Thursday Rockpile: The Rockies outfield much better without Holliday?

ARE YOU READY FOR A CHALLENGE!!!???!?

Kidding.., kidding.., I'm not sure what this year's Snakepit challenge will be that we'll inevitably lose, but I'm sure it will be a doozy. Today, though, I have something that most people will probably think is similarly well outside the sanity reserve. I think the Rockies 2009 outfield is better than the 2008 outfield, and not just by a little bit, either. Yesterday's trade was a huge move for the team that just filled in what was the outfield's last question mark. 

How big is yesterday's trade for the Rockies? In their careers in strict platoon roles, Seth Smith .314/.394/.514 vs. RHP's and Matt Murton .311/.382/.484 vs LHP's, come surprisingly close to Matt Holliday's overall level of production (.318/.386/.552), minus just a little bit of power. If you figure Murton could get a bump from playing at Coors, the gap could close even more.

Let me explain in real terms what that means: a gap of .050 in slugging percentage represents only 30 total bases of difference over the course of 600 AB's. If the batting averages are equal, and in this case they are pretty close, that means the entire difference between Matt and Meth Smirton can be accounted for in extra base hits. Let's say Matt makes that 30 base gap by hitting ten more homeruns (each HR is worth 3 total bases more than a single) than our projected platoon. Each home run is worth approximately 1.45 runs for Colorado hitters, for a total of 14.5 runs over the season for those ten extra HR's. Since you can't score partial runs, let's round up and give Matt a full 15 run advantage, but you've got to also give Murton and Smith credit for singles instead, each of those is worth just under a half run, meaning when all is said and done, Matt's career advantage over our 2009 parts is about 10 to 11 runs a season, or one single solitary win difference.

So as the offseason is coming to a close, the Rockies traded their best hitter and took only a one win loss of production in left field. They let their poor hitting centerfielder go and look to gain nearly three wins. Outfield defense is still terrible, the players are actually worse defenders talent wise, but it should be about two wins better than last year by default because of severe underperformance on the defensive side of things last season. I'm looking at our OF and I'm seeing a four to five win swing of performance out there. That's before looking at Tulo or Atkins or Helton rebounding in the infield, before looking at the impact of more Iannetta or Ian Stewart, before looking at the improved quality of the bottom of our rotation. Anyway, this was a solid move by O'Dowd yesterday to slough off a redundant part for a key missing component.

In a sense, since they bookended the same offseason, you could combine the two A's/Rockies trade to get a Holliday plus Wimberly for Gonzalez, Street, Smith and Murton exchange. Murton added to Smith becomes the Holliday replacement for the Rockies. If those career stats hold and they do prove only one win less valuable, the Rox would only need to get more than one win of added value from Street, Smith and CarGon over who they wind up bumping out of playing time to come out ahead this year, let alone a couple of seasons down the road. That's a pretty impressive feat considering who the team had to give up.

WHEN ROCKIES FANS GO BAD

It's fairly common to read about crooks wearing Yankees or Dodgers regalia while perpetrating their crimes. Common, because these teams have long established brands and ubiquitous fanbases. Not common is to read of heists outside Colorado by people wearing Rockies gear. Now I know I'm going to hell for thinking this when I read the article; rather than "I hope the victims are okay," or some similarly decent thought, I thought "Hey, the Rockies brand is expanding" but then my second thought was "You idiot, you've got to be like one of three people in the San Jose area with a Rockies sweatshirt." The Rockies expanded brand presence will soon be diminished once more as that moron fan inevitably gets ratted out and heads to prison.

SPEAKING OF THE BIG HOUSE

Casa Grande, Arizona, has a measure on the ballot to create a levy in hopes of luring either the Rockies or D-backs, or both, to the city for Spring Training. The town, about forty-five minutes south of Tempe, may still be too far removed from the greater Phoenix metro area to get other teams' top players on the travel squad.

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