Okay, so Dave Krieger doesn't know why the Rockies don't want to sign Brian Fuentes. Let me explain something to Dave, because he apparently didn't quite pick up on this last week: closers are overrated and get free agent contracts far in excess of their actual value to a team.
Good, glad we cleared that up. Moving on, I love armchair team building as much as anybody, so I've put together a few offseason trade scenarios wherein I try to match what we have available with what we'd want or need from various clubs. I don't mean to be an alarmist, but thus far the trade market for starting pitchers is plain awful right now. The best pitcher even whispered to be available happens to play in our division (Matt Cain), which would make any deal prohibitive. Of the rest, the offerings are either low ceiling (Ian Snell, Andy Sonnanstine) or high profile disappointments in 2008 (Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey). Frankly, I'd rather take a buy low chancce on the latter category than going the safe route with the former, so I've put together a few Holliday trades that would bring the Rockies a pitcher with top of the rotation potential, as well as another piece of the pie. And just for fun, I put in some Brian Roberts speculation as well.
Scenario: Matt Holliday to Tampa Bay for Edwin Jackson and a lot of other stuff
Rays Index outlines what pitchers they think the Rays should make available, and it mostly matches up with the reports I've read elsewhere. Andy Sonnanstine and Edwin Jackson, leaving the rest of their young talent off limits. Would Sonnanstine or Jackson help the Rockies? I say no on Sonnanstine, there is zero upside with him and as a 87 mph fastball/changeup specialist he may never be as good as he is right now, there's no real advantage to paying in talent what it would take to get him over hoping that one of our similar RHP's, Jason Hirsh, Greg Reynolds, Brandon Hynick, develop into that kind of pitcher. Let's take a closer look at Edwin Jackson, though, as he's a bit more interesting to me. Fangraphs shows him to still have his fastball, clocking it at an average of just under 94 mph. The problem is that he still leaves the bulk of these pitches up and relatively flat as evidenced by his 39% GB rate and fairly high HR rate. This will be a theme common with pitchers we see available. Jackson's just entering his arbitration eligibility, so he would be under team control for four years. At 25, he's just starting to approach his upside and seems more likely at this point to actually be just a late bloomer rather than the bust he's made out to be. The Rays would have to add quite a bit to make this deal work, and that's where it could get interesting as I could see several directions that could be worth going down. The thing is, Tampa has the goods if they're willing to open up. After a playoff run this season, I think they might just want to keep the momentum going.
Likelihood: SEEMS QUITE POSSIBLE
Scenario: Jhoulys Chacin, Ryan Spilborghs and something lesser for Brian Roberts
lboros at Viva el Birdos put together a Cardinals package for Roberts based on last season's Miggy Tejada deal this week, but frankly it looks light. Roberts, like Tejada was sullied by a tie in to the Mitchell Report, but it doesn't seem to have diminished Peter Angelos' liking of him. The Orioles, according to recent reports are actually trying to re-sign him. Tejada, for whatever reason, never quite had the same rapport with Orioles brass and the team seemed adamant about moving him from the start of last offseason which lowered their leverage. In this case I still think MLB fans are too quick to put Roberts on the block without an understanding of the dynamic he has in Baltimore. And while I'd love to have his bat in the Rockies lineup, I think he signs an extension this winter.If he doesn't I see the O's asking price quickly exceeding what I'd want the Rockies to offer.
Likelihood: WHEN PIT BULLS FLY
Scenario: Matt Holliday to Atlanta for Kelly Johnson and Jason Heyward
Outside of an August blog post by the typically well sourced Jim Molony, I haven't seen much mention of Kelly Johnson being on the block this winter. The Braves did well in trading Edgar Renteria last year to Detroit, picking up Jair Jurrgens and Gorkys Hernandez, and I would suspect that Frank Wren would be looking for a similar or perhaps better coup this offseason for Johnson. Renteria was coming off a career year, Johnson is coming off a down season, so that might lessen his price somewhat. With four seasons of arbitration before he becomes a free agent, the team would hold control for that time. The Braves do have a gaping hole in the outfield that Matt Holliday would fit nicely into, but at the same time their needs in the rotation are similar to ours and they would be unlikely to give up a young pitcher in addition to Johnson to level the talent exchange, which I think is what the Rockies would be looking for. Would Atlanta be willing to go Johnson plus one of their prime minor league hitters such as Jason Heyward for Holliday? Would the Rockies take that deal? I would, but I don't know if I see the Braves going there and there are only a couple of other position prospects in the Braves system that would be near that quality. I really have a hard time seeing a fit here until either the Rockies back off from an insistence of a pitcher in the trade or the Braves show more willingness to deal from their prospect vault.
- Likelihood: PIPE DREAM
Scenario: Holliday to Cincinnati for Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey or Daryl Thompson and stuff
There was an interesting thread a couple of weeks ago at this Reds fan forum about the possibility of trading Brandon Phillips as part of a package for Matt Holliday. The gist would be that the Reds offer Phillips plus a pitching prospect, I imagine that would have to be one of the trio of Daryl Thompson, Josh Roenicke or Homer Bailey as they'd rightly deem Volquez and Cueto untouchable. This idea has some serious merit to it from a Rockies standpoint, Cincinnati has had Phillips miscast as a heart of the order component to their offense when his actual value would be better served as a #2 hitter. Like Johnson, there's some opportunity upside after he's had a down season at the plate, unlike the Braves, however, the Reds have been more reasonable in trade requests and their strengths dovetail with our weaknesses a little better. Phillips has four years left on a contract extension he signed last year, the last two might be a little rich for the Rockies at $11 million/per but at least there's cost certainty. All three of these arms throw fastballs at least in the low nineties. Bailey's got the ace-like upside but also some ego and poor MLB results to date, Roenicke's got more velocity, but is basically limited to a two pitch repertoire (FB/slider) that would push him to the bullpen. Thompson's the most polished starter of the three, but like Bailey, hasn't had that translate to success at the MLB level yet. The Rockies would add one certain piece to their 2009 plans in Phillips and an unproven but potentially solid rotation fill, remember Bailey was one of baseball's top ten to twenty prospects just a couple of seasons ago. I would think the Reds might have to add a second tier low level prospect to finish this deal as well. The Reds would add a legitimate middle of the order bat without having to dip into the expensive free agent pool, but it would be hefty price.
- Likelihood: POSSIBLE, BUT A BIT DUBIOUS
Scenario: Matt Holliday to the Yankees for Phillip Hughes and Robinson Cano
This one is surprisingly solid. The Yankees need another bat, Holliday at the All Star game showed that he'd fit in fine at the House that Ruth Built, which might make them more willing to spring for him to play in the House that New York Taxpayers Got Fleeced For. Jon Heyman indicates that Cano might actually be available, with the Dodgers rumored to be interested. I think the Rockies might be wise to see if they could do something along the lines of the above deal. This scenario could be pushed along with the Yanks signing Ben Sheets and Orlando Hudson but not Mark Teixeira or Adam Dunn, leaving them wanting to take this stretch to add a quality bat. Really, it seems to make some sense to me.
Likelihood: MAKES SENSE TO ME, AM I MISSING SOMETHING?