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Wednesday Rockpile: A take on the D-backs trade, and other notes from the Rockies and the NL West

There are three ways to make an objective trade analysis: first, use a straight statistical projection for the players involved and accept the face value outcome of the numbers that it comes up with, second, look at it from a win-win viewpoint where the ideal outcome for all parties takes place, or third, look at it from a lose-lose viewpoint where the worst outcome for all parties takes place. Any analysis that veers away from these three is no longer objective and falls into the category of guesswork, even if it proves correct.

As far as the first way of looking at yesterday's big trade, by using the 2010 CHONE projections, the Diamondbacks receive 45 runs of value over replacement, the Tigers, 23, and the Yankees, 4. I'm not a math person, but I'm guessing that in future seasons projections would show the Tigers making up that ground on the Diamondbacks. The Snakes do seem to get the most present value from this trade.

Using a win-win-win analysis, the Tigers probably come out ahead given the promise of Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer (who could be two star players at peak value), which would trump that of Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for the D-backs. This scenario still has the Yankees behind because the ideal peak value of their one player, Curtis Granderson, would not match the peak value of the pairs of players the other two teams received.

Finally, looking at it from a lose-lose-lose scenario, the Tigers come out ahead again, a realistic bust scenario for them still has them receiving some positive bullpen value from two of their three pitchers with a small monetary cost for their trouble. The Diamondbacks bust scenario would be negative to replacement production from Jackson and Kennedy, but positive value in the form of innings or alternatively total loss to injury with a moderate monetary loss. Again, this scenario has the Yankees as trailers, as they would be on the hook for Granderson's remaining salary if he is no longer able to perform at a major league level. 

Now, I'm not going to say that all these analyses that we're seeing that suggest the D-backs screwed up are wrong, but I will say that they're subjective and based on biases the analysts have toward the players involved rather than a strictly objective reading. I will also say that I think the Yankees are getting too much benefit of the doubt here, call it East Coast bias or just the aura of championship team, but I don't see them getting enough benefit from this trade to justify the cost of the players they gave up.

Subjectively from a Rockies oriented view, starting pitching at the back of the rotation was the Diamondbacks biggest weakness going into the off season and the net gain of a starter at the expense of a reliever helps them quite a bit. At the very least, Jackson and Kennedy are going to be able to give them a healthy chunk more innings than Scherzer and Schlereth, which is a large boon. Given that Brandon Webb's recovering shoulder might not be ready for a traditional Webb workload, it might be more important than a lot of people realize. They still have depth issues, and they don't have a lot of money to rebuild their bullpen, but I remain in the camp that the Diamondbacks made themselves better for 2010 yesterday.

I also remain firm in my belief that they are nearing the end of their window of opportunity. Edwin Jackson is a two season acquisition, tops. Webb becomes a free agent after this season. The Diamondbacks only have one pitcher of prominence near the top of their prospect pipeline. The cost of maintaining the core of this team through arbitration will be too large for the market and ownership in two seasons, and the peak of their next core of players is still five or six seasons away. I think Arizona's front office won't admit it, but they do seem to be making moves as though they have to win now.


The major Rockies news from yesterday has the team making strides to keep Yorvit Torrealba, but will look at Miguel Olivo or Josh Bard if a deal for Yorvit falls through. Olivo and Bard represent a downgrade from the quality of catchers the team has been rumored to be interested in prior to this, and show how the market for catching is drying up. It could see some additions on Friday, but it looks like the Rockies don't want to take that chance. I'm more of a gambler and inclined to wait it out, but I could see the team's line of view here. 

Olivo and Torrealba also figure prominently in the San Francisco Giants search, but the team is reluctantly reconsidering giving their starting job to top prospect Buster Posey. As Matt Wieters showed in Baltimore last season, there's not always a smooth transition from AAA to the bigs for star catching prospects. The Giants are also facing the prospect of relying on Madison Bumgarner to fill out their rotation before they would prefer him to. Giants fans that have been feeding off the hype of their prospects for so long are excited about this, and eventually these two could be formidable opponents, but short term for 2010, I think this benefits the Rockies and Dodgers.

Bruce Levine says that the Cubs talked to the Rockies about our outfield depth, but it's not clear what came of that discussion. Given statements by Dan O'Dowd and other hints from published reports, I would guess our asking price is high enough to keep the Cubs looking elsewhere to fill their needs first.

Garrett Atkins mildly interests the Orioles, too mildly for them to give us anything for the likely non-tender candidate.

Careful wording by Dodgers brass has led some to speculate that the team might be facing a budget crunch in 2011 as a result of the McCourts' divorce. Ned Colletti has denied reports that he can only offer free agents one year deals, a rumor that circulated yesterday that would have certainly added to the pile of circumstantial evidence that's been suggesting that the Dodgers are facing some money issues. So far, Colletti's words and the team's actions don't quite add up, but I've said before that as a GM he's shown a propensity for waiting out the market, so this off season really has been consistent with his M.O. and I'm not going to count on a Dodger downfall just yet.