Tuesday, December 12, 2006

OK. Deep breath. Purpura just traded Willy Taveras, Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh to Colorado for Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio. My first impression was that we got absolutely ripped on this trade. We panicked after losing out on Pettitte and overpaid for a 'quality starter' who's only had two decent years. We gave up a terrific prospect in Jason Hirsh and two improving young players.

But after sitting with the trade for a few hours, it's not as bad as I first thought. First of all: Willy is not an above-average centerfielder. Even with his tremendous defense, he simply doesn't get on base enough for him to be effective. We've all heard the rumors of him trying to improve his discipline and batter's eye this offseason, but we shouldn't have expected a dramatic upswing of his offensive numbers. Plus, we have finally found a spot for Chris Burke. Yes, we're taking a step backward on our defensive outfield, but the offensive improvement will more than make up for it. Essentially — and Jack and I have stated this several times — Taveras is really a defensive replacement/pinch runner.

Second: Buchholz was not an integral part of our team's future. Doubts about his health cast a shadow on his future, and with Sampson, Nieve, Patton, Albers, Wandy and Astacio in the minors, Buchholz wasn't exactly a jewel on the team's depth chart.

In other words, Buchholz and Taveras are easily replacable. I'm not sure what their VORPs have been, but I'm guessing they're both pretty neutral.

I don't know much about Miguel Asencio other than the Royals didn't want him. He's apparently got a live arm, but I don't see him as a bullpen option anytime soon.

This trade was all about Jennings for Hirsh. Jennings had a very good year in 2006. He finally got a handle on his walk rate, and produced a 3.78 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP in 32 starts and 212 innings. If he can do that for the Astros, I'd be happy. In short, Jennings isn't going to go nuts and win 20 games. And he likely won't fall apart and post a 5+ ERA. There are a lot of uncertainties, but in all likelihood, he'll post an ERA around 4 while producing a ton of groundballs for Everett and Biggio.

Hirsh was the man last year. He'll probably be the man for a few years, too. He was inconsistent in the majors when he finally got called up, but you know he'll figure it out and become a very good pitcher very soon. He'll probably be better than Jennings before too long.

So I guess it was a question of proven-ness versus potential. The Astros apparently weren't sold on Hirsh as a quality starter for years to come, so they dealt him for someone who has the experience and — supposedly — the ability to be a consistent regular.

Purpura said he hadn't spoken with Jennings about a multi-year deal. He was born in Dallas and went to Baylor, though, so it's possible he'll become one of those good ol' Texas boys. Let's just hope everyone stays healthy. I guess only time will tell the degree to which this trade was a bust.

We still have two wide open rotation spots... scroll down to see my candidates for free-agent and trade targets.

1 comment:

Dudley Bokoski said...

I think it's a good deal for Houston and Colorado. Jennings is hard to evaluate, as would be any Rockie pitcher, but if he can post the numbers he did in Colorado he can do at least as well or better in Houston.

Jennings is a known, durable, quantity who can take the ball 33 times a season. Hirsh may become that, but he isn't now and may not be this season. This signals that Houston is still trying to win while rebuilding. That's the logical approach.

Pettite won't prove out to be a great loss and Clemens won't be either if he moves on. The direction the season goes will be decided by the starting 8, not the rotation.