Friday, October 2, 2015

Reviewing Hart's Trades: Carp/Shreve for ManBan

The Braves have been active in John Hart's first season at the helm to the tune of SIXTEEN TRADES! Sixteen deals involving major league talent going one direction or in both. Sixteen deals that include over 50 different players, a few draft picks, lots of cash, and two Uptons. It's been friggin unreal to see what the Braves have done.

With most of the season in our rear view, it's time to start reviewing each one of these trades. This series is going take a little while to get through, but hey, it gives me something to write about.

Trades Already Reviewed
La Stella for Vizcaino
Heyward/Walden for Miller/Jenkins
Varvaro for Kurcz
J. Upton for Jace Peterson and prospects

The Trade
David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve to the Yankees for Manny Banuelos. I looked at the deal here.

The Rationale
This trade look a lot of people by surprise. The year of 2015 had just began and the Braves sent two relievers, including a pretty established one at that, to the Yankees for an often-injured left-hander who had last thrown a hundred innings in a season in 2011. Back then, Banuelos was a huge prospect. As the 2014 season came to a close, he was just a guy with some potential, but limited to about 100 innings over the previous three years.

But what the Braves saw with the help of Gordon Blakeley, who they had hired away from the Yankees, was a guy who wasn't properly valued by the Yankees considering his former status as a Top 50 prospect in baseball. It wasn't that he lost his stuff or that his control was especially bad - he simply was having trouble staying on the mound. If the Braves had any luck, ManBan would be able to increase his innings and show what he had.

For the Yankees, it was simple. Banuelos had the highest ceiling of the three players, but probably the toughest time reaching it. Meanwhile, the Yankees could add depth to their bullpen in Carp and Shreve. Carp had been excellent for the Braves. Over two years, he struck out 141 in 126.2 innings and rarely walked anyone. He was a bit homer prone, especially to Juan Uribe, but the Yankees were confident that they were getting a great middle reliever to aid in their re-worked pen. Shreve was a bit of icing on the cake. A lefty, Shreve had arrived in 2014 to the tune of 12.1 ING, 15 K's, and had not been embarrassed by righties. He held some minor platoon differences in the minors (more groundballs vs L), but there was some hope he could be a full inning pitcher.

The Braves showed in this trade that they felt if they found enough arms, some would stick and the bullpen would be fine. Regardless, a high-end pitcher with no major league experience had more value to them to a pair of relievers.

Short-Term Results
Carp never got going in the Bronx. His velocity was there, but he couldn't strike out anyone. He depended on K's to get outs, but now was pitching to contact - something that relievers in general are not very good at. His control, which was so good in Atlanta, got away from him. He couldn't get ahead of hitters and even when he did, he got roughed up. Carp was also terrible in big money situations. By June, the Yankees grew tired of him and sent him packing to the Nationals for a middle infielder named Tony Renda. A former second round-pick, Renda had a sub-.700 OPS in 2015 in AA.

Shreve stuck around and after spending some time in the minors, he became a pretty trustworthy member of the bullpen. In the first half, he appeared in 32 ballgames with an ERA of 2.02, over a K an inning, and a WHIP under 1.00. It looked like even after Carp bombed, Shreve would pick up the ball and become a solid addition for the Yankees. However, his numbers flipped in the second half. Since the beginning of August, he has surrendered 7 homers, walked 17 batters in 22 games, and gotten increasingly bad. His 2.79 ERA for the season looks nice, but he's lost the confidence of his manager, who only uses him in games they are already losing or extra innings forces his hand.

On the other hand, Banuelos was great earlier this season for Gwinnett. His 2.23 ERA was probably a bit nicer than it deserved to be considering his 1.23 WHIP, but he was productive and mostly healthy. The highlight of his season came on June 22 when he threw a 101-pitch two-hit shutout against Indianapolis. He faced just one over the minimum and struck out five. By July, he was in the majors. He started off well with 5.2 scoreless innings and 7 K's against the Nats, but a trip to the DL later that month sidelined him. He was able to get back for a couple of starts, but a bone spur in his elbow ended his 2015 season.

Long-Term Outlook
The short-term was rough as the bullpen struggled mightily without Carpenter and Shreve, who had both been expected to play significant roles for the Braves in 2015, but long-term, this deal still has a shot to be a winner. Banuelos still didn't have a completely healthy season and will likely still have an innings-limit in 2016, but he's got a good chance to be in the picture. The Braves liked Banuelos a lot and it's easy to see why. Now can he translate it into success? We shall see.

As for the Yankees, while they were able to get something from the hyper-desperate Nats for Carp, losing a guy with Banuelos's high-end potential for essentially a LOOGY is a tough price to pay. Banuelos isn't a sure thing so I wouldn't lost sleep if I'm the Yankees. After all, if he does become a star, you can buy him back on the free agent market later.

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