Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Trade Targets: Scott Downs, Michael Gonzalez

A couple more lefties that have been tied to Braves rumors, or at least the left-hand reliever market.

Scott Downs

Hard to believe, but Downs is one of five active pitchers and eight overall players that played for both the Expos and Blue Jays.  Downs was also traded three different times in a 10 month period with players like Mike Morgan, Rondell White, Rick Aguilera, and Kyle Lohse changing teams in those deals.  But it wasn't until his sixth shot at a major league job that Downs came into his own.  The former starter appeared in half of the 2007 Blue Jays' games, pitching just 58 innings.  From '07 to '12, he appeared in no fewer than 48 games and pitched at least 45 innings.

Downs, like Javier Lopez, is a highly-compensated reliever often tasked with retiring one or two batters a game.  After excellent work with the Jays, Downs signed with the Angels for $15 million over three seasons before 2011.  Relying on a sinker he throws about 80% of the time, Downs has been one of the best left-hand specialists in the game, posting a FIP of 3.66 and under Anaheim.

The Angels are likely not going anywhere this season.  The A's and Rangers have pulled away from them, leaving them ten games out of first and battling other teams like the Orioles and Rays for a wild card spot seems unlikely to go their way.  Because of the front office's efforts to compete, the Angels system is bare, especially when it comes to starting pitching prospects.  Maybe a pair of projectionable young arms could bring Downs over.

Mike Gonzalez

A former Brave who saved 26 games during his three years in Atlanta, Gonzalez has struggled in recent years to keep a job in one place for long, playing in four different MLB cities over the past three seasons.  Injuries have always been a concern for the guy who can't sit still on the mound.  He has already reached 50 games this season for the Brewers.  The work load could be concerning for a guy who has had trouble pitching full seasons in the majors.

Once capable of pitching complete innings and closing the door in the ninth, Gonzalez is limited to appearing in a specialist role.  He's particularly nasty on lefthanders, as fans of the Braves may remember.  Very few rely on their slider as much as Gonzalez, who almost throws it as much as he throws his fastball.

Gonzalez's trade value will be decided by the market.  He's available and the Braves may not be his only suitor.  I worry about his work load to this point.  However, it's difficult to find guys without their problem because they often aren't available.  If cheaply attained, Gonzalez can be splendid over the last two months.

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