Purgatory Online

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Okay, here's my two-minute take on why trading Scott Schoeneweis was a good thing for the Angels.

You know what economists mean when they talk about "creating wealth?" They mean that wealth increases when you exchange something you value less for something you value more. And since value is relative, two parties can make an exchange in which both come away wealthier, having both "traded up" from their individual points of view. Hence I can trade cash, which is just sitting there in my pocket, for beer, which enables me to sit through another Angels game. And the liquor store can trade beer, which is just sitting there in the cooler using up BTUs, for cash, so Mehdi the liquor store guy can feed his family. Colloquially, this is known as a "win-win situation."

Well, the Angels got wealthy with the Schoeneweis trade. I'm not saying they rooked the White Sox out of any potential superstars, mind you, but rather that they gave up in the trade a pitcher that they valued very little. Despite spending no time on the DL and being the Angels' only lefty in the bullpen, Schoeneweis pitched just 38.2 innings this year, generally - as I mentioned a few weeks ago - in games in which the outcome had already been determined. That's easily the fewest innings of any of the bullpen regulars, with the exception of Troy Percival, who hasn't been getting into games because there haven't been a lot of leads to protect just lately. Given his eye-popping lefty-right splits - lefties have a .499 OPS against him in 79 at-bats, righties have .813 in 74 - there's simply no chance Scioscia was going to convert him into a starter, so he just plain wasn't of much use in a 162-game season. That's in contrast to last year's post-season, of course, when having a lefty in the pen was an essential resource in the late innings.

So in exchange for Schoeneweis and Doug Nickle, about whom more in a moment, the Angels get Gary Glover and a pair of minor league prospects, also about whom more in a moment.

Glover is the bizarro Schoeneweis. He's thrown about as many innings, but his lefty-righty splits are, of course, in the other direction (Glover is right-handed). How this helps the Angels on the field, I don't know, but I do know that they'll pay him a fraction of what they were paying Schoeneweis, and maybe get a chance to look him over to see if Bud Black thinks he can teach him anything useful. The smart money says Glover is basically a placeholder, and will probably not be re-signed after the season's over.

So the real value for the Angels here is in what they pick up for their minor league system. The guy they traded away, Doug Nickle, has a tiny amount of experience in the majors with Philadelphia and San Diego, during which he compiled a 7.84 ERA in 20.2 innings scattered over the 2000, 2001, and 2002 seasons. Nickle was having a very nice season in Salt Lake, with a 1.48 ERA in 48.2 innings of relief, but wasn't exactly overpowering anyone - he was averaging less than one strikeout every two innings. With an ERA like that, it's not all that necessary to have a high strikeout total, of course, but what a low strikeout rate indicates is that here's a guy who has a good chance of allowing inherited runners to score on the sacrifice fly, which wouldn't show up in his ERA (and also, conversely, a good chance of getting guys to ground into double plays - his major league performance showed him to have a propensity to be a ground-ball pitcher, but the sample size is so small it's hard to tell much from that. Also, a lot of those ground balls went for hits, which have also been known to score inherited runners.). And, let's face it, the Angels have plenty of good right-handed relief in Anaheim.

So in Schoeneweis and Nickle, the Angels lose a couple of guys who weren't going to do them much good to begin with. Glover is a warm body. What of the kids the White Sox send our way?

Well, that will have to wait for tomorrow, when we'll also take a look at the deadline deals.