Trade Analysis

Middle infielder Marco Scutaro to San Francisco for (2B) Charlie Culberson

What did the Rockies really receive in return and was it insightful dealing by general manager Dan O'Dowd?

Culberson is much younger than Scutaro, being only 23-years old. He's reached the majors already, although he hit but .136 in six games this season. At Triple-A, his numbers are an uninspiring .236 with 76 strikeouts in 91 games. What impresses most probably is his power for a middle infielder - 14 doubles and 10 homers.

His best season was 2010 in High-A ball when he hit .290 with 28 doubles, 16 homers and 71 RBI.

So what is the analysis on Culberson? He is a free swinger with weak plate defense, a little power, but not likely to hit for much average at the MLB level. I'm profiling him right now, from his resume, as a backup and fringe-level MLB player.

Scutaro has hit better as the season as gone along but at .271 he was an offensive disappointment.

This trade, as of today, much ado about nothing.

The big benefactor, sorry, is Scutaro, who gets to go to a winning team.

(RHP) Jeremy Guthrie to Kansas City for (LHP) Jonathan Sanchez

The Rockies didn't trade for the quality 2010 version or even the solid 2009 model of Jonathan Sanchez. Dealing for him back then would have been reason for optimism on the mound. Not now.

Sanchez has regressed the last two seasons and in 2012 looks like he needs surgery to correct a physical problem. Or maybe it's worse, maybe he's healthy and his career is on headed out the exit. I lean toward him being hurt. It's a more plausible explanation.

Guthrie proved to be a rotten acquisition but it wasn't for a lack of proper attitude or talent. That trade was a worthwhile risk. No one could have expected him to pitch so poorly.

Kansas City gets the greater upside and thus more value. If pitching for the Rockies didn't put so much stress on his shoulder, elbow, biceps, triceps, forearm, whatever, then Guthrie will rebound to pitch effectively again and the Rockies received back near nothing in return. 

(RHP) Jason Hammel and (RHP) Matt Lindstrom to Baltimore for (RHP) Jeremy Guthrie

Hammel and Lindstrom did good things for the Rockies but much like the Marco Scutaro deal, this was a steal for Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd. Guthrie is not a no. 1 starter, even for the Rockies, like many in the media have been writing in regards to the trade but he has proven he's a dependable, innings-eating veteran who is better than his weak record shows.

Honestly surprised one of the better teams in baseball didn't acquire Guthrie as a no. 4 or 5 starter considering the reasonable cost the Rockies paid. Guthrie will have to keep the ball in the park, especially in Denver, and limit walks because he's not a strikeout pitcher and his stuff isn't dominant enough to save him. On the flip side, with enough offense, he could win 12-15 games if he stays healthy and hang tough at Coors Field.

(RHP) Clayton Mortensen to Boston for (INF) Marco Scutaro

An excellent move for Colorado, greatly aided by the Red Sox desire to slash salary. Scutaro will likely begin the season as the Rockies' starting second baseman. He will also be able to slide to short when necessary to spell Troy Tulowitzki. He's 36 but can still play. Mortensen is a fringe MLB talent who might help the Red Sox in the bullpen but he was never going to amount to much in Denver.

(RHP) Kevin Slowey to Cleveland for (LHP prospect) Zach Putnam

Slowey was long desired by the Rockies, who after acquiring him, quickly flipped him to the Indians for a reliever who recently reached the majors. Slowey had more value but he was bought low and the Rockies couldn't sell high. Maybe they feared him getting lit up, having to remove him from the rotation and ruining his team effectiveness. This is a trade to watch because maybe Slowey returns to winning double-digit games as a back-end starter while Putnam struggles to stay on the Rockies' roster or maybe Slowey continues his decline and Putnam becomes a useful middle reliever.

(OF) Seth Smith to Oakland for (RHP) Guillermo Moscoso and  (LHP) Josh Outman

This trade is already a winner for the Rockies. Smith is a nice contributor but he's not a starter. The Rockies can replace him. What they get for trading him is much greater. Moscoso and Outman are not world beaters but they both have ability and potential and at worst are solid candidates to help out strongly in the bullpen and spot start. To get such capability for a no. 4 outfielder is outstanding.

(3B) Ian Stewart and prospect (RHP) Casey Weathers to the Chicago Cubs for (OF) Tyler Colvin and (INF) D.J. LeMahieu

Stewart had lost his confidence and his hitting stroke or is it his hitting stroke and his confidence? Regardless, he was no longer attractive to management and now the once-blossoming star is gone, along with risky and poor draft pick Weathers. The Rockies don't lose much with either.

Stewart could again show power but he has to hit for average again just to stick in the majors. Weathers' control is so bad he will never stick in the big leagues if he even gets there. For Colorado, Colvin has talent. He too regressed from his earlier days. The hope has to be that playing in Denver, with new teammates and better hitters will rebound. LeMahieu is a low-ceiling player but could help for a while in a platoon role.

All in all, this appears to be two clubs exchanging garage sale material. Colvin has the greatest upside, followed by Stewart but the likelihood of either of them becoming long-standing starters is minimal.

(PTBN) to Minnesota for (RHP) Kevin Slowey

Who will the Rockies send to the Twins for Slowey? That will greatly determine the analysis of this deal. Slowey, at best, is a back-end starter or disgruntled middle reliever and spot starter. If the Rockies gave up little to get him, then this is a good bet. Slowey has strong control but is a hittable pitcher.

(P) Huston Street to San Diego for PTBN (High-A pitcher Nick Schmidt)

This is becoming a popular way to deal, one team dealing something visible for something unseen and unknown. People don't buy or sell anything else like that, do they? Regardless, Street has been sent packing after a disappointing season and an ongoing decline in his production. Yet, he has the talent and the (new) park where the Padres play to rebound and be a force. The Rockies, in return, shed a whole lot of salary and get back the mystery player.

I'm going to assume Street is not washed up and will pitch well for San Diego. How well, who knows, but he will be better in 2012 than he was in 2011.

If the Rockies use the savings from this trade to bring in a reliable no. 3 starter or productive bat, congratulations to them. If the PTBN proves to be a solid prospect who produces in Colorado, then again, congratulations to the front office. If either of these thoughts fail to materialize, then the Rockies flopped in desperation. I know they have a plan. Dan O'Dowd is due some patience until the plan is played out.

UPDATE: Nick Schmidt, a former first-round draft pick (2007) comes to the Rockies as the player compensation in the trade. In rookie league and High-A ball a season ago, he struck out over 8 batters per nine innings but his career minor-league totals show an ERA of 4.61. At age 26, he is a real long-shot to become either a starter at the big league level.

Maybe the Rockies envision him as a reliever and if that's his path, and he stars at Double-A in 2012, maybe he has a shot to be productive. For now, the player value return in this trade is minimal and the trade favors San Diego in that aspect.

Watch to see how the Rockies invest the savings from the Street trade since that is clearly where the benefit (or not) will come from with this move.

PTBN to Minnesota for (P) Kevin Slowey

So who is being sent to the Twins in exchange for Slowey? That's the question and until there is an answer, it's difficult to assess this trade.

Slowey can certainly compete to start at the back-end of the Rockies' rotation, finally ending the ridiculous choices the Rockies have had to make to fill spots at times, from 4A players to the likes of Esmil Rogers.

One rumor is that the Twins might like Rockies' minor league pitcher Parker Frazier. If that was the sole payment for Slowey, the initial response here would be that general manager Dan O'Dowd took a low-risk chance on a player who could be useful. I think most Rockies' fans would be pleased down the road about such a transaction. But is Frazier really the player going to the Twins.

For now, know this, Slowey will not walk many (paying attention Jhoulys Chacin?) but he is performances often resemble batting practice, a lot of balls dropping for hits. Not quite the recipe for success, especially at Coors Field.

(OF) Eliezer Mesa to Oakland as player to be named in the (2B) Mark Ellis trade

Ellis turned out to be a steady player for the Rockies and definite upgrade at the position. He's a short-term answer and he might be gone this offseason. In giving up Mesa, the Rockies send to the A's a distressed property. Mesa hit .256 with zero home runs and 13 RBI in 53 games at High-A Modesto.

Mesa was much better in 2010 at Low-A Asheville at the age of 21, hitting .302 with 33 doubles, nine triples, driving in 42 runs and stealing 29 bases. He has youth and potential as a leadoff hitter but will have to bounce back and prove he can handle higher levels of competition.

High risk for the A's on this trade but they gave up Ellis, whom was no longer in their plans. Maybe Mesa develops and becomes a big league asset in three years. As it stands now, good move by Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd. If Mesa succeeds, you can't be upset because it will have taken a lot of patience and foresight by Oakland to cash in.

A player to be named to Oakland for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff

Kouzmanoff has two seasons of 23 home runs and 18 (twice) and has twice driven in 80 or more runs but he has awful problems with contact, giving away too many at bats to strikeouts (109 per year 2007 - 10) while rarely walking (27 per year during same span).

He's eerily similar to Ian Stewart, who most fans seemingly want run out of town for his struggles.

It's critical to know who the player to be named is before grading this deal. Maybe GM Dan O'Dowd bought low, real low and in that case, this was a good risk, as in the Mark Ellis trade, also with the A's.

RHP Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland for RHP Alex White, AA-LHP Drew Pomeranz, AA-RHP Joe Gardner and OF Matt McBride

Jimenez won 19 games a year ago, is the Rockies best all-time pitcher based on talent but hasn't been the same since the first half of 2010. Seeing his value slide with no foreseeable turnaround and knowing Jimenez might be unhappy not having a reworked contract, O'Dowd sent him away in exchange for two pitchers thought to have starting potential, one at the top of the rotation.

White looked strong in Cleveland before getting hurt and scouts project him as a middle-of-the-rotation starter or maybe a possible back-end reliever. Pomeranz, once the no. 5 pick in the 2010 draft, has been outstanding since signing and is considered to have no. 1 starter potential.

Gardner excelled in 2010 but has struggled mightily in 2011. He is known as a ground ball pitcher, which is helpful, if you can get outs, which he has not done well this season.

McBride is strictly a throw-in as he is unlikely to make much of an impact. He is not seen as starting quality as a hitter.

If White or Pomeranz excels or if they both prove to be reliable starters, as no. 2 or 3 starters, then the Rockies likely will have done well. If Gardner becomes a key addition in the bullpen, that's gravy. Jimenez could rebound big in 2012 and if they does, that puts pressure on the players the Rockies acquired but in the end, you'd like this to be a quality trade where both teams prospered, which could very well happen.

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