In a New York Minute

It had been rumored for weeks that Shawn Green was on the trading block. His contract for 2007 is to pay him $7.5 million. There is an option that has a $2 million buy-out that would take effect for 2008. That contact made a trade seem unlikely as Green was beginning to show signs of decreasing skills. Shawn still played a serviceable right field and as has been the case for most of his career his hitting got hotter as the temperatures rose. In order to trade Green would take some creativity by the Diamondbacks. Just before yesterday’s game in San Francisco that creativity came to fruition with Shawn Green being traded to the New York Mets in exchange for AAA left handed pitcher Evan MacLane.

My first reaction to this trade is one of relief. While Green was adequate in right field he would never be confused with a gold glove defender. He was slow in his jump on the ball putting himself in the wrong position for many at bats. He was not a gifted runner by any means and therefore several balls that should have been outs or at most singles ended up going to the wall for doubles and sometimes triples. Green’s arm strength had gone down so he was no longer a threat to throw anyone but the slowest base runner out.

With Green now gone it would mean the Arizona Diamondbacks could now provide rookie Carlos Quentin with more regular playing time. It was in fact Quentin that forced the Diamondbacks hand. His hitting and fielding had a very positive impact on the team in the short period of time he has been with the club. His athletic abilities and speed in the outfield had paid dividends and kept the Diamondbacks in games they would not have been able to do with Green in the field. The move also provided Arizona with an opportunity to evaluate some of the young players from Tucson and give them a chance to get some major league experience before next season. It is clear that there is a lot of talent in the minor leagues for the Diamondbacks but are these kids ready to make the final step to the parent club?

With this move the Arizona Diamondbacks cleared payroll off the books not just for the remainder of 2006 but also for 2007 and 2008. This could pay dividends in the off season as it gives the team some payroll flexibility to go after their real need, starting pitching. The money saved by the trades this season sets the team up to try their hand at the free agent market and get themselves a solid number 2 or number 3 starter.

There are of course dangers in the deal. If Quentin does not make the necessary adjustments to be a regular, the Diamondbacks will find themselves in need of pitching and a corner outfielder. Quentin has shown tremendous athletic ability so I am not anticipating that happening but there has been a lot or pressure placed on his shoulders. Starting a rookie and getting as young as the Diamondbacks have become you have to expect that inexperience will show through and mistakes will be made. The team will just need to adapt for this to not have an adverse affect. Trading away an established star when you are in the middle of a pennant delivers a strong message that the team is playing for the future rather than for a playoff spot in this year. This may light a fire under the existing players for a final play-off run for 2006.

What gets lost in this deal is what the Diamondbacks received in return. Evan MacLane began the year in Binghamton in AA and appeared in six games as a starter recording a 3-1 record with 33 innings pitched. He struck out 25 batters while walking only 2. Evan was promoted to Norfolk of the International League. He has was nearly unhittable his first time through the league and seemed to be destined to a mid-year call up. He has since come back down to earth accumulating a 9-8 record in 20 games. He has pitched 121 innings allowing 35 walks and striking out 67. Currently he is listed as a starter but many scouts believe he is destined to be a reliever at the major league level. The Diamondbacks rank his skills similarly to those of Matt Chico whom they traded to receive Livan Hernandez earlier this month.

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