MLBTR Mailbag: Stanton, Harvey, Hamilton

I answered over 40 questions in my hourlong chat on Tuesday, but there are always some good ones that fall through the cracks.  In this post I'll tackle a few more, mailbag style.

Castellanos, Crosby, Porcello, and Fields for Stanton. Deal? – Will

Will is proposing a package that the Tigers could offer to the Marlins for three-plus years of young slugger Giancarlo Stanton, as fans often do in our chats.  As well-regarded as Castellanos is (#38 on Keith Law's top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and #21 on Baseball America's list), I don't think he's a big enough headliner for a Stanton trade.  Granted they added value with Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson, but the Royals were able to acquire the game's fourth-best prospect, Wil Myers, for two years of righty James Shields.  As for the rest of the proposal, I think the Marlins would like to have Crosby, but he doesn't seem to be the caliber of pitching prospect needed in a Stanton deal.

Why did the Astros pass on Julio Borbon? – Anonymous

The Cubs claimed Borbon off waivers from the Rangers five days ago, with the Astros the one team coming before them in the waiver order.  I think the Astros are committed to giving a full season of at-bats to Chris Carter as the left fielder/designated hitter.  While center fielder Justin Maxwell was not yet injured at the time of the Borbon claim, the Astros had other options in Brandon Barnes and the newly-promoted Robbie Grossman.  Releasing right fielder Rick Ankiel for Borbon seems hasty, plus the team already has a former top prospect in the mix in Fernando Martinez.  They'll also have J.D. Martinez off the DL in a few weeks.  Borbon is 27 years old at this point, and I think his upside is limited.

If you had to pick one to keep for the next five years, who would it be, Matt Harvey or Matt Moore? – Lou

If we're including this season as one of my five years, and money is a factor, Moore will earn $17MM for 2013-17 given the contract he signed in December 2011.  Harvey will be arbitration eligible for the 2016 season, so this five-year window would include his first and second arbitration years.  This is a long-winded way of saying that the money seems about the same even though Moore has a year of service on Harvey.  Ultimately, I would take Harvey.  Although you can't go wrong with either pitcher's stuff, I think Harvey has better control.  And while they're both big strikeout guys, Harvey is likely to be more efficient with his pitches and should go deeper into games.

Is Arte Moreno already regretting the Hamilton signing? And is Pujols going to be a DH for the next 9 years? – Matt E

Josh Hamilton, signed to a five-year, $125MM deal during the offseason, is hitting .225/.281/.350 across his first 89 plate appearances for the Angels.  But you don't have to look any further back than July of last year to find a month from Hamilton in which he posted a sub-.700 OPS.  He followed that up with a .943 OPS in August; he's a streaky hitter.  I don't think Moreno is regretting signing Hamilton — this is not the middle of the pack offense it's been so far.  As for the club's 4.88 ERA, that is more troublesome.  They never did assemble a playoff-caliber pitching staff to go with the offense.

While the term on Hamilton is relatively short, through 2017, the Angels have Pujols under contract through 2021.  He has a $26.5MM average annual value for 2014-21.  Pujols said recently that designated hitter is better for his plantar fasciitis.  While he may be dealing with the foot condition for his entire career, Pujols has proven to be extremely durable, meaning he has weathered many injuries that would have kept other players out longer.  Once his foot pain lessens, I think the 33-year-old has at least two or three more years as a first baseman.

If the Pirates are in contention at the trade deadline again this year, do you expect them to finally make that big splash that they haven't made in the past two seasons? – Nick Cap

In 2011 the Pirates added Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee at the July trade deadline, taking on salary rather than giving up prospects.  They also made under-the-radar pickups of Michael McKenry and Jason Grilli that summer.  Last year, the Bucs added Wandy Rodriguez, Gaby Sanchez, and Travis Snider.  GM Neal Huntington was willing to sacrifice a bit more, surrendering Grossman, Brad Lincoln, and a competitive balance pick in the various trades.  This summer, should the Pirates remain in contention, I think they'll again up the ante on what they're willing to give up.  I would not expect them to trade Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, or Alen Hanson.  But I wonder if the team might decide they have the outfield depth to part with Gregory Polanco, assuming a major difference-maker with control beyond this year becomes available.  

Isn't it time for the Phillies to hold a true fire sale?  Won't be pretty, but this group has no prayer in that division. – Logan

At 9-13, the Phillies are fourth in the NL East with over 86% of their season remaining.  We don't have enough data to draw conclusions, and generally even fringe contenders at least wait until July.  Perhaps Domonic Brown's bat will come alive, or the offense will get a boost from Carlos Ruiz.  We know Cole Hamels will be better, and perhaps Roy Halladay can settle in as a solid No. 3.  Maybe Jonathan Pettibone winds up pitching better than John Lannan would have, and Mike Adams' appearance last night was just a blip.  The Phillies' front office assembled a $160MM team.  There's no harm in laying some groundwork if the team eventually wants to sell off contract year guys like Halladay, Ruiz, Chase Utley, and Michael Young, but they've got about three months to let it ride. 

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