On the Jepsen Trade

I know this was discussed yesterday, but I was out of town, so I thought I'd put my opinion down.  Feel free to ignore it.  Short version:  I wouldn't have done it, but I'm not down on Terry Ryan for doing it.

I wouldn't have done it because I see it as a trade with small upside potential and large downside potential, and I don't like trades like that.  The upside potential is that Jepsen becomes a useful set-up reliever.  That's not nothing.  In fact, a pitcher like that can be very important.  But Jepsen's not going to be shut-down set-up guy like the Yankees and Kansas City have.  He may be useful, but that's all he'll be.  The downside, of course, is that either Hu or Tapia becomes a star.  Given that, I would not have made the trade.

The reason I'm not down on Terry Ryan, though, is that I think he was under a lot of pressure to make some kind of a move.  That pressure did not just come from fans and media--I think it came from the clubhouse and from ownership as well.  Had Ryan not done anything, I think the reaction from all those groups would have been, "Here we are with a shot at the playoffs, and we're not even trying to improve!"  It not only would've been a PR hit, it would've been a problem throughout the team.

I assume Ryan would like to have brought in an impact player who could've propelled the team to the playoffs and beyond, but such a player either wasn't available or the price was higher than he thought it was wise to pay.  I suspect, in that situation, he'd have preferred to do nothing, but he didn't think that was one of his options.  So he made a move for a player who might be able to provide some help at what he hopes will be a small cost.

And it could very well turn out that way.  There's a good chance that Jepsen, while again nothing special, will be a useful reliever.  I don't really know anything about Hu or Tapia beyond their stat lines.  Those lines look good, but they've been compiled at Class A or below.  There are lots and lots of players who have great stats at those levels who never make the majors, and lots more who make it to the majors but never do anything significant there.  So, while I wish Hu and Tapia well and I don't see anything that proves they can't be stars, the odds are certainly against it happening.  The chances are better that they will be two more players who looked good in the low minors but ultimately didn't pan out.

To sum up, then, what I think is that Terry Ryan would rather have done nothing at all.  Since he thought he had to do something, he did something that was as close to nothing as he could get.  I'd rather we hadn't done it.  But I'm not particularly upset about it.

8 thoughts on “On the Jepsen Trade”

  1. There is always adding players in the month of August. Its just a little harder to get a player you really liked.

    1. I once used considerably more words than this to discuss the trade of Miguel Sulbaran. It's what I do.

  2. Ahh. I missed this when I asked the question in the cuppa a minute ago. Again, Gleeman's take seems reasonable:

    There's no chance of Hu turning into a top-of-the-rotation starter and non-elite Single-A pitching prospects have a very high attrition rate, but he's a young pitcher who currently ranked among the Twins' top 12-15 prospects and would probably crack the top 10 in a lot of farm systems. You can view Hu as a solid prospect or as a lottery ticket with good but not great payoff potential....

    1. I disagree with "no chance". I don't think it's likely, but I think "no chance" is overstating it.

      1. yea, it's not even internally consistent. He says "no chance" of being a top starter in one breath, then says you can view him as a "lottery ticket" in the next. If he's got "no chance" of being a top performer, then that should have said "Scratcher ticket".

        Interesting take at fangraphs.

        Taiwanese pitcher Chih-Wei Hu has pitched at High-A this year, where he’s recorded a 2.44 ERA and 3.01 FIP. His 21% strikeout rate and 6% walk rate are both better than average, which is rather impressive coming from a 21-year-old.

        KATOH finds Hu to be relatively interesting. My system pegs him for 2.8 WAR through age 28 with a 58% chance of cracking the majors. This projection would have put him 183rd on KATOH’s preseason list.

  3. The most salient questions are (a) is Jepsen in expectation a significant improvement over Tonkin? and (b) was Hu worth more than that yield?

    I think the answers are probably no and yes, respectively, but that the trade is unlikely to make much difference either way.

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