The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros made trades yesterday that will compete for the designation of the most baffling deals of the 2008 season. The Nationals shipped their closer to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2B Emilio Bonifacio, and the Astros acquired LHP Randy Wolf from the San Diego Padres for AAA RHP Chad Reineke.
In Washington, Bonifacio has been labeled the 2B of the future and sent to AAA while the Nationals (hopefully?) try to deal Ronnie Belliard and Felipe lopez to open up the position. That is the only rationalization I can find to explain this comment fron the WaPo beat writer:
Before Bonifacio is recalled from Class AAA, he needs more seasoning. This year in the minors, Bonifacio, a switch hitter, is batting .302 in 367 at-bats. He also has 17 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
In Houston, the Astros celebrated their head-scratcher of a trade by losing and falling into a last place tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now eleven games out of the wild card with 60 to play, there is nothing positive to say about the deal from their POV.
For San Diego, I can't help thinking they have made another Heath Bell-like deal. Reineke is unknown to most but looks like he could thrive in the bullpen. Not that he would be very valuable if the Jon Rauch price tag sets the market for relief help!
From a fantasy point-of-view, the winners are Joel Hanrahan, who was named the Nationals closer, and Emilio Bonifacio who becomes a source of cheap steals. The losers are Jon Rauch, who is no longer closing, Randy Wolf, who has to pitch almost all his games away from Petco Park, and, possibily D'backs closer Brandon Lyon who may lose his job with Rauch on board.
Here is what Baseball America said about Bonifacio and Reineke in their 2008 Prospect Guide.
2B/SS Emilio Bonaficio, #6 Arizona Diamondback Prospect:
"After four so-so seasons, Bonifacio moved into the fast lane...in 2006. he followed up with a good eyar in Double-A and made his major league debut in September ...speed rates as either a 70 0r 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale...plays with enrgy and passion...an above-average defender at second base...the kind of player managers love to have in the line-up, but if he doesn't improve at the plate hec ould end up as a utility player."
RHP Chad Reineke, #7 Houston Astros Prospect:
"Reineke had the size and stuff to warrent an early-round selection..spotty track record in four year at Miami (Ohio) dropped him to the 13th round of the 2004 draft...bounced betweens tarting and releiving...fastball and slider boith grade as average-to-plus pitches...delivers both pitches on a steep angle that's tough on hitters...could be another Chad Qualls. Qualls had intermittent success until the Astros made him a full-time reliever in Triple-A...wind up making the same move with Reineke."