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And, oh yeah, the A’s way undersold on Trevor Cahill

Dec 17, 2011, 5:32 PM EDT

Billy Beane

The Padres just dealt a 24-year-old right-hander with a 27-29 record and a 108 ERA+ to the Reds for their No. 3, No. 4 and No. 10 prospects and a former 17-game winner in Edinson Volquez.

The A’s earlier this month dealt a soon-to-be 24-year-old right-hander with a 40-35 record and a 107 ERA+ to the Diamondbacks for their No. 4 prospect and a reliever who probably would have been listed in the 20-30 range.

I like Mat Latos better than Trevor Cahill, but the difference isn’t nearly that extreme. The right-hander the A’s got in return, Jarrod Parker, has more pure upside than any of the prospects the Padres got today, but he’s definitely a flame-out risk as well. I just don’t understand why the A’s had the desire to trade Cahill if that was the best offer on the board.

(Prospect rankings from Baseball America)

  1. Mark - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    Latos career: 3.37/3.28/3.51 (ERA/FIP/XFIP)
    Cahill career: 3.91/4.51/4.23

    I’d say there’s a fairly big difference between the two.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:47 PM

      None of those are adjusting for league or ballpark.

      That said, the component stats do favor Latos by a signficiant margin. Though xFIP (something I put little weight into) actually takes away quite a bit of that difference.

      • Mark - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:04 PM

        Well both of them play in pitchers parks so even adjusting for ballparks you’re not going to get a huge difference. Adjusting by league will get you a difference, sure, but there’s still a fairly large advantage for Latos. Someone else pointed out -FIP/-XFIP account for league/ballpark, so we can use that instead.

        Latos career – 94/91/89 (ERA/FIP/XFIP)
        Cahill career – 95/110/100

        Their ERA- is similar, but based on the peripherals Latos has to be considered significantly better.

        My point was more directed at your comment that the difference between the two isn’t extreme. I would argue that it is, even when acknowledging that Cahill’s GB% isn’t properly valued in FIP or XFIP.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:21 PM

        There’s still quite a bit of difference in ballparks: Oakland has played almost neutral during Cahill’s career. 96/100. Petco is still the far and away the king of all pitcher’s parks.

        Also, part of what makes Oakland a pitcher’s park — the expansive foul territory — does Cahill less good than it would most pitchers.

        Of course, Cahill has far bigger home-road splits than Latos does over the course of his career anyway. Someone is sure to point that out sooner or later… it might as well be me.

        There are plenty of other factors I didn’t want to try to examine in a quickie entry. Cahill’s contract is a point in his favor, even though he has the extra year of service time. People have long questioned Latos’ character, though he’s never gotten himself into real trouble. I think Cahill is the better bet to hold up physically. That said, Cahill looked legitimately lost at times last year and he still hasn’t perfected a breaking ball. Latos is the one of the two with a chance to be a legitimate top-10 starter someday, while I’d say Cahill is more of a No. 2.

        I’d rather have Latos. But if Cahill could have been had for Alonso and Volquez — which is arguably more than the D’backs gave up for Cahill — I certainly would have preferred that trade.

        Unfortunately, the A’s and Reds didn’t match up too well. I doubt either Alonso or Grandal was on Oakland’s wish list.

      • Mark - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:46 PM

        I think the A’s should have got more than they did for Cahill. I’d rather have the package the Padres got too. I’m more nitpicking about the difference between Cahill and Latos. I think we both agree Latos is better so I’ll stop here.

        Although I do find it amusing the Reds decided to pick up an injury prone starter when Dusty Baker is the manager. Especially when you consider said starter has never thrown 200 innings in the majors, and will be expected to do that and more if they intend on making the playoffs.

    • phillyphreak - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:50 PM

      I like Latos more too. But those career lines are only for 2 (Cahill) and 3 years (Latos). They’re both young and will probably continue to develop.

      • phillyphreak - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:55 PM

        Sorry..both 3 years..misread.

        Fangraphs has park/league adjusted FIP (FIP-) and xFIP (xFIP -).

        Cahill 2010: 104 FIP-, 95 xFIP-
        2011: 105 FIP-, 96, xFIP-

        Latos: 2010: 83 FIP-, 80 xFIP-
        2011: 90 FIP-, 91 xFIP-

        Again these are just a sampling of statistics to consider when evaluating players.

  2. theonlynolan - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:43 PM

    Who’re the Reds’ 1 and 2 prospects?

    • D.J. Short - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:46 PM

      1) Devin Mesoraco, C 2) Billy Hamilton, SS

    • Matthew Pouliot - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:48 PM

      What D.J. said. Alonso third, Grandal fourth, Boxberger 10th. Personally, I’d put Grandal ahead of Alonso and maybe ahead of Hamilton as well. I’d also go with Boxberger seventh or eighth.

    • hittfamily - Dec 17, 2011 at 5:59 PM

      Whoever is drafted next year. They Broke the bank!!!

  3. cowboysoldiertx - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    I never understood this deal on the A’s part. And they got crap back (parker will flame out, watch).

  4. matthewtrueblood - Dec 17, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Collin cowgill is not a nothing. He’ll start for Oakland, and is a winning team’s fourth outfielder. You undersell the difference between Cahill and Latos, too.

  5. mjay424 - Dec 17, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    Matthew, I respectfully disagree.

    Cahill is not as good as his record. He’s a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher and young but he shows no markers that he will be more than that. Latos is a much better talent. He does have maturity questions but he’s a top-caliber pitcher.

    Jarrod Parker, I say, is nowhere near the prospect that Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are – Parker’s overrated. I like him but what about 2011 screams ace? Nothing, yet scouts say he is? I disagree. He could become a no. 2 but right now he looks like a no. 3 to me. So the A’s traded Cahill for a no. 3.

    The Padres traded a better pitcher for a better haul. The A’s, I don’t believe, undersold on Cahill.

    Rockies’ Analyst

  6. thekcubrats - Dec 18, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    Beckett vs. Garland, Matt.

    You’re still girly starry-eyed over a fluke 18 win season for the utterly mediocre Cahill, who simply can’t miss enough bats to be more than a #4 on a flawed team.

    Parker? His second half last year, in that first full season following TJ, screams ace. Dropped his ERA from the first half by nearly two runs, got his BB way down too. Or didn’t you bother to notice? His stuff is swift, heavy and hard to center up, lots of K and busted bat grounders. This will be seen as a coup, once the fog the likes of you dust up blows off.

    Latos? I’d say Beckett is his floor. His ceiling could be Clemens (until, of course, Dusty gets his claws into him). But Pads were right to sell him for that haul, and Yonder is barely the reason, the real gem is Grandal.

    How come your commenters have to do your work for you? What a gig…

    • phillyphreak - Dec 18, 2011 at 8:52 AM

      I’ll start my comment by saying that I agree with most of the posters that Latos > Cahill. But I also think people are way undervaluing Cahill here.

      “Dropped his ERA from the first half by nearly two runs, got his BB way down too. Or didn’t you bother to notice?”
      – Kinda similar to how you didn’t notice Cahill raise his K/9 last year.

      “Latos? I’d say Beckett is his floor. His ceiling could be Clemens (until, of course, Dusty gets his claws into him).”
      – How’d you come up with these comps. Please share your reasoning.

      “How come your commenters have to do your work for you? What a gig…”
      – How come you can’t just respectfully disagree like some above. Why be such a dick?

  7. sleepyirv - Dec 18, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    At what point is Billy Beane more than just unlucky and we recognize he’s an average to mediocre GM?

  8. dnc6 - Dec 18, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I didn’t know that this site stooped as low as just using ERA+ to evaluate pitchers (I’ll give Matty a pass on using W-L record, as I’m sure he’s just as aware as a 10 year old how ridiculously flawed that stat is).

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