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Dear RotoRob: Which Side Wins?

August 5, 2009 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Matt Cain is having a superb season for the San Francisco Giants.
We prefer Matt Cain to Dan Haren going forward this season.

Dear RotoRob,

Team 1 sends Matt Cain and Ryan Zimmerman to Team 2 for Dan Haren and Troy Tulowitzki.

Which team gets the better deal?


Hi Taylor,

Not having all the specifics, I have to assume this is a redraft league and not a keeper format. I’ve also assumed even though all four player are playing in the NL that it is a mixed league.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers for the two pitchers involved.
Haren: 155 IP, 11 W, 6 L, 149 K, 23 BB, 2.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
Cain: 148 IP, 12 W, 3 L, 117 K, 54 BB, 2.25 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
At first glance, it appears that Haren has the edge, but we all know that he has a history when it comes to fading down the stretch. Cain is pitching in a situation where, although his offense is a bit weaker than the Diamondbacks, he has the support of a far superior pen heading down the stretch. I see some regression for Haren in every category except strikeouts where he should maintain an edge over the balance of the year. Straight up I give Cain a slight edge.
Now let’s move on to the two bats involved in this deal.
Tulowitzki: 341 AB, 61 R, 20 HR, 52 RBI, 51 BB, 76 K, 14 SB, .270
Zimmerman: 412 AB, 77 R, 21 HR, 70 RBI, 46 BB, 81 K, 0 SB, .294

This is another tough call. Currently, Tulo is leading all shortstops in homers with 20, he’s fourth in RBI and eighth in stolen bases with 14. At the hot corner, Zimmerman is second in homers, third in RBI, and carries a solid .294 BA. It appears that Zimmerman is the better choice looking at the numbers with homers being a draw and steals being the only category that Tulowitzki has the edge in.

The one intangible here would be the replacement factor. The replacement options at third base/corner infield are far deeper than at shortstop. Kyle Blanks, Adrian Beltre and Kevin Kouzmanoff — just to mention a few — are all possibly available on your league waiver wire. What is currently out there for shortstops? My guess would be nothing that will contribute significantly over the balance of the year. I’ll give the edge to Tulowitzki for that reason alone. Tulowitzki plus replacement at 3B is likely to outperform Zimmerman plus replacement at SS over the balance of 2009.

Overall, this is a great trade. Both parties are getting solid value in all the players involved and it would boil down to the specific needs of your team heading down the stretch. If you need the strikeouts and stolen base numbers and are looking to fill a short position at shortstop, with ERA/WHIP not a concern go with Haren and Tulowitzki. If your needs fall into the BA/RBI categories and ERA/WHIP/W from a pitching perspective I’d go with Cain and Zimmerman. The key from my perspective would be the unknown replacement players that are available to fill in the blanks at both shortstop and third base after this deal has been completed.

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