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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Quick Takes on Trades

Well, the Rockies and Cubs have both made some deals in the last week I just wanted to comment on...

Cubs acquire Jody Gerut from the Indians for Jason Dubois
Gerut had a fine rookie season in 2003 at the age of 25 (.279/.494/.336) after being drafted by the Rockies in the second round in 1998. Gerut led the Indians in homeruns and RBIs and all rookies in OPS (830). He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year race. However, like another Indians rookie Joe Charboneau in 1980, he suffered a setback in 2004 (.252/.405/.334) and underwent reconstructive knee surgery on September 27th. He came back from the surgery a little earlier than expected this season but has shown no power (1 homeruns in 138 AB) while posting a .275/.377/.357 line. While he came up as a center fielder but played most of his games in 2003 and 2004 in right field there is no chance he'll play that position again with his injury. He's was a better than average right fielder in the past so it'll be interesting to see how the injury affects his range. I like his plate discipline but am worried that he won't regain his power stroke after the injury. However, since his injury was severe it may take a full year to recover.

Dubois was hitting .239/.472/.289 in 149 plate appearances at the time of the trade although he was used so inconsistently that it's tough to tell whether he'll really develop or not. He has shown little plate discipline throughout his career and swings through alot of breaking balls down in the zone. He struck out a third of the time. Still, it would have been nice to see him regularly installed in left field just to see what he could do since he has done nothing but hit at every level in the minors. Of course, that presupposes that he could actually hold down left field. He's not much of a defender and is better suited as a DH. Dusty Baker, as we all know, has an aversion to playing rookies despite his recent comments to the contrary and so I guess Hendry's feeling is that you might as well trade them.

Gerut is three years older than Dubois at 24 but it doesn't seem to me that either team gained a big advantage. The Cubs get another left handed at bat although with Todd Hollandsworth already installed in left, what they really needed was a platoon partner for this season. Dubois could have filled that role but got only 62 plate appearances against lefties before the deal with a SLUG of .482. The Cubs are probably looking at Gerut for the long haul but in left or right but he'll only be useful if his power comes back. The Indians got a younger player without a history of injury that may just develop into a big power hitter. More upside but Dubois needs to develop some plate discipline in order to be useful. The Cubs probably got another fourth outfielder with a chance to become a regular. Verdict: Too early to tell but I'd give the nod to the Indians.

Rockies acquire Zach Day and J.J. Davis from the Nationals for Preston Wilson
For the Rockies lets hope this was all about salary dump. The Nats will pick up $2M of the remaining $5.58M on Wilson's contract in addition to a minor league player to be named later or more cash. In Day and Davis I doubt the Rockies add anything to their puzzle for the long term. Day was a better than league average starter in 2003 and 2004 in 41 starts before being injured. I think the Rockies like him because of the 2.77 and 1.96 GO/AO ratios he posted those two seasons thinking that will help him in Coors Field. Still, he gave up 13 homeruns in 116.7 innings in 2004. What I don't like about him is that his career strikeout to walk ratio is abysmal (1.12) and his K/9 sits at just 4.58. Guys with ratios like these do not generally have long careers as the Royals are discovering with Jimmy Gobble. In addition, I'm not convinced that ground ball pitchers have more success at Coors Field than others. The larger outfield and the fast infield would seem to dictate against it. This season of course Day has been awful, walking 27 in 37 innings. He'll pitch out of the pen for now.

J.J. Davis has been something of an enigma. A big guy (6'4" 250), drafted as the 8th overall pick of the Pirates in 1997, who has played at all levels hitting .262 in his minor league career with 112 homeruns in over 2,400 plate appearances. He seemed to have something of a breakthrough season in 2003 hitting 26 homeruns in Nashville. He was then injured for much of 2004 and picked up 26 at bats for the Nats this season and hit 12 homeruns in 51 games for New Orleans while hitting .282. He'll be 27 in October. He also lacks plate discipline and chases breaking balls. He was sent to Colorado Springs where I saw him play for the Sky Sox last night in their double header. He didn't look very good at the plate and has struggled thus far (1 for 16 with 8 ks).

Verdict: Obviously, the Nats are looking to solidify their ever-shrinking lead in the AL East and hope that Wilson can make a difference. If he does and they win their division then the advantage will be theirs since I doubt the Rockies will see much from Day and Davis.

Rockies acquire outfielder Eric Byrnes and shortstop Omar Quintanilla from the A's for starter Joe Kennedy and reliever Jay Witasick
This was the most interesting of the three deals and it all hinges on Quintanilla.

He was drafted out of Texas as a supplemental pick in the first round by the A's in 2003 and has done nothing but hit thus far posting a career .330 average in 171 professional games. Before this season he was listed as the A's 8th top prospect by Baseball America. He's a line drive hitter with pretty good pop (60 extra base hits last season between A and AA) although he's very aggressive and therefore walked only 47 times in 600 at bats. He's also only an average runner. He does hit left handed which is interesting. In the field he's got soft hands but only average quickness and arm strength which means that the Rockies are probably looking at him as a second baseman. That would be welcome given that Aaron Miles now occupies the spot.

As for Byrnes, he's a fourth outfielder on a team that may have three of them already (Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, and Corey Sullivan). Obviously, the Rockies are hoping that Holliday and Hawpe will develop but that remains to be seen. I would expect Jay Witasick to continue to pitch well as he has since the second half of 2001. Joe Kennedy had been a big disappointment in Denver this year by posting a 7.09 ERA at home and 7.01 on the road. His walk rate increased and his strikeout rate decreased dramatically this season. Even if he does right the ship his career performance projects as a fourth or fifth starter at best.

Verdict: It all depends on Omar.

Addition: Check out this analysis of the Gerut/Dubois trade. It puts Gerut's lack of isolated power in context and shows him to be more like a singles hitter who had a few good weeks. The advantage for the Indians is growing...

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