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Analyzing this trade, algebra style

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I'm currently reading "The Road to Reality," by Roger Penrose (yes, I'm a nerd).

In the preface, Penrose hits on the importance of the concept of cancelling in dealing with fractions...the logical notion that 2/3 = 4/6 because 4/6=(2*2)/(2*3), and since you can cancel a two from both the numerator and the denominator of the fraction, that leaves you with 2/3.

Anyway...we can think about the return of a multi-player trade like this in terms of fractions and cancelling. The players the Rangers got are the numerator, the players the Padres got are the denominator, and if RP/PP > 1, the Rangers made out better on the deal.

So, let's look at Young, Gonzalez and Sledge for Eaton, Otsuka and Killian.

First of all, we can probably cancel Sledge and Killian. Yes, Sledge is a little more valuable than Killian, but a prospect like Killian is along the lines of what you'd expect to get in exchange for someone like Sledge. The edge here goes to San Diego, but not by a huge amount...they are pretty close to being equivalent value, so we can take them out of the equation.

Second, we can probably cancel Gonzalez and Otsuka. Again, the Padres probably make out better on this part of the deal, getting a very nice first base prospect for a very nice setup man, but Otsuka is still cheap, being a year away from arbitration eligibility. He's not young -- he'll be 34 in January -- but he's someone who should still have some innings left in his arm.

Like with the Sledge/Killian portion of the deal, the Padres are getting the better end of it, but while the Rangers overpaid, we are still dealing with very rough equivalency here. So we can cancel Gonzalez and Otsuka out.

That leaves us with the Padres having an edge in this deal, before getting to the Eaton/Young swap.

First of all, let me make something clear: Adam Eaton is not a better pitcher than Chris Young. I don't give a damn how good Eaton's stuff supposedly is, or how people in San Diego thought he was a solid #2 behind Peavy. He's not better than Young.

Young had a better season last year. Despite pitching in TBIA, while Eaton got to pitch in one of the best pitcher's parks in baseball, Chris Young had a better ERA than Eaton last year. He pitched more innings. He had about the same rate of homers allowed, while posting a much better K/BB ratio.

So let me say it again...Randy Galloway, Jim Reeves, whomever else is claiming Eaton is a better pitcher than Chris Young is simply wrong, wrong, wrong. There's no other way to put this.

And not only is Eaton not as good as Young...he's going to cost about $5 million for 2006, versus less than $1 million for Young. And he's a free agent after 2006, while Young isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season.

So, to summarize...if the deal were just Gonzalez and Sledge for Killian and Otsuka, the Padres would have gotten the better end of the deal.

But on top of that, the Rangers swapped starting pitchers with the Padres, and got a pitcher who is more expensive, a free agent after 2006, and not as good as the guy they gave up, to boot.

This is a bad, bad trade. There are no two ways about it.

And what is particularly baffling is what this says about the Rangers' commitment to developing their own pitching.

They supposedly developed a starting pitcher in 2004. Ryan Drese. He was the poster child for the Orel Hershiser-as-genius campaign.

Then Drese cratered in 2005, and was lost on waivers to the Nationals.

The other two young pitchers who got a look in 2004 were Ricardo Rodriguez and Chris Young. RicRod pitched well, broke his arm, got jerked around in spring training, pitched well in the minors, pitched erratically in the majors, got hurt, ended the season on the d.l., irritated management with his work ethic and attitude, and ended up getting sent to Philly for Vicente Padilla.

Chris Young, though...he was the success story. The shining star, the example of what the Rangers could accomplish through astute scouting and quality player development. He had his ups and downs last year, but ultimately set a Rangers rookie record for wins, and had a solid season in the rotation.

And what happens? He gets shipped out for an expensive mediocrity.

I just don't get it.

There's not much about this that makes sense. Maybe, as some have suggested, Daniels panicked...maybe losing out on Morris, seeing guys like Tomko spurn two year deals, not being able to get the return being demanded for Mench led management decide that they had to pull the trigger on the Eaton deal.

More likely, I think someone within the organization -- my guess would be Dom Chiti -- sees something in Eaton, thinks that Eaton can turn the corner and be a legit top of the rotation starter. I wrote a few days ago that I wouldn't be surprised if Eaton ended up developing into somewhere between Matt Clement and Jason Schmidt...and if that happens, then this is a pretty decent deal for the Rangers.

But the organization is betting an awful lot on Eaton becoming Clement/Schmidt, doing it in 2006, and sticking around so the team can reap the benefits down the road. They are sort of backed into a corner with Eaton, much like the Mets were with Kris Benson, where they are going to be forced to try to overpay to keep him, since they gave up so much to get him. Eaton supposedly was asking for 3 years, $27 million to stay in San Diego, and I can't imagine his asking price is going down now that he's in Texas.

So either the Rangers are going to end up overpaying to keep Eaton beyond 2006, or after this year, the Rangers will have nothing to show for a very good first base prospect, a very good young pitcher, and a decent 4th outfielder except a middle reliever and a random catcher in A-ball.