Just when you thought Terry Ryan was done dealing, a deal drops down out of nowhere. ESPN is reporting that the Twins have acquired Nevin for a PTBNL.
If we want to put on our rose-tinted glasses, we don't have to look any further than Nevin's August splits:
AVG/ OBP/ SLG
.346/.393/.519 (52 AB)
Then, we can commence comments like "OMG!!!11oneone!! Nevin is teh red-hott!!"
But then of course, we already have someone on the team who did that:
.373/.407/.608 (51 AB) -- Rondell White, July
Lately, Jason Kubel and Rondell White have been awful, though. In August, we have the following numbers:
.152/.235/.217 (46 AB) -- Kubel, August
.120/.120/.240 (25 AB) -- White, August
Kubel is clearly battling through injury problems, and if not for all the other injuries on the team would've been DL'd a long time ago. (I would argue that he should've been DL'd anyway.) Rondell's approach at the plate this year has been awful. For a week, he really did seem to change his approach even just a little so that he wasn't hacking at every pitch thrown his way. He's clearly trying to pull everything while not possessing the ability to do so. There's really no good reason to expect White to be very successful going forward. Even just look at the park- and league-adjusted rate statistics for Nevin and White this season:
.208/.238/.297 -- Rondell White, Twins, park adjusted
.209/.306/.417 -- Phil Nevin, Texas, '06
.261/.325/.483 -- Phil Nevin, Cubs, '06
Even when Nevin was struggling with Texas, he was putting up numbers a lot better than White. A nearly 70-point OBP edge is huge.
What was Nevin doing better while he was in Chicago?
Let's break his rate statistics down into different categories: walks per plate appearance (BB/PA), strikeouts per plate appearance (SO/PA), singles per at-bat (1B/AB), and extra-base hits per at-bat (XBH/AB).
BB/PA SO/PA 1B/AB XBH/AB
0.115 0.196 0.117 0.092 -- Texas
0.087 0.260 0.171 0.090 -- Cubs
0.092 0.214 0.174 0.100 -- Career
-- Nevin's walk rate has been similar to his career rate.
-- His extra-base hit rate has been high, though slightly off his career rate.
-- In Texas his singles rate was way down, but in Chicago it was just fine. I would guess that his low rate in Texas was probably kind of a fluke, as a player's singles rate tends to fluctuate a lot more than the rest of his numbers
-- Nevin's strikeout rate went way up in Chicago. I'm not sure exactly what to make of this. In limited playing time, it's possible he was swinging a little more from his heels, going for power, and in the process of keeping his power numbers up he was striking out more. It is worth mentioning that the Twins' best right-handed power hitter (Cuddyer) currently sports a SO/PA rate of about 0.22, pretty close to Nevin's 0.26 with the Cubs. So it's completely possible to be a productive hitter with a strikeout rate like that.
Looking at all of the numbers, it sure seems to me that Nevin has all of the tools to hit somewhere between his career line of about .275/.346/.487 and his PECOTA forecast of .262/.325/.447. He certainly seems like a solid upgrade over Kubel and White.
That said, as we've seen in the past, a player with a given skillset can have a wide variety of outcomes over the course of a month. It's well within the realm of possibility that Nevin could hit anywhere between about .295/.366/.511 and .219/.269/.363, or worse, for the next month. (Those are his 90th and 10th percentile PECOTA projections.) It seems pretty unlikely that Terry Ryan will give up anyone very good as the PTBNL given his propensity to hold on to prospects and the fact that the Twins only get Nevin for one month. So as long as TR didn't do something really uncharacteristic, this is a good trade that increases the Twins' chances of scoring more runs and reaching the playoffs.
[Note: I see that SDTwinsFan beat me to the scoop on this. I encourage you to stop by and read his take on the trade, too.]