Can you believe that almost been three years have already passed since the Rockies traded away huge fan favorite Matt Holliday? On November 12, 2008 the Rockies sent Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith. Before the 2009 season the Rockies assigned the number five to CarGo…in some sort of attempt to trick fans into thinking Holliday was still on the team? Let me guess, Alex White makes his first appearance for the Rockies wearing #38?
All joking aside I would venture to guess that the Rockies got the better end of that deal without really looking at the numbers. CarGo has had an MVP type season with the Rockies and Street has thrown 156 innings for the Rockies with a 3.35 ERA since joining the team (and 83 saves if you care about that silly stat).
Before the trade deadline in 2009 the A’s turned around and sent Holliday to St. Louis and received Brett Wallace (sent back to AAA with the Astros today), Shane Peterson (who?) and Clayton Mortensen (ya, that Clayton Mortensen) in return. Needless to say Billy Beane likes to wheel and deal. I am not going to continue digging as to what the A’s got in return for Wallace or Mortensen because at this point it is too far removed from the Holliday/CarGo trade. Safe to say that the Rox won that one.
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But what about here in Colorado, would the Rockies have been better off just keeping Holliday and signing him to the big deal that he eventually got from St. Louis (seven years and $120 million)? Let’s look at the numbers.
Since joining the Rockies CarGo has played in 326 games, has 147 extra base hits (62 home runs) and an OPS+ of 129. We have to use the adjusted stats to help account for the ballparks as Oakland is much more difficult to hit in than Colorado. In the two-plus seasons CarGo has been a Rockie he has been worth 11.2 wins above replacement (this is from Fangraphs who take into account ballpark factors).
Holliday, in that same timeframe, has played in 396 games (CarGo spent time in AAA in 2009 for the Rockies) with 179 extra base hits (66 home runs) and an OPS+ of 149. Holliday has been worth 16.7 wins above replacement since leaving the Rockies. His past two seasons with the Cardinals have been exceptionally strong.
About the only offensive stat CarGo has the clear cut advantage over Holliday is in steals; CarGo has 58 in the past three years versus Holliday’s 23. Even according to defensive metrics on Fangraphs Holliday has not only been better but much, much better. I find that hard to believe after watching CarGo these past two years, especially, but for what it is worth Holliday has a UZR/150 of 25.1 in the past three years while CarGo’s UZR/150 is -2.6. This essentially says that Holliday has saved nearly 27 runs more than CarGo in the past three years. I have read before on the vast internet that UZR has trouble calculating at Coors Field and after seeing that stat I am really starting to believe that UZR has trouble with the spacious Coors Field outfield.
Finally, in the three years since leaving Colorado Holliday has earned about $41,053,327 and CarGo has earned $10,620,000. Using Holliday’s WAR, for each win above replacement for the past three years his employers have paid about $2,458,283 per win (I know this isn’t exact as he wasn’t making as much in Oakland, but you get the point) and each win CarGo has provided above replacement has cost the Rockies $948,214. Both of these rates are bargains considering a win in the major league market is said to be worth about $5 million in 2011. So while both of the players are still providing a better rate on the team’s investment CarGo is providing even more of a bargain for the Rockies.
When comparing CarGo to Holliday it sort of depends on what you want. In pure “wins” Holliday has been the better player, but CarGo has provided a good amount of wins at a much lower rate. Holliday has a better OPS+ over the past three years and it has been especially good the past two years. Despite what UZR/150 says I would take CarGo in the field over Holliday any day. I wouldn’t even consider putting Holliday in centerfield, a position CarGo plays very well. (And I should also mention that Holliday has a slightly better wOBA and much better wRC+ in the past three seasons.)
The last piece we have to look at (no matter how much I don’t care to look at relief pitching) is what Street has brought to the Rockies (we can skip G. Smith, right?). In Street’s time with the Rockies he has been worth 2.8 wins above replacement. “Closers” are always overvalued – unless your name is Mo Rivera – and Street is no different as he has earned $16,452,000 since the start of 2009. He has made more than CarGo since joining the Rockies. Does that seem right? The Rockies have paid Street $5,875,714 per win.
But Street has been worth nearly three wins and that is something. Combined Street and CarGo have brought 15 wins to Colorado at the price of $1,804,800 per win. The Rockies have slightly fewer wins above replacement with the combination of Street and CarGo but the wins still have come as a much cheaper cost than they would have with Holliday. Sounds like a win to me.
We can review this trade again in three or four more years and maybe there will be a clear cut winner, but at this time I believe it is a draw with possibly a slight edge going to Colorado.
Who do you think won?
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