Phillies Trade John Mayberry, Jr. to the Blue Jays

Take it away, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

One of my favorite parts of the House M.D. series was the beginning of the sixth season when Dr. House is at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. After spending most of his time being a troublemaker, House eventually decides to play by the rules. Ultimately, it results in his being released. The doctors and the patients throw House a going-away party, as they do for all “graduates”, saying in unison, “We wish him well and we hope to never see him again.”

That’s how I feel about many players on the Phillies’ roster. It’s not that I don’t like them; it’s that they should be somewhere else. They’re being held back here, and the team is being held back with their presence. So it’s good for John Mayberry, Jr. to play for a potential playoff spot in the AL East, and it’s good for the Phillies to get a lottery ticket in the form of a minor leaguer who may be able to help at some point down the road. The Phillies likely would have non-tendered Mayberry in the off-season rather than go into a second year of arbitration with him, so getting something is better than getting nothing.

Mayberry, who is still on the disabled list with a left wrist injury, was generally miscast as a Phillie, as has been pointed out here several times. He’s decent against left-handed pitching and nearly useless against right-handers, with a career weighted on-base average split of .365/.293. Perhaps the Blue Jays will be better able to use Mayberry according to his strengths.

Gustavo Pierre is a 22-year-old third baseman who was just recently promoted to Double-A for the first time in his professional career. Spending most of his season with Single-A Dunedin, Pierre slashed .263/.285/.390 with seven home runs in 407 plate appearances. Pierre, however, also compiled an ugly 101/12 K/BB ratio. The 2.9 percent walk rate is similar to that of Ben Revere (2.2%).

Back in 2010 at Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein — now the director of pro scouting for the Houston Astros — called Pierre “a great sleeper”, which is a compliment for those unfamiliar with the phrasing. Last year at BP, Zach Mortimer wrote this of Pierre:

The Blue Jays sent Pierre, who has a plus-plus arm but was forced to move off of shortstop because of inadequate defensive actions, back to the Midwest League. At the plate, Pierre offers good bat speed and average power potential, but he may never realize his talent because of a deficiency in plate discipline.

Pierre has some pros and he has some cons, essentially what one would expect in the return for a bench bat.

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22 comments

  1. Louis

    September 01, 2014 11:16 AM

    Is it just me, or do the Phillies trade with the Jays a lot? Is there a reason behind this?

  2. GB

    September 01, 2014 12:18 PM

    I thought you were going to say the Phillies acquire bad plate discipline guys a lot….the only Toronto connection is Gillick

  3. Bob

    September 01, 2014 01:37 PM

    This trade doesn’t represent value to me. You trade a player who can play both corner OF positions, an avg to below avg 1B, and a poor CF who has awesome platoon splits vs. LHP and can hit with some pop for a guy who strikes out over 25% of the time in A and AA and walks at 1-3%. Managers have used him in incorrect situations by hitting him against RHP.

    JMJ is a valuable bench piece and Pierre doesn’t have any stats that jump off the page at me indicating that he can advance to a higher level. On the other hand, JMJ has major league skills in so much as he can hit lefties and play multiple positions. JMJ was a good bench piece to have particularly when Brown, Revere, and Howard are all lefties.

    I’d say that this trade was made to dump salary and not for baseball reasons. With the economic might of the Phillies, that’s the wrong answer.

    • Kyle

      September 01, 2014 03:47 PM

      If the Phillies had a chance to compete and win in the next year or two, perhaps you keep JMJ as a bench piece, but the Phillies need to unload what they can and get anything in return even if it is “lottery ticket” minor leaguers at this point. As Bill also noted, the Phillies probably would have released him after this season anyway so better to get something instead of nothing. It is exactly what they did with Roberto Hernandez. It is what they should be doing with other players as well, but take what we can get at this point.

      So far the moves RAJ has made involding Hernandez and Mayberry have been decent and the right thing to. If one of three players the Phillies got in return has a couple at-bats or throws an inning or two at the MLB level it’s a good trade.

      • Bob

        September 01, 2014 05:36 PM

        It’s a very poor strategy to unload and not care what you get in return. I completely disagree that the Phillies should take “anything” they can get as you say. They need to get something of value in return when they make a deal. They don’t have to hit a home run in every trade but trading for the sake of saying that they did something and not getting value in return will not improve this team in the short or long term.

        A lottery ticket would imply some value. Please point out which of Pierre’s stats indicate that he has value. Bill found it difficult to find the positives in Pierre linking to an article from 2010. So you mean to tell me that the best that can be said about Pierre from 2011-14 is that he has good bat speed? The sample size is getting larger and larger with Pierre and it’s not looking like he has much – if any – MLB translatable skills.

        The difference between this trade and the Hernandez trade is that I can see some value in Valentin. For the most part, Valentin’s stats indicate that he strikes out less than 20% and has a walk rate near double digits. In his two stops where he’s gotten more than 200 PAs, his OBP has been between .349 and .379. In those places, he’s had a wRC+ over 100. He’s two years younger than Pierre. On top of Valentin, the Phils also got Arano. Again, where are you seeing the projectability with Pierre to say that this move is “decent” and the “right thing”?

        And who is going to be the Phillies RH bat coming off the bench next year that can play four positions? I’d rather see Ruf start or platoon a bit before relegating him to a bench role. And Ruf doesn’t have the defensive versatility of JMJ. But it’d either be Ruf or a FA on your bench next year. And if you go the FA route, you’re guaranteed an oldish player. It would’ve made more sense to keep JMJ if that’s the case. He won’t be a FA until 2017 according to BR, can hit lefties and play four positions.

      • Bob

        September 02, 2014 10:03 AM

        It says right in the piece that he’s got good bat speed, moderate power, and a plus plus arm, with his big flaw being awful plate discipline. There are plenty of 22 year olds that have overcome that, though most have not. The Phillies should be loading up on early 20s guys – the ones you’ll get for a guy like Mayberry will come with flaws.

      • Bob

        September 02, 2014 12:17 PM

        This is not a case of slightly poor plate discipline. He has prohibitively poor plate discipline. In his career which is mostly in A ball, he’s walked 93 times and struck out 553 times in 2116 PAs. His BB/K rate is 0.16 mostly in A and Rookie ball. To put this in perspective, the Phillies only had two guys in AA this year who had a similar rate – Valle and Gilles. Both non-prospects. Further, only two Major Leaguers with qualified PA have less than a 0.20 rate in 2014. If he can’t even maintain a 0.20 rate in the lower minor leagues, he has almost no shot of making it to the bigs where his BB/K rate will probably be even lower. Please point out the “plenty” of prospects with a BB/K rate that bad who have made it. Freddie Galvis who is himself a free swinger does not even have a rate approaching that bad. Maikel Franco, another free swinger, isn’t close. This will be something exceptionally hard to overcome.

        He might have a plus arm – he was even voted one of the best 3B in A ball by BA – but he commits a lot of errors. In 2011, he had 44 errors at SS. He was switched to 3B in 2012 and committed 16 errors. In 2013, he had 34 errors at 3B and so far this year he’s had 25. The most errors Asche and Franco – who will never be mistaken for defensive wizards – have had in a season are 18 and 16 respectively. You can’t commit that many errors at 3B when you have a minus bat and expect to get called up to the show.

        And who are going to be our utility OFers and 1B next year? Gwynn? Sizemore? Gwynn can’t hit and Sizemore is going to be an UFA meaning he’ll likely cost more in years and dollars than JMJ. Are you ready to relegate Ruf to the bench? Ruf is a defensive liability in both corners. This is another instance of the Phillies not having a plan. Each roster spot – particularly on the 25 man – is very valuable. It’s tough to find bench pieces who can hit and play passing defense at multiple positions and to think that the Phillies can just get anyone off the scrap heap to replace JMJ is wishful thinking in my view. He has a career .856 OPS against RH pitching. That’s very good.

        With Mayberry, you had a Major League bench piece. With Pierre, you have organizational filler at one of the only positions in the system where you have a surplus of options. So, you traded something of value for something of lesser value with little upside. This trade is tantamount to buying a $5 lottery ticket when the pay out is $1.

    • youtubescout

      September 01, 2014 04:42 PM

      Well, JMJ has zero value to the Phillies & the Gustavo youtube vids don’t look all that bad. Good body, good bat speed, good arm – some real lottery ticket potential?

    • ASK

      September 02, 2014 06:23 AM

      This is a tricky one. For 3 years, articles and comments on this website have been calling for the team to turn JMJ into a platoon player who starts at 1B or in the OF against all LHP’s. Unfortunately, two managers have chosen not to do this. As such, they have misused JMJ to the extent that he has received 65% of his PA’s vs. RHP’s over the past 3 seasons. This is incredible considering that he is nearly useless vs. RHP’s (as Bill points out) and rather good (although Bill calls him only decent) vs. LHP’s. Therefore, if the team is not going to embrace platooning and use JMJ in a way that increases the likelihood that he provides value (giving him the majority of his PA’s vs. LHP’s), there’s no point in keeping him around and they might as well get a lottery ticket for him.

  4. Pencilfish

    September 01, 2014 08:49 PM

    The Phillies need to create more AB’s for Ruf, Sizemore and Franco, who was called up and will probably make his ML debut sometime this week. If the goal is to discover who can help going forward, the jury is still out on Ruf, Asche, Franco, etc. We know what we’ll get with JMJ, and frankly he is very replaceable.

    It’s ironic that many described RAJ as out of touch for making unrealistic demands for Byrd and others at the trade deadline, and here we are, talking of JMJ as if he is a key component of a future Phillies team. If you are interested in Phillies trivia by the way, JMJ was the first trade RAJ made (with the Rangers) as a GM.

    • edwin

      September 02, 2014 05:11 AM

      could be the last trade too, would not that be ironic

      • ASK

        September 02, 2014 06:48 AM

        Don’t hold your breath. I’d be willing to be that RAJ is the GM next year.

    • ASK

      September 02, 2014 06:47 AM

      Since Charlie and Sandberg have been unwilling to use JMJ in a way that would maximize his value to the team (i.e. as a regular at 1B or in the OF vs. all LHP starters) the last 3 seasons, I completely agree with their decision to trade him for any return, even if it is just salary relief and a long-shot of a minor league prospect. What I don’t see is how trading JMJ will create a relevant amount of additional AB’s for Ruf, Asche, Sizemore or Franco. JMJ has been out since Sizemore was added and he would most likely have been on the bench throughout September if he wasn’t traded. If the Phils wanted to create more AB’s for Ruf and Sizemore in August, they should have rested Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd more frequently. It will be interesting to see how much they rest those guys in September.

      By the way, your “here we are taking of JMJ as if he is a key component of a future Phillies team” comment strikes me as a straw man as the article and all but one of the comments seem to be in favor of getting something for a player who does not fit in the team’s long-term plans.

  5. edwin

    September 02, 2014 05:08 AM

    Was wondering why did not Amaro throw himself in as a a player to be named later. Would have achieved one of the stated goals of getting better.

  6. Dante

    September 02, 2014 08:04 AM

    Sounds like Gustavo is a candidate to turn into a reliever (plus plus arm, limited hit tool).

  7. Carmine

    September 02, 2014 09:00 AM

    What I don’t get is that the Phillies desperately need outfielders yet in this deal and in one of the players from Los Angeles in the Hernandez deal they get utility infielder types. If they are going to go the lottery ticket route, could they at least get outfield prospects?

    • Dan K.

      September 02, 2014 12:14 PM

      Unless all other things are equal, don’t ask for (young) prospects at the positions you currently need to fill. It’s a bit different if they’re knocking on the door, because then you fill a need and need somewhere for them to play anyways. But none of the players acquired (so far) this year fit that description. Just take the best player available, because by the time they make the majors (if they ever do), your team needs will likely have changed.

      In regards to this particular query, let’s say it takes Valentin (my favorite of the three, although only slightly ahead of Arano) 4 years to make the big leagues (24 years old). Right now you say we need outfielders, so let’s say we got an OF instead that would also take 4 yeas to reach Philly. But what if Revere and Dom improve/bounce back? They’ll be in their primes. That leaves one empty spot. What if any/all of Quinn, Altherr, Dugan, or Collier beat him to the majors (which Dugan and Altherr, at least, are almost guaranteed to do)? If any one of them is a feasible big league OF, we already have our starters. What do we do with the OF we got in the trade? It’s unlikely that an OF can cut it in the IF, whereas a IF (sans 1B) can usually play passable defense in the OF. Now also consider that 4 years from now it’s probable that all of Utley, Rollins, and Howard are gone. You figure Asche or Franco will be at 3B. MAYBE Franco slides over to 1B. But if he stays at 3B, Asche may be another player fighting for an OF spot. So now we have a crowded OF and basically empty IF.

      Now this is all hypothetical. 4 years from now, it’s possible that we have Asche at 3B, JPC at SS, Pullin (or Cesar, or Galvis) at 2B, and Franco at 1B and we have an entire IF of under-30 players making us salivate. It’s also possible that all of our OF options flounder. But if that’s the case and Valentin/Pierre are knocking on the door we still have the option of converting them or trading them. Or we could trade someone else to make room for them. It is basically the exact same situation we’ve got with Asche and Franco at the moment.

      The point is, get the best value you can get and don’t worry about position. It’s impossible to plan for prospects because most of them fail anyways. But if they succeed, they will always have value. If not for us directly, then for another team who can trade us an asset that we do need.

    • MattWinks

      September 02, 2014 12:27 PM

      In that level of the minors you have Brian Pointer, Samuel Hiciano, Carlos Tocci, Aaron Brown, Roman Quinn, Dylan Cozens, Cord Sandberg, Jose Pujols, and Jiandido Tromp in the outfield. Perceived needs in the majors and upper minors don’t cover the whole system. Not to mention, as others have said, these guys are all so far off you take best player available and work it out when you need to

  8. John

    September 02, 2014 02:09 PM

    I’m going to take the optimist’s view on this one. RAJ is looking for a body to put at 3rd in the high minors next year. That means, someone currently playing 3rd in the high minors will be playing somewhere else next year. I’m taking this as laying the groundwork to put Franco at 1st at the Major League level next year, with Howard (and a big pile of cash) going to an AL team in the off season.

    I may be deluded, but it makes me happy.

    • Yah

      September 02, 2014 06:52 PM

      I really hope they keep Franco at 3rd. He loses a lot of value at 1st.

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