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The Pitchers We Gave Up for Kotsay

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I'm fairly certain this will be the penultimate thing I will write about the Kotsay trade (it may even be the ultimate). We have been discussing it ad nauseam for several days now and I'm sure it's beginning to wear on some folks, but I wanted to take a closer look at the two pitchers we gave up, and see if their hype (perhaps their hype was only in my mind) was on par with what the experts say about them.

Baseball America's take on Jamie Richmond is a bit more reserved than the projections I had read in the past from others:

He relies on commanding his 89-91 mph fastball, his curveball and his changeup, and he projects as a middle reliever because he lacks an out pitch and has trouble with lefthanders.

That's the first I've heard of Richmond being labeled a middle reliever, but apparently that's becoming the consensus. I asked Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus where he might rank Richmond and what he thought the young right-hander's future might look like. Here was his response:

Richmond wasn't in contention for my Braves Top 11 at all. If I did a fuller ranking of the system, my gut tells me he'd be in the 20s somewhere. He's more of a strike-thrower than anything else. He has three pitches, but none of them are knockouts -- he's relying more on moxie and location than anything else. In a perfect world, he's a back-end starter or middle reliever, but even that is no guarantee. I think overall it was a good trade for both teams, as the A's got decent young talent for a veteran that they have no need for.

John Sickels ranked Richmond at number 13 in his listing of the top-20 Braves prospects of 2008, with a grade of C+. Sickels seems to think a little more highly of Richmond than the others do.

Baseball America's take on Devine is quite similar in some ways to their take on Richmond in that he also has trouble with left-handed batters -- and correct they are. Devine's lefty/righty average-against split at double-A last year was .286/.169, at triple-A it was .243/.140, and continuing that trend in the majors he posted a .300/.211. When looking at the lefty/righty split for all of his major league service time his weakness against left-handers is even more pronounced with a .345/.234 split. It's really hard to be a right-handed reliever in the majors when left-handed batters can come in and hit .345 against you and get on base at a .500 clip.

That brings us to the issue of walks, which were well chronicled by Velcro this year. Joey Devine's major league career consists of 25 games, with 19.2 innings pitched, and 21 hits allowed to go with 22 walks - over a hit and walk per inning pitched. And if you thought he was better in 2007 you'd be wrong - 8.1 IP, 7 H, 8 BB continuing his career trend. The only difference between last year and the two previous years seems to have been his luck once he put runners on base.

I still think both of these young pitchers have some untapped upside, but I suppose I'm feeling better that what we gave up was by no means the top pitching talent in the system. In fact, with the ERA that Joey posted throughout his various stops last year (2.06 at AA, 1.64 at AAA, and 1.08 in the MLB) one could say that we sold high on Devine. We may have also sold high on Richmond. I kept wondering throughout last year why the Braves never promoted Richmond to hi-A, when they gave Heath and Hanson promotions. They may have wanted him to maintain good stats at low-A instead of getting bombed at hi-A so he would be a more attractive trade piece.

Much like the Teixeira trade we'll have to wait to see what becomes of the prospects we traded away. One thing is for certain, we will likely have to update this list once again.