Fantasy fallout: Matt Holliday to A’s (Part 2)

This is the second in a two-part series examining the trade of Matt Holliday to the Oakland A’s for (most likely) Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith. This could end up being the biggest trade we see all off-season, and it has significant fantasy ramifications for a number of players. In part two, we’ll look at how this affects the Rockies as a team and the players who they are acquiring. For part one, click here.

Fallout: The Rockies

The first guy we need to mention is Manny Corpas. With Brian Fuentes almost certainly leaving via free agency, Corpas was a great bet to start 2009 closing for the Rockies. With Street on board, however, Corpas could be pushed back into the eighth inning role. There is talk that the Rockies could spin Street off, though, so keep close tabs on this. There’s also talk that Corpas has been told he’ll close regardless, so don’t go moving him down your draft board yet. This situation could clear itself up over the next few days.

Another guy whose value takes a hit is Ryan Spilborghs, a personal favorite of mine who I wrote a little about in this year’s Hardball Times Annual. This trade changes my evaluation of him just a bit. Many Rockies fans thought Holliday would be traded for a top-notch starting pitcher — certainly not the case here. This would open up a spot for Spilborghs, who could lead off, score 100 runs, bat over .300, hit 20 home runs, and steal double-digit bases.

With Gonzalez coming over in the trade, though, that might not happen. My hope is Gonzalez starts in the minors, but he could still get called up mid-season. Hopefully Spilly establishes himself by then. Also, there’s still hope Willy Taveras gets traded this off-season, which allow both Spilborghs and Gonzalez to play and ensure the lead-off spot is open.

Since Smith should be assured of a rotation spot, this trade hurts the value of guys like Jorge de la Rosa (if tendered), Glendon Rusch (if re-signed), Jason Hirsh, Greg Reynolds, and Franklin Morales, who will have to battle for the #5 spot (Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jeff Francis occupy the first three). de la Rosa clearly deserves the spot, so I’d put the rest at a bigger disadvantage. Even if one of the others wins the spot out of Spring Training, it shouldn’t be long before they lose it.

Fallout: Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith

While the switch to the National League should have a positive effect on these pitchers (Street and Smith), having to pitch in Colorado will definitely suppress those effects. Looking at park effects, according to StatCorner, there is very little difference for walks and ground balls. There is, however, a noticeable difference in strikeouts and a big difference in HR/FB. Here are the 2008 lines for these two pitchers, illustrating the applied park effects:

+-----+--------+-------+------+----------+-------------+------+------+---------------+
| AGE | LAST   | IP    | ERA  | LIPS_ERA | OAK/COL K/9 | BB/9 | xGB% | OAK/COL HR/FB |
+-----+--------+-------+------+----------+-------------+------+------+---------------+
|  24 | Street |  70.0 | 3.73 |     3.64 | 8.87 / 8.38 | 3.47 |   37 |    7.8 / 10.1 |
|  24 | Smith  | 190.3 | 4.16 |     4.78 | 5.25 / 4.96 | 4.11 |   35 |    7.9 / 10.2 |
+-----+--------+-------+------+----------+-------------+------+------+---------------+

Strictly as a result of park effects (meaning the league change isn’t included), they would each see a small-ish decline in K/9 and a huge spike in HR/FB. Smith can’t afford to lose anymore strikeouts, and he isn’t anything more than a late-round NL-only pick.

Street’s value is still kind of up in the air since the Rockies could trade him off again. If he stays with the team, it really shouldn’t change much. He’ll be closing, same as he would be, and his stats shouldn’t change too drastically. He has a 6.1 percent career HR/FB, showing that he likely has some control over it, and moving to Coors does take a bit off of his value. As a closer, though, fantasy owners shouldn’t be relying too heavily on his ERA, so as long as he gets a chance to close, he should be fine.

Gonzalez is a mixed bag. The move to the National League, Coors field, and a solid lineup is obviously a positive. The problem is that he might not actually get to play in those conditions. Instead, he could be sent to the minors or could be platooned, something that was much less likely in Oakland. I already talked about Spilborghs, but he would be a smarter choice for the Rockies than Gonzalez, at least for right now, and is greater competition than someone like Aaron Cunningham or Chris Denorfia.

If he does get playing time, though, he could have some fantasy value. He has some speed and should be allowed to run more in Colorado than he was in Oakland. He also has shown flashes of power at lower levels of the minors and consistently posts high BABIPs. He strikes out a lot, limiting his batting average value, but if he winds up leading off for the Rockies, he’d could have great value in runs and good value in steals and homers.

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