What They’re Saying: Astros Bloggers React to Pence Trade

By now, you’ve read the umpteenth take on the Pence trade from the perspective of a Phillies fan, but what are Astros fans saying about the trade?

Astros County:

But this move had to happen. Because the Astros called him up in April, he got an extra year of arbitration. It’s not impossible to think that Pence could earn $25m over the next two years of arbitration. A team like the Astros can’t have that. He’s simply becoming too expensive, and to be able to have this kind of leverage – a good, young player, with years of team control, in the prime of his career – is a rare opportunity. I know Drayton loves Hunter Pence, probably like a son, maybe like a forbidden lover. But this is about winning for the next ten years, not staring at a guy in right field and thinking, “What a swell player.”

To think that Pence is the only marketable player the Astros have is ridiculous, and a sign that maybe the Astros need a better PR staff.

It’s amazing the Astros were even able to do this, considering their draft history over the past eight years. This is the flip-side of developing talent – to trade them for more prospects in the event that you simply cannot compete with the hand that you’re dealt. It’s similar to spending $5 on a scratch-off, winning $10, and then buying more scratch-offs. That’s what rebuilding is: constantly trying to hit the jackpot. It might not happen, but you have to try. For the Astros, sentimentality hasn’t gotten them anywhere.

Good luck, Hunter Pence. Thank you for being good.

Astros 290:

It is decidedly risky by the Astros to give up a good player like Pence for no proven players, but it’s a gamble that I like and that I view as necessary. They needed to bolster their farm system, and frankly, the way this season is going they don’t need any major league ready players. Taking two top prospects is a gamble I’ll take every time. You never know when a deal could be like when the Astros sent Freddy Garcia, John Halama and Carlos Guillen to the Mariners for Randy Johnson, only to have all three become key players for the club for many years.

Getting two top prospects for a player that is probably due for a regression is a very nice deal. Pence is a career .290 hitter who is batting .309 right now. But his career second half numbers aren’t very impressive and he’s hitting .200 since the All Star break. His 3.0 WAR is the highest it’s been since his rookie year. His trade value may have never been higher than it was right now, and with the bidding war between the Phillies, Braves and perhaps as many as four other teams, the Astros probably got the best value they ever would have for Pence.

And it’s important to remember that they still have their best players. According to Baseball Reference, Pence’s WAR the last three years is 6.3. But Michael Bourn’s is 12.0 and Wandy Rodriguez’s is 9.6. To get two top prospects, even risky ones, for your third or fourth best player is a really nice trade-off.

Crawfish Boxes:

Pence was pulled from Friday’s game with the Brewers and was somewhat emotional as he told his teammates good bye. He’s going to a Philadelphia team with a couple of former Astros that he played with in Brad Lidge and Roy Oswalt. Pence will also provide an upgrade offensively over currentl Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown in the short-term.

It’s the third big-time trade Ed Wade has done with Philadelphia, and this time, it centered on some very big name prospects. Both Cosart and Singleton are good gets, even if I’m a little more down on them than most people will be.


Reader Question: Phillies Run Scoring Distribution

J.B. writes:

Hey, Bill, is there any sort of breakdown how the Phillies score runs? Based on purely anecdotal evidence, it strikes me about 60% of the time the Phillies score 3-4 runs 30% of the time, the Phillies score less than that, and 10% of the time the Phillies score 8 or more runs.

I am exaggerating, and I’m sure there’s some nasty confirmation bias here, but my point is that the Phillies’ offense doesn’t look nearly as good if you throw out the occasional big game. Two question sets:

1. Is that true at all? Do the Phillies tend to have more “synergy” games than other teams?

2. Even if it is true, is that true of most teams? Do teams with offense levels comparable to the Phillies tend to score along the same curve (biggest hump at 3-4 runs, mid-size hump on the low end, and a small but significant hump on the high end)? Or are there significant deviations from this?

So here’s what the Phillies’ run scoring distribution looks like compared to all of Major League Baseball (click to enlarge):

The Phillies have played 105 games. In 29 of them (28 percent), they have scored 3-4 runs; in 34 games (32 percent), they have scored 0-2 runs; and in 17 (16 percent), they have scored eight or more. J.B. was close on the 0-2 and 8-plus run buckets, but way off on the 3-4 run bucket.

As for the second question, the team directly ahead of the Phillies in average runs per game is the Colorado Rockies. The team directly behind the Phillies is the Milwaukee Brewers. I added them to the graph (click to enlarge):

While there are small deviations, nothing jumps out as statistically significant. If we put them in buckets:

  • 0-2 runs: PHI 32%, COL 26%, MIL 25%
  • 3-4 runs: PHI 28%, COL 34%, MIL 35%
  • 5-7 runs: PHI 24%, COL 25%, MIL 28%
  • 8+ runs: PHI 16%, COL 15%, MIL 12%

The Phillies do appear to be slightly less “consistent”, but merely a good week for them or a bad week for the others could flip the tables, so it is not all that revealing.

Just for the sake of comparison, here is how the 2011 Phillies stack up with their 2009-10 iterations:

If the Phillies could have absolute control over their run-scoring, they would emulate the 2009 offense for sure, but also keep in mind just how much offense has declined since then. In ’09, the average NL team scored 4.4 runs per game; in ’10, that declined to 4.3; and now in ’11, that average is all the way down at 4.1.