Aug 7, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ (48) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Being a Dick: I’ll show you a bad trade!


Richard Griffin provides a load of Blue Jays content. Not only does he do the Lord’s work covering the team on the regular, he also does a mail bag, and live chats. And in truth he should receive credit for the excellent hijacking of those by Stoeten over at DJF. However there is the time where perhaps spends too much time with coworker Damien Cox and comes out with some outlandish claims. And it’s at these times that I feel he stops being Richard and starts being a Dick. So in what hopefully will become a semi-regular thing from me, I give you Richard Griffin… Being a Dick.

So on Tuesday beloved baseball writer Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star decided to make some bold proclamations about trades. He asserted that last season’s trade with the Astros ,that saw the Blue Jays get back J.A. Happ, and not a whole lot else, was the worst trade made by Alex Anthopoulos. Griffin laments the loss of FIVE whole prospects that were packaged with Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco, to pry Happ away from the Astros along with some spare part arms for the bullpen that were gone before this season started.

To prove his point Griffin declares:

A year after the Happ deal, the 30-year-old lefty has demonstrated that unless he makes some changes, he is a 5-6 inning, 95-105 pitch starter that can at best be described as a No. 5 starter or swingman in the tough AL East.

Which as the last two years have shown us, there are plenty of pitchers available to pitch in the fifth spot in your rotation. So clearly the Blue Jays are not in the market for number five starters.

To then point out how much the Jays gave up he posts this season’s stat lines for all the prospects that went to the Astros. I’m assuming Griffin does this so that we can clearly see that all of these players are still in the minors, and none of them missed three months after taking a line drive off the head.

I assume that this is the reason he does this… because if for some reason he was trying to show how much potential these players have by posting their numbers from High A that would be pretty silly wouldn’t it??

I mean if we’re talking minor league numbers then the Jays got a total steal, because last time I checked when Happ was in the minors in 2006 he went 10–9, with an ERA of 2.69, 162 strikeouts, and 49 walks in 160⅔ innings. With numbers like that I think we can all agree with Mr. Cheezle that good things are coming.

You see Mr. Griffin if even one of those five prospects has the same level of success as Happ in the majors the Astros will be thrilled.

With the current sharknado of a season going on it’s funny that Griffin would settle on that deal as the worst ever made by Anthopoulos, because  to me acquiring a back end starter who performs like a back end starter, isn’t really that bad. The bad trade in my eyes is acquiring the Ace who performs like a back end starter like a certain, R.A. Dickey. From his article I think he doesn’t come down hard on this trade because he lumps it in with the Marlins deal as purposeful strides toward contention.

This seems to be a common mistake lumping in the two trades of this last offseason because obviously I think each trade would be given a very different grade.

The deal with the Marlins brought in Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle who have come exactly as advertised, although unfortunately Josh Johnson couldn’t get it together. But still the Jays traded prospects who were blocked, one dimensional, or still a ways from having an impact and parlayed it into proven Major League talent, and even they had two players bust in Johnson and Emilio Bonifacio.

The deal for R.A. Dickey on the other hand is more of a worst trade candidate by far. While R.A. Dickey was the reigning Cy Young winner and had shown a track record of success since reinventing himself as a knuckle-baller, he was essentially a giant question mark. The amount of high ranking prospect capital the Jays gave up to get a pitcher who for all intents and purposes was a wildcard… was not a sound investment.

If you’ll kindly look at the list below, you will see the season statistics for three pitchers who signed new deals before this season. The term and dollars for all three deals were roughly in the same ball park. While Jeremy Guthrie has clearly not been as good as R.A. Dickey however… the opportunity cost to acquire Guthrie would have simply been the money on his contract, not two of the top five prospects in your farm system. Kyle Lohse you could argue has been better than Dickey this season, and he only cost one first round draft pick, and obviously whatever bonus money that goes with it. But is that first round pick in the 2013 draft worth more than the top catching prospect in the game and a high ceiling starting pitcher? Well you look at the numbers and decide.

W L GS IP ERA xFIP WAR
R.A. Dickey 11 12 29 190.2 4.3 4.32 1.7
Kyle Lohse 9 8 28 170.2 3.32 4.05 1.3
Jeremy Guthrie 13 10 28 178.2 4.08 4.54 0.9

I personally think giving up a prized pitching prospect, and a stud prospect at what is likely the Jays’ position of greatest need, since J.P. Arencibia seems fixated on mimicking Joaquin Phoenix in Signs, is a bit of an overpay. Especially for someone putting up numbers that are comparable to Jeremy Guthrie would be a better candidate for worst trade.

Although lets not kid ourselves giving away Mike Napoli clearly the worst trade.

Tags: J.A. Happ Jeremy Guthrie Kyle Lohse Mike Napoli R.A. Dickey Toronto Blue Jays Travis D'Arnaud

  • mike in boston

    i think his point is that the Jays gave up 5 prospects including 3 1st round picks for a player who is merely a 5th starter.

    On its own that might not be so bad, but given how many other prospects left the organization in other deals, this deal stands out as both an overpayment and unnecessary.

    in light of the plethora of needs on this team, having more prospects to trade would be really helpful right now.

  • Alex Dineley

    While I agree that the number does seem high, from what I read at the time it seemed like the sold high on a couple of them who had a lot of pre-draft buzz buy may have been exposed had they held on to them. Also the team did have delusions of contention when they made that trade and needed fresh arms for both the pen and rotation.

  • Erik Trenouth

    Until d’Arnaud and Syndergaard play in the Majors for an extended period of time and remain healthy, the Jays won that trade. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, I will take Arencibia over d’Arnaud every time. They had virtually the same numbers in the minors, but Arencibia has been able to stay healthy.
    While Arencibia’s defense has slipped a bit this year, it is still a work in progress. Offensively, he has a wRC+ of 113 at home, and has been killed by a BABIP on the road of .189, even though his LD% is 20.9, barely below his home LD%, and league average.
    As for Syndergaard, the prospect who has pitched 11 games above A ball, he still has a long way to go to make this trade a bad one for the Jays. For every prospect that turns superstar starting pitcher, there are 5 that become a Chris Carpenter, 10 that turn into a Brandon Morrow, 20 that turn into a JA Happ, and 30 that become a Brett Cecil.
    Worst AA trade (looking back. At the time it was a good deal as we needed a good bullpen arm) is the Francisco for Napoli trade.

  • brad

    Not really sure how you can dismiss the 5 prospects that went for Happ and then talk about prospects in the Dickey trade….

    Small sample size but d’Arnaud is only hitting .170 in the majors and has had a whole ton of injuries the last few years. Syndergaad has been exceptional in the minors this year but c’mon. If you talk about Happ missing time you also need to talk about Dickey’s back/neck issue that plagued him for the first 1-2 months of the season. Since June 26, Dickey has a 3.36 ERA. d’Arnaud/Syndergaard is better than the package for Happ but in essence, in the Happ trade the jays sent 5 prospects for a minor league starter….

    In the Dickey trade they sent 2 good prospects for an innings eater with front of the rotation upside for the next year or 2. It was a bigger scale trade but it was much closer to being fair….Napoli trade was definitely the worst though

    • Alex Dineley

      My only point is they gave up x amount of prospects to the Astros for Happ and company, all of whom have performed at the expected level.

      So the team knew what they were buying and paid the agreed upon price, regardless of our thought of if that price was too high or low.

      With Dickey they paid the price for a Cy Young winning staff ace, and have instead gotten performance that is really no where near that. So pitchers like Guthrie, or Lohse who are making essentially the same amount of money and would have cost the Jays either nothing or one draft pick make it a bad trade.

      True neither D’Arnaud or Syndergard has done anything at all yet…so in a vacum the Jays “won” the trade so far by having major league contributions from Dickey and Thole… but compared to what was on the market it was a terrible trade as far as value and oppourtunity costs go.

      • brad

        I don’t think that’s a good way to evaluate a trade. Sure, happ has been what was expected but that does not make the trade any better. Hap has been a below average fifth starter regardless of what you expected of him. Dickey has been a reliable mid rotation guy regardless of what you expected of him. I guess the point of this now rambling comment is that to evaluate a trade based on what you expected is silly. The bottom line is they traded 5 middling prospects for a minor league stater which to me is worse than 2 good prospect for a middle of the rotation starter who seems to have regained a lot of his form after starting the season injured. You mention what you think you could spend Dickey’s contract money on but what do you think you can get for 5 ok prospects???… something much better than happ that’s for sure