Perspectives: Bader Confusion
by Paul Semendinger
August 8, 2022
When a team makes a trade, it is important to look carefully and analyze all the aspects of the trade before making a decision on whether it's good or not. As fans, writers, analysts, etc... we need to look at every aspect of the trade and come to a conclusion. Sometimes our initial reactions are incorrect once we look closely at the data.
But sometimes a trade is so bad, and makes so little sense, that no matter how it is looked at, spun, analyzed, etc... it's still a bad trade. I also submit that if you need to squint and dig real deep into the data to find the good points and justify the trade, then the deal was probably really bad from the start.
If, in 1934, the Yankees traded Lou Gehrig for Ed Morgan (the first baseman on the 1934 Red Sox), everyone would have known then and since that that was a terrible trade. Sometimes it's obvious, very obvious, that a trade is a bad one. And the Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader trade was a bad one. Real bad.
I have already written a lot about this trade, but let's break it down a little more, because the more one looks at the trade, the worse it looks. It doesn't look better... it looks worse.
The big rationale for the trade is that Bader will be a difference maker in the post season.
Let's think about that for a moment... He will? How?
First, this assumption is based on the fact that Jordan Montgomery wouldn't be a difference maker in the post season. How do we know that? Based on their performances to date and over their careers, is Domingo German or Jameson Taillon a better option than Montgomery to pitch as a starter or a relief pitcher in a big game? I don't think so. But I'll grant that that is at least debatable.
What is more difficult to debate, because the point seems absurd on its face, and otherwise, is that Bader will be a big difference maker in the playoffs. He won't be. If he's in the lineup, the Yankees are a weaker team. Period. If the Yankees are looking to win games, Harrison Bader will not be in the starting lineup in the playoffs. He just won't be.
Let me explain why:
Bader's value is as a centerfielder.
If Bader plays centerfield, then Aaron Judge would have to play right field.
If Aaron Judge plays right field, then Giancarlo Stanton has to be the DH.
If Giancarlo Stanton is the DH, then Matt Carpenter will be on the bench.
The Yankees have difficulty scoring runs against the best teams. Would they really take Matt Carpenter's bat out of the lineup for a player who is more a defense-first player than a hitter?
If the Yankees are looking to put their best lineup out there for the post season, it should not include Harrison Bader.
I suspect Aaron Judge will be in center. Andrew Benintendi will be in left. And Giancarlo Stanton will be in right. The DH in a big game will most certainly be Matt Carpenter.
With that as the lineup, where does Bader fit in?
Bader's value will come as a late-inning defensive-first guy or as a player coming off the bench to run late in the game. Didn't the Yankees already have a guy that could do that in Tim Locastro? Or, are we to assume (and accept) that Harrison Bader is so good, so remarkable in the outfield, that he is so much better than Tim Locastro, that in the little time that he'll play, he'll make that much of a difference? It doesn't make sense.
If Harrison Bader is in the lineup, the Yankees will go into that game with four non-power hitters in the lineup: Bader, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino, and Andrew Benintendi. I cannot see the Yankees sending out a lineup that had 44% of the batters as non-threats at the plate. That's not a winning strategy.
Let's all be honest here. The trade was absurd. And the rationale that is the main talking point in favor of the trade is also absurd. Harrison Bader is not going to be a difference maker in the post season. He probably won't even be playing at all - and if he is playing, the Yankees will have to bench one of the bats that lengthens the lineup. Basically, the Yankees would be trading Matt Carpenter's bat for Harrison Bader's glove. I just don't see that happening. The Yankees' lineup with Bader in the lineup would be far too weak. He won't start in the playoffs. (And I hate to bring this up, again, but no one knows if he'll even be ready and playing by the playoffs. He is currently injured with no timetable for a return. Even if he does come back, will his bat (he's a lifetime .248 hitter) even be up to par?
The initial reaction of the trade was that it was a mistake. Because it was.
Jordan Montgomery is a very good pitcher. He was second on the Yankees in 2022 and 2021 in innings pitched. He was traded for Harrison Bader who is injured with no timetable for a return.
Montgomery's value, even if he wasn't going to pitch in the playoffs, was as a guy who would give the team consistent innings. If Monty was a Yankee, he would be providing value in August and September. (And I'm not convinced that he wouldn't have had a post season start or two.)
Harrison Bader's skill set, in the small amount of times he'd even be in the lineup in the postseason, is redundant because the Yankees already had a player (Tim Locastro) who can basically do what Bader does. In this regard, Bader's value is much less than the value Montgomery would have given the team. Bader's value just isn't all that valuable on the 2022 Yankees in the post season because to play him as a starter makes the team significantly worse offensively.
Sometimes when a trade looks bad and feels bad, it is bad. I feel this is, absolutely, the case.
What I Believe Really Happened:
Based on all the reports I have read, it seems that the Montgomery deal was supposed to come as the Yankees were also acquiring Pablo Lopez of the Marlins. If that happened, the Yankees would have had an extra starting pitcher. It seems that Brian Cashman made the Montgomery deal but then the Lopez deal feel though. Cashman was caught. He didn't have enough time to fix the problem. The Yankees traded a pitcher they need for an outfielder they don't need and the clock ran out. It happens.
I am convinced that is what happened. Going into the trade deadline, it was common and accepted knowledge by all that the Yankees needed a starting pitcher. They got one in Frankie Montas. Once they traded Jordan Montgomery away, they were right back to square one. Trading Montgomery in that light made no sense. It makes no sense. The trade only makes sense if it was part of a bigger trading scenario that didn't work out. If the Yankees had acquired two starting pitchers, they would have been able to trade one for an outfielder. In that scenario, I still wouldn't have traded Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader, but at least, in that scenario the trade makes sense. On it's own, it just does not.
(Finally, this idea that Bader makes the Yankees better in 2023 because he could replace Aaron Judge if he leaves is absurd. Judge is a superstar. Bader is not. Might Bader replace Andrew Benintendi? Yes. But, this winter, the Yankees are also going to need to sign at least one more starting pitcher. The Yankees will still need starting pitching and they traded away a good starting pitcher. It made no sense. It makes no sense. It was a bad trade.)