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December 1, 2011

The BP First Take

Thursday, December 1

by Daniel Rathman

The Angels, making a smart trade to acquire an undervalued catcher? What is this, the Bizarro World?

Apparently so, as new GM Jerry DiPoto made acquiring Chris Iannetta from the Rockies for Tyler Chatwood his first order of business in Anaheim. Angels fans will be happy to find that Iannetta—a patient power hitter, albeit with holes in his swing—has some Mike Napoli to his game. While he's unlikely to replicate the 6.0 WARP season Napoli delivered for Texas, Iannetta should vastly improve on the lowly .192/.252/.302 triple-slash Halos catchers put up.

But the impressive thing about this trade for the Angels is that they didn't give up anyone they're likely to miss. Chatwood was rushed to the majors to fill a dire need in the rotation last season, and his 4.93 FIP" data-scaytid="13">FIP clearly showed that more seasoning in the upper minors is in order. However, Chatwood lacks both the stuff and the in-zone command to miss many bats, so his ceiling—even if all goes right—is just sticking toward the back of a rotation.

The Angels' ballpark enables them to turn garden-variety prospects and past-their-prime veterans into serviceable No. 4 or No. 5 starters. With Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout manning the outfield, fly balls are almost as fruitful for pitchers as swings and misses. So, while losing five years of Chatwood isn't ideal, DiPoto should have no trouble replacing him with a veteran for at most a short-term deal worth $3-4 million annually. The upgrade from Jeff Mathis to Iannetta makes that extra cost worthwhile.

That's not to say the Rockies were fleeced, however. Colorado immediately signed Ramon Hernandez to a bargain two-year, $6.4 million deal that he should have no trouble outplaying. Though durability is becoming a problem for Hernandez, he's more than capable of holding down the fort until top prospect Wilin Rosario is ready to handle the job.

Coors Field is not an ideal landing spot for a contact pitcher like Chatwood, but being in the NL should help offset the change in ballparks. He also induces enough ground balls to be effective if he can keep the ball down.

With most trades, it's easy to predict a winner and loser. The Napoli-for-Vernon Wells swap took that to an absurd extreme. This deal is on the opposite end of the spectrum—it seems as sure to end up a win-win as any I can remember.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

5 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Scott44

It is the Bizarro World we even have Jerry as the GM!

Dec 01, 2011 17:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

How is it a win-win? The Rockies could've gotten a better player than Chatwood or just kept Iannetta until/if Rosario is ready.

Dec 02, 2011 02:55 AM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

Yeah, I don't really see how it's a win for the Rockies at all.

Dec 02, 2011 03:15 AM
rating: 0
 
lmarighi

It feels more like a win for the Rockies to me if I assume that they were going to continue to not play Iannetta, even if they had kept him. As a guy off the bench or as AAA-filler, Iannetta was worth less than what they got for him. This is not to say that it was a wise move to bench him, but the Rockies for some reason didn't want to play the guy, so if we accept that that wasn't going to change, then they got value.

Dec 02, 2011 12:49 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Assume you aren't going to play Iannetta and assume you want to trade him. Also, let's assume that no one needs a catcher (which isn't true). Why not trade him for anything other than a guy who has a K/BB ratio of 1 and a k/9 of 4.5 when you already play in a park a mile above sea level? Especially when you're the Rockies who already have a pretty full starting rotation? This kind of trade reminds me of how much the Rockies hyped up Greg Smith in the Holliday trade.

If the Rockies weren't going to play Iannetta, they should've tossed in money with his contract and gotten someone who might be in their organization two years in the future.

Dec 02, 2011 19:37 PM
rating: 1
 
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