fame candidate needing several more productive seasons to ensure Cooperstown immortality. In addition, despite an impeccable and storied resume, Halladay will face his hardest test in the coming off season, when he will be doubted for the first time since his first career revival in 2000 with then minor league pitching coach Mel Queen. Unfortunately, Queen has since passed and Halladay is much different from the immature 23 year old kid that completely changed the path of his baseball future under Queen's tutelage. This time, Doc will be the one under the knife.

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Roy "Doc" Halladay is amid a mid-career crisis.
 

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