Saturday, September 25, 2004


A Tough Call

Last August 26, Brian Giles cleared waivers for the Pittsburgh Pirates and a trade was made with the San Diego Padres. This trade involved a pitching prospect who was disapointing thus far (Oliver Perez) and an outfield prospect with 3 major league games under his belt in Jason Bay. The trade seemed odd at the time, because the Padres were in last place in the NL West and the Pirates were in their normal position of mediocrity in the NL Central. Star players like Giles are not usually traded to worse teams midseason, but are traded to contenders. Of course, San Diego is a contender this year, but I was wondering if they would be contending more thanks to the seasons Perez and Bay are enjoying in Pittsburgh. Incase you did not know, Bay is a rookie of the year candidate in the NL (oddly enough contested by the Padres shortstop, Khalil Greene) while Oliver Perez has Cy Young caliber peripherals with a .500 record for a bad team. Giles is having a season that on paper is not as good as Bay's (at first glance), but his stats are hampered by Petco Park, the toughest hitters park in baseball this year. Which makes me wonder: how dominating may Perez have been with half of his games in Petco? Bay and Giles are essentially a toss up (with park considerations in effect, if I am proved wrong later when the official numbers come out I'll make note of it and hang my head in shame.)

Giles: .283/.376/.476 (.851 OPS) 10/13 stealing, 87 BB, 152 GP, 23 HR, 29 2B

Bay: .291/.367/.574 (.941 OPS) 3/6 stealing, 38 BB, 112 GP, 25 HR, 24 2B

Pretty close...Bay owns the slugging (Giles slugged .521 last season in Pittsburgh in an injury hampered year; his last healthy year of 2002 he slugged .622. Chalk that up to Petco and age.)
Still, we give it to Bay considering next year he might be better (0-1, Bay)

Giles is leading in OBP by a slim margin, but is also hitting for less average thanks to Petco. Plus he doubles Bay in walks (1-1).

Average is a toss up, Giles may have lost 10 points of average, maybe more, but definetly not less. (2-2)

Steals are not a huge factor for either, but Giles did hit double digits in steals with a 77% success rate for a team fighting for a wild card spot, so I feel like I have to give it to him. (3-2, Giles)

Doubles are a toss up, we already discussed walks, and Bay would win the homer game thanks to Petco Park. (4-4)

So its time to look at OPS to see who can shake this tiebreaker. The problem with OPS (at least the OPS used in the media) is that it just adds apples and oranges together (slugging and OBP). That is not exactly accurate, so there are ways of tampering with the OBP figure to give you a more telling OPS number. Bill James feels that OBP is twice as important as slugging, and Billy Beane goes as far as to say its got a 3:1 importance. That was just a little lesson since they are so close anyways, so it is basically still a toss up, with maybe a slight edge towards Giles for the sake of knowing what your getting.

As far as Perez goes, I'm sure Giles can throw a strike if he had to, but not enough to rack up 225 K's in 28 starts. Perez has put up a 3.14 ERA, 225 K's, a 1.15 WHIP, and a .203 BAA for a poor Pittsburgh team. That figures to a 10-10 record. Looks kind of like Clemens' numbers with a higher ERA (now that Clemens had a great start last night anyways). So we could figure Perez for 17 wins maybe with a successful team. Like the Padres. Of course Perez may not have pitched like this without a change of scenery; there was a lot of pressure on him as a rookie in 2002 and he performed in limited duty, but injuries cut his prospect status into little pieces for the next season. He did have a 3.50 ERA his rookie year, but he had a 1.50 WHIP and almost a 2:1 K/BB ratio, compared to a 1.15 and a 3:1 on the money this year. Then again a healthy season combined with Petco Park may have given this kid an extra boost. Like Jake Peavy and his 2.27 ERA this season for the Padres. Let's just picture for a second Jake Peavy, Oliver Perez, and David Wells pitching in a 5 game playoff series...I feel it is safe to say they would reach the NLCS, even if they had to face the Cardinals. Also, Brian Lawrence has a 3.92 ERA, not especially awesome considering Petco, but good enough for a4th starter. The Padres have gone to a four man rotation for the stretch run, which is a great idea in itself, but I think it may be even scarier if Perez was involved.

Overall, this was not a bad trade for the Padres. Acquiring a player of Giles stature can be a big boost to a team that may not have confidence in themselves, finishing in last place and all. Bay may not have broken out as well as he did in a pitcher's park like Petco, and maybe Perez did just need a change of scenery. I can only sit here and wonder where the Padres could be right now.

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