Clearing the Bases: Colorado Rockies

Trade Brad Hawpe.

Sure this might be a tired topic in the SABR community, but it is true. The Rockies really should trade Brad Hawpe. Why?

1) It’ll open up their OF logjam for the better

2) It’ll save them some money

3) It can help them contend in 2010

4) Hawpe could bring in a decent return

As it stands right now, the Rockies have four OF: Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith, and Brad Hawpe. It also looks like Fowler has the CF job locked up, while Gonzalez has the LF job locked up. That seemingly means Smith will be relegated to the bench, as Hawpe has been a starter in RF for 4.5 seasons now. However, that’s a big mistake.

Hawpe should not be starting in Colorado, despite being a good hitter. He tied his career high in wRC+ last season with 130, and has a career mark of 120+. He’s probably the best hitter among all their OF’ers. There’s also been no Coors affect with Hawpe, who is .379/.508/.375wOBA/121wRC+ hitter at home and .375/.489/.367wOBA/116wRC+ hitter on the road. But his defense is PUTRID. From 2007-2009 his UZR/150 was -27.2, -46.6, and -25.9. HOLY SHIT. That is terrible. -46.6? His glove was sooooooooooooooo bad, he took away about 4-5 wins on defense alone. The result is poor value. While he can hit, his glove erases all that offensive output and then some. His WAR in respective order the past three is seasons is 1.3, -.6, and 1.3. That’s not even the value of an average player!

Meanwhile, Seth Smith is younger, cheaper, and probably more valuable. While he may not be as good a hitter as Hawpe, he is close and certainly a better fielder. Smith raked in AA and AAA, and did the same in Colorado last season. In 387 PA (a relatively SSS compared to Hawpe), he had a wRC+ of 129. Rememeber, Hawpe’s was 130. Bill James, CHONE, Marcel, and the Fans all project Smith to have a wRC+ within the range of 125-130 in 2010. If he can do that, or come close, noone in Colorado will miss Hawpe. In over 700 career OF innings, a very SSS, he has a 9.0 UZR/150. Moreover, he is projected to have a 5.0 UZR/150 in 2010, compared to -19 for Hawpe.

Smith will provide more overall value for Colorado in 2010, and should be the everyday starter. So trading Hapwe ensures that Smith will start. Not only that, but it will save them money. Trading Hawpe, depending on who Colorado gets in return, will save the club $7mil. That could be huge for a team like Colorado when it comes to arbitration and signing players next season, or making trades at the deadline in 2010. Moreover, while it lowers payroll, the team just gets better. They’ll be promoting a better player to Hawpe’s spot. For a team that will be in the running for the NL West and the Wild Card, that could be a world of difference. And the icing on the cake is the return. Hawpe is probably seen as a solid player to baseball front offices. While he won’t command top prospects in return, the Rockies could heist someone for a couple decent prospects or a ML player who can contribute to the big league club and it’s run at the playoffs more than Hawpe would have.

Trading Brad Hawpe makes way too much sense for Colorado.

Possible suitors?

– Seattle Mariners: Sure they have Milton Bradley, but their offense is still weak, and there is a good chance he won’t work out. If he doesn’t, Hawpe would be a good DH, which is the optimal position for him if you want his max value.

– Tampa Bay Rays: If Pat Burrell struggles again and Tampa is in the playoff race, Hawpe would be a good bat to add to the lineup.

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