Dignifying the Absurdity of Porcello and Garcia for Braun

So I've decided to place my multivariate calc and statics homework on the back-burner in favor of actually dignifying this challenge:

"Let me know when/if you ever decide to muster the courage to blog an opinion for a change instead of doing what’s easy, tearing down others opinions without supportive facts just simple trash talk. Lastly, yes I thought about it before I said it, that’s why I said it. You must be very bored, lonely or just can’t handle actual discussion so you get your rocks off continuing with your spew on this topic. But go for it, let’s see what you’ve got."

This is in regards to a proposed trade of Rick Porcello and Avisail Garcia for Ryan Braun. Yes, you read that correctly. I'm actually writing a FanPost explaining why this is fucking stupid. You can read the whole thing here if you don't think someone was really genuinely serious about it:

Somewhere in cyberspace a troll just took out his notebook.

I guess the first place to start would be to talk about the players involved in this proposed trade.

Rick Porcello was taken as like the 26th overall pick of the 2006 draft or something, I don't really care. His agent was Scott Boras. Porcello's stock dropped in the '06 draft due to signability concerns and at the time it was generally considered a steal for Detroit that he dropped so far into the first round. Prolonged contract talks prevented him from pitching at any pro level in 2007. Fast-tracked to the Flying Tigers of Lakeland in 2008, Rick showed why he was such a highly regarded amateur player. At just the age of 19 he preformed fairly well against much older competition. His final line for the season:

24 GS | 125.0 IP | 2.66 ERA | 5.2 K/9 | 2.4 BB/9 | 2.15 K:BB

Aside from an iffy k-rate, he did fine. Now I didn't use any advanced stats here because they really don't exist in a reliable fashion for minor league players. I don't even really like posting those, but I thought they should be there to support the narrative. He was ranked as Baseball America's #21 prospect heading into the 2009 season and made the Detroit Tigers starting rotation that same year. That was four years ago. Since then Rick Porcello's value has slowly dropped.

After spending the vast majority of his last four seasons pitching at the MLB level, Porcello's stats do not reflect the ceiling of a pitcher with such a high pedigree. He's got an ERA + of 94 in nearly 700 major league innings. Basically he has shown the effectiveness of about a #4 starter. The lack of development in the minors prevented him from ever obtaining a viable out pitch (he only spent one season in advanced A).Yes he has a decent mix of sinker, four-seamer, change, and curve. None are standouts though and it causes him to struggle with recording outs. He was never able to refine these pitches and he was forced to abandon his slider altogether. His slider at one point was regarded as the best in the system. Compounding these worries, he doesn't go deep into games. Long after he was weaned from the youngster pitch limits Porcello still only puts up 5 2/3 IP per start.

Are there causes for optimism? Sure. I'd go so far as to say that I'm more optimistic for Rick Porcello than I am about chances of suddenly sprouting wings. With a bit less sarcasm he is only 24. With even less sarcasm most pitchers don't peak until they reach their mid 20's. A few peak later and others earlier, but that is the nature of something so diverse as the human body. Supported by using Jeff Zimmerman's research on pitcher aging curves:

Let's now direct our focus towards the Venezuelan element, Avisail Garcia. Garcia was an amateur signing by the Tigers in 2007. Since then his stock has slowly risen in prospect circles, but not to the heights of many other prospects. Since I'm not all to savvy on the goings on down at the farm, I'll rely on the farmhands to tell his tale. I almost had to sacrifice a goat and sell my soul to an unsavory party to even get this far so give me a break. I don't know how real writers do this. Note that I said almost. Luckily the unsavory party was only joking when he wanted my soul.

Via John Sickels (yeah definitely sounds like a farmhand's name to me, but I'm also not a good speller):

"Garcia is a 6-4, 240 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born June 12, 1991 in Anzoategui, Venezuela. Despite his size and weight, he is a good athlete with above-average speed and a strong throwing arm that works well in right field. His raw power is among the best in the Tigers system, and some adjustments with his swing enabled him to tap it more readily this year, especially against fastballs. On the other hand, despite his improvements the walk rate remains very low and his strikeout rate rather high. He still has issues with breaking balls, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to major league breaking pitches." -(09/04/12)

Via Marc Hulet:

"Garcia, 21, saw his prospect value skyrocket in 2012 as he jumped from high-A ball to the majors — including the MLB playoffs. The young outfielder hit .300 in 2012 but he still has work to do with his overall game. He’s too aggressive for his own good and walked just 18 times in 122 games.

Garcia has the potential to develop at least average power for a corner outfielder but his hit tool may top out at a 45-50 grade. His speed is also average but he’s a good base runner and could nab 15-20 bases in a full season. In the field, the Venezuela native should be a slightly-above-average right-fielder with a strong arm and solid range." -(12/28/12)

If you read other prospect reports you find similar statements. Good athlete. Poor discipline. While often regarded as one of the top five prospects in Detroit's system, he is also amongst the best of one of the weakest farm systems in baseball. In fact John Sickels ranked our farm system as the worst in baseball just a few days ago:

Suffice to say, I'll be surprised if he makes any top 100 prospect lists this offseason. If he does, he certainly won't be very far into them.

Examining Porcello and Garcia as trade candidates can be summed up by looking at the potential value they might bring over their remaining seasons of team control. Porcello is entering his second season of arbitration eligibility this year and has already agreed to a 5.1 million dollar contract for 2013. Being a super two, Porcello has 2013-2015 left before he becomes a free agent. With a typical fWAR up to this point of 2.4 and a typical bWAR of 0.9, advanced stats have a hard time pinning down his true value. Since fWAR is the more optimistic of the two, it is probably the better for estimating his salary over his remaining arb years. Using the standard WAR-to-dollars conversion of 5.0 million per win, we've got a peak free agent value for Rick at 12 million. Probably a tad generous. In retrospect I probably should have averaged the two, but I'm not going to go back now (This monorail is gliding and I've got to get to the station before Eddie asks me an unsolvable riddle). I guess that number isn't so unreasonable though since it doesn't take into account something such as a long term discount. Using the tried-and-typically-true 40/60/80 arbitration estimation, I've got that Porcello will cost 5.1/7.2/9.6 million for his remaining years under the finger of team control. Things are going to get pricey quick for a player that ultimately is just a #4 starter.

Garcia is a prospect who is believed to have the ceiling of an above average corner outfielder. Fantastic, I'm going to take the ceiling and roll with it despite the fact that prospects rarely hit their ceiling. I'm just trying to be extra nice when I try to snooker Milwaukee. He'll be cheap while he puts up above average (assuming he completely fills out his ceiling) numbers for six years or so. An above average outfielder is a 3.0 WAR outfielder in the most general terms. The breakdown of his talents are given by the farmhands, but basically imagine that number as if it were the representative of an actually good version of Delmon Young.

After 1425 words I'm about ready to blather about Ryan Braun. He is what the noobs of the MOBA crowd would call OP. The 29 year-old left fielder is amongst the best in baseball. Taking into account his multiple top 3 MVP finishes, his average of 37 homers per season, and career OPS of .943, its easy to see that we are talking about a good ballplayer. But before I prattle on any longer about what he has done himself, consider how he stacks up against the rest of baseball:

  • No player but Joey Votto has put up a higher fWAR in the NL over the past three seasons than Ryan Braun
  • Ryan Braun has hit the sixth most homers in baseball since coming into the league
  • He's stolen the 22nd most bases and his prowess on the basepaths grew to 12th if you only look at the past two seasons
  • His career wOBA of .402 is ranked 4th amongst all players since coming into the league
  • In terms of total hits, he ranks 6th since he became a big league player.

Nothing that I presented is can be called cherry picked what-so-ever. He is one of the most well-rounded players in all of baseball right now. He mashes, he gets on base, he's got speed once he is on base. There is even significant reason to believe his defense has improved in recent years too. UZR, Total Zone, and the Fan's Scouting Report all think he has become an average outfielder defensively. It is impossible to dispute that he isn't in the top 3 of all position players in baseball. That contract he was given is beginning to look like a steal too. The Brewers have a 125 million dollar investment into the player. That deal covers his next eight years! By comparison Prince Fielder will be paid 191 million over the same time frame and Zack Greinke will make 159 million in two fewer seasons.

So, the question remains, Is a #4 starter and a decent prospect enough to pry away one of the best players in baseball. I'll let this chart do some of the talking:

Garcia_and_porcello_for_braun_medium via

The numbers on Garcia reflect his ceiling as an above average major league outfielder and a 40/60/80 estimate to arbitration. Porcello's are based upon his stats to date and the salary projection above. Braun's numbers come from an average of his 2013 ZiPS and Fan Projection. An aging curve has been applied to Braun as well. It is the standard rough estimate of -0.5 WAR/season. So, if we take the sum of the absolute most optimistic projections of Garcia and Porcello we find that they come up to be nearly 13 WAR short than an extremely realistic projection for Ryan Braun.

Well I think that about wraps it up. I've clearly profiled all three players. I've been as unbiased as I could be, but it has kind of been like trying to take an impartial opinion on cancer. Cancer is such a bad thing that you really can't be impartial about it. In conclusion, what a fucking wonderful three hours. I'm never doing it again.

I'm going to push my word count to 2K. Tigers Tigers Tigers Tigers Tigers Tgiers Tigers Tigers Tigers Tigers Tigers Tigers. Tigers Tigers Tigers Hodor Tigers Tigers?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.

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