Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A trade revisited...

A year ago today, the Rockies traded starting pitcher Jason Jennings along with Miguel Ascensio for outfielder Willy Taveras and two prospect pitchers Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz. At the time, your truly called Jason Jennings "quite possibly one of the best starters on the trade market", let's see what transpired in the first year after the trade.

The Rockies ended up going on an unbelievable run at the end of the 2007 season to make the playoffs while the Astros were awful and missed the playoffs. Jennings was as worthless as K-Fed was to Britney; taking $5.5 million in salary and only won 2 of his 18 starts. He averaged less than 6 innings per start and had an ERA of 6.45. His VORP for the season was -8.2 while contributing -1 Win Share to the Astors (Seriously, is it 1 loss share when a player is in the minuses?) As useless as Jennings became because of his arm problems, to the point where the Astros declined to offer him arbitration this off-season, Ascensio failed to appear in one game for Houston. The one saving grace for the Astros is that Hunter Pence played beautifully in centre field with an OPS+ of 130 and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting while playing in the spot liberated by the trade of Tavares.

Willy Taveras showed up in Colorado and immediately became their leadoff hitter, although injuries and lack of performance led him to the bench during their September run. He provided the team with great defense and a high average bat at the top of the lineup at a inexpensive price but could only muster an OPS+ of 89, although he had identical stolen base stats (33 of 42 for 5 stolen base runs) as his previous season while accumulating 12 win shares. Tavares isn’t exactly the most patient hitter (he drew 21 walks in 372 at bats) but neither was their leadoff hitter at the start of the 2006 season, Cory Sullivan (32 walks in 386 at bats).

The two pitchers acquired both played for the Rockies; Hirsh went 5-7 with an ERA+ of 100 in 112.3 innings while Buchholz went 6-5 in a combination of starts and relief appearances (Relief? Hmmm… “maybe best suited for a relief role”) with an ERA+ of 113 in 93.66 innings. However, neither appeared in the playoffs, Hirsh actually didn’t pitch past August. They combined for 9 Win Shares during the season.

All in all, this trade was quite a coup by Dan O’Dowd, acquiring three good pieces for a young team for a pitcher who ended up almost worthless because of arm problems. The Astors are currently looking for a 5th starter and traded two youngsters who could battle for the job. Anytime you can trade a player who doesn’t finish his first season with his new team for three 25 year olds, one at a premium defensive position and two good arms is a good trade. When your team goes to the World Series after finishing ten games under .500 the year before, every move looks great.

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