Undoing One Fateful Diamondbacks Trade

Former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes made many trades that dramatically altered the team's future, but none more so than the 2007 deal to acquire Dan Haren.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but what would the team look like if we undid this trade?

On December 14th, 2007, the Diamondbacks shipped Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith to the Athletics for Haren and Connor Robertson.  At the time I called this a win for the Diamondbacks, failing to fully realize what Gonzalez and Anderson would become.  So I can't knock Byrnes for pulling the trigger, especially since he was adding a second ace to pair with Brandon Webb without hurting his big league club.  Plus, Haren was signed at a third of his market value for three seasons.  You have to give up a ton to get a guy like that.

Still, let's undo the Haren trade and put CarGo in left field for Arizona.  We can also take Joe Saunders out of the rotation and slide Anderson in.  Those are a couple of huge upgrades.  WAR might peg the total upgrade over what the Diamondbacks have now at five wins or so, but I have to admit that intuitively it feels like the difference would be about twice that.  Just undoing the one Haren deal, the D'Backs have a fantastic, affordable front three of Anderson, Kennedy, and Hudson in their rotation plus a pair of superstars at the outfield corners. 

What else would be different right now?  Would Byrnes still have his job?  Would Mark Reynolds still be manning third base?  Would the team have made a more serious offseason push toward contending in 2011?  It's fun to wonder, unless you root for the Diamondbacks.

85 Responses to Undoing One Fateful Diamondbacks Trade Leave a Reply

  1. MetsEventually 4 years ago

    Yeah, that blows. Three huge players and the end up with Joe Saunders? Ouch.

    • azdsnd 4 years ago

      Tyler Skaggs and Pat Corbin aren’t CarGo and Anderson by any stretch of the imagination, but they shouldn’t be discounted completely.

  2. That was a pretty bad trade along with Billy Beane flipping Cargo to the Rockies for Matt Holliday. What made that trade so bad was the fact that the A’s were never going to resign Holliday. Giving up a top prospect for a rental before the season starts was a stupid move.

    • j6takish 4 years ago

      They knew they weren’t going to resign Holliday. The whole point of that trade was to flip him for prospects or get a Type A draft pick. However, the odds of those prospects or draft pick being greater than CarGo……sigh

      • Guest 4 years ago

        Don’t give up on Michael Taylor becoming a good player for the A’s in the next couple years. He had a bad first full season at Sacramento. But three years ago, Gonzalez also had a bad half season in Sacramento (and a bad half season in Oakland).

        Not saying Taylor will become what Gonzalez did. But it’s way too soon to write him off. That loss may not be as big as people think for the A’s in the long run.

        • I though they just got Brett Wallace in the trade with the Cards? CarGo is a great hitter but his home run totals are really inflated from playing in Colorado.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Brett Wallace was traded for Michael Taylor about 16 months ago, after they realized Wallace probably couldn’t stick at 3B.

          • That’s right, that was apart of the Roy Halladay Cliff Lee deal.

    • Pete 4 years ago

      It still has not been proven that Cargo can hit away from Denver though, his value wouldnt be the same now if he was in Oakland. Sure it was an awful trade but it was made out of the terrible notion that “Beane trades all his good players for prospects”, yeah he trades them for more value such as the Haren/Mulder deals. When he does that, he gets blasted, and when he does the opposite, he gets blasted. He simply cant win no matter what.

      • Perhaps he should stop trading them all away prematurely.

      • Perhaps he should stop trading them all away prematurely.

      • I know CarGo’s stats get inflated in Colorado but he was still a great hitter who was going to drive in runs. I’m not bashing him like most other people do. I mean you can’t win all the trades. He’s still ones of the best GM’s in baseball. He knows how to trade for talent. Its the fact that the trade was uncharacteristic of him to trade a top prospect for a superstar with 1 year left on his deal with no shot at resigning him.

        • Guest 4 years ago

          That trade was definitely a bad idea (and a terrible idea, in hindsight). But I think they were feeling a lot of pressure to kickstart the rebuild, and caved to pressure, instead of just being patient like they normally are.

          It’s a shame that offense never clicked. But man! Holliday had a poor spring. Cabrera too. And Cust regressed from what he had done the two prior years. And Giambi was a major letdown also. Plus a lot of people were still hoping that Chavez could bounce back from all his injuries, at that point.

          It’d be nice to be able to take that one back. But I’m still pretty content knowing that Brett Anderson is arguably already better than Haren. Plus they have Carter and Taylor to show for it. And Haren would have likely been gone by now, anyway (the extension the A’s signed him to would have expired last November.

          • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

            it’s important to distinguish between judging decisions based on outcomes and judging decisions based on process

            in terms of process, beane’s moves to my knowledge have always been at least defensible and usually somewhere between pretty smart and brilliant. in terms of outcome, several haven’t worked out

            i understand he takes heat for the ones that don’t work out. but really, that’s like giving la russa a hard time for pinch hitting albert pujols in the 9th inning if pujols ends up striking out. it didn’t work out, but it was still a good decision. process versus outcome

            now obviously most moves are not as obvious pinch hitting pujols, but the point is clear. beane’s a guy every team should want, because his process is a great one

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Well put. And I agree. I’m an A’s fan, and I couldn’t be more happy with Beane. He’ll always make his share of mistakes. But who won’t? And it’s especially tough when you have such a small budget to work with. And he’s made FAR more good trades than bad ones, as far as I’m concerned.

            The only A’s fans who he seems to be unpopular with are the people who have been fans since the early 70’s, and can’t stop pining for that era, reality aside. And also the people who became fans in the late 90’s, and were spoiled by the run they had from 1999-2006. Some of that latter group never could bare the fact that EVENTUALLY almost every team has to rebuild at some point (which is also especially true of a low budget team).

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          it’s not just coors, though. .384 BABIP last year. normalize that and his season looks a lot, lot different

          billy’s record is far from flawless. when you make that many transactions, you’re going to have some misses in with the hits. but on the whole, given what he’s had to work with, he’s done very well. beane is still the bomb

        • $3513744 4 years ago

          Well I for one am more than happy to bash him. I’ll also give him credit where credit is due, as he has a very good eye for talent. You can’t win them all, but he seems to do a pretty good job getting good talent. My number one beef with him is that everyone seems to give him more praise than he actually deserves. It’s not that he’s not good, but he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire either. Of all the “great” things he’s done, he hasn’t produced a team that has gotten a single championship. Not even one appearance in the WS. He might have a great eye for talent, but the accumulation of the talent still needs to produce the ultimate goal: WS rings. Until he wins one of those, I just can’t in good conscience put him in the conversations of a great GM. It’s about getting good talent AND winning the WS, not one or the other exclusively.

          • I’m a Twins fan and I know exactly what you mean. The Twins organization is praised time and time again for how they develop their players and always winning the division. The only thing is that’s as far as it goes for the Twins, they win the division and get swept out of the playoffs every single year. This philosophy the Twins have is drafting players who have heart and will listen to what they’re told. They don’t draft flashy players who have the talent to become superstars. The pitchers the Twins develop are the most frustrating part of the equation. The draft pitch to contact pitchers, not swing and miss type pitchers. Long story short, what the Twins are doing isn’t working.

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            I’m with you all the way. All my friends who are Twins fans say the same thing, and I share in the frustration. They got so much talent, and yet you can pretty much bet going into each season that they aren’t going anywhere past the first round of the playoffs. Just another organization satisfied with being just good enough.

            We all criticize the yankees, but in reality it’s because we’re just a little bit jealous. When they don’t win the WS, it’s a failure to them. That’s the difference between the Twins and Yankees.

          • For some reason they get scared against the Yankees and Red Sox. They just don’t have what it takes to hang with the big boys.

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            I think they could have what it takes if they tried to put together a team that could beat them in the playoffs and not a team that just wins the central. They’ve got a great core to work with, but it doesn’t seem like they’re willing to build beyond the foundation. Most teams would salivate over the core they’ve got.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            You’re aware that up until last season, the Twins had one of the smallest budgets in baseball, right?

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            And you’re aware it’s by their own choice right?

          • Guest 4 years ago

            So you expected them to spend money like a big market team, even though they clearly didn’t have the revenue to justify doing so before moving into Target Field (which was built on the taxpayer’s dime)?

          • Guest 4 years ago

            That’s ridiculous. The playoffs are a crapshoot. Since the addition of the Wild Card, the best team rarely wins it all these days. It’s all about who is hot and healthy, and has everything go right at just the right time. Just look at the Giants. And the 2006 Cardinals. And the 2003 Marlins. And look at how the Yankees (as much as it pains me to say it) usually have the most talented team every year, but have only won it once in the last 10 years.

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            I suppose but we can’t agree on how to identify who the best team is. The way I see it, the team that wins it all gets a lot of brownie points. A lot of people may disagree, but that’s how I see it. The Yankees usually have the most talented team, and they’ve also won more WS rings than the others.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            I think it’s pretty fair to say that the teams with the best record in each league are generally the best teams. And how often are those teams in the World Series anymore??

            I mean, can any rational person say that the Cardinals — who won 83 games — were the best team in baseball in 2006?

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            I can. And many others agree with me. Is the best boxer the one with the best record or is it the guy who’s the current champion? There’s arguments for both sides, and it’s not completely objective. The 2001 Mariners had the best record in baseball and didn’t even make the WS. Does that mean they were the best team that year? Were they the best team of all time? I would say no to both. And I wouldn’t even say it was an upset that they didn’t make it past the Yankees.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            That’s utterly absurd. I know a lot of diehard St. Louis fans. And even they all agree that the Cardinals got incredibly lucky in 2006, and were far from the best team in the NL, much less in all of baseball.

          • sportsfan07 4 years ago

            The problem is that there are more factors to winning a WS than just accumulating talent. Case in point Brian Sabean last year buying a bunch of washed up players and got lucky to have them start producing all at the same time. A good amount of luck has to go into it to win a WS as well. It isn’t all about the talent otherwise teams like the Yankees would be winning the WS every year since all they do is buy the most talented players.

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            Well of course luck has something to do with it, and I am well aware that it has more to do with just the accumulation of talent, which was exactly my point since Beane’s style is to effectively evaluate talent and accumulate it efficiently. There’s a reason why his teams haven’t won yet, as that seems to be where his only focus is at. And we’re not just talking about winning it all–his teams haven’t even made it to a WS yet. I think we can all agree pretty whole heartedly that it isn’t just about getting talent, otherwise Beane should have produced at least one WS if not more by now. I think we can all agree he’s pretty good at scouting talent. But this doesn’t give him a free pass from the mere fact that he hasn’t won it yet. Yes, the Giants won it, and luck of the draw played into factor, but who knows what they do this year. If we want to compare the A’s to the Yankees, just look at the WS trophies. I’ll give the guy credit, but I just don’t think he deserves as much credit as he’s been given.

          • sportsfan07 4 years ago

            He deserves all the credit he gets because the goal of the game is to accumulate the most amount of talent and hope for a WS ring. There are tons of teams that are good year in and year out that don’t make it to the WS. Minnesota comes to mind, Toronto is consistently around or above .500 but never make it to playoffs, Atlanta as well has trouble making it to the WS despite all of those division titles. They all deserve all the credit that they get for being good teams but there are just too many extraneous factors other than talent that goes into helping a team win a WS.

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            And that’s all a matter of opinion. They are well deserving of the credit they deserve, but the criticism goes right along with it. Everyone gets their panties in a bunch because we dare criticize them. We can criticize all of them, from Cashman to Jack Z, and we can praise them all. But when we start comparing track records, I just don’t see Beane as good as everyone says he is. He’s still missing a rather large chunk on his resume.

          • sportsfan07 4 years ago

            Yes I understand that part but you are saying that we should take credit away from them for something that is completely out of their control. You are saying things like Greg Maddux doesn’t deserve as much credit as he got because he didn’t throw a no-hitter or that we should take away credit from Gene Mauch because his teams never won a pennant. Doesn’t make sense because really a lot of those things are not dependent fully dependent on what they do and there is that factor of luck that is needed

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            Actually, I didn’t say any of that. Thank you and feel free to try again.

          • sportsfan07 4 years ago

            It’s similar enough. You are saying that we should take credit away for not accomplishing something that is completely out of their control.

            And in the post above I meant it is similar to that not that you were exactly saying that

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            And I would also disagree that those are even similar. Winning a WS is in a completely different ballpark than winning a pennant or throwing a no-hitter.

            If that’s what you meant, then that’s what you should’ve said. There you go again telling me that I said those things, but I never did.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            You didn’t TECHNICALLY say those things. But that’s a pretty good analogy he made.

          • $3513744 4 years ago

            Actually it’s not. He didn’t make an analogy. He said I was saying those things and I didn’t, nor did I imply them. In fact, I’ve said several times that I give him his credit, but I don’t boast him up like many others do, and ignore the fact that he has had some very obvious shortcomings.

            I never said anything about taking credit away from him.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            God, you’re a stiff. CLEARLY you never said those things, verbatim. And CLEARLY what he said was an analogy. Yet you still keep carrying on about how he tried to put words in your mouth. Geez.

      • I think having a movie made about you starring Brad Pitt means you “won” somewhere along the line.

      • not_brooks 4 years ago

        After he hit his low point (.621 OPS on May 4), Holliday was actually pretty impressive in Oakland, putting up a .905 OPS from May 5 through July 23.

        Not bad for a first time ALer moving from the best hitters’ park in the world to one of the worst.

  3. graham montgomery 4 years ago

    Wouldn’t they somehow had to have traded home fields with the Rockies down the road to make Gonzalez anything other than average, though?

  4. Maybe I’m not as big on CarGo long term as everyone else (plate discipline concerns), but Haren definitely didn’t fail Arizona by any means.

    Would I rather have CarGo and Anderson today, absolutely…but I don’t think this trade is a black eye for the organization. There are many worse trades (see the AJ Pierzynski deal between Minnesota and San Francisco)

    • That is a good point, it’s not like they got crap for Anderson and CarGo.

    • sportsfan07 4 years ago

      The trade at the time wasn’t so bad for Arizona but the trade to get rid of Haren was even worse than the one to acquire him making it really more like a double whammy on Arizona so to me Arizona made it worse than it really should have been. Saunders is barely serviceable anymore and 2 of those prospects are having a difficult time getting out of AA ball while Skaggs has been up and down.

    • FamousGrouse 4 years ago

      At the time, the Dbacks were coming off a strong season and were in good shape to contend for the following year. Picking up Haren during your window of opportunity and pairing him with Brandon Webb was not a bad move.

  5. verlander 4 years ago


  6. Pete 4 years ago

    The Haren to LAAA trade was the worst trade in recent memory.

  7. Chris Solberg 4 years ago

    Regardless of if you add a starting pitcher and more offense, D-Backs’s relief last year stunk….horribly. They still would’ve sucked, just not as much.

  8. dc21892 4 years ago

    I didn’t realize Anderson was part of that deal too.

  9. John C 4 years ago

    Way to kick us when we’re down lol

  10. Let’s not forget Chris Carter either. He would likely be starting at 1B for AZ right now and likely would have last year as well. The dude still has a ton of upside and could have had 25 hr last year in AZ. Let’s just hope Oakland gives up on Matsui soon and gives Carter a full time gig at DH.

    • Guest 4 years ago

      Why would they give up on a guy who had a .955 OPS in the second half last year, for a guy who is still struggling with PCL pitching? This isn’t the time to let someone go through rookie growing pains. The A’s can compete this year.

      Matsui hasn’t done much, SO FAR, this year. But we’re just 17 games into the season. And everyone understands that he’s always been a slow starter. And more than likely, he’ll start to come around sooner than later.

      Carter could very well be a stud one day. But he’s not there yet. Not to mention, losing Matsui would mean losing one of their few left-handed bats, potentially giving them five straight right-handers in the middle of the order.

  11. Mr_Anderson1017 4 years ago

    “It’s fun to wonder, unless you root for the Diamondbacks.”

    Yeah, exactly. I think about this trade every day and what could’ve been.

    Let’s also not forget that that same day JB traded Jose Valverde to HOU for Qualls, Burke, and Juan Guti. This dismantled the back-end of a knockout bullpen, the thinking being that they wouldn’t have enough money to pay him a couple years down the road. I wonder if they would’ve had some money had they not given Eric Byrnes a 3yr/$30mil extension. This is also where the dback bullpen struggles started as they couldn’t hold leads or close out games, which continued the next few years, culminating in the nightmare 2010 ‘pen.

    Also earlier in the ’07 offseason, JB traded Carlos Quentin for Chris Carter (who was then flipped for Haren). Yeah, he was almost the AL MVP in 2008.

    • i’m sad too…we need a hug.

      does no one here, including the article’s author, recall that baseball america regarded cargo as the dbacks best prospect – even with upton/quentin in the same system? anyone who knew that group of prospects could have told you’d he’d be the one to stick…

  12. Philip Marlowe 4 years ago

    Anyone else kinda worried that we’re gonna have one of these a couple years from now.

    “Undoing the Matt Garza Trade”

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      eh. that wasn’t a very good trade, but none of the talent that changed hands compares very well to the haren deal

      • I guess you haven’t seen Sam Fuld play then.

        • 0bsessions 4 years ago

          Well, considering he’s had less than 200 career at bats, can you really blame him for not having seen him play much? Heck, Joe Maddon has barely seen Sam Fuld play.

          Now, if I don’t see an XKCD comic about extrapolating, I’m going to be sorely disappointed.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          hey listen i love sam fuld. i went to school with sam fuld. i met up with him when he was in boston for the series with the sox. i’ve followed every season of his career since he was drafted

          but in all probability, sam is a fourth outfielder. he’s enjoying the ride right now and i’m loving it as much as anybody. never ever thought i’d see a .420 wOBA next to his name in the bigs and it really is awesome. but it’s also 60 PA. almost anyone can get hot for that period of time. he’s not going to hit .368 and he’s not going to slug .561

          i hope he earns his keep as a starting OFer. thanks in large part to his dad his approach at the plate has always been very good; so if he can also continue to make solid contact i think he’s got a shot to stick around. but ultimately his ceiling is not even as high as the other players in the garza trade, let alone as high as anderson’s and gonzalez’s

          (here you go, 0b)

  13. Braydon Gervais 4 years ago

    Haha reading back on the Haren trade when you called it a win for the Diamondbacks:

    “Gonzalez, 22, is the stud of the group. He can play right or center and has definite star potential. However, he’s no lock to become Carlos Beltran or JEFF FRANCOEUR.”


  14. graham montgomery 4 years ago

    With a wRC+ of exactly 100, I’d say he’s precisely average away from coors field.

  15. Yeah he did, I know the last month he was there though I think he was getting hot. he was hitting like .350-.360 the month he was traded. Then he really caught fire when he landed in St. Louis.

  16. Thats just because of the money though. Not because of the talent given up in the deal.

  17. Guest 4 years ago

    That trade became even worse for the Angels when Napoli wound up back in the AL West. It was questionable to part with him to begin with (couldn’t they have just gotten Wells straight off waivers at one point?). But now Napoli will be hitting in Arlington, where he’ll probably hit 30 home runs, even in a platoon role.

  18. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    other than the fact that carlos santana was traded for Casey Blake, that wasn’t a bad trade

  19. Guest 4 years ago

    Yeah. Aside from that small matter of $86 million…..I’m pretty sure I’d still rather have Napoli and Rivera over Wells!

  20. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    “Other than the huge amount of money taken on, that wasn’t a bad trade. ”

    yes it was. napoli and rivera > wells outside of rogers centre

  21. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    i am the farthest thing from a gonzalez fan, but you are talking about a sample size of 300 PA. home/road splits are odd things in general, and without a very significant sample (michael young for example has 3200 PA), it’s difficult to draw firm conclusions

    what you can say, irrespective of sample size, is that his .384 BABIP cannot be sustained. and that if looked more like the league average (.300), his 2010 would look nothing like it did. adjust for coors field and it looks even less impressive

    the kid has plenty of room to develop. nobody has any reason to call him a bad player. but he should absolutely not be counted yet among the game’s great hitters

  22. The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

    a what? I’m sorry whatever you just said is a bull scheisse stat

  23. sportsfan07 4 years ago

    I’m an A’s fan and I think that Gonzalez has a ton of talent in the world and I understand what you are saying but his splits since he has gotten to Colorado has become a trend where nearly every single batting statistic out there has him being way better at Coors than away from it. In 09′ his batting average in Coors is .305 compared to .263 on the road. Last year was even more ridiculous .380 at home compared to .289 at home and only 8 of his 34 HRs were away from Coors. This year is no different .355 at home and .200 on the road. He has the talent no doubt but if that small sample size of this year continues this trend, it really can be concluded that he is producing as a product of Coors Field rather than his actual talent.

  24. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    “if that small sample size of this year continues this trend, it really can be concluded that he is producing as a product of Coors Field rather than his actual talent. ”

    it really can’t, though. people could and did say the same thing about matt holliday, who had a sample five times as large gonzalez’s is now and also posted severe home/road splits while in colorado

    link to fangraphs.com

    like i said, it is very likely that he does benefit from playing in coors. but the bigger factor by far in terms of distorting his true talent level appears to be his good luck with BABIP

  25. sportsfan07 4 years ago

    That’s true. Good point there. But I still believe that it can be concluded that he is getting a huge boost from Coors. Don’t get me wrong I think the guy is a star but Coors makes him a superstar right now. Anywhere else and he would be batting 5th maybe lower or batting 2nd if he was still in Oakland right now. I think the other telling thing is that his plate discipline is horrible and that is where he differs from Holliday as well. Coors helps bail him out if he swings at a horrible pitch because the ball just carries for days. Just my own opinion though.

  26. The_Silver_Stacker 4 years ago

    off topic, I was wondering about your thoughts on Travis Snider breaking his bat last night

  27. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    he’s frustrated… Frustration is going around the team right now..

    Snider wears his emotions, its why so many fans connect to him..

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