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12/14/06: The Jennings Trade

Jason Jennings and Miguel Asencio from the Rockies to the Astros

Willy Taveras, Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz from the Astros to the Rockies.

So what do I think of this trade yall wanna know.
I’m thinking.
I’m thinking.

The thing about trades is because salaries explode after a guy becomes a FA, you can’t just look at the trade the way you could before free agency and long contracts. Even though most people won’t save and refuse to ever think that there is a future beyond the immediate present, you DO have to think about the future. And it sure seems to me that this is something that the Astros are not doing this year.

So let’s try this a different way -
Rockies
- send a starting pitcher starting his 6th year of ML service (FA next year) being paid 5.5 mill (no more years)
- send a relief pitcher, a FA on a 1 year contract, being paid 550K (no more years)

Astros
- send a ML CF starting his 3rd year of ML service – no contract yet, but will be cheap (4 years)
- send a ML starting pitcher starting his second year of ML service, being paid peanuts (5 years)
-send a ML starting pitcher still in his first year of ML service, paid peanuts (6 years)

So the Rockies will have 3 cheap ML ballplayers for over 4 years and the Astros will have no one at the end of the year and will have lost the services of 3 cheap ML ballplayers for 4 years.
You give up 3 good young players for a rent a player when you are going for broke. Does that make sense for the Astros?

Let’s take a look at the players:
1 – Willy Tavares: I’m not so sorry that Willy was gone – he wasn’t that great. Burke and Bruntlett can certainly play center (from what I read, Hunter Pence is not a good fielder, so I think they will eventually put him in right, so he’s not exactly the answer.) Willy is a below average bat, a decent base stealer, a somewhat above average defender and terrrible at hitting with MOB. Career OBA – for a leadoff guy .329 (not too good.) Career OPS .668 and average RCAA over his 2 years of ML ball is -15. Not good offensively, we know. Defensively, as I’ve said before, by most defensive statistics experts have him ranked around 5th of the 16 NL CF. I would bet he’s going to be another Juan Pierre in Coors, but perhaps with a little better success, because he hits more grounders. Hey, guys who can run down fly balls in that big ol outfield are valuable even if they are not good hitters.

2 – Jason Hirsh, age 24, was our AAA pitcher of the year, and has been rated very highly as a rookie for several years. He had, um, a bit more trouble in the bigs – started 9 games, got smashed in 2, did lousy in 3 more, and pretty well in the other 4. But he made some sort of rookie mistake when he was late for some practice or meeting and everyone made a serious big deal out of this – like he wasn’t doin enough of the required rookie fake humility stuff. Me, I think his stuff didn’t look that good, but I would bet serious $$$ that the team was all up set about the “makeup” stuff. Here are his stats – 2.22 HR/9 IP; 4.43 BB/9 IP; 5.84 k/9 IP; 6.04 ERA; 1.57 WHIP over 44.1 IP in 9 GS. Now me, I am not ready to say a pitcher sucks after only 9 ML starts, 4 of them good ones, especially after a really good minor league career, but hey, I guess if you are judged by your dumb rookie mistakes, well then, I guess Jason was a goner. So we have given up 6 years of a guy who was a top prospect here.

3 – Taylor Buchholz, age 25 – well, yall know I think he has absolutely electric stuff. ELECTRIC. Trouble is, that he had problems with a tendon in the finger of his pitching hand – which I did not know about during the year, as well as blisters. He also has a history of shoulder problems, although he was fine last year. I guess I think that if he’s healthy, the Astros are going to regret this deal for years. I guess they have decided that he is most likely NOT going to be healthy and isn’t worth keeping.

Let’s see what we got:
1 – Miguel Asencio, age 26. Was signed by the Phillies as a 17 year old in 98 and was picked in the Rule V draft by the Royals in 02 – was mostly a starter – went 4-7 in 21 GS and 10 in relief over 123.1 IP (which comprises most of the ML innings he has pitched) with a 5.11 ERA; 1.62 WHIP; 1.24 HR/9; 4.67 BB/9; 4.23 K/9. Yep. Lousy. And he was just as lousy in the 48 innings he pitched the next year for the Royals. In 05, he pitched 19 innings in the Padres minor league system. He was then signed as a FA by the Rockies last year, and in AAA, he started 16 games, relieved in 22 more and, well, let’s say he wasn’t any good – 5.03 EA, 1.51 WHIP; 1.05 HR/9; 3.32 BB/9; 5.76 K/9 . He pitched 7.1 innings in Denver and again, he just sucked. I see absolutely ZERO evidence that this guy is any good at ALL – I suppose he is the much vaunted “long reliever” that Purpura, Phil and Drayton thought was gonna be so much better for the team than Russ Springer.
yeah, surrrrrrrrrrrrre. I’ll believe it when I see it.

2 – Jason Jennings, age 28, the 1 year rental. Our new #2 guy. This year only.
Here are his ML stats totals: 58-56 in 156 G with 6 CG and 3 SO – 4.74 ERA, 1.55 WHIP; 0.99 HR/9; 4.06 BB/9; 5.95 K/9.
Here are his ERA+ over the past 5 seasons: 108, 93, 92, 94, 127.
Career RSAA 25 (and 23 of those were from last year.)

He had a good year for the first time ever last year. What has he done for them lately – guess that’s what’s goin on there – 3.78 ERA, 1.37 WHIP; 0.72 HR/9; 3.61 BB/9; 6.03 K/9 IP… (are we being fooled by the low ERA as we were by Tim Redding???!!!)

Well, the Organization sure nuff couldn’t be impressed by his performance vs Houston -
1 – 4 in 6 GS with 1 CG SO over 36.1 IP – 8.42 ERA, 1.51 WHIP and a .297 BAA
He’s even worse at the Box – trust me on this.

Let’s suppose he really DID replace Andy Pettitte’s line from last year – 14 – 13 in 35 GS over 214.1 IP – 4.20 ERA, 1.44 WHIP; .284 BAA; 108 ERA+
He IS 7 mill cheaper, yeah.

But is 1 year of even Andy Pettitte quality (from last year) really worth giving up 2 ML pitchers who we controlled for 5-6 years each?

Even IF he pitched like Santana, which he’s not gonna do, would he be the ONE “piece of the puzzle” that would put us in the winners circle in the WS? Nope.
I would say this trade is worth it only if Jennings pitches 200 innings of .500 ball AND both Buchholz and Hirsh never ever are worth anything. Ever.

Asencio looks as if he is even worse than Zeke Astacio, if that’s even possible, so “depth in the bullpen” as Purpura is quoted as saying, sounds like piss poor judgement to me.
As I said, unless BOTH Buchholz and Hirsh are complete failures and don’t contribute a thing in the ML after this year, this trade looks like a win for the Rockies.
Why? Because we have to come up with TWO new pitchers next year, instead of none, that’s why. And we are short starters right now, as it is…

UPDATE:
I’ve gotten comments and emails about Jennings saying basically, well, if he is as good as last year and IF he signs an extension like 3 fer 30 mill then this will be good.

He has had ONE good year. That is it. ONE good year. Period. He had a lower ERA last year mostly because of lowering his hits/9 IP from almost 10 to 8.5. Why should we think that he has somehow learned a different pitch, or has improved permanently, instead of thinking that last year was a fluke? Pitchers really DO have fluke years, just as hitters do (see Kevin Millwood…)

And WHY would Jason Jennings sign an elcheapo contract like 3 years for 30 mill right now instead of testing the FA market, as he told the Rockies he was going to do? For goodness sakes, Gil Freaking Meche, who isn’t near as durable or as good, got FIVE freaking years for 55 mill. Jennings would be out of his freaking mind to sign a contract like that, and I would bet his agent isn’t a dummy, neither.

AND please remember we ALREADY are committed to spending 39.5 mill on 3 guys BEFORE we spend another penny on anything else AND we have only 2 good young players left in the high minors and that is ALL we have in the farm, which, to be honest, is flat out lousy…

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4 Responses to “12/14/06: The Jennings Trade”

  1. Michael Hurta says:

    Well…
    If Jennings plays well and we can extend him for another 3 years, then this is a decent deal. Otherwise, it sucks; it blows.
    I think Taveras was gone because he hired Scott Boras as his agent. And we agree; he wasn’t all that amazing anyways. Buccholz has been too inconsistent over a significant period of time. Hirsh is the one that worries me a bit; he probably can still turn out a star. I think Purpura knows this, and knows it is a risk in letting him go.
    Jennings had the ERA he had at Coors, which seems to inflate everyone’s ERA. Even if it is just a mental thing. Daryl Kyle had one of his worst seasons there before moving on and having more good ones with the Cardinals. Mike Hampton did crap there, too; before moving on.
    What worries me is that Jennings’ away stats are actually worse than his home stats. And he has pitched twice at Minute Maid in the past three years- and hasn’t exactly done well there.
    But I do think that if Jennings can adjust himself, and we can sign him for a while, then this could prove a very productive deal. He did get his good season after making certain adjustments, so I think he is a significantly better pitcher than he was two years ago, and I think he will follow that trend more than the old one. I recall reading that he added a new pitch last year, among other things.
    But we’ll see. As with all trades; you never know til a year or two down the road. at least.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Baseball Musings

    Judging Jennings
    Lisa Gray takes an in-depth look at the Astros-Rockies deal….

  3. Danny Laswell says:

    I’m still on the fence with Jennings, I heard he kept Coors field in check but struggled a bit at Minute Maid. No worries we will just post a Coors Sign and He will be O.K.
    Willy T. … I liked W.T. he has the outfield arm that kept runners at bay and great speed on the paths as well as on the grass.
    I know….. NO STICK…. or not much of, So two out of three ain’t bad. Not to mention cool in the club house.
    I hope everything works out!

  4. Alvin Mullins says:

    I don’t think you can look at Jenning’s ERA at all. Coors inflates it and it is very hard for a pitcher to work other pitches that don’t work at Coors when they go to other parks. It’s not like a pitcher can have a home pitching set and an away pitching set.
    I agree if Jennings doesn’t sign an extention then this was a bad deal, but if he does then it’s actually in Houston’s favor.
    Also if Jennings was ROY how was that not a good year?
    I feel sorry for Hirsch and Bucholtz, going to Coors will not be good for them.