At the suggestion of several readers, I’m starting up a new feature here at MLBTR called What Might’ve Been. Basically we’ll look back at rumors and near-deals that did not end up happening, and consider how things would be if they had occurred.
Today’s near-rumor is from November 19th, 2005. That day, the Marlins nearly traded Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Rangers for Hank Blalock and John Danks.
Let’s start with the Fish. They would never have received Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and others from Boston. Instead they would’ve gotten Blalock in ’06 and Blalock plus Danks in ’07. Some rough math using Baseball Prospectus’ WARP stat leads us to believe the Marlins would’ve had 11 fewer wins in ’06 and four fewer in ’07 if they made the Texas deal. Take those 11 wins in ’06 and spread them around the NL, maybe the Astros or even Reds win the Central instead of the Cards. Another consequence: Blalock at third might’ve meant Miguel Cabrera remained in left field. Maybe then Josh Willingham ends up catching, doesn’t get his opportunity, or gets traded.
Moving on to the Rangers. Swapping Blalock for Beckett and Lowell might’ve meant an extra eight wins in ’06 (again, rough math for the sake of the exercise). Eight more wins still probably doesn’t put the ’06 Rangers in the playoffs. Eleven marginal wins in ’07 with Beckett fronting their rotation and Lowell at third still wouldn’t have meant a playoff berth, even with an additional boost for not trading Mark Teixeira. In real life, Beckett signed a three-year extension in July of ’06. Maybe he wouldn’t have signed or been offered this by Jon Daniels. Under that scenario Beckett would’ve been a free agent this winter, snagging a massive 5-7 year deal with the Red Sox, Yankees, or some other club. And would the Red Sox have been more active on Alex Rodriguez this winter if they’d never had Lowell? Moreso if they were not the ’07 World Champs?
Speaking of the Red Sox: say they just hung on to Ramirez and Sanchez, for simplicity’s sake. The Sox still would’ve traded Edgar Renteria and signed Alex Gonzalez before the ’06 season, but maybe Ramirez beats him out for the shortstop job. Best case scenario, Ramirez over Gonzalez in ’06 nets the Sox six wins. That’s at least negated by using Sanchez instead of Beckett and whoever instead of Lowell. The Sox still would’ve missed the playoffs in ’06 – even if they’d signed Roger Clemens or A.J. Burnett after failing to acquire Beckett.
The Beckett-less ’07 Red Sox would’ve probably reached the playoffs, given the huge boost in having Hanley instead of Julio Lugo. The Lugo signing never would’ve happened; maybe he ends up with the Cubs or Mets, who made offers in real life. Instead, the Red Sox might’ve tried to lure Aramis Ramirez or settled for Mark DeRosa as their ’07 third baseman. Do the Red Sox make it past the Indians in the ALCS without Beckett? Perhaps, if they had signed Burnett in the 2005-06 offseason and a decent third baseman in 2006-07.
By the way, the White Sox would not have been able to get Danks from the Marlins for Brandon McCarthy. Who knows what Kenny Williams does with McCarthy in this alternate reality.
I’m dizzy. Thoughts on the new feature, and any corrections on my speculation? Any juicy consequences I missed?