you keep the Useful Pieces; Dr. D will keep the stars


... of course we are discussing a Golden Principle.  Golden Principles are not absolutes.  They are compass headings.  Many times two or three Golden Principles are in play, and have to be weighed against each other.  

It's a Golden Principle, in boxing, to protect your chin (the 'magic button' that concusses) and to go after his.  But what if his hands are head-high, he's standing straight up, and his solar plexus is the opening?  Then is the Golden Principle to take what he gives you?

What if you decide that you will take $1.25 on the dollar, but you are receiving only a 50-cent piece and three 25-cent pieces for a single $1 player?  You wind up making this trade:


cents Player cents Player Remark
1.00 Doug Fister .50 Charlie Furbush M's thought Furbush SP > Fister
.25 Casper Wells Age 26, he looked about like Saunders
.25 Francisco Martinez Fairly shiny grade B prospect
.25 Chance Ruffin Looked about like Tony Zych
1.00 1.25 But count your fingers again


And the above is EXACTLY what happens in these 4-for-1s.  Two years later you have completely forgotten about three of the four pieces, and you're left with Hisashi Iwakuma for Booger Powell.

And, and ... this doesn't even consider the fact that you run in the chain-link fence that is the 25-man roster.  only get 25 slots on your roster.  Even if Ruffin IS worth 25 cents (which he was not) then don't forget your NEXT-best reliever has value too, as a delta.  What is that value?  Is it 27 cents, or only 23?  Never forget that that roster slots #26-30 are 22-cent players.  So let's say that the "Replacement Level Players" are 23-centers, what does it scan like then?


cents Player cents Player Remark
.77 Doug Fister .27 Charlie Furbush M's thought Furbush SP > Fister
.02 Casper Wells Age 26, he looked about like Saunders
.02 Francisco Martinez Fairly shiny grade B prospect
.02 Chance Ruffin Looked about like Tony Zych
.77 .33 Nice thinking there, Jack


Bill James wrote, 20 years ago, "there exists NO QUANTITY of lower-tier players you can trade for Barry Bonds and make the trade work out."  You could literally trade 100 Chance Ruffins for one Felix Hernandez and remain a fool.



This is why Dr. D's bearings are so fixed on the question of --- > Taijuan? or Karns?  or Elias?  Dr. D isn't focused on whether the M's could get back a reliever with Ozuna if we coughed up Taijuan Walker.  Those "bulk players" will be gone in two years.  Dr. D just wants to give up Elias, and get back the best player in the deal.  That's the way to look good 2 years on, and it's the way to keep your 25-man roster flexible.

That said, EVERY major league team is aware of the above.  We will absolutely guarantee you that - as confidently as we ever put ANYthing on this blog, we advise you that these GM's are swordfighting to give up / get back the better ML player and throw in the extra fodder.

In fact we asked James about this just recently.  He said, Every GM thinks he's getting back the best players; the difference is only in the evaluation.  Texas thought that Tom Wilhelmsen was the best player in the Martin deal.  DiPoto is hoping that Leonys Martin was the most important player among all four, or if not, that Boog Powell will be.  Dr. D fancies Texas' side of the deal, on the basis that both Martin and Powell will be very forgettable.


Adam Conley - good suggestion for a LH reliever who could help the M's next year.  He had a 8.0* / 2.8 / 0.9 slash line in 2015 but couldn't really crack their bullpen priorities, it doesn't seem.  AT A GLANCE Dr. D would like to have him, BUT.  In a deal where we give Elias + Romero + Ramirez + Nuno + 20 players who are not in our plans.  Not as a way to make up the difference between Ozuna and Taijuan.

Justin Bour - alternatively, we could trade for Logan Morrison.

;- ) Actually this is what DiPoto is doing a lot of -- trading sideways, but for players he believes in.  Reminds me of Arsenal.  They pass the ball around the perimeter, biding their time, knowing that things will show up.   Jerry DiPoto is not going to hear us, on this blog.  We're talking about which deals that fans should be rooting for.  

Other Marlins - they've got any number of useful pieces.  If it's me, I give them Elias and my OWN "useful pieces" :- ) or I do not make a deal.  Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make ... like, saying No to the Doug Fister trade woulda been a whale of a trade.



Matty had a cool shout:


From my fantasy #Baseball files - the three trades I've made that took my wobbly, bottom-feeder team to back to back champion status were all one guy the other guy severely coveted for three guys I wanted type deals. (The actual numbers of players varied...but still)

(2014) George Springer (hotly coveted prospect) to my top rival in exchange for Matt Moore (d'oh!), Chris Tillman, and Alex Rios (later turned Rios and a pitcher into Cano for the stretch drive)

(2014) Mike Trout, Kendrys Morales, Luke Gregorson, Hector #Santiago to my chief rival at the time in exchange for Alex Gordon, Mark Teixeira, James Paxton, Koji Uehara, and C.J. Wilson

(2015) Michael Brantley and Andrew Miller to another club in exchange for (wait for it)...Josh Donaldson, Matt Wieters, Chris Archer, and draft cash.

The axiom that you always want to get the best player in the deal is a nice guidepost, but you do have to look positionally...


Springer for Moore, Tillman, and Cano ... :- ) this is exactly what James was talking about.  You're fine to deal 1 bigger name for 3 lesser ones, as long as the lesser ones include Matt Moore.

Trout for five ML'ers who take up slots #4, 5, 8, 10, and 12 on your roster?  Sure t'ing.  If the Marlins want to give us five All-Stars for Taijuan, I'll consider it.

Donaldson was the best player in the deal even pre-season.  Then you get Chris Archer, LOL ...

Nice trading Matty.  The application to Elias and ? for Ozuna and ? we'll leave to the reader.  ;- )



If DiPoto gives up James Paxton and window dressing for Marcell Ozuna and a "useful piece," I'm going to rip the trade. ... well, it would be a statement from DiPoto that he thinks Ozuna WILL break out.  That, or Jerry DiPoto is too concerned with his own preferred style and "Run Prevention Model" to be objective.

Run Prevention Model.  Don' that sound soooo much cooler than "Good pitching beats good hitting?"

:- / Let's not get so carried away with *a certain kind* of good player that we give up great players for good ones.  Bottom line is, you need good players period.  Good players against "certain kinds of good players," that's dollars against dimes.

Free K-Pax,

Dr D



The pre-trade position in each of those deals was me giving up the highest-point-value player by our league's heavily SABR-oriented scoring system:

Springer was projected to score 750 points, Tillman was a 650-700 point starter, Moore got hurt and disappeared but was a 700 point player at the time of the trade, and Rios was another 600-650 point player.  Rios had a hot first half and I parleyed him and Rick Porcello into Cano (that would be a best player going my way deal. :) )

The Brantley deal was a guy who just scored 1120 points and the second best point-scoring relief pitcher in baseball (second only other ace reliever, Dellin Betances) in exchange for an 850 point 3B, a 450 point catcher (because of expected injury time) and a SP coming off an 800 point season.  He was overvaluing Brantley, perhaps, but the dude had an epic season the previous year.  I projected Donaldson to be worth about 1000 points, my rival thought 800, apparently.  He as actually worth 1150. :)  And of course, he thought of Archer as an 800 SP and I thought of him as a potential 1000 point starter...and he was worth 1085.  So...I was closer in my projections and won the trade handily...but based on the available data, I was giving up the best player.

And Trout (1280 points) for five guys, none of whom was worth more than 700.

And those trades won me the league twice in a row, along with savvy waiver pick-ups and other minor moves.

I agree with your larger point...most of the time, I want the best overall player in any deal.  But most of the time is not all of the time, and Taijuan Walker is much more sizzle than steak right now.


it was a lot better than the projections.  Those are the trades Dr. D dreams about making.  Have seldom been able to make trades as good as those were.


And in any case, Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Josh Donaldson, etc. are not what I'm trying to deal with here when we talk about 'useful pieces.'  We're discussing role players -- relief pitchers who don't close, platoon guys, etc.

If you're talking about blue-chip prospects rather than 27-year-old part time players, yeah.  Dr. D sits back down at the table :- )


...I'm not talking about Chance Ruffin level pieces...I'm talking about established big leaguers who are club controlled.  And I'm not talking about trading Mike Trout...I'm talking about trading Taijuan Walker.

Oh...and here's how I view the Mariners' position right now.  We have four stars (Felix, Cano, Cruz, and Seager), three other interesting players with star potential (Walker, Paxton, and Elias) and a bunch of fungible dogmeat filling out the rest of the roster...except for the gigantic, catastrophic holes we have in our bullpen, in RF, and at 1B if we're trying to unload Trumbo.  So we have like 5 holes to fill, no money to fill them, and we still have to resign Iwakuma.  How exactly do you plan to do that if you don't turn one of our interesting star-potential players into several gap-fillers.  Not just relievers...the RF, the 1B, the RP, and a replacement starter, perhaps.


... the trade can work out.  Especially since the key to the deal is Marcell Ozuna, whose *health* projects better than Taijuan's.

If the 'useful piece' turns out to be a starting position player, or an 8th/9th inning pitcher who becomes a Wade Davis type "useful piece," you might be OK.  Better be sure you're getting Wade Davis rather than Chance Ruffin tho :- )

I'm keeping Taijuan.  Some other guy can keep Ozuna.  We'll see where we are two years down the line... 


Part of my thing is, if I don't get Ozuna, it's not that big a deal to go get somebody else who's comparable.  I don't want to say Ozuna is a "dime a dozen" type, but ... seems to me we're under this huge imperative to get a fun defensive outfield.

For me we are not talking about Jason Heyward or Justin Upton here.  We're talking about a RH Michael Saunders type.

But if an SSI denizen (or Jerry DiPoto) sees Ozuna as a 4-, 5-WAR player in Safeco, of course that's a different thing.


... as you wrote above, that Doug Fister deal looks pretty good on our side if we don't make it ...

Elias + a reliever, or not at all.

Heyman's (and others') remarks on the subject seriously underestmate Elias' true value. Ozuna's talent realization is no sure thing, either (speaking to the inherent presumption that Elias won't improve) ...


... I should add further that, without really doing any research on the subject, but just from my sense of overall results across baseball, Elias would be most teams' Number 3 SP, not their presumptive Number 6, as he is with the M's. And they'd be happy to have him for a year before hitting arbitration and a big raise.

Doees that resonate at all?

( - ;

As always, thanks!


There's a good chance you are getting the best player in the deal in Ozuna. Guy has Nelson Cruz potential! He had some absolute monster stretches coming up in the Marlins system, like hottest dude in milb for a couple weeks at a time. If he can translate some of  that to MLB more consistently you've got yourself a 4-5 hitter.

I don't view Conley as a reliever, but as someone who is ready to step in to a major league rotation. Might even out-pitch Paxton in 2016. They both logged 67IP in 2015 and Conley FIP was a half run better. He was a starter the last couple months and those last 4 starts he was really putting things together. As an extra piece to even out a deal, yes please!

I do firmly grasp your point of getting the best player in the deal. In this instance while Paxton (and Walker) have both been highly touted the M's could pull a fast one and end up with the best player in the deal (or two best even). Since none of the players involved in the talks are super proven at the MLB level it all comes down to who does the best job evaluating young talent and health.


That's what you have to believe, I think, that Ozuna's upside will be realized.  No complaints if that's what a GM (or a fan) believes.  That difference in projection is what makes a ballgame.

Me personally, I tend toward skeptical on Ozuna's upside, but if somebody else differs, great.  Skeptical on K-Pax' upside?  Not so much :- )


... I lean that direction, quite firmly, as well ... Ozuna's still a "potential" guy, just like Paxton hasn't proven he can stay healthy. But results? Didn't Paxton set a MLB record for first ten starts? We haven't forgotten that, right?

( - ;


Ozuna also had an OPS+ of 114 a couple years ago. All of the players mentioned in the rumors have shown what they are capable of for flashes, but none have made it to the point you can pencil them in for any type of reliable production. I worry that Paxton is just one of those guys that's always going to be dinged up. It will certainly be interesting to see (and track) the pieces involved if Dipoto pulls the trigger!


Ozuna has a dynamic upside, very dynamic, and the Marlins have the right to expect something back that floats their boat.  

Hope Elias does that :: ulp ::


His "B" game is too much for people.  His "C" game is usually interesting, at least.  But I'll be dancing the Futterwacken if M's amigos ever get to see him on a roll.

If I'm a GM, it's tough to give up a chance at a true lefty mulcher like that with so much club control.  :: shrug ::

Merrill you add a unique voice here.  Hope you keep it comin' amigo.

M-Pops's picture


Another buy-low player coming off a down year. 

Sounds like just the kind of "athletic" player JeDi covets, he has local ties, and is by all accounts a heck of a nice guy.

Has a supercool nickname, to boot!


It doesn't matter in the larger view whether it's Walker or Paxton or Karns.  In any case, look at our rotation.  HUGE holes.

Before I even consider this swap, I'd need to have Kuma inked.  Let's make that happen first. 

To look at it another way, which do you think would be easiest to replace on the open market--Ozuna...or Kuma?


Once upon a time, the Phoenix Cardinals were the St. Louis Cardinals.  And before that, they were the Chicago Cardinals, playing in Comiskey Park when everyone in the city had eyes glued to Papa Bear in Wrigley Field.

The Cardinals decided they needed to do something to jumpstart their failing franchise.  So they traded one of the best players in the league (and their only star), Ollie Matson, to the Rams in exchange for seven players...and two draft choices in the upcoming draft.

It was a disaster.  The Cardinals...with all of those 'other pieces'...went 2-10 the next year...and departed for St. Louis.


He's not a "must get" at all.  He's "nice," certainly.  Likely will help.  I'm in with Elias going that way.  Beyond that, there are other OF's out there and I would have no problem going with Kivlehan, for example, rather than losing Walker-Paxton-(likely) Karns.

I'm an Elias fan.  I like Ozuna more.

But I like the other guys more yet.

Walker is the best player in discussion.  He's getting the ball in Game #3 for me, once the season starts.

Taro's picture

Ozuna seems a bit underrated to me. Entered the league at age 22. 4 WAR and 114 OPS+ as a 23 year old. Ability to play CF, elite in corner. Turned 25 in the offseason. 


Ozuna may be somewhat undervalued (rather than underrated) because there's a caution in everyone's mind based on guys like Ruben Sierra or even Yuniesky Betancourt, who came to the majors with lots of promise and upside, but never achieved stardom.

Whether you call it character issues or whatever, Loria has attached the spectre to Ozuna.

In the other thread, I make the point - he may be most valuable to a club with Cano and Cruz on it, to bring out his confidence and talents, then he might be to another club with weaker "infrastructure". But that value shouldn't accrue to Loria, but should be part of the value of Cano and Cruz.

Taro's picture

I think its just a simple matter of him coming off his worst season. Sierra was very good for a few years and fell off the planet, but a bat first player. Betancourt never had a year like Ozuna in 2014.

I actually think Ozuna's power is a good bet to rebound in 2016, though the league switch is a bit unpredictable.


I'm in the must get camp. He fits perfect - hand in glove. Plays all three positions. Can cover CF in a pinch and/or semi platoon with Martin. Tons of upside and off a "buy low" season. Not only does he fit but I read something on FG that broke out his contact % that esstentially suggested that he is a power spray hitter with a lot of hard hit balls to RCF and RF - perfect fit for Safeco. I would link here but I'm somewhat of a techno tard.

I'm only worried that we consider an overpay here - which means including Walker or KPax +. Fine with Elias, Karns, Montgomery + propects to even it up. No way including Walker unless they expand to ship out their ace in a bigger deal. As opposed to Jack, I feel somewhat confident that DiPo won't overpay here. His activity and deciveness should help create a sense of urgency for trade partners - a great source of pierced leverage....make deal or I'm moving on. Elias, Karns, or Montgomery plus or as the barber says "Next".


And this is a Think Tank topic that has shown up the best of SSI, for my money.


I keep saying that I'm a big Elias fan, and I am.  Moxie, guts, grande name it, I think the kid has it.  Oh, and stuff.

But we could certainly use another OF, one who happens to be a RHB, controlled cheaply, can go get it in CF and has a bit of pop.  ChecK. Check. Check. And CHECK, in Ozuna.

If Kivlehan is a guy who can play CF decently, then I'm very happy giving him that shot.  More than happy, in that then we can keep our Cuban.  Kivlehan has 20 HR's in him, in '16 in Safeco, given the AB's.  We could do worse, if he has the leathery chops. But then, I'm high on him, as you know.

O'Malley had 10 CF starts for the M's last year.  He hits LHP.  I could live with him getting a bunch vL starts in CF.  Heck, B-R projects him to .254-.330-.398 in '16.  If Ozuna is .269-.319-.424 then the 19 OPS pt. difference may not be even close enough to give away too much.

And then there are other Ozuna-types to be swapped for.

And there is the Boog.

Ozuna is nice.  I like him.  His 20 HR potential makes him nicer than O'Malley....and he's much more likely to play everyday.  If Kivlehan doesn't have a CF glove, then Ozuna has that on our AAA guy.  All of that is said and good.  But I'm not giving up too much to get him.


Interestingly, I don't remember too much hue and cry when our SS with 22 HR "potential" was traded for a 3 or 4 arm.  Or maybe it's just us SSI'ers who got that....  

In the end, I think we will get our guy for Elias and a MiLB guy.  Betting on Elias isn't like drawing to an inside straight.  He thrown pretty well for two straight seasons, 170 innings AAA/MiLB in both.

And Ozuna is a persona non grata where he is.  

Will somebody else bid bigger?  Maybe......but I think we get it done.

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