Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jesus Montero, Lars Anderson and the Deadline

As the MLB trade deadline looms, players at all levels are on the hot seat. Saturday was a busy day involving several names of note:

Jesus Montero

I witnessed Montero for the 3rd time this season on Saturday night and he has yet to disappoint.His plate approach is full of confidence and comfort. The 6’3”, 235-pound catcher has exceptional hand-eye coordination and bat speed to couple with his high power ceiling. His name has been swirling in trade rumors this summer, most notably for Felix Hernandez (who the Seattle Mariners have since taken off the trading block) and Ubaldo Jimenez (who is all but traded to the Cleveland Indians).

Holding top prospect status with New York has become somewhat of a curse as Brian Cashman consistently moves his youngsters at the deadline to acquire highly touted Major League level talent. With one more day of deadline rumors to go, Montero’s name will surely be attached with almost anyone the Yankees look to acquire.

Lars Anderson

A deal is all but finished at 10:48 PM EDT to send PawSox 1B Lars Anderson and a player to be named to the Oakland Athletics for SP Rich Harden. A perennial favorite of and the Boston Globe’s Jason Mastrodonato, Harden is an interesting acquisition for the Boston Red Sox. When he’s on, Harden’s off speed pitches mix exceptionally well with his fastball to produce utterly dominant performances on the mound. His propensity to rack up high pitch counts by missing the zone, however, has chased him from starts by the 5th far too frequently.

Anderson’s departure isn't enormously surprising. His ability to hit for average has been mitigated by his lackluster power performances in the minors. With Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis both capable of playing 1B, it seems logical that Theo Epstein would want to move the 23 year old while his trade value is still high. Anderson is likely to end up with the Sacramento River Cats (AAA) in the PCL once the deal is finalized.

EDIT: As of a short time ago, the deal has reportedly fallen through per Ian Browne of No one seems to know why. Updates on Sunday when something concrete is released.

Red Sox beat writer Alex Speier tweeted at roughly 2:30 AM, "Uncertainty after review of medicals led to Harden deal coming apart." Sox reporter Gordon Edes perhaps said it best:

"Harden has an injury history as long as a career felon's rap sheet -- he has made 10 trips to the disabled list in his career -- but the Red Sox were well aware of that when they decided to make what appeared to be one of Theo Epstein's patented, low-risk, potentially high-reward deals. Still, once the Sox investigated further Saturday night, they decided that Harden could not be counted upon, and the Athletics were informed the deal was off, according to a major-league source."

Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride

A lackadaisical night at the ballpark turned to a mixed bag of emotions as my Colorado Rockies dealt ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians for pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz (Akron-AA), Alex White (Columbus-AAA), and Joe Gardner (Akron) as well as 1B/OF Matt McBride (Columbus).

The return for the Rockies is absolutely tremendous. Colorado’s inability to develop quality starting pitching has been an issue since the franchise’s inception. Jimenez is the first Colorado SP prospect to arrive in Denver with true ace potential. GM Dan O'Dowd knew that curbing mediocrity could be accomplished by moving one of Jimenez, Carlos Gonzalez, or Troy Tulowitzki. As questions circled regarding Ubaldo's consistency, O'Dowd's decision to make a splash of this magnitude is met with incredible optimism.

The addition of the three highly touted arms to a list featuring Christian Friedrich, Tyler Matzek, and Peter Tago leaves Rockies fans very excited at what the rotation will look like in 3 years. Pomeranz, taken in the 1st round of the 2010 draft, can’t officially be moved to Colorado until August 15th because he was drafted last June. White was projected by Baseball America as the #2 starter on the board in the 2009 draft after standout Steven Strasburg. Gardner, taken in the 3rd round in 2009, is developing at AA after a strong 2010 season with Kinston in the Carolina League (A+).

Ultimately, the Jimenez deal is what the trade deadline is all about: needs were addressed by both sides but the stories for each player are far from written. This wouldn't be any fun if it was scripted, would it?

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