Long ago, Dan O'Dowd was given the nickname "Dealin' Dan" (which, much to my own personal dismay, still gets overused by certain doom-n-gloomers within the fanbase and media) due to his willingness to trade anyone with/for anybody. During his first four years on the job, O'Dowd managed to average more than 15 trades per season. He slowed down a bit after that when the club decided to go full-bore into the GenR movement, but he can still spin a deal like nobody's business. His trades, much like anyone else in his position, have ranged anywhere from terrific to inexplicably bad.
In honor of tomorrow's non-waiver trade deadline, I present to you five significant deadline deals made by O'Dowd during his tenure as the Rockies' GM. Good, bad, or otherwise, these trades had a somewhat of a lasting effect on the Rockies. This list, obviously, doesn't include some of the more memorable offseason deals in the club's history, such as the Jennings for Hirsh/Taveras/Buchholz deal or the Holliday for Street/CarGo trade. For the purpose of context and impact, I included deals within a week or so of the deadline. So, without further ado...
5. 7/31/2009 - Rockies trade Robinson Fabian and Ryan Mattheus to the Nationals in exchange for Joe Beimel
The Rockies were making a run at the postseason for the second time in three seasons, but they had a bit of a weakness in their relief corps in that they were short on a left-handed specialist. They had already addressed another bullpen need (which we'll get to later) a week or so before that, and this one completed O'Dowd's plan of shoring everything up. Beimel was a very key cog in the 'pen for the remainder of the year, as the laid-back LOOGY appeared in 26 games and posted a 4.02 ERA/119 ERA+ while issuing just three unintentional walks. O'Dowd's reward for making the deal was that his club made it to the postseason. However, it didn't come without a price; Mattheus has put up a 3.03 ERA/130 ERA+ in 68.1 big league innings, albeit with middling peripherals.
When you look at this trade for what it really turned out to be, it wasn't quite as bad as most people will remember it - for the Rockies, anyway. For the Royals, it was just plain terrible, but we'll let Royals Review handle that. Sure, none of the guys the Rockies received in the deal did much at the big league level. However, Ortiz put up numbers during the remainder of the 2001 season that were no worse than what Perez accumulated in Kansas City. In addition, Perez never put up an OBP of .300 for the rest of his career so the fact that the Rox lost him in the deal was sort of arbitrary. But, Dye is another story.
The details of this deal are kind of foggy in my memory, so I'm not sure if Dye had any intention of playing for the Rockies (which, I don't see why he wouldn't, especially in those days) or if the former deal would have even gone down without the latter one already in place. However, Dye was a monster who was just 27 years old and coming off of back-to-back seasons in which he slugged .525 or better. He had many good years ahead of him, and those years would have been even better for him had he played in Coors Field instead of in Oakland. However, he helped lead the Moneyball A's to a couple of playoff berths while putting up a great few months in 2001 as well as 20+ HR seasons in 2002 and 2004 (he missed a chunk of 2003 due to injury). From there, he went on to mash with the White Sox for several years before retiring after the 2009 season.
3. 7/31/2001 - Rockies trade Pedro Astacio and cash considerations to the Astros in exchange for Scott Elarton
At the time of the deal, Astacio was the Rockies' all-time winningest pitcher with 53 victories. He was coming off a few very good seasons in which his ERA was just over 5 (a decent number for a Rockie in those days) while racking up a whole bunch of strikeouts. However, he was in the last year of his deal, on the wrong side of 30, and possessed declining numbers, probably due to a case of Coors Field burnout. As such, O'Dowd was right to move him when he did, getting a guy in return who put up a 17-win season as a 24 year old in 2000. He probably thought he was getting more than he was, as he likely ignored the warning signs within Elarton's peripherals. Elarton struggled through parts of three seasons in Denver, and missed all of 2002 due to injury. He moved on to Cleveland during the 2004 season and pitched in the bigs through 2008. Astacio, meanwhile, had one more good, injury-free year left in his arm before he wore down and he eventually called it quits after 2006.
Click through the jump to see the last two.
2. 7/23/2009 - Rockies trade Connor Graham to the Indians in exchange for Rafael Betancourt
As mentioned above, the Rockies were a very strong team heading into the '09 trade deadline, with their one real weakness being that they lacked a lefty specialist and a good setup guy. The aforementioned Beimel filled the former role upon his arrival, and Betancourt was brought in to take care of the latter. He excelled, too, as in 25.1 innings of crucial baseball, he struck out 29 batters and walked just five as he helped the Rockies reach the playoffs. That high-K, low-BB tendency has continued to be a theme during Raffy's time in Denver, particularly in his ridiculous 2010 season in which he struck out 89 batters in 62.1 innings and walked just 8. EIGHT. He matched that effort in the walks column last season, despite striking out a few less batters (73). However, the trend has been that Betancourt gets significantly better as the season goes on. In fact, as the last few years have shown, he becomes downright unhittable during the season's last few months.
Meanwhile, Graham lasted only a couple of seasons in the Indians organization, never reaching the big leagues. He found his way back to the Rockies prior to this season, but was released at the end of spring training and is now pitching in independent ball.
1. 7/30/2011 - Rockies trade Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians in exchange for Alex White, Joseph Gardner, Matt McBride, and a player to be named later. Indians send Drew Pomeranz to complete the trade on 8/16/2011.
There isn't a lot that can be said about this trade that hasn't already been broken down by Rockies fans and media alike hundreds of times over the past year. The one thing that I will say is that right now, even with the somewhat-stalled development of Alex White and Joe Gardner, and with Drew Pomeranz still trying to find his footing in the big leagues, the Rockies are still well-ahead in this trade. That's even taking into consideration the miserable performance of Colorado's starting rotation. The reason I'm making this claim is simple: Jimenez appears to be heading into a sharp, sharp decline. After posting three straight seasons of almost identical strikeout and walk rates, Ubaldo is walking far more batters and striking out far less batters this season. He leads the American League in walks and wild pitches while also allowing more home runs than he ever has in any full season in his career. A cause for concern indeed, especially when looking at the career paths of guys like Pedro Astacio and Jason Jennings.
Pomeranz and White were no doubt the keys to this deal, and both still have a lot to say about how it gets remembered. White is currently trying to work out some kinks in AAA, while Pomeranz continues to show simultaneous flashes of brilliance and mediocrity with the Rockies. It should be kept in mind that they're both just 23 years old. McBride is having a strong year in his first season above AA, and could see some MLB time as the end of the season nears. Gardner may not ever make it to the big leagues, but he's still young yet, and possesses a strong sinker that could make him viable if he can harness it.