At first glance, most trades would appear to have something you love and hate, but the more I considered that idea, the more I felt you either love or hate most player exchanges. Or you come away indifferent. You rarely can find love and hate in the same trade, but Monday’s blockbuster with the St. Louis Cardinals did bring out both emotions.
I love that the Braves added another young power arm. A lot of the success of this deal will depend less on if Heyward breaks out in 2015 or Miller recaptures his former glory, but if Jenkins develops into a major league pitcher who brings the Braves value. There is reason to believe the Braves will get just that. Jenkins brings it at 92-94 heat with a chance to bring it at 96 mph, plus a nice curve and a work-in-progress changeup. He either projects as a #3 or #4 starter who could move to the pen and become a solid asset there. If in three years, both Miller and Jenkins are making up 40% of the rotation, this deal has to be a win no matter what Heyward does. That said,..
I hate that the Braves didn’t get a better prospect. But there are the questions on Jenkins. A first round choice in 2010, Jenkins has struggled to shine while dealing with numerous injuries. He has yet to pitch in AA, though he is ticketed to do that this season. His biggest moment so far came this fall when he played in the Arizona Fall League, though his numbers weren’t that impressive (24.1 ING, 10 walks, 18 K’s, 1.36 WHIP). Now, Jenkins projects well and that’s why he was still a top ten prospect in the Cards and now Braves system, but there certainly is a lot of faith that he scratches the surface on what the projections are for him. Regardless, this deal had to be made and…
I love that the Braves made the move because Heyward’s bat was declining rapidly. This appears to be semi controversial and as much as I loved Heyward’s all-around capabilities, the Braves needed a bat and there were developing questions there. Over the last three years, Heyward’s wOBA has gone from .351 to .344 to .329 last season. This is parallel to his fall in isolated power – .210 to .173 to .113. One can definitely argue batting leadoff forced Heyward did some of the harm, but I don’t see it. While Heyward may have been miscast as a leadoff hitter, I doubt he would change his offensive approach to explain the disappearance of power. For instance, there isn’t a significant change in his GB% or LD%. Now, he’s still young and could still develop into a power hitter, but not with the Braves. That is why…
I hate that we won’t see Heyward become the player we all believed he could be. Maybe this is similar to Andruw Jones. Though super productive as a Brave, Andruw was never the guy we expected after watching him pepper the Bronx with homeruns back in 1996. Heyward has suffered similar criticisms. We expected more after his rookie season and again after his 2012 year. But two straight seasons where his numbers were offensively challenged? We appreciated his well-rounded baseball ability, but he was paid to hit and his numbers hadn’t reached the levels we expected. Yet. This could have been the year. This still could be the year. Unfortunately, there won’t be a tomahawk on his chest for it.
As you can see, there is both good and bad with this trade. Many who have commented said they liked the trade for both teams. Clearly, the Cardinals are in a better position to contend and roll the dice with Heyward. The Braves are, or, based on this trade, they should be in at least a mini-rebuild. Getting something that can be retained for a guy who you didn’t want to sign in the first place is just a smart business decision.
And that last bit is why you can both love and hate this trade. As a fan, I hate it. I remember watching Heyward play in Lynchburg with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He homered and made a game-ending catch at the wall. I was immediately a fan of the already hyped young man and couldn’t wait for him to arrive in the majors. To put it mildly, arrive he did. Homering in his first at-bat off Carlos Zambrano that had The Ted rocking like it was playoffs time. Sprinkle in his amazing defense (his catch in New York to save a game still defies logic), his base-running (watching him run first-to-home was baseball porn), and personality and you had all the makings of a fan favorite that you want to stick around for years.
But as a fan of the business side of baseball, I can’t hate this trade. Logically, I look at four years of Miller + anything I get out of Jenkins as a win when all I gave up was a pending free agent and an increasingly expensive middle reliever who was often injured. Again, that’s a no brainer. The Braves are almost certainly worse off in 2015 for it, but in 2016 and 2017? Long-term, this deal works well, especially if the Braves are truly going to rebuild. Suffice it to say, this is the kind of trade I would have made in OOTP with faceless fictional players.
Long story short…I both love and hate this trade. I will both love and hate it when the season begins. I will probably hate it more when the Braves visit St. Louis in late July or when the Cards come to Atlanta to finish the season. Conversely, I will probably love it more if/when Miller throws eight solid frames to help the Braves win. This trade isn’t nearly as bad as it felt when it punched me in the throat on Monday, but it isn’t as good as some want to make it. Still kind of sucked, though.