26-year old righty swinging CF Andrew McCutchen finished 3rd in the N.L. MVP vote in 2012. He played in 157 games for the Pirates last year and he was 194 of 593 (.327 avg, .953 OPS) with 107 runs scored, 31 homers, 96 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. McCutchen has now played in [...]
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TTM Success: Hall Of Fame Manager, Mr. Earl Weaver!!! As it relates to the hobby, there is no easier autograph to obtain than one in which they are offered in exchange for a donation to a charity. The player’s connection … Continue reading →
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The Miami Marlins' mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays is still being discussed more than a week later, and its merits have been more than covered here by the crew at Fish Stripes. Among the pieces that left from the Marlins is Josh Johnson, an original member of the 2006 era team and one of the last vestiges of that squad to finish out the 2012 season. With one more season remaining in Johnson's contract, the likely original plan with the Marlins was to hold onto him for the remainder of his deal and make a decision on his Marlins future after 2013. Had the team been competitive in 2012, we would likely see Johnson, along with a number of other Marlins, still in a Marlins uniform now. Alas, the team faltered badly in 2012, and as a result Johnson was traded along with four other players to the Blue Jays.
Johnson himself certainly earned himself an overlook of his Marlins career because, in seven seasons on the Marlins, he may have been the most talented, productive, yet at the same time injury-prone pitcher in Marlins history. When we look back on the Marlins in the years to come, Josh Johnson's name will come up on the list of the best Marlins pitchers in team history.
No matter how you slice it, Johnson was the best pitcher in Marlins history. In terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Johnson racked up more WAR in both the FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference versions than any other Marlins pitcher. He is the only Marlins pitcher to put up more than 20 WAR as a Marlins starter in his career. He is one of six pitchers under the Baseball-Reference WAR (rWAR) system and eight pitchers under the FanGraphs WAR (fWAR) system to put up more than 10 WAR as a Marlins starter, leaving him in exclusive company among Marlins pitchers.
Of course, part of the reason why Johnson did so well as a Marlin is because he was one of the longest-tenured Marlins in team history. Johnson has thrown the third-highest number of innings as a Marlins pitcher in team history, behind only 1000-inning club members Dontrelle Willis and Ricky Nolasco. Johnson made his first appearance as a Marlin in 2005 and his last in 2012, meaning he stuck around in parts of seven seasons with the Fish, a feat that no other Marlins pitcher has accomplished.
Among Marlins pitchers with at least 500 innings pitched on the team (12 pitchers in total), Johnson has the lowest ERA and best ERA- (ERA compared to the league average) among Marlins pitchers. Not only has Johnson lasted long as a Marlins pitcher, but he did so with the best rate stats in team history. Both in rate and longevity, Johnson has proven to be the best Marlins pitcher of all time.
Johnson also set a precedence for the Marlins in that he was the first pitcher to whom the team ever handed a long-term extension. Johnson signed a four-year extension before the 2010 season after it was becoming increasingly apparent that, without a deal, he would leave after 2011 as a free agent. At the time, Johnson was coming off of his most successful season, and in each healthy year that he pitched, he had performed brilliantly, so an extension seemed like a necessity for the organization.
After the Marlins were reprimanded for a lack of spending, the team signed Johnson to the deal. At the time, the hangup was that Johnson was looking for at least a four-year deal, but the Marlins were not interested in anything beyond three seasons. The rates of the initial offer were also well below market value, and at some point it seemed negotiations were tenuous and that it was unlikely that a deal would get done. Some time in January of that offseason, however, the Marlins and Johnson were able to get a deal done that should have kept him through the 2012 era Fish.
History of Injuries
There is yet another category in which Johnson leads the Marlins in team history, and that is injuries. As a pitcher, one expects teams to lose pitchers due to injury, but Johnson has earned himself the label of injury-prone by missing multiple seasons with injuries. Despite being with the team for the same number of seasons as Nolasco, Johnson has thrown almost 200 fewer innings than Nolasco. While Nolasco only missed one season of significant playing time and has since been a workhorse (an unreliable one, but a workhorse nonetheless), Johnson has vacillated between 180-inning performer and "out for the season" multiple times.
His sordid injury history began in 2006, when he was thrown out for an extra inning after a long rain delay by then-manager Joe Girardi and left with elbow discomfort. He started the 2007 season terribly and was shut down, eventually requiring Tommy John surgery. He returned from surgery late in 2008, but put up strong numbers heading into his breakout 2009 season. He had two healthy years after that, but even those seasons had some harbingers of injury problems. In 2010, Johnson was shut down for the last month of the season due to shoulder and back injuries, and that may have been connected to his eventual 2011 shutdown which cost him more than two-thirds of that season.
In total, Johnson has spent 464 days of his time and 403 games in his time with the Marlins. That is almost 2.5 seasons worth of games that Johnson has missed in his six-year tenure with the Fish. Had he been able to stay healthy, who knows how much better he would have been.
Johnson leaves the Marlins as the best pitcher in team history, but he also leaves a checkered past as a player who could not stay on the field. Had he been able to remain healthy, his legacy as a Marlin may be a bit brighter, but because of the injury history, it is difficult to look upon his career as truly successful. As good as he was while he was on the field, fans will always wonder how good he could have been had he been able to stay on the field long enough. Still, that should diminish his great accomplishments as a true Miami Marlin.
Dave Parker 1981 Topps I tell you what, I am not a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, but those hats that the team wore in the early 1980s really take me back to my youth as a collector. From Bill Madlock to … Continue reading →
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The Toronto Blue Jays have done a lot so far this offseason. As Jonah Keri pointed out on the BtB Podcast this week, Winter Meetings are normally when the offseason starts to heat up, and those don’t start until Dec. 3.
As it is, the Jays have been the biggest movers in the 2012 offseason. But with the team likely nearing the end of their movement, it’s worth wondering if the big moves they’ve made are enough to make them a competitor or simply enough to appease the fanbase.
*Traded Manager John Farrell and David Carpenter for Mike Aviles.
*Signed Maicer Izturis, 3yrs $10M.
*Signed Melky Cabrera, 2yrs $16M.
*Traded Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Jeff Mathis and Anthony DeSclafani for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Jose Reyes.
The difference between their primary players from 2012 (in the table below – "start" vs "bench" and pitching order determined by plate appearances and innings pitched) and the start of 2013 is stark, especially in a few key positions.
As has been pointed out by some, the players the Jays acquired from the Marlins are not superstars at this point. Johnson is injury prone, Reyes is slowing down and Buehrle is just an innings eater at this point. However, they are also replacing contributions that were mor or less garbage for the Jays this past season.
Keith Law summarized the deal thusly: "The Blue Jays get a lot of impact talent in this deal, making them contenders (at least for the moment) in 2013 without substantially damaging their chances to contend in future years." Dan Szymborski predicted the trade made the Jays "a team with a mean expectation for wins somewhere in the high 80s or low 90s." Jack Moore figures that with the trade "the Blue Jays have a distinct chance at 95 wins in 2012, and with it a playoff berth either through the division championship or a Wild Card"
All three of those positive reactions came before the Melky signing was announced, too, filling a relative weakness in LF.
Analyzing a trade like this isn’t as simple as looking at WAR and making the adjustments to the team’s win total, but some of those authors linked above attempted to do that, so I won't replicate it here (I was going to do it with WARi, maybe another time).
Beyond that, the Jays have a lineup that is a better one through nine outfit that makes more "baseball sense." Reyes is a strong leadoff hitter when his OBP is in check, and he provides the speed most managers like to have from that spot. He’s also a switch-hitter. Cabrera is a high-average switch-hitter who had a somewhat BABIP-fueled season last year but has a two-season track record of being a strong offensive player now. The switch hitters are something the Jays haven’t had since Gregg Zaun and provide a nice luxury for Gibbons by allowing him to trot out the same lineup every day.
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are establish power hitters in the middle of the order (Edwin is established in the power department, if not the overall value department), that should provide one of the league’s most feared duos with Reyes and Cabrera getting on base at decent clips.
Things get a bit dicey from there, with one of Adam Lind (a sink-hole for at bats), Brett Lawrie (too many righties?) or Colby Rasmus (far too unreliable) filling in the next three spots in some order. Lawrie should improve but Rasmus is an enigma and Lind has proven to not be a capable MLB starter at 1B/DH. If the team is still to upgrade anywhere, it’s likely at 1B/DH, possibly with a platoon-mate since he had a 48 wRC+ against lefties last year and 72 the year before.
The bottom of the order is relatively strong with power-hitting J.P. Arencibia and John Buck sharing catching duties and sinking the team’s OBP otherwise, and Maicer Izturis providing a league-average middle infielder to round things out.
Add it up and the Jays have an elite top-four, a questionable five-seven, and an acceptable eight-nine. If they can solidify the five-spot by finding a left-handed power bat or a platoon-mate for Lind, this lineup will look dangerous on any given day.
Josh Johnson becomes the de facto ace of the staff with the highest previous level of performance in the group. He’s followed by Brandon Morrow, who broke out when healthy last year, creating a potentially dominant one-two punch. The risk is that the rotation depth is lacking at the higher levels of the minors, so being anchored by two pitchers with injury histories is a little scary. As it is though, if both were to give the team 180 innings, the Jays could be looking at seven wins or more from these two alone.
Mark Buehrle was league-average last season, but a league average 200 innings is still an appreciable contribution. He’s provided over 200 innings for 12 straight years, usually at a three to four win level, making him a crucial stabilizing force behind the potentially less-available Johnson and Morrow.
Ricky Romero was atrocious last year, one of the worst pitchers in baseball. He had three above-average seasons before that, so even a return to normalcy would mean the Jays rotation goes four-deep with serviceable pitchers, hiding the fact that the fifth spot will be occupied by a carousel of J.A. Happ, swingmen (Jenkins, Cecil, Drabek) and returning injured players (Hutchison, McGowan).
It might be better, it might be worse. There are so many names with limited track records that it’s impossible to know.
The Jays got just 5.2 WAR from pitchers last year, a total that should be exceeded by Johnson and Morrow alone. If Buehrle and Romero can provide league-average innings as a duo, even a replacement-level fifth starter gives this team a six-win improvement from the rotation. The AL’s fourth-worst run prevention should be much improved.
The lineup just looks better from top to bottom, didn’t lose much in the field and gained quite significantly at the top of the order. Bautista and Encarnacion should have plenty of opportunities to knock in extra runs, while the everyday lineup shifts should be a thing of the past. A league-average AL offense should be above average next year.
Add it up and there’s no doubting the Jays will be much, much better. Is 90 wins unreasonable? I don’t think it is.
What may be unreasonable, though, is looking at the current rosters of Boston, New York and Tampa Bay and licking your chops at the thought of 95 wins and a division title. The Rays have just $33M committed before arbitration and their payroll was $63M last year. The Red Sox still only have $60M committed before arbitration and can be safely penciled in for at least $125M. And the Yankees, despite the desire to stay below the repeater luxury tax line in the coming years, likely aren’t done with $131M plus arbitration salaries (and another $15M if the Kuroda signing becomes official).
The Jays are definitely a better team than they were in 2012. But whether they are a better team than their AL East rivals is yet to be seen. Winter Meetings should tell us more.Follow @BlakeMurphyODC
Team executives and agents wandered into the Agave Sunset lounge at the resort where the general managers’ meetings were held in Indian Wells, Calif. Four of the six flat-screen televisions were showing election coverage, with the other two turned to sports.
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In 2013, the Houston Astros will become just the third team in the 49-year-history of baseball’s Rule 4 amateur draft to have the top pick in the nation in consecutive years. In fact, just five other teams have even had two number one picks over a three-year span. Given that, I thought it would be interesting to see what impact having those top picks had on those other teams, and if there is a precedent for the presumed prospect windfall to speed up a team’s turnaround.
The previous two teams to have consecutive number-one picks won’t come as a surprise as both instances occurred in the last six years: the Rays had the top pick in the 2007 and 2008 drafts and the Nationals drafted first in 2009 and 2010. Both of those teams experienced dramatic improvements at the major league level soon after making those top picks but only the Nationals did so with the help of their top picks.
In Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nationals had the tremendous fortune of having the top pick in the nation in consecutive years at a time when two of the top amateur talents in recent memory entered the draft. Strasburg was routinely referred to as the top collegiate pitcher of all time while at San Diego State, and Harper made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16-year-old a year before entering the draft. Both have lived up to the hype thus far, though it’s worth noting that Strasburg did require Tommy John surgery a mere 15 months after being drafted, a development that cost him a year of development and has prompted the team to be more careful about his workloads than they might otherwise have been.
Still, the Nationals went from the worst record in baseball in both 2008 and 2009 to the best in 2012, and Strasburg and Harper, the compensation for the former, were significant reasons for the latter, combining to be worth 7.7 wins above replacement in 2012 per Baseball-Reference’s bWAR.
The Rays went from the worst record in baseball in 2007 to the World Series in 2008, but that improvement had far more to do with the string of top picks that preceded their consecutive number ones than with those number-one picks themselves, and not just because the second of those number-one picks came during their pennant-winning 2008 season. David Price, the top pick in the 2007 draft, threw just 14 regular-season innings for the Rays in 2008, and though he did throw some key innings in relief in the postseason, they totaled just 5 2/3 additional frames.
Price has been a key part of the Rays’ ability to sustain their success over the past three seasons, during which he has emerged as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball, but the Rays turnaround owed more to top picks that preceded him: B.J. Upton (second overall in 2002), Evan Longoria (third in 2006), Delmon Young (first in 2003 and the primary trade bait for starting pitcher Matt Garza), and James Shields, a 16th-round pick in 2000. Meanwhile, their top pick in 2008, high school shortstop Tim Beckham, fell off Baseball America’s list of the top 100 prospects after the 2010 season and hit a mere .256/.325/.361 at Triple-A in 2012, a season shortened by a 50-game suspension for recreational drug use. Beckham won’t be 23 until January, but he already looks like a significant overdraft and a potential bust.
Take those four picks together and the Rays and Nationals seem to have struck gold on three of their four combined picks. That’s an encouraging rate for the Astros, but it’s not one that’s properly representative of the success rate of number-one picks. Though prior to Beckham, just three of the first 43 top draft picks failed to reach the major leagues (Steven Chilcott, 1966; Brien Taylor, 1991; Matt Bush, 2004), 13 others (counting Danny Goodwin, who was taken first overall by the White Sox in 1971, didn’t sign, and was taken first overall by the Angels in 1975, twice) have lower career bWAR totals than the five wins Harper contributed as a rookie in 2012. Five others saw their careers end with lower bWAR totals than Price’s 14.3. That leaves 20 of the 42 drafted prior to Price with career bWAR totals in excess of Price’s, which suggests that number-one picks are more of a 50/50 proposition.
If we dig a bit deeper, we find those three other teams that had two number-one picks over the course of three seasons. Things get even more discouraging there. The Mets had the top pick in 1966 and 1968, but their miracle season of 1969 had nothing do to with drafting Chilcott or Tim Foli (career bWAR: 3.4), though the pick they made in between, Jon Matlack (fourth overall 1967) did help them reach the World Series in 1973.
The Mariners had the top pick in 1979 and 1981, but the former pick, outfielder Al Chambers, was a bust who played just 57 games in the majors. Their 1981 pick, college righty Mike Moore won 161 games over 14 major league seasons and was part of the A’s world championship rotation in 1989, but he never played for a winning Mariners team in seven seasons in Seattle. The Mariners would later make two of the best number-one picks in major league history, drafting Ken Griffey Jr. first overall in 1987 and taking Alex Rodriguez with the top pick in 1993, but were unable to build a winning team via the draft in the 1980s despite never drafting lower than seventh from 1978 to 1985.
Finally, the Padres had the number-one pick three times over a five-year span, drafting first in 1970, 1972, and 1974. They spent those picks on catcher Mike Ivie, third baseman Dave Roberts, and shortstop Bill Almon. Ivie, who spent most of his major league career at first base, led that trio with a career bWAR of 6.2. The Padres also had the second-overall pick in 1971 and 1975, but the latter pick, high school lefty Mike Lentz, never made the majors, and the former, high school righty Jay Franklin, never won a major league game. From 1970 to 1978, the Padres had nine consecutive picks no worse than eighth overall, eight of which were in the top five and only one of them produced a player who exceeded Ivie’s career bWAR, that being Dave Winfield, the fourth-overall pick in 1973.
History suggests that the Nationals are the exception, not the rule. Though there have been a limited number of prior cases, only the current Nationals have produced multiple All-Stars from a cluster of number-one picks. There doesn’t mean the Astros picks can’t have a big impact, only that they’re not guaranteed to do so. That is simply the nature of player development in baseball. The bright side of the above history for Astros fans is that not every team picks the best available player with the number-one pick. Budgetary concerns, college commitments, low risk-tolerance, insufficient scouting and research, bad gut feelings, and even racism* have all played a part in teams opting to take someone other than the top amateur talent in the nation with the number-one pick.
*Reggie Jackson, whom the A’s took second overall in 1966, claims the Mets didn’t draft him because he had a white girlfriend.
There’s also not always a consensus about whom that top talent might be. The Astros declined to take Stanford University righty Mark Appel with the top pick this past June in part because of concerns about his bonus demands, but many think that the high school shortstop they drafted instead, Carlos Correa, has as much major league potential, if not more. Indeed, Kevin Goldstein, who then was the top prospect watcher for Baseball Prospectus but has since been hired by the Astros as their pro scouting coordinator, had Correa as the top talent on the board on the day of the draft.
Correa just turned 18 in September, and we’re still more than seven months away from finding out who the Astros’ next number-one pick will be, so whatever impact Houston’s top picks might have on the franchise’s fortunes, it will be years before we see it. What seems clear from this distance is that simply having the top pick in consecutive drafts is no guarantee of a successful rebuild.
The Miami Marlins kicked off the déjà vu movement a little earlier than expected when they sent nearly everything with a price tag to the Toronto Blue Jays for prospects, young players, and noted problem child Yunel Escobar. This cycle of blowing it all up and starting over has happened so many times now that it’s starting to feel like Marlins fans are inside an episode of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, where the line "All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again" holds special meaning for the series.* This is reality, though, and owner Jeffrey Loria is less ethical than a revenge-seeking Cylon. His tale is a story for another day, though.
*Given the level of disappointment fans have with the organization right now, it’s probably a season-four episode.
The area where this latest trade feels most-similar to the Marlins’ past is in the rotation. Once again, the Fish are relying on promising youth to bring them back to contention, bracketing them with far less intriguing veteran hurlers. This time around, it’s Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Henderson Alvarez who have been tasked with bringing relevance back to Miami. While the premise is the same as it has always been, like many a remake, the cast and new script might not be up to par with that of their predecessors.*
*The re-imagined Galactica is infinitely more watchable than the original series, lest there be any confusion about the intended message here
The first youth-oriented Marlins’ rotation of the post-fire sale era came in 1998, after the organization’s first World Series title. Livan Hernandez was the old man of the staff at 23 years old and led the team with 33 starts. Brian Meadows (22), Jesus Sanchez (23), Andy Larkin (24), Rafael Medina (23), and Ryan Dempster (21) all had at least 11 starts, while reliever Kirt Ojala, age 29, chipped in for 13 starts as well. Youth isn’t everything, and Sanchez ended up as the most productive of the group on a rate basis, despite being a well below-average hurler by ERA+.
This was a case of the return on the trades not being major-league ready yet, though. A.J. Burnett, who came along with Sanchez in the Al Leiter trade, would make his debut at age-22 in 1999. Dempster had been a piece in an earlier trade of a veteran for kids, when John Burkett was sent to Texas in late 1996. The Marlins would continue adding arms, bringing in Vladimir Nunez and Brad Penny from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Matt Mantei, who had been Florida’s closer. All five of these pitchers -- Burnett, Dempster, Penny, Nunez, and Sanchez -- were part of the team’s 2000 rotation, with Sanchez and Nunez the old men at 25.
It didn’t happen all at once, but there was a clear plan here to invest in talented young pitching. The 26-year-old Matt Clement was brought in before the 2001 season. Josh Beckett, who was drafted in 1999 with the second pick overall, a selection earned with the Marlins awful 1998, made his debut in 2001 and headed into 2002 as the top prospect in all of baseball. Dontrelle Willis was acquired from the Cubs when he was 20 in exchange for the aforementioned Clement, who, by Marlins’ standards, was elderly. Carl Pavano was acquired in a trade that sent Cliff Floyd, a Marlins Methuselah at nearly 30 years old, back to Montreal.
You might remember all of these names as those that made up Florida’s excellent World Series- winning rotation of 2003. Whereas in 1997 free-agent splurging had helped bring the Marlins a ring, trades and the farm were the keys the second time around. Pavano and Penny led the team in starts with 32 a piece, Willis became a sensation at 21 years old with his leg-kicking 160 innings, and Josh Beckett set a new career high for starts and innings in his age-23 campaign. A.J. Burnett didn’t get a chance to contribute due to elbow surgery, but between the kids and Mark Redman’s surprise season, the Marlins hopped that stumbling block with ease.
The break-up of this staff took more time than the last, as the core remained into 2005. Free agency had more to do with the splitting of this rotation than trade-facilitated clearcutting; Burnett and Pavano both took off, and Beckett’s impending free agency was sent to the Red Sox along with Mike Lowell for prospects Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.
The 2003-2005 group is what the current Marlins are hoping to build once more: a cost- controlled, inexpensive plethora of pitching. Is that realistic, though? The Marlins’ rotations of the early aughts were a special group. Beckett has been one of the game’s better pitchers when he’s healthy, and has been that way for a decade. Burnett struggled at times in New York, but he’s had his moments of greatness as well. Willis, before health problems and more began to plague him, was a great starter. Let’s not forget that the supporting cast during that stretch was made up of promising and productive arms like Pavano, Penny, and Clement.
The projected Marlins rotation doesn’t have that kind of promise. There is no universal top prospect like Beckett who can be depended on to anchor the staff. There’s no Burnett, who by the time he was 26 had already thrown 524 above-average innings in the majors (and would have thrown more if not for that elbow surgery … though the surgery might not have happened for those 524 innings; such is the revolving castle of Burnettian causality).
The pitchers with the most experience have their own issues. Jacob Turner, as a three-time top- 30 prospect courtesy of Baseball America, might be this club’s best bet to develop into a Burnett or Willis. Eovaldi is another top-100 prospect, but he was at the back-end of the rankings and is likely cut out for the same placement in the rotation. Henderson Alvarez and his total lack of swing-and-miss stuff will benefit from getting to face the pitcher instead of a designated hitter and from the move out of the AL East, but we’re talking about a pitcher with more youth than stuff at his disposal, and as we’ve already seen, being young isn’t enough on its own.
Wade LeBlanc is listed as the team’s fifth starter at the moment, and his career suggests that’s his ceiling. Ricky Nolasco teased being something more than a back-end option early in his career, but at this point his greatest contribution to baseball is as a living, breathing example of why Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) doesn’t apply to every pitcher. Ricky Nolasco is the ying to Matt Cain’s yang.
That’s the current rotation. There’s promise, but it’s mostly wrapped up in Turner. In that regard, it resembles the 1998 staff-- it's deeper in youth than in potential. A lot of work remains to be done, and the 1998’s volume-oriented placeholder approach serves as reminder that a staff doesn’t get rebuilt all at once. The Marlins will need a lot more help before this most recent reset brings them a 2003-esque staff, but even knowing better pitching could be on the way won’t make it any easier to watch them in the interim.
Tim Raines is the only player in major league history to steal 70 or more bases in six straight seasons. From the age of 21 to the time that he turned 26, Raines had between 70 and 90 swipes in … Continue reading →
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So I'm not going to have much for this post, just because there's not a lot of Rockies news right now.
I'm in agreement with J. Aberle on this, but I really like the Ryan Wheeler for Matt Reynolds swap that the Rockies made this week. You can read Baseball America's take here. Wheeler's not a typical power hitter, but he should become an overall solid offensive player whose usually limited power will play up at Coors Field, making him a bit more suited for corner work than he would be at sea level. There's a solid chance that he could emerge as the Rockies best option for starting at third base in 2013 if he takes any sort of step forward offensively or defensively over the winter, and as was pointed out in yesterday's Rockpile, there's a looming first base hole that could need filled as soon as next season as well. A full potential Rosario/Wheeler/Rutledge/Tulo/Arenado infield could be serving the Rockies very well come 2014, it's a bit of light that's starting to show at the end of this current tunnel.
Speaking of the current tunnel, if you're the type that's into statistical projection systems as a tool to help forecast what to expect for the coming season (I would suggest it, especially if you're currently trying a "gut" method of projecting instead) you can't do much better in accuracy than Heltonfan's NEIFI system, plus he's providing it to us for free, which makes it even more awesome. Unfortunately, he's the bearer bad news for now, as both Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa are realistically a lot more problematic than we as fans or the Rockies front office hope for in our purple tinted visions. This is one of the major downsides of 2012, as the pitching performance was so bad team-wide that we have to lower our expectations going forward for just about everybody on the staff.
The one issue that some fans (see the comments of the MLB Trade Rumors post for examples) have been bringing up with the Reynolds/Wheeler trade is that the Rockies need to be trading for more pitching and this move seems to be the opposite of that. However, with only 12 or 13 MLB slots for those pitchers on the MLB staff, it's going to be necessary for the team to bump the bottom rung back down to AAA if they make any sort of upgrades to the major league staff. Reynolds, as a LOOGY was in that bottom rung area and if all goes well in the remaining off season, he would have been one of the players we should hope would be bumped to the margins of fighting for a roster spot.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody, enjoy the holiday!