Dodgers Shock Baseball by Trading Trayvon Robinson For Organizational Depth

I… am… speechless.

About 30 seconds after the deadline passed, I tried to hit publish on a post titled “Trade Deadline Passes Quietly for Dodgers”. WordPress blew up as I did, and the post never made it live. It included the line that I’m pretty sure I’m glad WP ate, “But let’s look at this in a positive light: being mildly disappointed at the lack of deals is far better than freaking out over the idea that Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel are improvements, right?”

Yeah… about that.

Shortly after the deadline, word broke that the Red Sox had traded for Erik Bedard. Okay, nothing unexpected there. Then Twitter blew up – I mean, literally exploded in a firey hellscape of “WAIT, WHAT?!” – when the news started to filter that the deal was actually a three-team move, and that the Dodgers had included Trayvon Robinson.

Before we all freak out, here’s the facts: Robinson goes off to the Mariners (via Boston) in exchange for catcher Tim Federowicz, RHP Stephen Fife and RHP Juan Rodriguez. I copied that from someone on Twitter, and I have so many browser tabs open right now that I can’t even pretend to know who it’s from at this point, so deal.

On the players coming in – none of whom I’ve heard of before – here’s the bad news: none of the three made Kevin Goldstein’s preseason list of top 20 Sox prospects at Baseball Prospectus before the season. (Robinson, for what it’s worth, was #4 on the Dodger list; it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, because the Red Sox system is probably deeper overall, but still.)

Over at SoxProspects.com, none of the three are on that top 20 list either. Federowicz is rated #22 (up from 27 in April), Fife is #32 (up from 39), and Rodriguez is 44 (up from 45). From the same site, quick scouting reports on the three:

Federowicz: (24 next week)

Intelligent catcher with ideal frame and strong core. Line drive hitter. Average power potential as swing is on the flat side. Profiles as a gap-to-gap doubles hitter. Makes best contact on balls down and out over the plate. At times struggles to get his hands above the baseball on higher velocity elevated fastballs. Good pitch recognition skills, but can chase hard breaking balls off the plate. Improving plate discipline. Behind the dish, Federowicz presently is above-average defensively. Plus, accurate arm with a fluid release. Can struggle with his grip when throwing, which causes ball to tail into runners during stretches. Outstanding instincts and reflexes. Excels at staying square to the ball with both his body and glove. Fluid footwork, especially when blocking pitches in the dirt. Improving with game management skills and taking charge of the pitching staff. Below-average speed, but heady on the base paths. Projects as a major league backup catcher, with potential as a second division starter. (emphasis mine -  MSTI)

Fife: (25 in October)

Great pitcher’s frame. At Utah, Fife worked middle relief in 2007 and earned a rotation spot for 2008.Two-seam fastball sits between 88-91 mph. Has a four-seamer with more velocity, but doesn’t feature it. Great movement on his two-seamer, tailing down and in on righties. Also works in a biting 76-79 mph curveball and an improving 79-81 mph changeup. Relies mostly on his fastball, but has gone to his curveball as his out pitch on occasion. Working on improving the command of his curve, but has outstanding control overall. Really pounds the strike zone. Fife also has a slider in his arsenal that has been put on the shelf while he works on his curveball. Extreme groundball pitcher. Fares better against righties. Workhorse, went deep into games in college, maintaining velocity well. Ultimately, Fife has a high potential to become a major league pitcher, and whether or not he’s able to become a starter in the bigs depends on how well he hones his secondary stuff. Somewhat jerky delivery with a lot of torque – snaps the ball as it comes out of his hand. Really came on as a draft prospect late in the 2008 NCAA season. Fife missed the first few months of the 2009 season with weakness in his throwing shoulder.

Rodriguez: (23 in December)

Large-framed righty dominated DSL competition in 2009, but was slightly old for the league. Mechanics can use some tuning-up, but he demonstrates a live arm. Attacks hitters. Fastball sits 92-95 mph and shows more life (96-97 mph) in short blasts. Also throws a 79-81 mph slurve, that has some potential if he can sharpen it and get it up in  the mid-80s.  Lots of projection, but he’s behind the age scale because he signed at 19, unlike many other Latin prospects who sign at 16. Needs to develop his curveball to be starter material. Has accumulated impressive strikeout numbers at every level so far with the Red Sox.

Those reports were all from before the season. Here’s what they’ve done so far in 2011:

Federowicz: .275/.337/.397 at AA (is reportedly considered a “plus defender“, says Yahoo’s Tim Brown. BP’s Marc Normandin concurs, saying “above-average defender, better blocking than throwing, possible doubles power. probably a second division starter, more likely solid backup”)

Fife: 11-4, 3.66 ERA, 6.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 at AA (known for “pitchability”, whatever that means)

Rodriguez: 2-4, 5.19 ERA, 13.4 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 at A

Mike Andrew of SoxProspects commented on this on Twitter:

My take: #Red Sox traded 3 Rule 5 eligible B-prospects, each w/ a chance to be MLB role players, & a C-Level prospect w/ marginal MLB future

FWIW, each of Chiang, Fife, & Federowicz are Rule 5 eligible this winter. Rodriguez is the 4th chip – predicted that earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Robinson was tearing it up in AAA: 26 homers, and a .293/.375/.563 line. Lest you think that’s merely a product of ABQ, he’s hitting .306/.394/.585 at home, and .280/.354/.537 on the road. That’s in a hitter-friendly league overall, so take it with the requisite grain of salt, but by all indications he’s on the path to being a solid regular, though maybe something less than a star. Meanwhile, the three prospects coming in return all look to be something less than that.

Obviously, this all came out of nowhere, and we’ll need time to digest it. My initial impression, though? Pretty disappointed, and not just because we’ve all grown to love Robinson and the idea of him coming back to play in his hometown.

If anything, this summary of Ned Colleti’s post-trade interview from Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA sums it up best:

Synopsis from Ned Colletti: “We need catching…it’s easier to find an OF [on FA market] than it is a catcher.

He then went on to claim that you can create an outfielder, but not a catcher, though his comments were drowned out by Russell Martin and Carlos Santana (among others) laughing. In theory, that idea sounds fine. But in practice? Robinson is a solid outfield prospect with a chance to be much more. Federowicz sounds like a placeholder, and the pitchers are intriguing but little more. Position isn’t everything, otherwise you’d see the Jays trading Jose Bautista for, well, Dioner Navarro. (Actually, you wouldn’t, because the Jays have a real general manager.) I like the idea of Ned trying to address the catching issue (you know, the one he created), but in no way is this the way to do it.

Besides, what in the hell is a team deep in pitching, desperate for offense and with a gaping hole in the outfield doing trading an MLB-ready outfield prospect for a catcher who may or may not be able to hit and two mildly interesting pitchers?

The more I read about this trade, the less I like it. It hurts the Dodgers short term, since Robinson was by all accounts coming up in the next month or so. It probably hurts them long term, if Robinson develops as we hope he will. And I can’t imagine how it must feel for Robinson, expecting a call to LA any day, and instead being told to pack his bags for Seattle.

More to come. I guess.

Update: added Keith Law’s thoughts

The Dodgers get … I’m not really sure what they get. Tim Federowicz is a catch-and-throw specialist who isn’t likely to produce enough at the plate to be an average regular, but is plus across the board behind the plate (including a career 34-percent caught-stealing rate) and is no worse than a good backup in the majors. Stephen Fife probably profiles as a right-handed reliever rather than a starter because he lacks the out pitch to start; he’ll touch 95 as a starter with a fringe-average curveball. Juan Rodriguez has a plus fastball, no average second pitch, and below-average command and control — a nice arm to add to your system but a reliever at best and not a high-probability guy either. Unless Robinson was somehow burning a hole in their pockets, this doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, as they didn’t get any prospect as good as he is in the exchange.

******

Not that anyone cares about this anymore, but the canceled post had info on Alex Castellanos, so I might as well include it here. Los Angeles did send several million to the Cardinals along with Furcal, though they send up saving $1.4m overall, which was as much the point as it was getting Castellanos, who turns 25 next week.

Castellanos, a 10th-round pick in 2008 out of a small North Carolina college, played second and third base in his first two years with the Cardinals, but is now strictly a right fielder. He was a Texas League All-Star this year with a line of .319/.379/.562, and 19 HR. That sounds nice, though I’ve yet to see a scouting report that says he’s more than a fourth outfielder; he wasn’t even mentioned in Kevin Goldstein’s preseason Top 20 Cardinals prospects list at Baseball Prospectus. Of course, since Furcal is old, incredibly injury-prone, and having a terrible season, anyone who thought he was bringing back a top prospect was fooling themselves.

Since I admittedly hadn’t heard of Castellanos prior to yesterday, let’s let people who know a lot more about him than me fill in the blanks on what to expect.

Jim Callis of Baseball America:

Castellanos was having a career year in Double-A (he ranks eighth in the Texas League in hitting, fifth in homers and fourth in runs scored), but he’ll turn 25 on Thursday and his tools don’t live up to his performance. He has some pop but he has a long swing and chases too many pitches out of the strike zone. His speed and defensive tools are fringy, and the former Belmont Abbey (N.C.) second baseman fits best in right field. Despite his 2011 numbers, he doesn’t have the bat to profile as a big league regular there. He signed for $70,000 as a 10th-round pick in 2008.

Cardinal Nation:

The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was the Cardinals’ 10th-round draft pick in 2008. Castellanos set a new Palm Beach record with 35 doubles last season and his seven triples led the Cardinals system. Though he received votes, he did not crack The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect List during the off-season.

In 2011, Castellanos was The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for April and has twice been named the Texas League Player of the Week. He has a .319 average, 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 93 games. Castellanos has been especially hot recently, batting .419 with ten RBI in his last ten games.

Springfield News-Leader:

Castellanos, a 10th-round draft pick in 2008 from NCAA D-II Belmont Abbey (N.C.), owned the Texas League’s eighth-best batting average, its fifth-most home runs (19), fifth-most total bases (119). His 62 RBIs are second on the Cardinals behind Matt Adams’ 81.

A right-handed batter, Castellanos, 24, emerged as a potential prospect last season in the high Class A Florida State League, batting .270 but hitting 35 doubles, 13 home runs and owning a .462 slugging percentage in what is widely considered a pitcher’s circuit.

In Springfield, Castellanos still tends to chase too many off-speed pitches he couldn’t handle anyway (off-speed out of the zone). But when on base, he showed good speed and instincts, stealing 10 bases in 11 attempts.

Defensively, he played right field and showed a strong arm, though he tended to get too aggressive with runners on base and would go for the out, rather than hit the cut-off man.

Castellanos said he is being assigned to Chattanooga, Tenn., of the Double-A Southern League.

Future Redbirds (from April 2011)

Looking at the stats, it is pretty clear what type of player Castellanos is so far in his career.  He will swing for the fences and is happy to go down swinging while trying.  He will not try to work a walk and his OBP will not be much more than his AVG. But when he hits the ball it will go very far and he has the ability to stretch a single into a double and double into a triple which helps his slugging numbers.  Once on base, he also has dangerous speed to steal bases at will.  Castellanos is an intriguing prospect based on his power and speed numbers, but will need to cut down on the strikeouts and add some walks to really push his prospect status to the next level.

So it seems pretty clear that Castellanos is a 4th outfielder prospect, at best, with a small possibility of more if his sudden burst this year has something behind it. There’s value in that, I suppose, since Furcal had almost no value on the market, but this isn’t someone who is suddenly a building block for the future.

4 comments
Purple Drank
Purple Drank

HOW COULD WE DO SUCH A STUPID TRADE. NOW THERE'S NO WAY TRAYVON EVER MAKES IT BACK HERE EVER AGAIN!!!

DINGERS!
DINGERS!

OMG NED WHAT DID U DO? WHERE R THE OLD COMMENTS?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Scioscia‘s Tragic Illness does not like the Dodgers end of the three-way trade. Besides, what in the hell is a team deep in pitching, desperate for offense and with a gaping [...]

  2. [...] trading Trayvon Robinson for filler might no longer be the worst thing that happened on Sunday [...]

  3. [...] the excitement of the trading deadline fading in the rear-view mirror and Rubby De La Rosa‘s immediate future going along with it, [...]

  4. [...] Dodgers Shock Baseball by Trading Trayvon Robinson For Organizational Depth [...]

  5. [...] that brought Federowicz and two minor league pitchers to Los Angeles at the trading deadline, and so did I. That sentence, right there, is the burden that Tim Federowicz has to deal with. It’s not [...]

  6. [...] reviled that it turned Colletti into a national punchline. (Okay, more of a punchline.) My thoughts on the matter are well-known, and I’m not going to repeat them all here… but okay, I wrote a ton [...]

  7. [...] Federowicz. You try not to unfairly denigrate him simply because he was included in one of the most shocking and unpopular Dodger trades in years, because he had nothing to do with that, and his defense is [...]

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