Placing a waiver claim on Wandy Rodriguez was one of the smartest things Dan O’Dowd has done this season. Granted, he hasn’t made a lot of smart moves, but acquiring Rodriguez in a waiver wire deal would’ve been a significant addition and I applaud my arch nemesis for exploring the possibilities. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a tease, as it sounds like the two sides were never close to reaching a deal. Reportedly, the Astros really wanted Wilin Rosario in return for Rodriguez, something most have laughed off as an absurd notion. It seems that the common sentiment is that if the Rockies had given up Rosario they would have been overpaying for Rodriguez. I’m not sure I agree.
Coming into this season, Rosario was widely considered as one of the Rockies’ top three prospects, maybe even their best. However, because he was recovering from ACL reconstruction, he was sent back to Tulsa for another year. He was expected to explode offensively. Instead, he has regressed significantly. Rosario is having trouble getting on base. His OBP is down to .287 and his strike out rate is over 20%. High strikeout rates in the minors are always a red flag. He may develop into an elite defender behind the plate, but I wonder if he’ll ever be a force offensively. He has plenty of pop, but plate discipline has become a problem and the fact that his poor results are happening during his second tour of the Texas League is very alarming. When Chris Iannetta was twenty-two, he was tearing up AA. In fact, after that season, he was named as one of the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. At the same age, Rosario has worked his way off that list.
I don’t mean to say that Rosario has no potential. He very well may develop into a fine catcher. But, as they’ve done with so many prospects over the years, the Rockies are overvaluing Rosario’s worth. There has been some speculation that he will be handed the starting job next year and the team will trade Chris Iannetta. As I said last week, that would be a grave mistake. Iannetta has developed into an elite catcher this season, and, as far as I’m concerned, the Rockies should consider themselves set behind the dish for at least two more seasons.
The chances of Rosario producing like Iannetta are slim. If you compare their minor league numbers, you’ll immediately see that Iannetta was much better offensively. Rosario hits more homeruns, but that’s where the comparison ends. Iannetta’s minor league slugging percentage, OBP, wRC+, and wOBA far exceed Rosario’s totals in those categories. However, we tend to romanticize Rosario and forget that Iannetta was once a top prospect too. We’ve seen how long it’s taken him to finally realize his potential and it’s a good bet that Rosario will follow a similar learning curve. If we are taking bets on which player will do more to help the team win over the next two seasons, I’m taking Iannetta six days a week and twice on Sunday.
Right now, the Rockies’ starting pitching is in bad shape. The loss of DLR was devastating. The trade of Ubaldo might have filled a void, but he was the team’s best pitcher when he was traded and we won’t know if the deal was a good one for at least another season. However, the addition of Rodriguez would’ve done a lot to turn a weakness into a strength. A potential rotation that included DLR, Chacin, Rodriguez, Nicasio, and either Alex White or Drew Pomeranz was an intriguing possibility. Arguably, that might have been the best starting rotation in the history of the franchise. And, it would’ve certainly been a big asset as the Rockies try to chase down their first division title next year.
Over the last four years, Rodriguez has, on average, given the Astros nearly three full wins above replacement level in each season. Next year, Rosario probably won’t give the Rockies one win above replacement level. And, with the talent they already have in place, there is no reason to go into rebuilding mode. Not to mention, they play in a weak division. Their sights should be set on division titles in 2012 and 2013. Wandy would’ve put them closer to achieving their goals.
Like I said, I actually like Rosario, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking he’s the next Pudge Rodriguez. If he was the price tag for Wandy, the Rockies should’ve made the deal. Right now, the Rox actually have some slim hope of climbing back into the race, but their pitching is pretty terrible. Wandy would’ve been a big boost the rest of this year and for the next two. Some have said that Wandy comes with an exorbitant contract, but it’s actually right in line with his market value. The numbers are very similar to what the Rox gave DLR last off-season. I’m not one to advocate selling the farm, but, in this case, I think the Rockies had a chance to trade an overvalued asset for a somewhat undervalued one. Failing to take advantage was probably a mistake.