Unconventional Wisdom: Holliday trade is a huge win for the A's
It has only just become official, now that physicals and medical histories and the like have been handled, but the Rockies' trade of
Not so much. Upon further review this trade is a very good deal for the A's, who gave up a minimum of talent, not much that they will miss, in exchange for a 28-year-old player who's a great fit for their lineup. Moreover the Rockies got less back in return than they would have had they simply dealt Holliday for, say,
The trade is Holliday for
With the A's having so much depth in the bullpen, Street was just a guy for them, maybe their third- or fourth-best right-handed reliever come March, and likely to lose ground rather than gain it, given the arms coming up behind him. He was never going to regain the closer role or have more trade value than he did right now, and I imagine that
Smith's mildly impressive 2008 season was a stone fluke. His 111/82 K/BB is poor, and he got away with it largely because the A's played ridiculous defense behind him, allowing just a .258 batting average on Smith's balls in play. He also picked off 15 runners -- an actual skill, though getting 15 outs with it is a bit much. His season wasn't out of line, either; Smith doesn't have impressive stuff, and he wasn't exactly blowing people away in the Southern League. You can get away with that if you throw nothing but strikes, but walking four men per nine innings and not getting strikeouts is going to get you killed. Moving from Oakland to Denver is going to be a problem for Smith who is, loosely speaking,
Gonzalez should carry the deal, except that he has yet to perform well above the high-Class A California League. He's got all the tools, but the only one that has translated so far is his speed, which has enabled him to be a very good defensive centerfielder. Since coming to pro ball at the age of 17 Gonzalez has generally been younger than his leagues, and he has generally shown off terrific tools. Outside of a two-year stretch in 2005 and '06, though, he's been a disappointment. Gonzalez hit .300/.356/.563 for Lancaster in '06 as a 20-year-old, confirming the longstanding notion that he was a coming star. Since then, however, he's hit .277/.326/.468 at Double-A (119/37 K/BB), .288/.354/.433 in Triple-A (41/18 K/BB), and .242/.273/.361 in the majors (81/12 K/BB). Give him credit for being young for his leagues, and there's still no way to explain how he has moved to the majors with those performances. He's not learning at the plate, and his speed has done nothing for him on the bases: He's 52/27 SB/CS in his career.
I fail to see how this trade makes the Rockies better over any time frame. They got an arm for the bullpen in Street who's much better-suited to two-inning work or
This was the kind of deal that you make at the trade deadline, when you know you're not signing the player, you know you're not contending, and getting something back is better than losing him for the draft picks. To make this deal on Nov. 10, when you have all offseason to strike a better one, when you can go to Las Vegas next month with a leftfielder who plays both ways -- unlike all the free agents -- and find at least half the industry interested, is just a bad move. If this was the best offer available,
For the A's, Holliday fits like a glove. In addition to getting him for a reasonable price, they slide a hitter into their lineup who does exactly what they need. The A's draw walks; that pretty much sums up their offensive skill set. They don't hit for average (last), they don't hit doubles (last), they don't hit triples (10th). Even the walks they draw (fourth) don't lead to a high OBP (13th and not last, thanks to the Royals) because they hit so poorly. I lost track of the number of times they had two runners on with no one out and didn't score. The shape of an offense can draw too much attention, but there's no question that what the A's needed last year, and needed this winter, was someone who could hit for a high average with some power, even if he didn't draw a ton of walks. Holliday is exactly that guy. They could probably use another guy like him to play third base or shortstop.
Whether the A's sign Holliday for the long term is almost irrelevant. If you look at it solely as a trade for one year of Holliday, it's a win for them. They won't miss anything they gave up, and Holliday's impact on their offense will be considerable. There are concerns about how well Holliday will hit outside of a good hitters' park in the weaker league, but consider that the translation of his 2008 season puts him at .311/.401/.553, with a .317
This is a very good deal for the A's, and an inexplicable one for the Rockies, for whom October 2007 seems a lifetime ago.