Friday, July 17, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
To read the first part of this trade analysis, you can click "Can Rich Harden Stay Healthy?"
This article will break down the rest of the pieces included in the A's/Cubs trade, including Sean Gallagher and Chad Gaudin as well as the other players involved in this trade.
To skip over Chad Gaudin's section and read about Sean Gallagher, please click here.
Gaudin was the most interesting part of this deal because he's treated like a throw-in, but in reality he was worth another top-10 prospect or at least a couple solid mid-level guys.
By the Numbers
Gaudin has maintained decent K-rates throughout his major league career, but they have always been accompanied by poor control. Not the case this year, as his BB% has dropped from 11.3% to 6.5% this year. It's not all that surprising since going back all the way to 2002 (his first professional season) he has displayed pretty good control. It's only been at the big league level where has showed off good control.
Nevertheless, Gaudin has performed well despite his control issues, posting an ERA of 3.09 as a reliever in 2006 and 4.42 as a starter in 2007. This leads me into another thing Gaudin brings to the table:
He gives you versatility as he can be used as a starter and reliever -- doesn't seem to make a difference to him. And he performs well in both roles.
One area that would make Gaudin profile better as a reliever is his problems against left handers:
3 Year Splits (05 - 07)
vs. LH - 511 ABs, .288/.393/.464/.857
vs. RH - 554 ABs, .253/.327/.394/.721
This year, however, the splits look completely the opposite:
vs. LH - .263/.306/.338/.644
vs. RH - .250/.309/.411/.720
The difference? According to his manager, he's using both sides of the plate with his fastball and slider, something he didn't do previously.
Gaudin seems to plant funny. He brings his front leg all the way around to where his front foot is pointed behind the left hand batter's box. You can see this in the graphics below, but here is a better look:
I don't know what effect it has on him...I just find it odd. Other than that, I don't see too many red flags. He has a step-over move to kick-start his hip rotation, and generates decent separation between his torso and hips.
One thing Gaudin does well is firm up his front side to prevent himself from flying open. He also leaves the glove out in front of his chest instead of tucking it into his side, giving his arm more room to decelerate. You'll notice below Gaudin "comes together" at release, which is an indication of him firming up his front side.
Fastball - Gaudin has two fastballs he uses relatively equally. Neither one is a big pitch in terms of velocity as it ranges from 89 - 92, but there is plenty of movement on both pitches to keep hitters honest. The two-seamer helps Gaudin generate a good amount of ground balls.
Slider - Gaudin complements his fastball with a slider, which has a more curveball type action. The pitch usually is clocked in the low 80's. Given the lack of velocity on his fastball, Gaudin throws his slider a lot to both lefties and righties in an effort to keep hitters off balance. The pitch looks similar enough to his fastball where hitters might have a difficult time discerning which pitch is coming.
You'll notice Gaudin's a little bit further along in his wind-up when throwing his fastball, but I'm not sure if this is a consistent problem. It may explain his past control problems because the arm is having to catch up to the body, making a problem related timing.
Fastball Grade - 55
Slider Grade - 50
Change-Up - This pitch is used almost exclusively against left handers and is thrown in the mid-80's, but profiles as a less than average pitch, but good enough to toss into his arsenal.
Grade - 45
One of the more underrated pitching prospects in baseball coming into the year, Gallagher has established himself as at least a solid back end of the rotation guy with the upside of a good No. 3 starter. Why pitchers like Chuck Lofgren and Greg Reynolds rated higher than Gallagher, I don't know.
Fastball - Gallagher has a fastball that ranges anywhere from 89 all the way up to 95, while possessing above average life, tailing away from left handers.
One reason Gallagher wasn't rated as highly as other prospects was because of a lack of projection, meaning he was already a big-bodied pitcher. Gallagher, however, managed to add two or three mph to his fastball because he worked hard and got in great shape. My point? Keep in mind there are different ways to add velocity other than filling out a projectable frame or adjusting one's mechanics.
The fastball below is probably the best one you'll see from Gallagher: 95 mph (though the gun could of been just a bit fast).
Fastball Grade - 55/60
Curveball (on right) - Big breaking 12-to-6 type curveball. His curveball is usually thrown in the mid to upper 70's and the average difference in velocity between his curveball and fastball is about 16 mph.
Slider (on left) - Pretty good late breaking action on the pitch. It's kinda slurvy and not as tight as some of the better sliders you'll see. It actually looks like a cross between his curveball and a high fastball coming out of his hand. The pitch is good enough to get swings and misses.
Helping Gallagher is rather than guiding his off-speed pitches into the catcher's mitt, he throws these pitches with the same intent he uses to throw his fastball. As a result, hitters gear up for something hard only to have their balance thrown off when the curve drops in.
Curveball Grade - 55
Slider Grade - 50
Gallagher will also sprinkle a change-up into his arsenal, but mostly relies on his fastball/curveball/slider to get hitters out. He has pretty good command of all his pitches though he runs into bouts where his control is inconsistent.
Not gonna spend too much time on Gallagher's numbers, but he has put up strong peripherals for most of his minor league career, but as I mentioned earlier, his control has been back and forth.
To initiate an aggressive hip rotation, Gallagher employs what I call a kick-out (which you can see in the graphics above). It acts sorta like a timing mechanicsim, meaning he forcefully kicks out his front leg and his hips subsequently rotate, while his arm begins to move aggressively through its arm circle. By rotating his hips this way, Gallagher creates the separation between his torso and hips necessary to produce good velocity.
A kick-out is different from a step over move where a player strides forward and then appears to step over an imaginary object before planting, which helps in picking up momentum just before foot plant. Both initiate an aggressive hip rotation, but each move is carried out in different ways.
My feeling is the aggressiveness of that kick-out has a major impact on the velocity a pitch is ultimately thrown with. Franklin Morales had a similar kick-out move and one reason he lost velocity on his pitches was because his kick-out was less forceful -- softer -- than last year.
Murton, I've felt, has been one of the more underappreciated players in baseball for a couple years now. Let's get out of the way what Murton does not do well:
Play Defense, Run, Throw.
Some would have "hit right handed pitching" on that list, but when given regular playing time, Murton has shown the ability to hit right handers.
Ultimately, what Murton gives the A's is an average to above average bat, one with solid power that can hit for a decent average and take a walk to get himself on base. He's cheap and he'll be under their control for a number of years.
Murton has a simple power hitter's swing. He loads his hands well, plants firmly on his front leg, and uses that as a base in which to turn on. You'll notice he keeps his swing short and lets the ball travel deep into his hitting zone. His swing isn't tailored for huge power nor is his bat speed, but he has enough power to profile as an average everyday corner outfielder.
Patterson will probably be able to carve out a utility role in the majors for a number of years. He runs well, gives you versatility as he can play a bunch of positions, and does a bunch of things in an average way. There are a couple things he does well, but nothing he does great.
One thing he's proven to be throughout his minor league career is inconsistent. His numbers have varied greatly from year to year. The ultimate cause in his variation has been his batting average, or going one step further: his BABIP.
Overall, he's not a bad third piece to include in this deal.
Donaldson is an interesting player. He was struggling mightily at the time of the trade (.217/.276/.349/.625), but tore up the Northwest League last year playing for Boise, a relatively neutral place to play. He hit for power (.259 ISO-power), showed excellent plate discipline (18.7 BB% vs. 16.7 K%), and hit for an outstanding batting average (.346). This year has been exactly the opposite.
Thus far, the trade has done wonders for Donaldson, though it is only 25 plate appearances. He currently has an OPS of 1.183 for A+ Stockton. He'll be a guy to watch down the line.
The Better Deal: Harden/Gaudin to the Cubs, Sabathia to the Brewers?
My feeling is that the Indians got the best prospect involved in both trades (LaPorta), but a young and cheap middle of the rotation starter is nothing to scoff at. Neither are two major league ready players in Murton and Patterson.
The X-factor in this trade was Gaudin. When you line up both deals without Gaudin, I think a case could be made for either one (though we still need to see who the PTBL is). But the inclusion of Gaudin shifts the advantage over to the Cubs. While the Cubs got the best deal, as I said in the article about Rich Harden: I would still rather have Sabathia on my side due to the risk Harden carries in terms of health.
With all that said, I don't have any doubts each team got what they wanted and based on what each team received in return, I think all four teams will in some form come away as winners.