Tigers acquire Gerald Laird

by billfer on December 8, 2008 · 31 comments

in Trades

It appears as if the Tigers have filled their hole behind the plate by acquiring catcher Gerald Laird from the Texas Rangers. In return the Tigers will ship out starting pitching prospect Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo. The move is expected to be formally announced later today.

Gerald Laird

Laird will be 29 next year and has played in parts of 6 big league season. He’s only had one really productive year offensively when he hit 296/332/473 in 78 games. In his only season in which he broke the 100 game mark he struggled posting only a 224/278/349 line in 2007. Marcel and Bill James projections have him at a .310-.315 wOBA in 2009 and in 2008 MLB catchers posted a .311 wOBA line so he stands to be average for the position offensively.

Defensively he’s well regarded posting caught stealing rates in excess of 35% in ’06 and ’07 while catching 28% last year. Tango’s fan survey rated him as an above average defender at 66.

The downside to Laird is that he’s a right handed hitter so there isn’t an opportunity to platoon with Dusty Ryan. Instead it would just be a timeshare.

Laird is entering his second year or arbitration and he made $1.6 million last year meaning he’ll probably earn a little over $2 million this year.

Guillermo Moscoso

Guillermo Mosocoso cr - Wendy Smith

Guillermo Mosocoso cr - Wendy Smith

Guillermo Moscoso became better known just recently when he made Baseball America’s top 10 list (at number 10) and when he was added to the 40 man roster. Moscoso may best be known for his perfect game at Oneonta in 2007, but should probably be better known for the 122:21 K:BB ratio he amassed in 76.2 innings between A and AA. At 24 he was old for A ball, but only a little old for AA ball. Contributing at the big league level at the age of 25 would still keep him legitimately in prospect range.

Moscoso hasn’t pitched a full pro season due to injuries. When healthy he has a low 90′s fastball and a change and curveball. Moscoso does have flyball tendencies though which usually isn’t a good recipe for Arlington.

Analysis

I haven’t been on board the Laird train this winter, but I can certainly get behind this trade. Laird is average offensively for the position and above average defensively and the Tigers picked him up for the #10 prospect in their system. Moscoso has value (the aforementioned strikeout to walk ratio) and was a decent bet to help on the Tigers big league roster at some point this season. But he also hasn’t topped 92 innings in a pro season and he will be 25.

The second player, Carlos Melo, may be terrific, but he is also 17 and hasn’t pitched in the states yet and is several years away from contributing at this point. His inclusion doesn’t swing this for me one way or the other.

Laird’s lack of a history of playing a full season is also concerning, but the Tigers have hope that Dusty Ryan could be their next catcher anyways. This is merely a way of taking some of that pressure of off Ryan.

In the end the Tigers fill one of their needs suitably with out outlaying a ton prospect wise or dollar wise before the winter meetings even kick off. It’s hard to be upset about that.

 
 

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{ 29 comments }

rea December 8, 2008 at 7:43 am

“You have to have a catcher because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls”–Casey Stengel

Anthony Lewis December 8, 2008 at 8:21 am

I think its an excellent trade. It did not seem like they had a wide selection to choose from and considering what they lost for what they gained I think they made out pretty good. I hope GL performs well, but I would really hope that Dusty Ryan has the back-up spot.

Andre in Chicago December 8, 2008 at 8:29 am

“The downside to Laird is that he’s a right handed hitter so there isn’t an opportunity to platoon with Dusty Ryan. Instead it would just be a timeshare.”

bill, i’m not sure i understand the difference between platooning and timeshare, i thought they were synonyms? does platooning mean splitting time within a game vs timesharing which indicates splitting starts over a season?

Mark A. December 8, 2008 at 8:57 am

Platooning typically refers to taking advantage of differing splits; for example utilizing Joyce and Thames’ splits against right-handed and left-handed pitchers, respectively. With both Ryan and Laird being right-handed hitters, there’s unlikely to be any appreciable platoon split for either of them.

A time share is simple two players splitting time at the Managers discretion.

Mark Anderson
Managing Editor
TigsTown.com

Ian C. December 8, 2008 at 9:05 am

It depends if you ask Gary Sheffield, though. Ol’ Sheff thinks him having to sit down and share time with anyone constitutes platooning.

rings December 8, 2008 at 9:35 am

I guess I wonder how an outside guy can be annointed the starter by our management when he’s never done so or had success in that role, yet we have two guys (Santiago and Thames), who are continually overlooked for the same opportunity.

Mark in Chicago December 8, 2008 at 9:50 am

I think this trade makes sense. I am one of the people that was in favor of Laird all along, for the reasons billfer pointed out (although to be honest, I had Laird as a notch below average offensively). My sense is that Dusty should get plenty of plate appearances, perhaps a roughly equal split with Laird, to break him in rather slowly.

Moscoso apparently has the ability to be a fine pitcher, but has that injury history working against him. He may end up as a reliever at the big league because of those injuries, but he definitely has value.

It’s hard to complain, you have have to give something to get something. At least one issue is settled.

Joe D. December 8, 2008 at 10:27 am

I really like this deal from the standpoint that, not only do they get a piece for the 09 season, but they get him for a prospect that has yet to keep healthy. I swear the Rangers are our favorite targets when it comes to trade…..

Anyways, getting back to my point. As much as I hate Laird, this deal has pretty good potential. We just have to hope that Dave Dombrowski can rebound after the horrid trade for Edgar Erroria.

Here is the way I look at it. If you don’t give up a Jair Jurrjens type talent, than you don’t risk blowing a deal. Five years later, are we really going to remember this deal, like others in the past? probably not.

Chris in Dallas December 8, 2008 at 10:36 am

I dig it. Having watched Laird for the last few years, he’s a good player as well as a good clubhouse guy. No complaints.

Smoking Loon December 8, 2008 at 10:48 am

Finally, a MOVE. Good.

Smoking Loon December 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm

From the Tigers’ MLB site:

“I’m excited,” Laird told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. “I get to play every day. Nothing against the Rangers. I love every one of them. I love all those players. I came up with a lot of them. But now I get a change of scenery and do my thing, play every day.”

Play every day? Really?

Mark in Chicago December 8, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Considering that the only other option is a rookie currently hitting .150 in Puerto Rico, it’s not a bold assumption for Laird to think he’s going to get the majority of the ABs.

Smoking Loon December 8, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Mark, Ryan’s stats in Puerto Rico notwithstanding, I still think I’d like to see more of Ryan in 2009 than Laird would. I guess we can’t know anything more about whether Ryan’s intended role will be as time-sharer or apprentice until spring, though.

Mark in Chicago December 8, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Oh I agree, Loon. I’d like to see Dusty get a solid look, say maybe 250 ABs or so, provided the production is there. You can’t continue to throw ABs away if you’re getting a 185/250/320 line from Ryan.

The reality is that Dusty has 296 AB at AA Erie (where he posted an 815 OPS) and just 73 AB at Toledo (915 OPS there). So his exposure to top level competition is a little light. I think it’s reasonable to think that Laird will get most of the action, and hopefully Dusty picks up a few things along the way (particularly defensively).

jud December 8, 2008 at 1:46 pm

good first trade…..keep going

Smoking Loon December 8, 2008 at 1:50 pm

“I think it’s reasonable to think that Laird will get most of the action”

I agree with that and the rest, Mark. I’m just not sure if it’s reasonable for Laird himself to think so, unless the Tigers have been whispering in his ear.

Chris in Dallas December 8, 2008 at 1:56 pm

You figure Ryan is going to get a fair amount of AB’s considering catchers get more frequent days off than other players and all. A couple hundred AB should tell us something.

Dave BW December 8, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Hot damn! This was certainly easier than I expected. Laird’s not a superstar, but at least he’s a decent hitter who doesn’t call for the high fastball every other pitch.

Ken in Las Vegas December 8, 2008 at 2:07 pm

This comment was left in the ESPN “Reactions” to the Laird trade story.

“as a rangers fan, i can assure you all right now that within the next few seasons, laird will land multiple gold gloves, and perhaps a league MVP, throw in a world series to boot. and there’s a solid chance we’ll never hear these two pitchers names again…love my rangers though…no place i’d rather spend 8 dollars on a beer to watch our bullpen blow an 8 run lead in the 7th, it’s become a favorite pasttime for me, and thus, i’m looking forward greatly to this season. warner madrigal and CJ wilson are men after my own heart!”

The general consensus from Rangers fans is that we got the better end of this deal and that Laird has upside and is a really good clubhouse guy and fan favorite. There are also those, however, that think we just gave up a much needed pitching prospect with great upside.

Smoking Loon December 8, 2008 at 2:11 pm

“as a rangers fan, i can assure you all right now that within the next few seasons, laird will land multiple gold gloves, and perhaps a league MVP, throw in a world series to boot…”

A refreshing break from the hyperbole one typically encounters on fan forums.

Joel in Seattle December 8, 2008 at 2:53 pm

I attended a Rangers/Mariners game for work this year, and Laird was catching. He stole a couple of bases with ease. I read later that he moves pretty well for a catcher, which is nice since team speed hasn’t exactly been a strength for this team.

Joel in Seattle December 8, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Tigers are set to sign Everett, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette…

David December 8, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Sweet

Laird, Everett then off to the pitching factory!

Joel in Seattle December 8, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Everett signing is confirmed…

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/8912072

Hope this doesn’t qualify as a threadjack, Billfer…

Dave BW December 8, 2008 at 4:34 pm

“… then off to the pitching factory!”

Unfortunately, the Twins continue to refuse to give us access to the pitching factory. We still have to sign or trade for guys — like a bunch of jerks!

Chris in Dallas December 8, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Joel: Laird does move pretty well, particuarly for a catcher. He tells anyone who will listen that he’s a 5-tool player (half jokingly, of course). He’s also been known to light pitchers asses on fire in the dugout, so beware of that.

Andre in Chicago December 8, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Chris,

“He’s also been known to light pitchers asses on fire in the dugout, so beware of that.”

well, i guess that’s ok…i just don’t want any Stairs-esque ass remarks from him. (http://video.google.com/videosearch?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=matt%20stairs&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#)

Joel in Seattle December 8, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Are we talking blue darts here? Or the more figurative sense of the term?

Coleman December 9, 2008 at 3:21 am

Smoking Loon: ““I’m excited,” Laird told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. “I get to play every day”

I think you have to take “every day” here in context…this is being spoken by a guy who was one of FOUR catchers on the 40-man roster, and was facing the prospect of guarding the pine while a guy named Tiffany Teaparty or something got starts at catcher. And coming to a team with TWO catchers on the roster, one of whom has 15 career games in the ML, and the other who is the “everyday 3rd baseman” and possibly has the ability to hex the entire team if forced to catch. Theoretically I suppose the 3rd string catcher would be a guy who wears a codpiece.

So yeah, relatively, he’s the “everyday” catcher.

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