Monday, January 30, 2012

Montero Best Player Traded?

Right after the Jesus Montero was traded, Yankees GM Brian Cashman was quoted saying about Montero that “He may very well be the best player I’ve traded, He’s that good. He’s a middle-of-the-lineup type bat.”


First off, here is a link if anyone is interested in seeing all of Cashman's moves as GM.

This quote at first, I took as just a testament at how good Montero was.  But today I saw a Seedlings to Stars piece breaking down the quote.  They made it seem like a completely outlandish quote, using Randy Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Gary Sheffield, and Kenny Lofton as his best players traded.  However, they complete disregard the fact that at the point that they were traded from the Yankees only one of them, Soriano, was near his prime.  Now this is where the quote can be interpreted in a few different ways.  But the way I interpret it was that Montero had the most talent of anyone at the time he traded them.  Yes, Johnson, Sheffield, and Loften, are potential Hall of Famers (Johnson for sure) but when they were traded it was not in their primes.  Also, I believe that Cashman believes that he may have just traded away a Hall of Fame potential bat.  Using baseballreference.com, Montero had a WAR (wins above replacement) of 0.5 in only 18 games.  Therefore if you multiply that out into a full season it comes to a WAR of about 4-4.5 depending on how many games he had played and if he could have kept up his production.  Now I understand this has a lot of variable that I am not taking into consideration but lets use a 4 WAR as the estimate of what Montero is capable of right now. 

I'll start with Johnson, whom the Yankees traded in 2007 at age 44.  This season he WAR, calculated by baseballreference.com was only 1.1, which compared to his career high 8.8 WAR in 2002, shows that Johnson was a shell of his former self when Cashman traded him.  The 1.1 WAR is also much lower than the 4 WAR for Montero.

Next Alfonso Soriano is the only one of the players listed above who I think will be around Montero.  This is because the Cashman was trading him around his prime.  Looking at baseballreference.com his 2003 WAR, he was traded after this season, was 4.  This is right around the level Montero was during his call-up this season.  There is a case that Soriano is better but after seeing what has become of Soriano since the trade, Cashman's quote is still looking pretty good.

Cashman traded Gary Sheffield after the 2006 season.  That year he had appeared in only 36 games and would retire 3 years later.  Since his 2006 WAR is low due to injury, his 2007 WAR (in Detroit) was 3.1, lower then Montero's projection.  Now he did have a 5.4 and 5.3 WARs in 2004 and 2005 but the end of his career was in sight when Cashman traded him.

Kenny Lofton was traded in 2004 from the Yankees.  In his one season with the Yankees, 2004, he had a WAR of 0.7 and never went higher than 3.5 the rest of his career.  Again lower then Montero's projection.

Out of the top notch major leaguers, Soriano is the only one that at the time of the trade was similar to Montero.  

Then the article talks about prospects that Cashman has traded and if they are even as good as them. 

While some may have been similarly rated prospects, we have more information on them and can see how their careers turned out.  The best few being, Mike Lowell, Nick Johnson, and Ian Kennedy.  

In the case of Mike Lowell, he has had three seasons with a WAR over 4.  Therefore he may end up being a better player.  But if I was a betting man I wouldn't bet on it.  He did have one great year in 2007 when he was fifth for the MVP award.  I believe that Montero will end up with a career WAR of greater then 28.8 but is by no means a lock.

Nick Johnson has battled injury problems, which have made his career a very mediocre one.  He did have a very productive season in 2006, posting a 5.2 WAR, but that season was the exception, not the rule.  Again, I think Montero will eclipse his 14.2 career WAR.

Finally, Ian Kennedy was traded in 2009 in the Curtis Granderson trade.  He may actually be the biggest competition that Montero has.  This past season in Arizona he posted a 5.5 WAR and was 4th in the NL Cy Young voting.  In the long run these may end up being the two best players that Cashman has traded.  In the end though, I still believe that Montero will be the better of the two but only time will tell.

This article is complete speculation, since Montero has barely played at the big league level so far.  However, I truly believe he is a very special player and may end up prove Cashman right when he said he was the best player he has traded up to this point.

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