After they avoided arbitration by signing outfielder Seth Smith to a one year, $2.4 million deal, the Colorado Rockies dealt him to the Oakland Athletics for starting pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso.
Fans first knew Smith as a clutch pinch hitter in the 2007 Rocktober run. Over the past few seasons he has been the left handed side of platoons in left and right field. The addition of Michael Cuddyer as the projected everyday right fielder made Smith expendable and a trade seemed inevitable. Rumors of him being part of a package for Martin Prado never materialized, and management instead used him to add more pitching depth.
Moscoso posted a 3.38 ERA in 21 starts for the A’s in 2011. According to A’s beat writer Susan Slusser, he has confidence that his cutter makes him well-suited to find success pitching in Coors Field. Outman posted a 3.70 ERA in 9 starts. He told Slusser that he is a fly ball pitcher and will have to adjust his style to survive in Colorado.
We should reserve judgment on this trade for two reasons. First, it might be part of a series of moves as the Rockies might now choose to use their wealth of young arms in another trade. Troy Renck speculates that they might now try to acquire a second baseman in a trade. If that is the case, we do not yet know what the Rockies ultimately got in return for Smith.
Secondly, much of the buzz that surrounded Smith in the last year was the result of baseball’s equivalent of back-up quarterback popularity. This is ironic considering that Smith was actually a back-up quarterback in college at Ole Miss, where he played behind Eli Manning. Fans (myself included) insisted that he should have played more this past season, and when he did not I think we justified our displeasure by inflating our idea of how good Smith really is. After all, that second quarterback seldom ends up being as great as fans envision he will be. To fairly judge this trade we need to wait and see whether or not Smith actually proves that he can consistently produce like the player many of us built him up to be.