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Kendall Trade

Baseball Prospectus has devoted a few paragraphs to the Jason Kendall trade (from the A's perspective) in one of their few new free articles.

Here are the 2005 VORPs for each player (for those of you who don't know, VORP is a one-stop stat that measures a player's value in runs over the usual bench player or AAA filler at his position, while adjusting for park and league):

Mark Redman 28.7      
Arthur Rhodes 14.3
Jason Kendall -0.3

Wow. Let's replace Rhodes with:

Matt Lawton 15.6

Obviously, the Pirates are huge winners in this trade so far, especially given that they also shed salary in the deal. But what else can we learn from this trade?

  1. The trade isn't likely to look so bad - although it will almost certainly still look bad - for the A's in the future, because Kendall is simply better than this. Kendall posted a 47.5 VORP last year, and while there were plenty of good reasons to worry about his durability going into this year, it's hard to believe his collapse is going to end up leaving this big a crater.
  2. In a few months, the trade(s) will probably not look so good for the Pirates, although they will probably still look very good. As BP points out, Redman is posting an obscenely low .268 batting average on balls in play. That number will rise, and so will Redman's ERA. Lawton is also a good bet to regress a bit, although not by as much.
  3. The Pirates will not have really gotten anywhere through these trades unless they can trade Redman and/or Lawton for players that might help the next time they're any good. The Pirates' farm system is an even worse mess than their major league team, so it's hard to predict when that will be. But there is some talent in the upper levels, so the Pirates have some remote chance at contending in 2007 or even 2006. Redman's value now is as high as it probably ever will be, and the Pirates could get something really nice in return for him from some non-sabermetric organization, if they play their cards right. They probably wouldn't take much of a hit in the near term, either, since Ian Snell and Zach Duke both look like they could step into the Pittsburgh rotation now.