Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Jones/Clement Value

A lot of trade rumors have been swirling around, and a lot of them include at least one of my "big three" known as Adam Jones, Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien. Many of these rumors and proposals flying across the internet seem a little off to me. Jeff Clement for A.J. Burnett? That doesn't seem right, even during this starting pitcher shortage. Proposals such as that one lead me to examine the value of our future. I'm going to focus on Jones and Clement in this blog, because it appears Balentien may be traded by default. Deals have to be made this offseason and Wlad has value, but is behind Adam Jones and Raul Ibanez on the depth chart.

Adam Jones - Potential 5-Tool outfielder.
Other current 5-tool outfielders: Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Torii Hunter, Chris Young, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holiday, Bobby Abreu, Josh Hamilton
Current former 5-tool outfielders: Vladimir Guerrero, Ken Griffey, Andruw Jones, Magglio Ordornez, Shawn Green, Barry Bonds
On the cusp (4-tool players?): Nick Swisher, Jeff Francoeur, Eric Byrnes, Mike Cameron, Jason Bay, Carl Crawford, Delmon Young, Brad Hawpe, Curtis Granderson, Aaron Rowand, Milton Bradley, Ichiro

There is a lot of names there, showing that it isn't the hardest thing in the world to find a talented outfielder. Yes, some of these names may be debatable as to whether or not they're legitimate 5-tool players (hit for average, hit for power, baserunning skills/speed, fielding skills, throwing arm), but there is also countless others I must have missed, including prospects and former outfielders/current infielders.

Jeff Clement - Left-handed hitting catcher with power potential
Current left-handed hitting catchers with some power: Victor Martinez (Switch), Brian McCann, Jason Varitek (Switch)
Current catchers with some power: Russel Martin, Jorge Posada, Benji Molina, Ramon Hernandez, Mike Piazza, Kenji Johjima, Ivan Rodriguez

First of all, I was defining "some power" as a proven 18+ homer guy. As you can see this list is a lot smaller than the crop of talented outfielders. You can thin this out even further, as Mike Piazza, Ramon Hernandez and Ivan Rodriguez may have seen the last of their power days, and Benji Molina was tough to put in this group. It is especially hard to find a left-handed hitting catcher with some pop, as Brian McCann of the Braves was the only guy I came across, besides switch hitters Martinez and Varitek.

So who really is more valuable? A five-tool outfielder in a league where some teams have two of those in the same outfield, or a power left-handed bat in your lineup at a typically unstable position? There are many outfielders in every single draft with the same potential as Adam Jones, let alone guys available out of Latin America and, to a lesser degree, Japan. Offensively equipped catchers are harder to find.

Now, we haven't seen either of these guys play enough Major League ball to know exactly what to expect, but you also have to think of what each player could bring through trade. If the best you could get for Jeff Clement is an injury prone, overpaid, sometimes good starter in A.J. Burnett, why would you even think about it? If you build a package around Adam Jones, however, there is a chance you could bring in a Johan Santana or Jake Peavey caliber pitcher. I would be sad to see Jones traded, but as long as we got a top notch ace in the deal I would be alright, especially if we could hold on to Wlad.

Allow me to stress the fact that we have no idea who will prove to be the bigger asset to their team. Unfortunately, Bavasi will probably be forced to look into his crystal ball this offseason and make something happen. All I'm saying is that if Bavasi is going to trade any of the "big three" he better not settle for a 2 or 3 starter. JE-CLE AD-JON

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