Last Monday, I addressed a fan trade proposal sent to T.R. Sullivan which suggested trading reliever Joaquin Benoit for Milwaukee outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr:
Joaquin Benoit for Tony Gwynn Jr. Uh, sure, I guess. Gwynn's very fast, steals lots of bases and can sort of get on base. Unfortunately, he has virtually zero power with a career minor league line of .271/.351/.343, and he compares rather closely with Freddy Guzman, or Joey Gathright, or any other player in the Juan Pierre/Tom Goodwin mold.
Gwynn's hitting .301/.363/.349 this year for the Brewers in 83 AB, but he probably won't keep that batting average or OBP up. He certainly wouldn't be a long-term solution in center field; John Sickels at Minor League Ball didn't even include Gwynn as part of his list of the top 20 prospects in the Brewers organization before this season. Sullivan thinks it could take Aki to obtain Gwynn, but I don't feel there's any way he's worth that much. I'll pass.
Today, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com had this to say during his "Full Count" video segment:
"Bill Hall's high ankle sprain could thwart a potential trade in which the Brewers would have sent backup center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to the Rangers for setup man Akinori Otsuka. Trading a young, potential everyday player for a 35-year-old reliever would have been risky to begin with, and it's now probably out of the question with Hall out 2 to 6 weeks."
Now, I have no idea how far along this potential trade got as far as being completed. Rosenthal is widely respected in the baseball journalism realm for his accuracy as far as trade rumors go, but I have to wonder if this report is at least partly based off of Sullivan's counter-proposal of Aki for Gwynn.
Assuming that this deal was actually in the works, and assuming that there were no other players involved, this would have been an unmitigated disaster for the Rangers. Like I said previously, Gwynn has virtually no power, with a combined total of 8 HR in 1,956 professional at-bats. Brewerfan.net says he's a "very good" defensive center fielder, but that doesn't really touch on his throwing prowess.
He's also 122 for 171 at stealing bases during his professional career, which is a 71.3% success rate. Unfortunately, Baseball Prospectus's Joe Sheehan pegs the break-even success rate for stealing bases at 75%, essentially saying that if you're stealing at less than a 75% success rate, "you're better off never going at all." So one of Gwynn's supposed best assets, the ability to steal bases, really isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Basically, you have a fast, light-hitting center fielder who's probably a bit overrated thanks to his legendary father. He's hitting .310/.368/.356 this year, but that's in a very limited sample size of 87 AB, and his career minor league batting line of .271/.351/.343 doesn't bode real well for his chances of keeping that pace up.
In my opinion, Gwynn is basically Tom Goodwin with a bit less speed and a somewhat better arm in center field. Many of us Texas fans have fond memories of Goodwin due to him playing on the '98 and '99 AL West championship clubs, but his career .268/.332/.339 batting line reveals he wasn't really that good. That's not to say I didn't like him back then, just that you shouldn't pencil in a Tom Goodwin type player as a long-term solution for center field.
On the flip side, you have Aki Otsuka, who's been one of the best relievers in baseball for 3 1/2 years, has dominated in a fairly tough ballpark, and with the exception of his recent forearm strain, has been as healthy as just about any player in baseball since signing with the Padres in December 2003.
Perhaps I'm overrating Aki a tad, but I have a very hard time believing that this is the best return the Rangers could get for him. Never mind the fact that I don't particularly want Texas to deal him, anyway, since he's under club control via arbitration through the 2009 season.
What this all really boils down to is this: if Jon Daniels was actually ready to deal Aki for Gwynn straight up, he's learned a lot less from his failures in the trade market than I thought. It's not a move that helps you right now, nor one that's probably going to help you a whole lot in the future.
And if this had gone down (or still does go down) in its present form, without any other players coming back from the Brewers, it really hurts my confidence in Daniels to make quality deals during this trade season.
Would you honestly trade 2 1/2 more years of Otsuka dominating out of the Rangers bullpen for a guy whose maximum upside is probably Tom Goodwin?
Editor's note: Thanks to Randy of Lone Star Ball, who pointed out that Joaquin Benoit is eligible for arbitration after the 2007 season and is not a pending free agent.