The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What Did We Get For Doug Davis?

Let's first dispatch with Dana Eveland and David Krynzel. Ahren points out that Krynzel is blocked in a well-stocked outfield anyway, and he probably is at best a platoon player. Here's a list of injuries that the 25 year old has suffered:

1. Thumb injury.
2. Broken foot.
3. Hit in head by Rick Ankiel.
4. Broken Clavicle in mini-bike accident.

This guy is a combo of Kellen Winslow Jr. and Charles Rogers. For a guy with pretty limited pop, he's also lousy at getting on base has suffered severe declines after each injury. He puts together an occasional short stint of quality ball that keeps him around, but this kid probably tops out as a platoon player.

As for Eveland, he's a fat, hard-throwing lefty with lousy knees and no out pitch. I don't need to consult my baseball prospectus here. Eveland gets hit hard by righties and lefties alike. You'd think that his velocity and his slider would at least qualify him for LOOGY status, but his slider stays over the plate far too often, and he overthrows his fastball in tight situations which takes away his movement. He's also likely to get injured.

Doug Davis on the other hand, is a quality starter. A durable lefty, an innings eater, and a reliable quality start every time out make Davis a valuable commodity. I could even see him turning into a Jamie Moyer type as time goes on, if he can cut down on his HRs. Losing Dougie is big, and the Crew better be getting something in return.

When considering Johnny Estrada it's worth remembering that he was actually pretty good until his confusing collision with Darin Erstad a few years ago. That said, he's declined since then, he has a bad back, and since he's a catcher he will likely hit the wall pretty quick. He allegedly handles a pitching staff well, but I don't believe in that as a skill, so I'll ignore it. Maybe Estrada rebounds and he will likely split time with Mike Rivera (we still have him, right?), but it's hard to see how Estrada provides much more than replacement level. (In 2005 he has a VORP of 3.5 and a WARP of 3.1, in 2006 he had a WARP1 of 2.9.)

Greg Aquino is a converted infielder with a good arm. My guess is that Mike Maddux thinks that he can turn this kid into something. He's no spring chicken, but when you convert you lose a few years and his arm is probably younger than the rest of him. He's shown promise, and while his ERA has fluctuated wildly, his PERA tends to rest in the 5.00s. (His EQERA, like his ERA, is all over the map).

I'm guessing that the coaches see something in this kid that they can fix in short order. His somewhat advanced age and his "project" nature make him a stereotypical Doug Melvin scrap heap acquisition.

As I've been reading Baseball Prospectus to check these guys out, I've noticed a pattern in the pitchers. They are almost all described as "homer prone." Perhaps the Brewers see this as a correctable problem, or indicative of something else. Anyway, the label also applies to Claudio Vargas. Nothing really jumps out at you about Vargas, but he has at least been solid. Ahren, in his analysis, compares Vargas to Davis and finds them roughly equal, and Vargas is likely cheaper. I can't find anything to disagree with there. One other positive about Vargas is that Miller Park (I think) should be a more pitcher-friendly park than Arizona's stadium, although I'm often wrong about parks off the top of my head.

I think the trade is a calculated risk. Estrada is probably junk at this point, but Krynzel and Eveland are also garbage. When the Brewers trade players, the first place to look is the pitchers that they acquire, and it's at least plausible that they will replace Davis's production for less money (in the near future) and possibly pick up another valuable arm as well. They are, once again, counting on Mike Maddux to work his magic, and it's not a bad strategy. I'm luke-warm on the trade, but it's certainly not a stupid trade, and it has potential.

Finally, the Astros are just insane for giving Carlos Lee that much money. If you like fat, slow, defensively challenged corner outfielders with old-player skills coming off of a contract year in which they played 33% better than at any other time in their careers, well then this deal is for you.


  • i guess i can't see davis turning into a "moyer-type," because his big strength is striking people out and his big flaw is walks. moyer is pretty much the opposite. they both have a good chance to be old and left-handed in a few years though.

    you are right about the parks-- arizona is maybe the best hitter's park in the league now that colorado plays with artificially wet balls. however, parks are factored into the statistics i used to compare davis and vargas.

    a more interesting thing might be to look at the specific strengths/weakness of each park, and how they fit each pitcher. unfortunately, i don't know much about arizona beyond the fact that it's generally a really good hitter's park. miller park, however is a very good home run park to left field, making it a good park for right handed hitters, and theoretically-- a bad park for lefty pitchers.

    on one hand, this might mean davis is better than he really looks (like pettitte in houston the past few years). on the other, vargas is a righty, so the park tilts to his handedness a bit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 PM  

  • an additional consideration, is that while davis' control has never been very good, it really went south last year. it never quite got to rick ankiel levels, but it sure came close on several occasions.

    in my mind, in a case like that, the team that has the player is quite likely to have way more insight into the problem than any outside team. is there a chance of an undiagnosed injury? has he developed a significant mental block of some sort? has his body aged in a way that no longer allows for his particular delivery to be repeatable?

    i would be very wary if i were the d-backs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:25 PM  

  • Davis shouldn't really be getting "less sharp" at this point, should he? My understanding of the pre-Brewer's version of DD is that he only had a medium fastball and an unlocatable curveball, and he just nibbled at the outside, walked a ton of guys, didn't get many strikeouts, and only lasted 4-5 innings because he didn't have an out pitch. Someone in the Brewer organization then taught him a cut fastball and he instantly got much better, including in his control. If he's declining from that point, it may very well be that some flaw, injury or otherwise, has developed in him. I'll bet that by the end of next season this ends up looking pretty good.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:08 PM  

  • as i recall, the end of davis' texas career was mostly due to a fairly significant injury (maybe tommy john, maybe a shoulder thing-- my memory isn't that great) sustained in 2002. i can't remember if he had a big surgery or not, but i vaguely remember that he did.

    his "becoming good" happened in 2004-- which is about the time you'd see a full recovery from something like tommy john or a labrum injury. i'm sure the cut fastball had something to do with it as well, as you say. either way, the fact that last year he slipped back to bb/k levels similar to 2002-2003, would make me a very suspicious buyer.

    (more on eveland over on my page now, too)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:02 PM  

  • Couldn't have been TJ I don't think, there's not a long enough break in his performance. I see 19 starts in 2002, 30 starts in 2003. They might have just waived him for no specific reason.

    By Anonymous Greg, at 1:13 PM  

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