The DeRosa Effect (Revisited)

Utility player Mark DeRosa has gotten around. The veteran has played with six clubs during his 12-year career. He was swapped twice within a six month period in 2008-09. DeRosa was first traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Cleveland Indians in December of ’08 and then from Cleveland to the St. Louis Cardinals in June of ’09.

In his half season with Cleveland, DeRosa provided a WAR of 1.4; he followed that up with a 0.3 WAR in half a season with St. Louis. So far this season for the San Francisco Giants (with whom he signed as a free agent), the former Atlanta Braves draft pick has seen his WAR fall into the negative at -0.3.

In those two aforementioned trades, five young players – four of whom were true “prospects” – changed hands. Although it’s been almost a year since DeRosa played for Cleveland and a good amount of time since he suited up for Chicago, let’s have a look and see what lasting effect – if any – he’s had on those two organizations (I last reviewed the Chicago side of the trade in July ’09).

Chicago received three young pitchers when it traded DeRosa to Cleveland: Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, and Chris Archer. Impressively, all three pitchers are still in the organization, and everyone has seen a bump in their value to the organization.

Stevens has been the most valuable to date. The 26-year-old reliever has had a neutral WAR (at exactly 0.0 for his career) but he’s looked good this season and could develop into a solid middle reliever. The right-hander has pitched 14.1 innings since being recalled in May. He went nine games before he allowed an earned run, but he then allowed runs in three straight games before tossing a scoreless frame on June 23. Stevens currently has an xFIP of 4.52, an average ground-ball rate, and a respectable strikeout rate of 7.53 K/9. His fastball has sat around 91 mph but he’s struggled to command his secondary pitches on a consistent basis.

Gaub, 25, has been a real find for the Cubs. The organization has yet to challenge him in the Majors, but the southpaw looks like he’ll be solid middle reliever or LOOGY. In ’09, he allowed 36 hits and struck out 80 batters in 60.0 combined innings between double-A and triple-A. Gaub handled left-handed batters very well in ’08 and ’09 but he’s struggled in a small-sample size in 2010. Lefties have batted .394 against him this season; he needs to show more consistent command of his slider – which can be a plus (strikeout) pitch. Despite his command and control (18 walks) issues, Gaub has a 3.52 FIP, 35 strikeouts and has given up 24 hits in 26.0 innings of work.

Gaub was the breakout player in ’09 and Archer is looking like the breakout star of ’10. Pitching in high-A ball, the right-handed starter currently has a 3.17 FIP and has given up just 49 hits in 66.1 innings of work. He’s also posted a solid ground-ball rate (51%), and has an excellent strikeout rate (10.21 K/9). The 21-year-old Archer also showed a high strikeout rate (9.83 K/9) in low-A ball in ’09. His fastball can reach 95-96 mph and his curveball is becoming more consistent. He’s still quite unrefined but Archer has solid potential as a big league starter.

Like Chicago, the Cleveland organization still retains all the pieces from the late 2008 trade: Chris Perez and Jess Todd, both pitchers.

Perez has pretty much been a neutral reliever for Cleveland, in terms of WAR (0.1). Traded in mid-2009, he showed solid numbers in half a season with Cleveland, which included a 3.85 xFIP, 10.26 K/9 rate and a 6.48 H/9 rate. The right-hander has taken a larger role in the bullpen this season, including filling in for injured and ineffective closer Kerry Wood, but Perez’ numbers have not been as good as they were in ’09. He currently has a 5.30 xFIP and he’s allowing more than one hit per nine innings over last season’s rate. His strikeout rate has also dropped to 6.33 K/9. His pitches (fastball and slider) have just not been as reliable this season, although his overall control has held steady.

Todd, a former second round pick out of the University of Arkansas, has always posted good numbers in the minors. He stumbled in his MLB debut in ’09 and posted a 7.66 ERA (but 4.47 xFIP) with a hit rate of 13.70 H/9 in 22.1 innings. He struggled with the home run (1.61 HR/9), as well, but showed a solid strikeout rate at 8.06 K/9. He produced a neutral WAR at 0.0. Todd simply needs to show better fastball/cutter command in the Majors. In 2010 at triple-A, the right-handed reliever has given up 33 hits and 11 walks in 31.1 innings. He also has 33 strikeouts.

To complete the effect that DeRosa has had on his former organizations, we must look to the 2010 draft. The St. Louis Cardinals organization received a first round supplemental draft pick for the loss of DeRosa (a Type B free agent) to San Francisco. With that selection (46th overall), St. Louis acquired the rights to Arizona State University pitcher Seth Blair. The club has yet to come to terms with the right-hander, although he was ineligible to sign a pro contract while his school competed in the College World Series (ASU was eliminated on June 22).

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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I am a Cub fan and I thought Derosa was over rated due to his age. Very nice article, it reminds me of poker bad beats, everyone remembers the bad trades and the good ones or little trades get passed over. It would be a very interesting to see the stats for all trades. I once heard or read the team the Pittsburgh Pirates would have right now if they kept everyone would be sick.