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August 04, 2007

Thoughts On The Gagne Trade

Texas traded reliever ERIC GAGNE to Boston for pitcher KASON GABBARD, outfielder DAVID MURPHY, and outfielder ENGEL BELTRE.

Pretend that Texas led the AL West in late July and needed an ace reliever for the stretch run. Also pretend that Texas had a surfeit of starting pitching (use all your imagination). If Texas traded Kam Loe, Kevin Mahar, and Cristian Santana for Eric Gagne, how would you feel? (Maybe not a great comparison – Texas really doesn’t have an analog for Beltre -- but I think I’m in range. Your mileage may vary.) I’d miss Loe a bit, and I’d worry about Santana. But on the whole, I’d be happy with the GM.

As a fan on the receiving end of the prospects, I’m a bit underwhelmed. No, Gagne couldn’t hope to bring Teixeira’s bounty, but even if the Red Sox collapse, what are the odds that they miss any of these players?

Gabbard’s a ground-ball specialist and a lefty, two prized attributes in Arlington, but his 3.65 ERA in 67 Major-League innings rests on an unsustainable .265 BABIP. Indeed, his brief MLB career contradicts his run through the minors, which has consisted mostly of harsh beatings whenever he advanced a level followed by eventual, moderate success. He’s also already undergone four elbow surgeries. I worry that he’ll eventually reside in that Tweener Zone occupied by Mike Wood, John Rheinecker, John Koronka, and the like.

Maybe Gabbard evolves into a decent #4 starter. I hope so. Regardless, this statement…

Gabbard, who has a 1.12 WHIP and has held opponents to a .196 batting average this season, immediately becomes the Rangers' best young starting pitcher. Put him at the front of a line that includes Kam Loe, Brandon McCarthy and Eric Hurley.

…tells you all you need to know about the Dallas Morning News’s Tim MacMahon.

Outfielder David Murphy has yet to justify his 17th-overall selection in the 2003 draft. Murphy spent three years at Baylor, has never been young for his level, and has a career minor-league line of .273/.343/.407. He’s never slugged better than .447 or achieved 15 homers in a season. His OBP, while acceptable, won’t mitigate the lack of power. He appears to add a fourth outfielder to an organization already swimming in them.

The wild card, very wild, is Beltre, a 17-year-old outfielder fresh out of the Dominican Republic. Beltre received the tenth-highest International signing bonus in 2006 ($75,000 above Texas’s Emmanuel Solis) and is among the most highly regarded of that class. Baseball America described him as “loaded with tools? and possessing a “huge ceiling? but also “raw? and “years away from the Majors.? An 0-13 skid dropped him to .208/.310/.400 in the Gulf Coast League. To the tiny extent that rookie-level stats have meaning, he’s shown good power (five homers in 137 appearances), adequate patience (8% walk rate) and a scarifying strikeout rate (30%). Beltre’s the one to watch in this deal.

Finally, I’m astonished that the Yankees didn’t top Boston’s offer.

Posted by Lucas at August 4, 2007 11:11 AM