Monday, November 10, 2008

Matt Holliday, reason to worry?

I don't think so, at least not yet.

If the trade goes through according to the reports I've heard, he will be traded for Greg Smith, Huston Street, and Carlos Gonzalez. The trade makes Oakland better for 2009, but not so much better to put them in contention - yet. What's worrisome is the idea that Oakland might all of a sudden start spending money for good players - if they bring in Furcal, Giambi, and a good starting pitcher then the Angels will have some competition. And it doesn't make sense to think Beane traded for free agent to be Holliday merely to turn a 77 win team into an 81 win team for one year.

Holliday will not find hitting in Oakland as easy as hitting in Colorado, obviously. His CHONE projection slips from 316/390/549 to 286/355/484. That's still an excellent player, and despite being a big dude (6'4, 235) Holliday is a good defender and an excellent basestealer (28/30 last year). He's worth about 3-4 wins above Oakland's other outfield options. Losing Greg Smith hurts little - I had him projected as the 5th best starter on the team, but there is little dropoff to #6, and the projections don't even account for a possible rapid advance from guys like James Simmons, Trevor Cahill, or Brett Anderson. Street is an excellent reliever, best on the staff, but they have several very good relievers, and each will move up the leverage ladder in 2009. Given their pitching depth and options for replacement, losing Street & Smith costs them maybe one win on the pitching side. For this improvement, the A's spend 13 million on Holliday for a year, then get his free agent comp picks.

For the Rockies, it's a good trade. Ryan Spilborghs (292/370/450) takes over left, and in fantasy ball will be pretty close to Holliday in value. That's just a park illusion, of course, and he's actually 2-3 wins worse than Holliday. Greg Smith joins the rotation, with a projected ERA of 5.07. He probably should beat that, at least for a little while, as he'll probably pick off a bunch of runners in a new league before they learn to watch out for him. His strikeout to walk numbers are 105 to 72, and he gets hit around a bit more in Coors. Still, an ERA just over 5 is respectable for Colorado, and he's a win better than alternative options to fill out the rotation. Street gets back to a closer role, and should excel - Rockies relievers have had a lot less trouble sustaining success that their starters. I have him at a 3.20 ERA, with a 72-22 K-W in 64 innings. He's worth another win.

Then there's Carlos Gonzalez, he'll look like a decent hitter in this park, though he has a ways to go. The projection is 268/314/428, with 13 HR and 74 RBI. He's an excellent defensive centerfielder, and at age 23 has plenty of room to grow. For now, he's a bit better than Willy Tavares, but in the long run he could really make this trade.

The Rockies overall stay even on the field in the short term, while moving salary and gaining longterm options - 2 more years of Street, 5 of Smith, 6 of Gonzalez, while giving up only the last year of Holliday.

The A's haven't made the kind of super efficient wins for dollar move that the Beaniacs love to slobber over, but what they've done is a bit scarier, if it means they are going to start spending the money to actually compete.

One day ago I thought the Angels could let go of all their free agents, give more time to Wood, Morales, Rodriguez, Matthews, Bulger, and Moseley, take a substantial hit in the standings, but still win the division with 85 wins or so. Now, I'm not so sure. This puts pressure on us to get a deal done with Mark Teixiera.

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