Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Jennings to Houston
2006-12-12 15:27
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The writing was on the wall with a Dave Krieger column wherein Charlie Monfort announced that Jason Jennings and his agent wouldn't even talk to the Rockies about a contract extension, but the news still arrives with a painful finality. Jason Jennings, who was the Rockies' youth movement before the team even realized they needed one, has been traded to the Astros for Willy Taveras, Jason Hirsh, and Taylor Buchholz. I hate this deal mostly because it means Willy Taveras will play (probably a lot) for the Rockies next season. Buchholz is pretty much done as a prospect, although Hirsh is much-loved in some circles. The deal as originally discussed had Dan Wheeler instead of Buchholz. Wheeler is one of the best setup guys in the NL, Buchholz doesn't have any of the original muscles remaining in his right arm. I still didn't like that deal, because, once again, Willy T. He's free-swinging, he's powerless, he's fast and yet somehow not that good of a basestealer, Clint Hurdle won't be able to resist hitting him leadoff even though his OBP will hover around .320.

It seems like the Rockies were certain there was no chance of Jennings re-signing. That's fine. If you can't make the guy stay, you have to do what you can to get the most value out of him. I think given market conditions the Rockies could have done better than a good starting prospect, a long-term reclamation pitching project, and a sixth outfielder/pinch-runner. But hey, the payroll was in danger of creeping over $50 million for a second there, and we can't have that.

2006-12-12 15:44:36
1.   Xeifrank
Interesting take. Everyone at The Purple Row is overjoyed at this deal. Astro blogs are up in arms. Hirsh imho is just as good as Jennings and Taveras a better fielder than Sullivan in CF. They both are terrible hitters. I'd say the Rockies made out like bandits in this one. Congrats!
vr, Xei
2006-12-12 15:49:04
2.   Mark T.R. Donohue
If I thought that Hurdle was smart enough to use Taveras as a defensive replacement or hit him eighth, then I might like the deal better. I would also feel a LOT better had the White Sox not had a Jon Garland with Houston deal ready to roll last week until Buchholz failed a physical. What, he was busted last week but he's fine now? This does not bode well.
2006-12-12 15:56:20
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
It's also worth mentioning that a player like Taveras with ZERO power is an extra liability at Coors Field where if you can get the ball up into the air at all there's a good chance you'll luck into some doubles and homers. For a guy like Jamey Carroll Coors will turn some singles into doubles and doubles into homers...for a guy like Taveras, an infield single is still going to be an infield single. Although they do keep the grass pretty high on the infield at Coors.
2006-12-12 16:01:00
4.   regfairfield
The temptation to misuse Taveraz is a huge part of this deal, if he hits eighth, and gets pushed aside the second the Rockies get somone better than Cory Sullivan, then it's good, I like Taveraz's defense in Coors, other wise, Juan Pierre light could end up with way too many at bats in the leadoff spot.
2006-12-12 16:15:36
5.   standuptriple
If Taveras learns to bunt it won't matter.
2006-12-12 16:19:51
6.   Xeifrank
Yes, Taveras would suck as a leadoff hitter. He is a defensive improvement over Sullivan. I am not familiar with the ball park effects between Houston and Denver as far as helping Taveras out with getting more triples. 5 triples in 529 at bats for a player of his speed is amazingly bad. 19 doubles is pretty bad too. I think Hirsh is the key to this trade. The guy was amazing in AAA last year and held his own in the big leagues (all but one game). vr, Xei
2006-12-12 16:20:34
7.   Mark T.R. Donohue
The other thing that concerns me is, what's our rotation now? It was Jennings-Cook-Francis-???-Kim. Now it's Cook-Francis-???-Kim-Hirsh. ??? will probably be Josh Fogg. The Rockies would be really pressing their luck to go with Buchholz, who wasn't good in either role last year. I forgot to mention it in the post, but Miguel Asencio is out of the picture for Colorado as well because he was included as a throw-in with Jennings. I don't understand what the great haste was to get this deal done, particularly with Fogg still unsigned. Now his agent has extra leverage, and it's not like the bottom was suddenly going to drop out on the market for starting pitching.
2006-12-12 16:42:10
8.   Xeifrank
Fogg or Buccholz gets the final spot in the rotation imho. Shouldn't matter much.
vr, Xei
2006-12-12 16:59:41
9.   nick
I seem to recall a study that came to the conclusion that a really top defensive CF is worth WAY more in Coors than anywhere else. (Of course, maybe Tavares isn't that guy....)
2006-12-12 17:03:39
10.   Mark T.R. Donohue
9 Oh, no doubt about it, Tavares is a hell of a centerfielder. The question is whether what he contributes on defense compensates for all the rallies he will kill on offense. And all of the fly balls that would have been strikeouts or grounders had the Rockies hung on to Jennings.
2006-12-12 17:06:41
11.   jakewoods
Taveras does have potential as a hitter. Maybe he'll realize it in Coors.
2006-12-12 17:18:18
12.   yankee23
10 If Hurdle bats Taveras leadoff, I don't know how many rallies he's going to have opportunity to kill. I agree his leadoff numbers are pretty bad, but he is a great runner to have on base for the 3-4-5 guys. Besides, having the pitchers bat before him is going to be even worse of a rally killer, except obviously in the case of PHing for them. He really does need someone to show him the art of the stolen base, though, that would really make him valuable.
2006-12-12 17:24:26
13.   Mark T.R. Donohue
12 Leadoff hitters bat with runners in scoring position all the time, since they have the pitcher's spot right in front of them. With Taveras hitting after the pitcher bunts a runner over to second or to third, I worry about him singling...and not knocking the runner in.
2006-12-12 18:05:11
14.   yankee23
13 That's a good point, I forgot about the bunting. It'd be like following a pitcher with a really fast pitcher.
2006-12-12 18:52:09
15.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Rockies non-tendered Tsao, sounds like a terrific gamble for other teams if they could get to him.
2006-12-12 19:44:48
16.   Hallux Valgus
didn't we run off Juan Pierre because he was completely one dimensional? howis this Tavares different? I've got to think there was something better out there considering EVERYONE acknowledges that good pitching just isn't available. Jennings is better than Meche, better than Batista, better than Lilly. Those guys are getting 40 million plus, and the best we can get for a 5 million dollar Jennings is Willy friggin Tavares? RE: the prospect. I thought our goal was to develop OUR OWN talent. So are we now a Devil Rays/ Marlins type team that basically serves as a AAAA team for the other clubs? We've now moved Chacon for nothing and Jennings for who know s what (not much in my book). And we gave up on Tsao. Nice investments, guys.

grrrrr. We know we can bring in position players to succeed (Jeff Hammonds, anyone? Jay Payton?). But we need to develop our own pitching. Every major league not based in New York or Boston pretty much does.

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