It’s trade season again, and it’s a good time to review trades from season’s past. One of those trades that ended up being surprisingly good for the Dodgers, was the trade of high profile outfield prospect Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners in a three-way trade with Boston for catcher Tim Federowicz, pitcher Stephen Fife, and pitcher Juan Rodriguez
So far judging this trade one year later, I say it was a win for the Dodgers, although last season if you asked any Dodger fan, they might have told you differently. The Dodgers at this time last year were out of the race, and in sell mode. Trayvon Robinson was a toolsy outfield prospect who struck out a lot, playing for Albuquerque. Robinson was tearing up the PCL at the time, batting .293 with a .375 OBP, 26 home runs, 71 RBI, and a .938 OPS. He also had 122 whiffs. The Dodgers never called him up to the big club. Since he joined the Mariners, they threw him right into the fire. He played in 44 games, and was 30 for 143. That’s a .210 batting average, and a .250 OBP. He hit two home runs with 14 RBI, and whiffed 61 times, while drawing just 8 walks.
This year Robinson has only played in two games for Seattle, playing the entire season with their triple-A team, Tacoma. Of course being away from the Coors Field like environment of Albuquerque is bound to see his average dip a bit, but he’s only batting .265. with just nine home runs, and 41 RBI. Although he has stolen 19 bases, his strikeouts are still high. Robinson has whiffed 85 times this year in Tacoma.
Tim Federowicz is a catch and throw defensive specialist, with a strong throwing arm, and a good eye at the plate. Fedex is holding his own down in Albuquerque batting .283 with ten home runs, and 58 RBI. He has a .350 OBP, and has thrown out runners at a 38% clip. Many people project Fedex at age 24 to eventually pair with A.J. Ellis behind the plate next year or beyond. Not to mention he should see a September call up with the big club this year.
Stephen Fife, has filled in admirably as a spot starter this year, helping us win two games. Fife was given extremely tough assignments in those two spot starts against Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay, and Giants Matt Cain. Fife allowed just two earned runs in those 12.1 innings, holding batters to a .233 BAA, and posting a 1.46 ERA. Fife was also having a solid season for the Isotopes as well. He posted a 8-5 record, and a 4.31 ERA in 19 starts.
I don’t know much about Juan Rodriguez, but reports say he is ranked in the Dodger’s top 20 prospects. He is only 23 years old and has a plus fastball. The right hander is pitching for the Great Lakes Loons, and has 20 whiffs in 20 innings pitched. He does have some control issues to work through, (23 walks), but so far he’s young and has a lot of upside. Hey, you never know.
All in all I would say this trade is a success. I’m not trying to bash Robinson in any way here. He is only 24 years old and very well could turn into a quality major league outfielder, however there is just a good of a chance that he won’t. Remember prospects aren’t the end all and be all of everything. The truth is most prospects will never play in the majors, and even smaller percentage will be above league average. The value that prospects have are as trade chips to improve the roster or in this case, replenish depth within the organization.
Some people called this deal last year quantity over quality. What do you think? The Dodgers were in bad need for a catcher prospect at the time. I thought this was a bad trade at first. I yelled and screamed about it like everyone else did. I can’t believe they traded Trayvon!, I said. They got nothing! False, they got something. They got a decent catcher, who is coming up to the bigs soon, a decent starting pitcher, who has proven to be an effective ground ball pitcher, and another young pitcher who make it one day. Even if Fedex just turns out to be an above average backup catcher, and Fife never makes his way back to the big leagues, the Dodgers still came out ahead on this trade. Of course if Robinson goes on to become an all-star then my opinion might change, but it’s looking unlikely right now. I think it is important as we make our way through another mid-season trade frenzy that we keep things within perspective, and not put too much value on these raw prospects. Value sometimes can be a relative term that can change from one year to the next. None of us could have thought that Fedex, and Fife would bring us more value then Trayvon Robinson. Well, they did, and that’s why I give this trade a passing grade, and two Blue thumbs up.