News, Analysis & UpdatesAugust 28, 2004

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Bill Bavasi Strikes Gold

By Paul Erlick

Two trades happened a while back that were of major fantasy baseball significance. One of them has been pretty much been beaten to death at this point so there is really no need for me to cover it. It involved an outfielder changing leagues to a team that would welcome him. I’m speaking, of course, about the Atlanta Braves acquiring Jackson Melian from the New York Yankees for a player to be named later. (Okay, so there was that Beltran deal, too.)

But the other trade that happened has me positively puzzled. On all surfaces the trade seems like it helps both sides, with the Mariners receiving a terrific prospect in Jeremy Reed as well as the services of a useful catcher in Miguel Olivo, while the Southsiders by all appearances got what they wanted in starting pitcher Freddy Garcia and backup catcher Ben Davis. But if that was all I had to say here I wouldn’t be doing a good job of digging deeper.

Let’s start with Seattle. The Mariners should be painting the town red right now, or whatever color you paint a town, in the knowledge that GM Bill Bavasi did something right for a change by acquiring what some consider the number one prospect in all of baseball now that Joe Mauer is in the majors, 23-year-old Jeremy Reed. My bible, Baseball Prospectus, tells me that Reed, “has been putting up ridiculous numbers,” and that “he has more promise than Joe Mauer.” Reed hit .333 in A-ball last year, then got promoted to Double-A where he hit .409. .409? Aren’t numbers supposed to go down at least a little when you move up a level? Anyway, Reed is a Don Mattingly, Tony Gwynn type whose skills will make him a perennial all-star someday soon. He may need a bit more time in Triple-A, but we should look for him in ‘05.

Miguel Olivo is also a nice addition, although he has had his difficulties calling a game. He’s only 25, so there is still time for him to develop and have the type of breakout season Ramon Hernandez had last year. He deserves to get the full-time job in Seattle, although the Mariners have a history of loyalty to veterans like John Olerud, Dan Wilson, and Pat Borders, all of whom really should be sitting in a rocking chair by now. But this move is also great in that the Mariners dump a salary of nearly $7 million dollars to the White Sox, which gives them some money of their own to spend.

But the White Sox? Look, I know you can never have too much starting pitching, and with Jose Contreras, Mark Buerhle, and Jon Garland on the staff, the White Sox are indeed getting an upgrade here. But there is a caveat: Freddy Garcia is not that good. He had potential a while back, and his ERA of 3.20 at the time of the trade looked excellent, but that was bound to rise upon leaving Safeco. Even though he may get a few more cheap wins than before, this is a trade that will show that Freddy Garcia can’t pitch well now that there is some meaning behind these games going into September. The only thing Freddy Garcia really excels at is looking like the Rock. My advice to all you fantasy owners out there is to trade him right this minute if you haven’t done so already (and if your trade deadline hasn’t passed). Don’t wait for him to make even one more start with the Sox. Many people’s mouths will be salivating now that he pitches for a better offense. Don’t you be fooled, you can still get considerable value for him right now if you trade him away. I see an era of 4.25 or higher from this point on (so far, it’s been 4.79 since the trade, still somewhat masked by his 3.84 season mark) and some very sad owners.

From a ‘real’ baseball perspective I don’t like the trade. Do the White Sox really think that they can win the World Series by getting Garcia? That’s the only way to explain why they would part with Jeremy Reed. It just doesn’t make sense when all they would do should they still make the playoffs is get bounced by the Yanks or those other Sox.

In fantasy terms, this trade was a cue for Garcia owners to sell high. Congratulations if you have done so; that is how you win a fantasy baseball league.

There’s the buzzer ending my time. Remember, always think outside the box because the biggest geniuses aren’t afraid to take chances.

Paul Erlick is a student and a broadcaster at Temple University. He goes by the moniker of perlick29 here at the Cafe. When not thinking or writing about fantasy sports, he spends time with his girlfriend, eats, and sleeps.

Did you profit from this year’s big-league transactions? Were you able to sell high or buy low? Share your successes and failures!

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