Why I like the Justin Masterson trade
The Indians made their first deadline move and it was a big one. They sent right-handed starting pitcher Justin Masterson to the Cardinals for minor league outfielder James Ramsey in a one for one deal.
The Cardinals had been chasing big name pitchers, but in the end decided it was better to not pay the premium and rolled the dice on Masterson. Initial reaction was very mixed for both Indians and Cardinals fans. It is easy to see why. It’s hard to say who won a deal like this. In the end I am happy with the Indians return and here is why.
There are several reasons why Masteron’s value cratered this season. The first and obvious being he has been ineffective and hurt for a good chunk of the year. This means a team is trading for him on his history not for what he has done this year. The issue is the history of Masterson is not great either. He is the king of inconsistency and has failed in his career to ever put two good years in a row together. His struggles with left-handed hitters is known league wide as well. Every start he makes the lineup he faces is loaded with as many lefties as possible.
On another note, since Masterson was traded he can’t be offered a qualifying offer this offseason. This means the Cardinals gave up a prospect for a two month gamble on a pitcher who has shown nothing this year. He will be free to sign with any team in the offseason without any limitations set forth had the Indians kept him and extended a qualifying offer to him.
James Ramsey is a guy I remember quite well from the 2012 draft. He went 23rd overall, eight picks after Tyler Naquin. He had been called the Tim Tebow of the MLB draft. He was a star college player at a Florida college, FSU, who was a good athlete, was very religious, and put up massive numbers. He was the first senior taken that year, and signed for six figures which is often rare for a senior.
Ramsey was the 7th rated prospect in the Cardinals system by Baseball America to start the year, and in the recent MLB midseason update they put him at 6th in the Cardinals organization. In terms of his tools, he brings a bit of everything to the game. He has shown average to above average tools across the board. He has played mostly center and right in the minors. He could play either in the big leagues thanks to his wheels and a solid arm. This has been his strongest season and his power seems to be emerging. He is on pace for more than 20 home runs this year.
Ramsey is always very well known for his intangibles. He was a Rhodes Scholar and has been a team leader at every level in the minors. Reports on his worth ethic and approach are off the charts. If he fails it won’t be for lack of effort. That said, I am a bit concerned by his strikeout totals which are high; yet they are balanced by solid walk totals so he could be a player who walks and strikes out a lot. This type of player can work in the majors, as opposed to the high strikeout low walk types which mostly fail as prospects.
I know there is concern that he is 24 in Double-A, but it speaks more to the depth of outfielders in the Cardinals system. They had the best outfield in all of the minors at Triple-A. Ramsey was blocked and it is why he was a trade candidate. When the Indians announced the trade they stated he would be sent to Triple-A Columbus. Ramsey could be a candidate as early as next year for the Indians.
In summation the Indians got a top 10 prospect from one of the most respected minor league systems in the majors. Ramsey can play all three outfield spots and shows a good arm and solid wheels. His power is emerging now that he is healthy and while not plus it is average to above average. His only negative trait as a player is a concerning strikeout rate.
If you compare him to fellow 2012 draft pick Naquin, I think it’s clear he is the superior prospect. He will hit more home runs this year than Naquin has hit in the last three seasons. Then add in the better eye at the plate and athleticism and I think it’s clear. I don’t mean to slam Naquin who is clearly a top 10 prospect as well, but Ramsey just has a stronger mix of tools.
I think why Ramsey was a targeted piece by the Indians was they knew he was blocked and hence more easily acquirable. Even more important is the fact Ramsey is a near major’s player who should be ready to help next year. The Indians traded Masty for someone who can help soon, which is a nice return for a pitcher who had been incredibly ineffective this season and might be pitching hurt. Plus they saved roughly $3.5 million which could and should be used to help the team.
One last thing to note is Ramsey is smaller at six feet tall. I know this might seem strange to note, but that’s the way it is in baseball as most players are over six feet. The Indians in free agency and the draft have shown they think this is a market inefficiency. They seem to target players who are viewed as smaller and fall or are dinged because of their height.
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6/8 are above 100 for Runs, which signifies above average run production. Half are over 100 for hits and Ramsey's home park is at 104. 5/8 are above 100 for doubles. Springfield is 2nd highest. Home runs is at +113. Now, I'm not sure how much the league has changed over the years, but I'd say this is still primarily a hitting league. His home/road splits are actually solid (better than I expected) and there are some pitchers parks in the league no doubt. What I see though is more gap power on the road than HR power. 10 doubles on the road to 5 dingers, but at home he's got 8 homers and 5 doubles. Small sample size alert, but I don't think Ramsey is going to hit 20 ever. I think he's a solid 13-15 homer guy at the big league level. I think he's a David Murphy type player during his Texas days.
Didn't realize the Texas league was a pitchers league now. Always thought it was a hitters league. That makes his stats look much better.
With Masterson off the books and Cabrera and Axford likely gone next year (if not sooner), I wonder how much we will have to spend this offseason. I know some of that will be eaten by arbitration and pre existing contract raises.
I would have to think that would only occur if they get someone with team control through at least next year, if not longer. I would prefer gaining prospects with high ceilings and/or near ready-prospects to add to our depth, not diminish it unless they get a difference-maker for at least 2015, preferably longer.
Sorry, but I'm not buying that the FO didn't want to trade the Ace. The Ace was a reliever in September 2013 and had a WHIP almost 1.5 in August 2013. Additionally, the "All Star 2013" Masterson would have been worth alot in February 2014.....perhaps worth even an almost MLB ready AAA pitcher plus one or two other prospects.
The FO has all the necessary stat metrics. If you pinned them down, they would likely say that they didn't want to alienate the fan base by trading the "Ace". Sorry, but the FO job is to do what is necessary to assure the future success of the team.....not to worry about "alienating the fan base" over the trade of an unsignable, inconsistent, going to walk anyway pitcher.
Heck, the fan base is already alienated, so why would a trade in February change anything?
It's interesting to see how all of the minor league divisions shake out, whether they are more of a pitchers' league, hitters' league, or neutral, including how they change over time.
Very interesting and surprising stats about the Texas League; at one time, the TL, along with the Pacific Coast League, were known as nefarious hitting leagues. I was very surprised to read that OPS league stat you provided- thanks!
Why the heck is gomes 8th?? Dumb. Why not put Brantley 6th? Don't care if the pitcher throws with his right foot!!! Move him up!!!!!
All of that said, including the possibility that I might have misjudged and that Ramsey is better than I thought, this is not a bad return for 2 months of a maybe healthy Masterson, plus saving the balance of his salary for the season. Heck, if he's so well regarded by the baseball community, at least he's a trade asset.
Secondly, we won't know what the Indians truly got with this Ramsey kid until we see him in the system for a little bit....but there is some upside and you have to love the reports coming in from various national media. The last time this happened with such an outfielder was in the Sabathia trade when there were glowing reports about Michael Brantley who was viewed at the time by many fans as a future fourth outfielder. Now, obviously brantley was like 20 or 21 when he was picked up and there was more upside....but the point is that let's wait and see what this Ramsey kid does before we pass judgement. It's a solid trade. Indians really have nothing to lose here as they were not winning with Masterson anyway, and he had little value, so maybe Ramsey works out or he doesn't. Time will tell. Bottom line, they got a usable piece that is near Major League ready and has some legit potential and adds to some outfield depth that they can now maybe parlay into an arm.
By the way Herrera who we traded for Scrabble last year is now there 11th best propsect.
The Giants have four SP prospects (outside Crick and Beede) I'd suspect the Tribe would have interest in...
Adalberto Mejia -LHSP, Ty Blach -LHSP, Clayton Blackburn -RHSP, and Chris Stratton -RHSP.
The Jays have a few SP prospects (outside of Norris, Stroman, Sanchez and Hoffman) I'd suspect the a Tribe would have interest in... Robert Osuna - RHSP, Sean Nolin - LHSP, Chase DeJong -RHSP and Matt Smoral - RHSP.
Morosi also suggests the Tribe might be willing to move Scrabble. Might not be a bad idea, Hagadone seems to have done well in his limited role. Crockett is a keeper and the Tribe has some depth with Barnes, Maronde, Arajuo, and Soto.
The Tribe isn't if full sell mode, but if they get an offer they can't refuse, I think they should deal him.
I'm just guessing they are looking to add some SP with that depth. They were rumored to want SP in return, may not have been able to get a qlty arm so took the best position player they could get. They could pkg some prospects for a controllable SP in return.
Now if we can air mail Cabrera, Bourne, Swisher, and a few others out, it could get interesting. A lot of $$ saved in this deal too. Playing with monopoly $$ is fun isn't it ?
Ramsey's OPS in Texas League is .916 in 243 ABs with 31 walks and 66 Ks....not enough plate appearances to qualify for OPS lead....league leader has an OPS of .818 in 288 ABs with 41 walks. Give this guy the AAA challenge without several top prospects blocking his path to the majors and he may take off. If he can just stay healthy, we may have gotten a steal of a deal.
Some facts from the Texas League:
It is a very pitcher friendly league. There are only 5 qualifying batters with an OPS over .800 and the best is at .818. Team AVG OPS is below .700
Ramsey is about a dozen of PAs short of qualifying due to injury I guess, but his .916 OPS is outstanding. His .527 SLG would be 1st too, his .389 OBP would be 2nd
Similar to Holt or Lindor, I expect him to carry over his performance to AAA.
t organization called him the ace. Cory has taken the torch and ran with it. We still need to get rid of Michael Bourn, John Axford, and Nick Swisher and maybe Ryan Rayburn and let Murphy be he back-up.
Still would like Gonzalez from Colorado to play right field and get Milone, pitcher from Oakland. I wish Terry would start trying to please al his players and let the players that are hitting play since no Swisher on DH but Gomes or Perez, who can hit or catch. Time to get serious, please someone tell Terry before it is too late. The an deserve it. Go Tribe.
10 year ML OFer??? ha. In ML next spring? ha
If this is Masterson's value, Asdrubal ought to return a bat donut
Masterson has to be kicking himself for not signing the Indians 4-year, $60 million offer last winter.
The other day Masterson was asked why his velocity was down this year. He was surprisingly honest. He said he didn't know. I thought he would blame his knee or something, but he just said that if somebody knows where his velocity went, please let him know.
I wish him the best. Maybe he'll do all right on a team with major league infielders against opponents with no DH.
Another note.. by going to St Louis.. the Cardinals have one of the best rated defenses in all of MLB. WOW>. this with Jhonny Peralta as their infield captain and Kolten Wong, a rookie, as their 2B, Fatty Matty Adams at 1B.. smh.. Defensive metrics are only for the brave...
FYI and fwiw, mlb.com has already put Ramsey at 5 in the Indians system, just between Zimmer and JRam
So I think they had to go with Masterson. But giving how he's pitched, getting a decent prospect in an area of need plus saving $3.5 million, not a bad deal overall.
The next to go is Asdrubal.
I hope the Indians continue to sell...ACab, Axford, Murphy...get what you can. What about Atchison? Is he under team control beyond this season? If not, trade him too, he'd be valuable for a contender.
Promote Holt, Adams, CC Lee, Tomlin, Urshela, Aguilar etc and let the young guys sink or swim the next two months. Find out what you have
That excludes you..
We were short one pitcher at the beginning of the season and we still are. I'm hoping we can turn some high level prospects into a starting pitcher, hopefully left handed, before the deadline.
CL Who, trading Masterson earlier in the year would have been an option if the Indians had resigned Jimenez and/or Kazmir, as I and a few others had suggested last offseason, but the Indians decided to stick with Masterson, as I thought they might do, banking on him to lead the staff. That's why they couldn't trade him at the beginning of the season. The fact they got a noted prospect in Ramsey for essentially a lost season and an inconsistent career for Masterson, I certainly think the Indians could have done far worse than they did.
With that said, good luck to Masterson- he was always professional and seemed to be a plus in the clubhouse- nothing against him, just that the price range, his career inconsistency, and his injury history over the past year (including the second half of 2013) just made him too risky to resign to a long-term deal and too risky to provide a qualifying offer to.
Masterson was not contributing to the future of the team THIS year.. and is going to be a FA in two months. Chris Antonetti got a decent prospect from a great minor league system in return. Not bad from a value perspective.. but, certainly not at the value that Masterson could have commanded had he been able to progress as a ML SP. Instead he regressed into a sore knee'd BOR/barely replacement level pitcher that complicated his poor starts by killing the bullpen when he was sent to the showers..
This is a trade that helps the Indians in the short run.. IDK what I would do given the same set of circumstances with this player. I liked his persona.. his attitude.. his charm.. him as a person. His pitching this year was atrocious. Good luck.. hopefully someone else can figure out what ails him..
As far as Jimmy Ramsey goes.. He's the odd man out in the St Louis system for OF'er. Overall, he'll remind you a lot of Toby Harrah.. play defense like Grady.. throw like Choo and hit like Brantley.. There's a lot of "young" Brian Giles in his game as well.. At the end of the day, he'll be a 10 year ML OF'er that will give a team a solid at bat in every plate appearance and make all the routine plays in the OF while throwing the ball to and through the cut off man, every time..
I'm a JImmy Ramsey fan..