Living in Chicago, I've listened to the sports talk radio guys here fawn over Jake Peavy much the same way they have fawned over Jay Cutler since he was traded to the Bears. No doubt, the Peavy to the White Sox was one of the surprises of this year's action leading up to the trade deadline, but when you look at this deal through the critical lens of reality, the conclusion I am left with is that this was a bad deal for the Sox to make. Numbers don't lie so let's take a look at them.
Peavy has pitched for the San Diego Padres for his entire career up until now and, thus, has benefited greatly from pitching in PETCO Park, which everybody knows is one the most pitcher friendly parks in all of baseball. To me, the home/road splits for Jake Peavy foretell what is to come.
Career Home ERA: 2.83
Career Home WHIP: 1.092
Career Home BAA: .219
Career Home BAbip: .288
Career Road ERA: 3.84
Career Road WHIP: 1.299
Career Road BAA: .246
Career Road BAbip: .289
Another reason I don't think that Peavy will look the same with the White Sox is the fact that he will be playing against American League opponents instead of National League ones. What are his stats against the American League?
Career Interleague ERA: 3.29
Career Interleague WHIP: 1.172
Career Interleague BAA: .235
Career Interleague BAbip: .281
The above numbers show what the White Sox can expect when Peavy finally starts pitching for them, which will probably not be until 2010. Peavy's ERA is a full point higher when not pitching at PETCO, and not only that his numbers against American League opponents are substantially higher overall. No doubt he will continue to be a valuable pitcher, but the Sox are not getting the lights-out, ace-type of pitcher than merits trading away 4 pitchers, 2 of whom have major league experience.
Clayton Richard was, at the time of the trade, in the starting rotation with the Sox and had performed decently with a 4.65 ERA in 14 starts. Aaron Poreda was considered to be the Sox #1 prospect and had compiled a 2.65 ERA with 244Ks in 281 innings in the minor leagues. Dexter Carter was another highly-touted propect in the Sox system who had compiled a 2.80 ERA with 232Ks in 186.2 innings at Rookie and Low-A ball. Adam Russell, the 4th player traded to the Padres in the deal, was the "worst" out of the bunch but still had a decent minor league track record, loggin a 3.82ERA with 400Ks in 556.1 innings during 6 minor league seasons.
If I'm the Padres, this is a major win. First of all, you got rid of a guy who was going to make $56 million dollars between now and the end of the 2012 season. Second, you got Clayton Richard, who can step into the rotation immediately (and probably benefit greatly from pitching in such spacious confines). Thirdly, you got 2 of the White Sox top 10 pitching prospects, one of whom is probably going to be pitching for you as soon as next season.
Like I said, when you look at this trade through the lens of reality, you see how much of a gamble this is for the Sox, not only in what they gave up to get Peavy, but also in how much they are expecting of a guy who is a) coming from the one of the best pitchers ballparks in the National League and b) has a history of injuries. U.S. Cellular Field is one of the top 5 most hitter friendly parks in baseball AND it's the American League. My prediction, Peavy falls on his face, can't wait to watch it happen.
All stats provided by Baseball Reference.