Paul Maholm (written by Smitty)

Every fan wants their General Manager to pull off the greatest heist in baseball history. The John Schuerholz-Fred McGriff trade. Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson. Any time Billy Beane called Steve Phillips. While the Paul Maholm deal probably won’t ever be mentioned in that category, it is a great example of how Frank Wren is doing a pretty good job.

This past July as the trade deadline was looming, it was apparent to everyone that the Braves were looking for another starter. At the time there were three “big” names on the market: Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.

A few days before the deadline, it looked like Wren was ready to send Randall Delgado to the Chicago Cubs for Ryan Dempster. Allegedly, Dempster didn’t like how the process was going down and used his 10/5 rights to veto the deal. Around the same time Greinke went to the Angles and Garza went on the DL.

In the end, Wren worked out a deal with Cubs for Maholm and Reed Johnson sending Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.

Vizcaino has a big time arm, but will be coming off of Tommy John. He actually could turn out to be a pretty good pitcher, but it may be several years before he is able to contribute at a high level. Many people projected the Braves to use him out of the pen, but it appears the Cubs will use him as a starter. Chapman saw action with the Cubs this season and put up some nice numbers in limited relief work.

Maholm was a great pick up for the Braves. He posted a 3.54 ERA in 68 2/3 innings while striking out 50. His WHIP was 1.194. Actually, his numbers were very similar to what Greinke put up with the Angels and much better than Dempster. Plus, he cost much less than either.

Greinke: 3.53 ERA, 1.187 WHIP
Ryan Dempster: 5.09 ERA, 1.435 WHIP, and really sucked in the big games.

Maholm has a $6,500,000 option which the Braves will pick up the first chance they get. He will probably start the season in the four slot in the rotation.

The Pirates took Malholm with the eighth pick in the 2003 draft out of Mississippi State. He made his big league debut for the Pirates in 2005 and pitched with them for parts of seven seasons. Of those seven seasons he wasn’t first-round pick good and seemed to have control issues.

It looked like he was starting to right the ship in 2011, but the Bucs let him walk the plank (see what I did there?). He put up similar numbers this season and may have figured out the whole control thing. If he continues to put up solid numbers, someone will pay him $9-12 million a year. That being said, I would imagine 2013 will be his last season in Atlanta.

In reality, Malholm is a solid number three/very good number four. He gives you a chance to win every time he starts.

Overall, Wren flipped a guy that probably wouldn’t be ready to be a big contributor until mid 2013-probably 2014, for a solid left-handed, cost-controlled starter that is helping the team now.

76 thoughts on “Paul Maholm (written by Smitty)”

  1. I hate losing Arodys, but this pickup is solid. Unfortunately that’s the only kind of deal we will be able to do. I keep wondering if we can really acquire any elite talent to support the strong cast we are having.

  2. Thanks, Smitty. Maholm balances the rotation nicely: Medlen, Minor, Hanson, Maholn, Anybody but Hanson. Not too shabby.

  3. I agree, Smitty — Maholm has earned a return engagement, but he doesn’t have the upside to merit a long-term deal IMO. He’s Derek Lowe Light.

  4. Wren has been more lucky than good. Again. He would have made the dumb trade had Dempster not blocked it. But still, he’s doing a fine job overall.

  5. I’d have to see him sustain both his newfound K rate and his overall success first. The last time he had a season this good, he signed a three year contract and then spent the first two years of it barely at replacement level.

  6. Wren did get lucky. I’d rather have Delgado than Vizcaino. In defense of Dempster he did go to one of the best ballpark for hitters in baseball. I’d take Maholm for 3/21 too, but lets face it a good lefty is going to command a lot more than that.

  7. Great job, Smitty.

    Wren has been a little lucky lately, but I like that in a GM.

    Now if he’d just get lucky in the outfield.

  8. If he could get lucky in the checkbook, I bet his luck in choosing OF’ers would improve dramatically.

  9. Well let’s see how his luck is this time. Assuming you meant 2013, that’s got to cover a LF/3B and a CF.

    Here’s the list – who do you pick and what will it cost?

    Third basemen
    Miguel Cairo (39)
    Eric Chavez (35)
    Mark DeRosa (38)
    Alberto Gonzalez (30)
    Brandon Inge (36)
    Maicer Izturis (32)
    Jose Lopez (29)
    Placido Polanco (37) – $5.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
    Scott Rolen (38)
    Drew Sutton (30)
    Ty Wigginton (35) – $4MM club option with a $500K buyout
    David Wright (30) – $16MM club option with a $1MM buyout
    Kevin Youkilis (34) – $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout

    Left fielders
    Travis Buck (29)
    Melky Cabrera (28)
    Jonny Gomes (32)
    Scott Hairston (33)
    Josh Hamilton (32)
    Eric Hinske (35)
    Reed Johnson (36)
    Andruw Jones (36)
    Austin Kearns (33)
    Carlos Lee (37)
    Ryan Ludwick (34) – $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Darnell McDonald (34)
    Juan Pierre (35)
    Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Drew Sutton (30)
    Delmon Young (27)

    Center fielders
    Alfredo Amezaga (35)
    Rick Ankiel (33)
    Michael Bourn (30)
    Curtis Granderson (32) – $15MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Scott Hairston (33)
    Mitch Maier (31)
    Angel Pagan (31)
    Cody Ross (32)
    Grady Sizemore (30)
    B.J. Upton (28)
    Shane Victorino (32)

  10. This time last year I liked Scott Hairston as a bench player — now I think he’d be an overexposed starter.

    Someone is going to overpay for Upton, I think.

    Wright is the only 3B of that group I’d consider leaving Prado in LF for, but I doubt he’s headed anywhere quite yet.

    Josh Hamilton is dreamy, obviously, but his injury et al history could torpedo a team that doesn’t have an unlimited budget.

    I know it’s sacrilege, but I’d love to see Victorino in a Braves uni.

  11. It would be great to sign Victorino and then to send him off to the Gulf Coast League or something. Just so we didn’t have to see his stupid face.

  12. I hear Chris Young is available from the Diamondbacks as well, though obviously not as a free agent.

    Rain delays in St Louis: 1982 anyone?

  13. If he were a free agent I wonder what kind of offers A-Rod would get. Obviously no one would give him a five-year deal. If the Yankees move him they are going to have to eat close to 100 million dollars (he’s owed 114 million plus up to 30 million in bonuses). That is completely insane. Or ten times as insane as Derek Lowe.

  14. Rodriguez is declining fast. The Yankees gave him that insane contract hoping he’d break Bonds’ record in their uniform, but instead he hit 18 home runs in 2012 and 16 in 2011, and will turn 38 next season. Ouch.

  15. I heard last night on Sportscenter that if A-Rod was a free agent, he’d get no more than a one year/5mil deal.

  16. @25, to date, A-Rod has generated ~40M of excess value (according to fangraphs) for NY, in addition to whatever (significant) value he added to their sales/marketing bottom line by helping keep the team in the playoffs and winning a couple of MVPs. From a purely financial perspective, it’s a big win for the Yankees almost regardless of future performance as of right now, let alone if he brings something of value back in trade or recovers some of his earlier form.

  17. I’d LOVE to have Wright, but I can’t see the Mets cutting him loose or trading him within the division. If they do decline the option, he’s probably the one player I’d break the bank for – 5/90 wouldn’t be unreasonable imo.

    For realistic options: Pagan for CF, and Kearns for left might be within the budget, with Reed Johnson signed to be our 4th OFer.

    Anyone think that Grady Sizemore has anything left in the tank? Maybe sign him to a minor league deal with a bunch of incentives?

  18. 27- I’m not sure where you are getting those figures. Between 2004 and 2007 according to Fangraphs he had only 15.4M in excess value. Since signing his ten year extension he has cost the team vastly, vastly more than that: with salaries of 28, 33, 33, 32 and 29M he has returned 28.2, 19.6, 15.2, 19.1 and 9.8. That amounts to a loss of 63.1M. Meaning since joining the Yankees in 2004 he has cost them 47.7 Million!

    If you chart his value the trend line reaches zero well before 2017. Even if he maintains his current production over the length of the contract he is going to be worth approximately -80 Million, for a grand total over his Yankee career of -127.7M.

    As for sales/marketing, the steroid admission badly damaged his “brand” and any such calculation has to include opportunity costs: what other 3B could they have had selling jerseys between 2008-2017?

  19. Perhaps I got the columns confused at Fangraphs – I’ll double check in a minute. But I wasn’t talking about just jerseys – the Yankees would have almost certainly would not reached the playoffs without A-Rod on multiple occasions. Now that’s brand damage.

  20. I’m not impressed with the centerfield options and think Bourn may be the best of a mediocre lot. I like Pagan,again mostly because of his name; but I’m not sold on his defense in center.

    Surely Bourn’s price has dropped after his second half performance. Could we retain him for 3/36 with an option for a fourth year? 3/39 with option is really as high as I would go, but that probably would be better value than a 4/40 deal for Pagan.

    what do you think Bourn will get now that folks have had time to evaluate his performance this year?

  21. Well, I think Bourn benefits from being the best of a shaky CF FA class. With Philly and arguably the Natspos needing CF (WAS if and only iff they want to shift Harper to a less taxing position), those two teams can kill wo birds with one stone – CF hole and weakening a divisional rival.

  22. Recounting I did make an error – Fangraphs has his total Yankee value at ~200M, and B-R has his salary over that span as ~247, so you are correct that his aggregate on-field value is at -47M as of today.

    I would still contend that that does not even begin to capture the marginal value A-Rod has been worth specifically to the Yankees. Wins, especially those over say the 90 threshold mark are incredibly more valuable to the Yankees than anyone else because the market reward for success is so much higher than for any other team. In order to sustain their level of revenue, reaching the postseason is absolutely essential. Hiring the best player in the game, and having him perform like it (avg 5.5/WAR season in NY) is an easy “on-field” overpay because the return on that performance is so much greater than for any other franchise. Assuming his net loss for onfield performance really does end up at $127M, that’s what, less than 10M per over his 14 year deal. I think he’s covered that and then some in terms of maintaining brand equity for the club.

  23. Offering McCann an extension before we see how he looks after healing is dangerous. Maybe even crazy.

    Labrums take forever and he wasn’t a great defensive catcher before he was hurt.

    Huddy 2/14m? All day.

  24. Just to add insult to injury the Cards get the 20th pick in the draft, the Braves? They get to pick 28th in front of only the Yankees, Reds and Nats. And we didn’t even get to make the real playoffs.

    Also the Tigers who will probably win the whole thing pick 21st and get one of those competative balance picks at 37 and 73 (though they traded #73).

    Don’t other leagues take into account playoff results? I thought in the NFL the Super Bowl champ picks last and so on.

  25. @33

    A Crawford-tpe deal? What did carl get 7/142? Something in that range? I don’t believe Bourn will get that, especially with his second half fall-off, but I could see him picking up a 5 year deal in the 90-100 million range.

  26. Not from the Braves, I hope. I don’t want to see us hamstring payroll flexibility for one player, except maybe Mike Trout or Ryan Braun.

  27. If Victorino still has a couple years left in the tank, I think he could bring something to the Braves that they lack. Things that players do as opponents can look a lot different when done for your own team.

  28. I think people are underestimating how bad catchers are. McCann should never take 4/44; per Fangraphs, he was a league-average (2 WAR) /this year/, OPSing 700 and looking awful all the time. A year of league-average (meaning, again, 2 WAR) production is supposed to be worth bewteen $8-10 million. Does anyone really think that if his performance this year was worth $9 million, that he won’t be worth $44 over the next four years (that’s his age 29-32 years)?

  29. @43 I just don’t think McCann has much left in the tank, and I don’t think we’re the kind of team that can pay that kind of money to a catcher who isn’t the best guy in the league.

  30. I don’t see how you can possibly say McCann doesn’t have much left in the tank until you see how he fares after the surgery. He still hit 20 home runs this year playing with one arm.

  31. The BMac/Ross tandem should be solid for a few more years, but Brian isn’t worth Mauer/Molina money to the Braves. He maybe worth that much to an AL team though.

  32. In 2011 McCann would’ve been a legit MVP candidate until he hurt his oblique in that ridiculous game. He was absolutely on fire.

    Depending on what miracles we could pull off on a tight budget, I wouldn’t rule out way overpaying him, but only for another three years. That’s a pipe dream within a castle in the sky, though.

  33. Mauer/Molina money is one thing; $11 million a year is another. He’d have to average the year he just had in order to not be worth that much.

  34. Well the no hitter and shutout just went by the boards, but there are a few innings yet for something else to happen to them.

  35. Nice to see our old pal Derek Lowe immediately giving up a homer and getting the Yanks into an even deeper hole.

  36. Maybe my memory is bad, but Smoltz actually looks younger today than I remember him looking a few years ago.

  37. I personally think a 28 years old catcher would still have plenty in the tank, in fact, isn’t the next few years supposed to be McCann’s peak years?…but beyond 32 is definitely a no-no.

  38. What is this obsession the Yankees have with picking up washed up Braves pitchers and giving them significant innings? Last year it was Scott Proctor in game 162 with a predictable performance, this year it’s Derek Lowe with a 16.20 ERA in the LCS. I hear Livan Hernandez wants to start again. Hopefully the Yankees will pick him up next year.

  39. What is this obsession the Yankees have with picking up washed up Braves pitchers and giving them significant innings?

    Long-term obsession. Don’t forget Chris Hammond, Steve Karsay, Kyle Farnsworth, Rafael Soriano, and Jaret Wright.

  40. Now is the best possible time to sign McCann to a four(?) year extension… He won’t come as cheap in a year’s time. I am with those on here who strongly believe that McCann still has some above average years in him. When his was without pain in August -and before the shoulder thing got really bad- for three weeks, he hit 9HR in 18 games and was tearing it up. I personally have no doubt that McCann will be very useful for the Braves. He’s 28. He was injured. He’ll come back from injury.

  41. The dang lucky sumbitch Cardinals are going to force me to pull for an American League team. Ok not really since I lost interest last week. Smoltz got re married, I think.

  42. So, the World Series will likely involve teams that each won 88 games. Way to make the regular season meaningful, Bud.

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