Leaving the Bronx..and Looking at the Rest of Baseball

I don't see any big deals going down for the Yankees at the deadline, at least not yet, but I've been thinking about some other moves that might or can or should happen. Here's one that's been on my mind.

Rockies send right fielder Brad Hawpe to Atlanta for RHP Kris Medlen, RHP Jerome Gamble, LHP Boone Logan, and switch-hitting second baseman Brooks Conrad.

The Rockies are dead last in the NL West with a 22-32 record. They are 14 games out of first, where the Dodgers seem to be running away with the division. They aren't going to the playoffs this year. There won't be any streak like in '07. They dumped Clint Hurdle and put Jim Tracy in the manager's spot. Tracy isn't Cito Gaston. He isn't going to spark phenomenal play in this team, that just won't happen. The Rox need to start looking to the future, and acquire pitching depth, something that always eludes them. Hawpe is having a career year putting up a line of .346/.425/.616 compared to his career numbers of .287/.379/.502. Hawpe has always been a good hitter, but never this good. The Rockies need to sell high on Hawpe to get the best return they can. Sure, Hawpe is under team control through 2011 (making $5.5mm this year, $7.5mm next year, and a $10mm team option for '11). However, the Rockies have an abundance of starting outfielders, and all of their other outfielders are cheaper and younger. With Dexter Fowler showing patience at the plate, stealing bases, and playing a graceful center field, Seth Smith hitting phenomenally to the tune of .273/.410/.465, Carlos Gonzalez forcing himself out of triple A with an OPS over 1.000, and Ryan Spilborghs capable of holding down the 4th outfielder role with a .262/.326/.440 line (down from his career .294/.364/.461), the Rockies can deal Hawpe and not worry about having to find a new outfielder.

The Braves just dealt for Nate McClouth, a move that indicates that they are going to try and make a run for the NL East as Philly and New York deal with injuries. The Braves have tremendous pitching depth. Behind their rotation of Jair Jurrjens, Derek Lowe, Javier Vasquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and on Sunday...Tommy Hanson, the Braves have solid young pitchers on the DL, at triple A, and at the lower levels. The Braves should use this depth to fill the offensive void they have at the corners as they trot Jeff Franoeur (.248/.271/.351) and Garret Anderson (.256/.289/.368) out to the field every day. In October Talking Chop ranked Medlen as the Braves 9th best prospect, but with Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke recently moved (7th and 8th respectively) I suppose he would now be number 7. John Sickels had him at number 9 back then as well (he had him ahead of Locke and behind Hernandez). Medlen was rocked in his first two starts, allowing 5 runs in 3 innings his first time out, and 4 runs in 5.1 the next time out. Yet, in Arizona on the 31st he threw six solid innings of 1 run ball as he struck out 9 while walking one and surrendering 4 hits. Medlen is major league ready, or pretty darn close at least, and he could enter the Rockies rotation this year or next.

Jerome Gamble was a 4th round pick in the '98 draft. At age 29, he's bounced around the minors since he was drafted way back when. He signed with Atlanta last October as a minor league free agent, and he's impressed so far this year. After posting a 2.79 ERA at double A in 9 appearances (only one being a start) Gamble was bumped up to triple A Gwinnett. Since the promotion he has a 2.25 ERA in 4 starts and one relief appearance, totaling 16 innings. He's let on more baserunners than he should (15 hits and 13 walks in those 16 innings), but he's struckout 17 in that span and has kept the ball on the ground (1.64 GO/AO) which is essential at Coors Field. Picking up a right who racks up K's and has a groundball tendency would be some nice insurance for the Rockies.

Atlanta acquired Boone Logan in the Javy Vasquez trade. The 24 year old lefty has struck out 24 in his 26.1 innings of relief work at triple A. He's kept a 3.04 ERA. He's held hitters to a .223 average. Surprisingly he's dominated righties (.193 avg against) and has been subpar versus lefties (.270 avg against). Sort of a reverse Edwar Ramirez I guess. Again, the reason I was drawn to Boone as a fit for the Rockies was his GO/AO, which is 1.41. The balls fly at Coors even with the Humidor, and it looks like the Rockies will have a great defensive outfield next year (Todd Helton, Clint Barmes(maybe...), Troy Tulowitzki, and Ian Stewart) so ground balls are valuable for this team.

Finally, there's Brooks Conrad. The 29 year old second baseman was drafted in the 8th round of the '01 draft. Conrad is hitting .269/.374/.463 in 175 at bats this year. He's 6 for 7 in stolen base attempts and has 8 homers on the year. Atlanta is pretty much set up the middle at the big league level with Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, and Martin Prado, leaving Conrad at triple A. In Colorado he could come up and possibly tag team with Clint Barmes. Barmes is hitting .317/.417/.683 against lefties at the big league level (compared to .248/.290/.393 v. righties). Conrad has a .292/.394/.511 line against righties at triple A (while only hitting .184/.304/.289 v. lefties). They'd make a nice plattoon for the Rox.

The Braves have the depth to trade Medlen, they don't have much hope invested in Gamble, Logan isn't crucial to a long-term plan, and they have no current use for Conrad, but Hawpe would drastically improve their lineup. Stack him in the middle of the order alongside Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and Nate McClouth and pitchers will have a lot to worry about when they play Atlanta.

The Rockies would save themselves $7.5mm of payroll room for next year, money they could perhaps use to sign a helpful free agent next winter (Orlando Hudson? Felipe Lopez? Chone Figgins? Justin Duchscherer? Joel Pineiro? Randy Wolf?). With this deal the Rockies could contend next year with a rotation of Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales, and Medlen. Thoughts on the deal? Let's hear 'em in the comments.

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