Analyzing Wade's Early Trades

Last week, we published the complete list of Ed Wade's trades. This week, we start analyzing those trades. This is a lengthy process, so we're not going to tackle his oeuvre all at once. Instead, today we're going to look at his early years - his first three years as a general manager.

What's very interesting in looking at this three year period is that Ed Wade made some trades that worked out quite well for the Phillies. Forced to trade Curt Schilling, Wade turned him into four players who gave the Phillies more value than what Curt gave the Diamondbacks. He flipped an aging Mickey Morandini for Doug Glanville's ascendancy. And he managed to flip a retiring Mark Leiter for a middle reliever who then brought him Robert Person, a quality starting pitcher for many years.

The analysis here is similar to that which Rob Neyer proposed with respect to win shares. If you take the two sides of a trade and then trace them until the team no longer has any of those players or any players the traded-for players brought in return in a trade, you can add up the value to the two original teams in the trade. This analysis does not account for the total number of players contributing to the team's value, for extraneous factors such as when a GM is forced to make a trade by players who demand a trade or because players are about to become free agents, or for trades not made or better offers rejected. What it does do, though, is give a fair accounting of how much a team benefitted from a trade in relation to how much the other team benefitted.

For this analysis, I'm using Baseball Prospectus' WARP-3. WARP-3 measures the number of wins the players contributed above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done. WARP-3 is adjusted for league difficulty and for changes in the game throughout history. WARP-3 includes hitting, fielding, and pitching contributions for the player. (So, a pitcher's hitting stats are included in his WARP-3 total.) Basically, if a player has a 10 WARP-3 in a season, he has contributed 10 wins to his team above what a replacement level player would have contributed. That would be an outstanding contribution for that player, along the lines of what Albert Pujols contributes for the Cardinals each year.

For instance, in November 1998, Ed Wade traded Mark Leiter to the Mariners, who threw only 1.7 innings for the Mariners before retiring. He contributed 0 WARP-3 for the Mariners, which is their total for that trade. In return, the Phillies got Paul Spoljaric, who pitched horribly for the Phillies (15+ ERA in 11+ innings) for the beginning of 1999, racking up -1.2 WARP-3. Wade then traded Spoljaric to the Blue Jays for Robert Person, who pitched reasonably well for 3+ years for the Phils, totaling 12.7 WARP-3. Thus, in return for Mark Leiter, the Phillies got Spoljaric's -1.2 wins and then Person's 12.7 wins, for a total of 11.5 wins. They gave the Mariners 0 wins, so they benefited from that trade by 11.5 wins. That's a very good trade.

Using this method to look at the trades over Wade's first three years, here are the notable trades listed from best for the Phillies to worst (with the rest listed below):

December 23, 1997 - Mickey Morandini traded to the Cubs for Doug Glanville: Glanville had five seasons with the Phillies, including his great 1999 season. He totaled 19.8 wins above replacement in those five seasons. Morandini had two seasons with the Cubs, totaling 7.8 wins above replacement level. This trade did have the damaging effect of starting the Phillies' undying love affair with Doug Glanville that hurt them later on, but for much of it, the Phillies got decent production from the center-fielder. Advantage: Phillies +12.0.

November 9, 1998 - Mark Leiter traded to the Mariners for Paul Spoljaric: This trade is detailed above. Leiter pitched less than 2 innings for the Mariners, Spoljaric was a bust, but his later swap-mate, Robert Person, gave the Phillies 12.7 wins above replacement over three-plus years. Advantage: Phillies +11.5.

May 5, 1999 - Paul Spoljaric traded to the Blue Jays for Robert Person: Looking at this trade in isolation, the Phillies received Person's 12.7 WARP-3. The Blue Jays got one barely-above-replacement-level year from Spoljaric at 1.1 WARP-3 before trading him in a package with Pat Hentgen to the Cardinals. The most comparable player to Spoljaric in that package was Lance Painter, who totaled 1.5 WARP-3 for the Blue Jays in two years. Advantage: Phillies +10.1.

July 26, 2000 - Curt Schilling traded to the Diamondbacks for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee, and Vicente Padilla: Schilling was excellent for the Diamondbacks, pitching three-plus seasons with them and bringing them a World Series. His time with the team netted 29.1 WARP-3, which is excellent for one player over a short time period. Schilling was flipped for a package that included Casey Fossum, who gave the Diamondbacks 0.6 WARP-3 in 2004. Fossum was then traded for Jose Cruz, Jr., who produced 1.2 WARP-3 this year. The trade is still possibly productive for the D-Backs, as Cruz was traded for minor leaguers, who still could produce for the Diamondbacks in the future. The Phillies also have some on-going production from this trade. Padilla has given the Phillies 6 years of 18.1 WARP-3, with two years of 5 or more, which is a very good contribution. Lee was disappointing, but still managed 9.3 WARP-3 over two-plus seasons. Daal showed promise, but only delivered 5.8 WARP-3 in a season and a half. He was traded for Eric Junge, who was basically right at replacement level, producing 0.8 WARP-3 in two seasons. Figueroa pitched well in limited time in 2001, racking up 2.4 WARP-3 in just over 80 innings. All told, the Phillies netted 36.4 WARP-3 from the trade, while the Diamondbacks netted 30.9. The Phillies' advantage of 5.5 must be tempered, though, because the D-Backs got that total from one player spot over the years, while the Phillies received their contribution from several players, thus diluting the greater overall value produced from the trade. Nonetheless, given the pressure the Phillies were under to make the trade, Ed Wade did ok, and the trade may still produce even more if Padilla stays with the team longer and reverts to his 5+ WARP-3 ways. Advantage: Phillies +5.5.

November 19, 1998 - Ricky Botallico and Garrett Stephenson to the Cardinals for Ron Gant, Jeff Brantley, and Cliff Politte: Botallico was decent in relief for the Cards in 1999, with a 2.5 WARP-3. Stephenson gave the Cardinals an innings-eating starting pitcher who totaled 10.2 WARP-3 over four seasons. Brantley was less than stellar for the Phils, with only 2.2 WARP-3 over two seasons. Gant exceeded expectations in 1999, and then was traded for Kent Bottenfield in the middle of 2000. Gant's season-plus here totaled 6.6 WARP-3, while Bottenfield's bust of two months totaled only 0.6 WARP-3. Politte was the usual unpredictable relief pitcher over four seasons, totaling 4.2 WARP-3, but he was then traded for Dan Plesac, who was a semi-reliable lefty-specialist for two seasons, with 2.2 WARP-3 contributed. Advantage: Phillies +3.1.

July 12, 2000 - Andy Ashby traded to the Braves for Bruce Chen and Jimmy Osting: Ashby helped the Braves in just a few months in Atlanta, giving them 2.5 WARP-3. Osting never pitched for the Phils, but Chen showed some promise at first and totaled 3.2 WARP-3, but was then traded in a package for Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook. Using Wendell as Chen's swap-mate, Wendell killed the Phillies' post-season chances in 2001, but then came back after an injury-ruined 2002 with a decent 2003. He totaled 2.3 WARP-3 in his season-plus with the Phils. Advantage: Phillies +3.0.

November 10, 1999 - Adam Eaton, Steve Montgomery, and Carlton Loewer traded for Andy Ashby: Ashby gave the Phils a terrible four months in 2000, barely pitching at replacement level for a 0.7 WARP-3. He was traded for the Braves for the package described above, which brought in 5.5 WARP-3 for the Phillies. Montgomery and Loewer pitched worse than replacement level for the Padres (-0.3 and -0.5 respectively), but Eaton was the prize here. He's had injury problems, but over 6 seasons, he's given the 17.3 WARP-3, with three seasons above 3. Advantage: Padres +10.3.

There were several smaller trades that Wade didn't do as well with, but with the headline-making trades in his first three years, Wade brought in more value for the Phillies than he gave to his trading partners. Doing this analysis surprised me, and Wade deserves credit for his good work early on in the trade market as the Phils' GM.

Here's the complete list of the trades from this period, listed from best for the Phillies to worst:

Date Team From Phils To Phils Total WARP-3 for Other Team Total WARP-3 for Phils Gain for Phils
12/23/97 Cubs Mickey Morandini Doug Glanville 7.8 19.8 12
11/9/98 Mariners Mark Leiter Paul Spoljaric 0 11.5 11.5
5/5/99 Blue Jays Paul Spoljaric Robert Person 2.6 12.7 10.1
7/26/00 Diamondbacks Curt Schilling Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee, Vicente Padilla 30.9 36.4 5.5
11/19/98 Cardinals Ricky Bottalico, Garrett Stephenson Jeff Brantley, Ron Gant, Cliff Politte 12.7 15.8 3.1
7/12/00 Braves Andy Ashby Bruce Chen, Jimmy Osting 2.5 5.5 3
11/13/98 Indians Jerry Spradlin Chad Ogea -0.1 1.7 1.8
7/20/99 Devil Rays Marty Barnett Scott Aldred 0 1.3 1.3
8/7/00 Blue Jays Mickey Morandini Rob Ducey 0.7 0.3 -0.4
12/15/97 Mets Hector Mercado Mike Welch 0 -0.4 -0.4
7/7/99 Mariners Jose Flores Domingo Cedeno 0 -0.4 -0.4
3/29/00 Astros Yorkis Perez Trever Miller 0.3 -0.2 -0.5
7/29/00 Angels Ron Gant Kent Bottenfield 1.1 0.6 -0.5
7/26/00 Blue Jays Rob Ducey John Sneed 0.6 0 -0.6
8/28/98 Angels Gregg Jefferies Doug Nickle 0.8 0 -0.8
8/4/00 Padres Desi Relaford David Newhan 1.5 0.2 -1.3
12/12/99 Giants Bobby Estalella Chris Brock 7 4.6 -2.4
3/10/00 Tigers Wendell Magee Bobby Sismondo 3.2 0 -3.2
11/10/99 Padres Adam Eaton, Carlton Loewer, Steve Montgomery Andy Ashby 16.5 6.2 -10.3
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