A Couple Notable Baseball Trades

The New York Mets have traded Ryan Church to  the Atlanta Braves for Jeff Francoeur, and the Mariners have traded Yuniesky Betancourt to the Royals for a couple minor leaguers. Who got the better of the deals? Let’s see…

Mets trade Church to Braves for Francoeur

The New York Mets traded injury-prone Ryan Church to the Atlanta Braves for strikeout-prone Jeff Francoeur. At the time of the trade, Church was hitting .280 with two home runs and 22 RBI in 67 games, while Francoeur was hitting .250 with five home runs and 35 RBI in 82 games. So far in his career, Church has hit .273 with 49 home runs and 224 RBI in 504 games; Francoeur has hit .266 with 78 home runs and 359 RBI in 631 games.

Despite the fact that he has struggled these past couple of seasons, Francoeur is a good pickup for the New York Mets. He doesn’t get hurt like Church, and when he hits, he hits well. In 2006 and 2007, respectively, Francoeur hit 29 and 19 home runs with 103 and 105 RBI. Church has never hit more than 15 home runs, nor has he driven in more than 70 runs in a season. Francoeur has eclipsed the 600 at-bat mark in a season twice (and it would have been three times had he had one more at-bat in 2008). Church has never had more than 470 at-bats in a season.

Earlier I said that Francoeur is strikeout-prone. That isn’t to say that Church isn’t strikeout-prone as well—in only 319 at-bats in 2008, he struck out 83 times (that would translate to 156 strikeouts in a 600 at-bat season…but I highly doubt Church will ever have a 600 at-bat season). In fact, I’d be willing to say that Church is more strikeout-prone than Francoeur—while Francoeur strikeouts out about once in every 5.2 at-bats, Church strikeouts about once in every 4.2 at-bats. In other words, in a 600 at-bat season, one could expect Francoeur to strikeout about 116 times, while Church would strikeout about 156 times. Furthermore, Francoeur is strikeout-prone, but has good power. Not so much with Church, not yet at least.

Well, I’m going to say the Mets got the better end of the deal here. They get rid of a liability and replaced him with reliability. Francoeur is a better power hitter who can stay healthy. Defensively, the Mets aren’t losing too much, as Francoeur has a rocket arm in the outfield. If he can get out of the funk he’s been in, he will be a fine, fine player—he’s already shown what he can do when he’s at his best.

Mariners trade Yuniesky Betancourt to Royals for two minor leaguers

This trade is a real steal for the Royals. They get a solid hitting shortstop for a couple ho-hum prospects. One of the prospects, Derrick Saito, is a relief pitcher who has a 5-10 career minor league record and a 4.24 ERA. The other, Danny Cortes, is a starter with a 29-33 record and a 3.99 ERA in the minors.

Betancourt, on the other hand is a good hitter, albeit he is a pretty shaky defender. He’s hitting only .250 this year, but he has hit as high as .289, twice. He has also shown good extra base hit power, hitting 38 doubles in 2007 and 36 in 2008. Furthermore, he doesn’t strike out a lot—he averages one strikeout every 11.2 at-bats. That’s not to say he gets on base a lot either, though. His career high in walks is only 17, and his career high on-base percentage is only .310.

Nevertheless, the Royals are the winners in this transaction. They get a quality bat for a couple unproven prospects.

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