York used a franchise record 64 players this season.
Fans have been critical of a number of trades, and several fans approached me in person or commented on the blog that manager Andy Etchebarren was too quick to bid adieu to under-performing players. They argued that a player should be allowed to work out of a slump.
But Etchebarren has always said he’s not looking at potential. He’s working in a veteran-laden league, and that makes it a performance-driven league. If a player can’t perform, he’s not going to carry him on the roster because he’s a good guy.
So let’s look back at all the trades and acquisitions to see how the Revs did in managing this club.
By my count, the Revs pulled off one questionable trade (July 18). And the team had two signings (Aug. 18) backfire in a big way. Nobody during the season came back to haunt the Revs other than Matt Esquivel. And his replacement — James Shanks — had a better season than Eso. So despite all the bellyaching, this proved to be an excellent year by management.
Bottom line: The Revs are one win from the league championship series.
Anybody care to disagree?
* * *
Preseason: York traded LHP Daryl Harang and OF/1B Matt Padgett to Long Island for DH Jose Herrera and C John Pachot. Revs OF Matt Esquivel also refused to sign with York after finding out Padgett had been traded and realizing York will not offer him a raise.
Analysis: Has there been a better move in the league this season? This series of very difficult decisions laid the foundation for York’s entire club. Esquivel killed the Revs this season, but he didn’t put up the numbers Shanks did. (Shanks batted .325, leading the league with 172 hits. He hit 29 doubles and 19 homers. He had a better average, more hits, more doubles, more triples, more homers, more RBIs, more stolen bases, and fewer strikeouts than Esquivel.) If fans want a winning team, they can now shut up about these series of moves in the offseason. Etch was right, they were wrong. If fans want friends, maybe it was a bad move. All these guys were well liked that ended up in Long Island. But from a team perspective, York made the right moves. And that fact can’t be argued.
May 26: The bullpen is rebuilt in one day when the Revs released LHP Jayson Ruhlman, LHP Nate Starner, RHP James Morrison and RHP Dewon Day. Revs traded Salomon Manriquez to Lancaster for RHP James Muller and C Adam Witter.
Analysis: Great moves. The four pitchers struggled and while Manriquez was a great offensive catcher, he struggled to catch this staff. He called a backwards game, calling breaking and off-speed stuff late in the count. The pitching staff responded immediately when John Pachot earned the starting job. And Pachot also managed to bat .322. In a matter of day Manriquez would be out of the league, signed by the Mets, and Pachot would have the staff challenging for the league lead in ERA. Muller also developed into a fine closer after Francis Beltran faltered, notably blowing games against Somerset. Muller would be the team’s closer until giving up a homer and appearing to lose his confidence. Traded to Camden and eventually released by the Riversharks, he landed back in Lancaster near the end of the season. Although Witter didn’t play regularly with York, he turned into a valuable commodity when York turned around and sent him back to Lancaster (after Manriquez was signed) for LHP Jim Heuser.
May 27: Revs lose LHP Jesus Sanchez and OF Val Majewski, after the two accepted contracts from major league organizations.
May 29: Revs sign OF Steve Haake.
Analysis: One of the better moves Revs made, picking up a slugging platoon player. Haake batted 7-for-14 against Somerset righty Josh Miller this year. All Miller did was rank second in the league in ERA. And Haake owned him, which is one of the reasons the Revs won Game 3.
June 3: Revs traded Jamar Hill to Southern Maryland for Brian McFall.
Analysis: Not a good move or a bad move. Etch found what he wanted in Erold Andrus — who would be signed eight days later — and Haake. He had the flexibility to platoon a left-handed slugger with a switch-hitter, and Andrus and Haake didn’t demand to start. Etch didn’t believe Hill could perform at a high level if he was placed in the lineup every night. Placed in the right situation, Etch loved Hill’s power numbers and ability to pull the ball. But he saw him as a platoon player, who needed to sit down against certain types of hitters. Southern Maryland started him and he batted .278 with 11 homers in 82 games.
July 18: Revs traded RHP Bob Zimmermann and LHP Shane Youman to Newark for RHP Vince Perkins and future considerations. Revs signed LHP Damian Moss and LHP A.J. Murray. The future considerations were always going to be RHP Michael Nix, but the Revs agreed to wait until September to complete the trade.
Analysis: Revs acquired a power reliever in Nix and appeared to solidify the pitching staff with two former big leaguers. Moss and Murray quit, however, and that was a major reason the Revs were ruined in the second half. Zimmerman had a decent year, going 9-6, but even after being traded he lacked consistency. His last four starts illustrated why the Revs didn’t want him pitching in the playoffs: They didn’t know what they would receive. In chronological order he allowed earned run totals of seven, two, six, two in his last four appearances. Youman pitched well in Newark (4-1, 3.66 ERA). This move looks great if Nix continues to shut down Somerset and late-season acquisition Kevin Angelle pitches well in Game 4. It looks like the move that helped destroy the Revs if Angelle and Nix can’t push the Revs into the league championship series. That said, how were the Revs to know two big league players would quit with little to no warning? Moreover, if you have a chance to cherry-pick one of the best relievers in the league for a player who probably would have been released (Youman) and an inconsistent starter (Zimmermann) you make the deal.
July 28: York traded RHP Derell McCall to Camden for future considerations.
Analysis: Maybe it was a tired arm, but McCall went from an All-Star to struggling. He went 1-7 with a 7.14 ERA. The Revs knew what they were doing when they traded him.
Aug. 18: York signed RHP Julio Manon and — sort of signed — Joselo Diaz.
Analysis: Neither pitcher worked out. This was a bad deal. Manon was released after he pitched poorly despite having a good season in the Mexican League this year. Diaz was never signed after Long Island claimed they owned his contractual rights. York also ended up losing another player — LHP Jim Heuser — when they traded him to Long Island for Diaz, only to have Heuser retire and Long Island void the trade. It would be easy to bash the Revs front office for this move, bungling the Diaz signing — but little to nothing has been said on the record about why Diaz remained Long Island property when York clearly believed he was a free agent. If the league had an actual rule book, maybe this doesn’t happen.
Aug. 25: Signed RHP Tim Harikkala and LHP Jeremy Lewis.
Analysis: Short-term moves designed to keep the pitching staff healthy until Corey Thurman could recover from a hamstring injury and Chris Salberg and Nix would join the team. Neither Harikkala or Lewis earned a postseason roster spot after struggling. The moves however did preserve some arms in the bullpen.