Sports Outside the Beltway

Deadline deals

Now is the time when major league teams will decide if they have a realistic chance of making the playoffs or not. If they do they will look for players who can strengthen a weakness. Still teams need to balance their immediate needs against their long term needs. If they give up too much in a trade and don’t make the post-season will they regret the move?

Ken Rosenthal gets to the crux of the problem.

“Prospects are overvalued,” one general manager says. “Four to six years ago, perceived certainty (from veterans) was overvalued, and zero-to-six players weren’t nearly valued enough.

“Now it’s completely changed. The attrition rate on prospects isn’t being valued or properly considered. There’s zero regard for the attrition rate right now.”

The attrition rate, of course, is one reason that teams stubbornly hold onto prospects, knowing that not all will produce.

But shrewd teams — most notably, the Braves — evaluate their youngsters objectively and trade players they determine to be marginal.

(The anonymous GM is speaking too generally. There are still a number teams where experience is over-valued.) But it’s not always so easy to see the future. Still nowadays the tools are there for evaluating talent more accurately than in the past.

Dayn Perry gives a rundown of what various contenders (and near contenders) need. Sometimes his suggestion is to sit pat and wait for a player to improve or to use a player already on the roster more frequently.

More interesting still is Keith Law’s (free preview) overview of the borderline contenders and what they need. For the seven teams he evaluates, he makes specific recommendations.

Obviously this is one of the hardest parts of the game. In 2000 the Orioles had a selling spree, trading off a number veterans: Mike Bordick, Mike Timlin and B.J. Surhoff, and the only player of value they got back in return was Melvin Mora. (The supposed “crown jewel” of all these trades was oft-injured pitcher Luis Rivera from Atlanta. He never made it to the bigs due to injuries. Nor did the Orioles learn their lesson when they traded Sidney Ponson, the key player to the deal was the injured Kurt Ainsworth.)

Right now the Orioles have a few players that could be attractive to the right team: Keith Millar, Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker. Can the Orioles get anyone of value in return. None of these three is likely to bring more than one prospect in return. Hopefully, if the Orioles trade anyone they won’t be looking for help this year and will take a chance on a AA player with an upside instead of a AAA suspect. Recent history hasn’t been encouraging.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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