December 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm by Kevin Orris under Atlanta Braves
The common theme of CAC over the past week is the Braves should acquire ________. There has been plenty of speculation about a potential trade with the Cincinnati Reds. For the first time in a while, I think we may have a disagreement between the writers here. Earlier this week, Ben wrote about a potential trade with the Reds involving Drew Stubbs and Todd Frazier. We have since learned that the Reds interest in Jair Jurrjens isn’t as high as originally anticipated, but I still disagree with the proposed trade.
First off, I haven’t watched Stubbs play all that much in person. Basic fielding metrics show that he doesn’t cover all that much ground. His career UZR over two and a half years is just 4.3. It’s hard for me to comment on this issue otherwise, but that’s beside the point.
As far as his strikeouts go, it’s not that he swings too often. He swings at 42.7% of pitches, 2.6% below the league average. The problem lies within the zone. When he swings at a pitch inside the strike zone, he connects only 82.8% of the time, 5.2% below the league average. That is a significant difference. On changeups in particular, Stubbs swings at 74.0% of them in the zone but only makes contact 60.6% of the time. Ouch.
Stubbs really struggles against off-speed pitches against both left and right-handed pitching. He produced negative offensive values against every significant off-speed pitch FanGraphs.com tracks. I am not sure I need to say much more to prove the frustrations that may come with a player like Stubbs in the lineup on a regular basis.
Frazier, the other player surrounded with speculation, was once considered to be an elite prospect. Since he was promoted to Triple-A Louisville in 2009, Frazier has hit .262/.338/.457 and .232/.289/.434 in 121 plate appearances in the big leagues this year. Since the Reds once had so many elite offensive prospects, they had to make defensive changes when necessary to fit all of their talent on the field. In turn, Frazier has played 177 games in left field, 112 at shortstop, 88 at third base, 72 at first base, 39 at second and 12 as a DH in his minor league career.
According to Baseball America, he dropped to the Reds #9 prospect in 2011 after he was previously ranked in the top five. In the 2011 Prospect Handbook, their staff claims a best case scenario would be as a Ben Zobrist type of player – good power with a decent average and defensive flexibility.
The Braves are looking for a power bat, if anything to play left field this season. I still find it hard to believe that they acquire one without Prado moving considering his value. His .260/.302/.385 line in 2011 may be down from .307/.350/.459 line in 2010, but his BABIP decreased .059 in that stretch. It is reasonable to expect something between the two in 2012 which would make him an above average hitter.
Based on “The Book,” the current optimal lineup should look something like this, though it can be open for debate:
1 Martin Prado
2 Chipper Jones
3 Dan Uggla
4 Brian McCann
5 Jason Heyward
6 Freddie Freeman
7 Michael Bourn
8 Tyler Pastornicky
Personally, I’d take Prado over Stubbs at the plate. Say the Braves did make that trade but don’t trade Prado. Then they have some crazy platooning going on. Considering Fredi Gonzalez’ decision making abilities, it may not be the best idea. As a result, the Braves would be trading Jurrjens, a 2 or 3 SP for essentially two bench bats, neither of which provide much power.
I see this deal as two players that have failed to live up to expectations in exchange for an All-Star pitcher. The cost/benefit just doesn’t make sense.