Monday, May 21, 2012

Why the smart play at trade deadline for Tigers will likely be trading top prospects Castellanos and Brantly

Despite trading away several top prospects in recent years, the Tigers' farm system is not bare. When the trade deadline arrives, they will have options to deal other teams will undoubtedly covet.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos has been much-celebrated as a prospect - and with good reason. He has the makings of a premier major league hitter. He is big and has plate coverage and will develop power. At 6-4, he has the type of frame that is only going to gain strength. He has an OPS of nearly 1,000 at high-A ball for Lakeland this season at just 20, which is very impressive considering his youth. But he's a third baseman. Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers' third baseman, in his prime and signed through 2016. Prince Fielder  forced the move of Cabrera to third. He is also in his prime and signed for nine years. There is no place for Castellanos to play. It would be a stretch to make him an outfielder or full time DH. He played shortstop in amateur ball when he was young, but he struggles at third defensively with errors (.915 fielding percentage so far in the minor leagues). He has already outgrown shortstop physically. Common sense dictates the Tigers could add significantly to their current club if they are willing to part with Castellanos.
Another prospect who is emerging and will bring value at the trade deadline is Rob Brantly. He is a left-handed hitting catcher - a premium commodity - who consistently makes contact and is improving defensively. Alex Avila, the Tigers' All Star catcher, is 25. The Tigers have some depth at catcher. Their first pick in last year's draft, James McCann, is a catcher. He is considered the superior defensive catcher to Brantly.
The decision to trade top prospects is a difficult one. There are times when clubs get burned. The Tigers won a division title because of getting Doyle Alexander. The Braves became a powerhouse club for many years after that because they got John Smoltz back in the deal. Outfielder Andre Ethier leads the National League in RBI. The Dodgers got him in a trade with Billy "Money Ball" Beane and Oakland in 2005 for malcontent outfielder Milton Bradley (Yeah, I never stop exposing the myth that is Billy Beane and "Moneyball.")
But the Tigers haven't been burned too badly in this area. I thought they might when they gave up their top position prospect, third baseman Francisco Martinez, and top minor league reliever, Chance Ruffin, for Doug Fister last summer. I was wrong. Both those players are struggling mightily in the minor leagues for Seattle, while Fister has been terrific for the Tigers. Cameron Maybin was a great prospect. He has become an average major league player. Pitcher Jair Jurrjens, dealt to the Braves, has panned out the best of the younger players the Tigers have moved in recent years, but he's been up and down in regard to performance because of injury issues.
What a team shouldn't do, is trade top prospects from areas they are lacking depth. In the case of Castellanos and Brantly, that would not be true if the Tigers moved them.
Anything less than an appearance in the World Series would be disappointing for the Tigers this year. With the stakes that high, they should trade their top prospects if there is value to fill holes in return. It's all about winning now for the Tigers, but it wouldn't be mortgaging the future, either, because of the way their major league club is currently set. 
Replay of my video livestream chat today for Got into a lot of frank and honest talk about the Tigers. Also talked about the Lions and the Super Bowl and whether they should be mentioned in the same sentence. We do this every Monday between 12:30 and 1:30 for about 45 minutes. It's just like a regular chat except we answer back live on the air to your type comments/questions.

Video streaming by Ustream


Anonymous woody said...

wondering why you mention it would be a stretch for Castellanos to play LF. does he have that little athleticism?

the future corner OF positions are still up for grabs. no one on the current roster figures to be a fixture in LF or RF the next 5 years.

2b is the obvious hole in the lineup, but who to target for upgrade is unclear. would be a shame to trade a guy with Castellanos' potential for a mediocre major league 2b or added bullpen depth.

1:52 PM 
Blogger James said...

Couldnt agree more. I love Castellanos, but it seems that we have no room for him.

2:22 PM 
Blogger James said...

I love Castellanos but I agree. The Tigers just dont have room for him. We could really use a premier second basemen, or even a shortstop, I cant imagine Peralta being around much longer

2:24 PM 
Blogger Barry said...

Pat,this one is a tough one to response to. Trading away players that will play full time at the MLB level is not good. The main reason is cost. I think Castellanos , Fielder and Cabrera can rotate around. If they trade Castellanos then they have to keep Brantley. Having a DH/catcher on the team is great even though he bats from the left side like AA. If they trade eith of these players they need a starting player in return. I would trade Turner over Castellanos if we have starting pitching depth in the minors. Since we don't we need to keep Turner too. Offering hard throwing lefties such as Oliver or Crosby,hard throwing Ortega, defensive catcher such Holaday or Murrian and solid hitting 1B Lenneraton might net an average to good everyday player.

2:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not against the trade of prospects, and I believe Brantly is very likely to be moved, but trading Castellanos could be a huge mistake. Right handed hitters like him do not come around very often and I believe he could play the OF as well as if not better then D Young or Boesch. We still have Turner, Crosby, and Oliver, to trade and yes some of them have some issues right now. Unless the tigers aquire a talent like Adam Jones or a Cano, I can't see including Nick C.

2:45 PM 
Anonymous kyle said...

Castellanos to 2nd or LF, and when Miggy cannot play 3rd any more, that's an option, as well

5:59 PM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Brantly is expendable. Pitching prospects are expendable. Castellanos isn't expendable.

For one, scouts have been wondering for years if Castellanos would eventually wind up in the outfield. It wouldn't be stretch at all to have him play LF or RF.

Also there's a very good chance within the next few years that Fielder moves to DH full time and Cabrera moves back to 3rd. Neither of them are suited to playing where they're currently playing long term.

6:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat, you missed a very obvious option in your analysis: Put Castellanos at third and put Cabrera in the outfield. Both would thrive under that scenario.

10:38 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just curious as to how many of you have actually watched Castellanos play enough to make the suggestion that he is capable of playing in the outfield??

11:40 AM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Anonymous, scouts have been saying for YEARS that Castellanos may be best suited to play in the outfield long term. They were saying this even before the Tigers signed Fielder, when the Tigers had a gaping hole at 3rd.

It has to do with his tools and build, not fans trying to fit a player into a spot that he couldn't play. So in your attempt to make others sound ignorant you actually made yourself look so.

4:16 AM 

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