When it comes to analyzing trade value, I’m out of my league. I look over stats of the players leaving and the players we receive. I try to make an estimate on the long-term potential of the players as a whole and then make a tepid hypothesis on whether or not we came out winners. Most of the time we aren’t winners and sadly enough, the few times I’ve thought that we might have come out on top…well, I was wrong.
All that to say, It’s hard not to be timid when people ask me to assess a trade.* However, when we obtained Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera, it was hard for me not to feel like we’d done well on that deal. I don’t think anyone thought Melky could duplicate the year he’d had in 2011 and the return we got was a pitcher with upside who, while maybe not a dominant big-league starter, was definitely an upgrade to our starting rotation.
*I write that as if I have people come up and ask me about trades all the time. It’s not a regular thing.
Then once spring training started, things started looking rough. Sanchez was and is considered a lock for a starting job, but he struggled mightily out of the gate. In his first 2 starts, Sanchez line looked like this:
3 IP/7 H/7 ER/2 BB/2 SO
This added up to a 21.00 ERA. Not super promising. Then last night Sanchez put up this line:
5.1 IP/6 H/2 ER/3 BB/ 6 SO
And suddenly all was right in the world again. I breathed a sigh of relief last night as I listened to the game. Then I started to think about it objectively. Was one outing enough to make me feel as if Sanchez was in top form? Or, if you consider it even further, were the first 3 innings that Sanchez pitched really a cause for concern?
I think this is something that I really struggle with as a baseball fan. It’s so easy for me to live and die with each inning pitched, with each game played, and with each at-bat.
This is especially hard for me during spring training. It’s my first look at the team in 4 months and when someone struggles, I instantly think that things are going to turn out horrible.
An outing like Sanchez’s reminds me about sample size. How little the guy has actually pitched this spring and how I need to restrain my tendency for snap-judgement. It reminds me of how much stock I (somewhat foolishly) put in spring-training. This is the time that guys are getting warmed up for the season. They’re making an adjustment to their batting stance. They’re trying out a new pitch.
This doesn’t mean that spring training should be completely disregarded. I just think I take it too seriously. So I’m taking a step back for the next few weeks. Once spring training is over, I’ll make my assessments and decisions.
Thank you, Jonathan Sanchez, for showing me that I’m in regular-season mode a little too early. Let’s wait and see what happens.