Date Edit

January 10, 2020

Summary Edit

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about 2019’s non-playoff teams actually being the big buyers this winter, the six-player Rays-Cardinals trade involving Matthew Liberatore and José Martínez, working with friends, and the Mariners not making trades, then answer emails about what constitutes a blockbuster trade, the worst go-for-it trades, and whether it’s better for the fans of a losing World Series team to know that the victorious team illegally stole signs.

Topics Edit

  • Defining a blockbuster trade
  • Revisiting unsuccessful 'go-for-it' trades
  • How much time is needed to evaluate prospects' true talent
  • Losing the World Series to a team that cheated

Intro Edit

Sister Sledge, "Blockbuster Boy"

Outro Edit

Tame Impala, "The Less I Know the Better"

1960 World Series game 7 broadcast clip (Hal Smith's home run)

Banter Edit

  • Ben is excited for the weekend and notes that the Friday podcast recording is usually the last thing he has to do before the weekend. He concedes that his excitement may feel misplaced for people who listen to the podcast on Monday morning.
  • Episode 1473 follow-up: After another burst of signings, Ben Clemens revisited his research on which teams are the biggest offseason movers. He found that teams that missed the playoffs in 2019 have been the most involved in the 2019-20 free agent market.
  • Ben and Meg discuss the Cardinals and Rays trade involving Jose Martinez and Matthew Liberatore.
  • Ben references Sam's tweet from 2014 that alludes to how the Rays are continually fleecing other teams in trades. However neither Ben nor Meg can quite figure out how this trade made sense for the Rays.
  • Longtime friends Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore are reunited on the Rays, leading to a discussion about working with friends.
  • Jerry DiPoto's quiet offseason

Email Questions Edit

  • Billy: "What exactly constitutes a "blockbuster" trade? Multiple outlets have referred to yesterday's St. Louis and Tampa Bay swap as a blockbuster. This trade involved 2 minor leaguers (one of whom is  pretty highly regarded in Matt Liberatore), 2 MLB players that combine for 417 appearances and 4.8 WAR (almost all of which comes from Jose Martinez), and a swap of draft picks. Is this trade  relevant to both clubs? Yes, but "blockbuster" is defined (via Google) as "A thing of great power or size." This does not presently resonate as a trade of great power or size, but what do you think makes a trade worthy of the title "blockbuster"?"
  • Kevin: "So far the 2018 and 2017 WS champs have been implicated in sign-stealing scandals. As a Cleveland fan this made me contemplate if I'd want to know if the 2016 Cubs did something equal to the Red Sox, and more so, to the Astros. Knowing that the chances of a championship being vacated are minuscule and awarding the WS to the loser even slimmer, as a fan would you rather know the team you lost a championship to cheated or would you rather believe you lost fair and square. I decidedly chose the latter. Even if somehow they decided to award the WS to Cleveland I'd get no joy from this. It would feel like the '48 championship, just another championship I didn't actually witness."
  • Kolby: "On a previous episode Ben and Sam briefly discussed the Dodgers’ bad luck trades in 2017 and 2018 for Darvish and Machado. As you noted, both were good players, but considering they were acquired not really to help secure a playoff berth or even a WS series berth, but really with the pretty clear hope that they would be the final piece needed to win the WS, the trades were pretty disastrous. (Obviously, it doesn’t mean they were bad decisions, only that the results really stung.) As you (I think) noted, Darvish was far and away the leader in negative cWPA in the 2017 WS and Machado was solidly negative in 2018 (4th worst). My question: are there other, perhaps more extreme examples of ‘go-for-it’ trades that have backfired this spectacularly? How much of this work can be done with set parameters and rankings and how much requires some anecdotal work? I mention this question because as a Rangers fan, the 2011 trade for Koji Uehara still drives me bonkers. The already great team had acquired Mike Adams to shore up the bullpen, but GM Jon Daniels decided to really go for it and add another hot reliever to the pen, because you can’t have enough. Koji Uehara was acquired (for Chris Davis) pretty much solely to make sure that in the World Series the Rangers wouldn’t have to run anyone out of the bullpen they didn’t trust. Of course, though Uehara was great in 2011 and would immediately be great again in 2012 and beyond, he was so dismally bad in the 2011 postseason roster that he wasn’t even included on the WS roster. And wouldn’t you know it…the Rangers could’ve really used just one more arm they could trust out of the bullpen. So Koji wouldn’t show up on a ranking, but he has to be somewhere on that list."

Notes Edit

  • Ben and Meg consider a number of criteria for what can qualify a trade as a blockbuster. The trade has to include a big name player such as a former MVP, Rookie of the Year, or Cy Young award winner. The number of players should matter, but quality has to be high. A 10 player trade of unknown prospects does not qualify as a blockbuster.
  • Ben and Meg also feel that blockbuster trades can't be assigned the name retroactively. At the time of the trade it has to be apparent the quality of the players.
  • Some of the trades mentioned when answering Kolby's question including the Mariners' 2008 trade for Erik Bedard and the Diamondback's move to acquire Shelby Miller by trading away Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte. Ben and Sam initially discussed that trade in Episode 782.
  • Meg thinks it is far better to lose to a team fair and square, not one that cheated, because it is easier to let go and move on from the loss.
  • Episode 1480 follow-up: Hal Smith, the subject of recent discussions on the biggest non walk-off home runs in history, passed away on Friday.

Links Edit

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