Thinking back to the famous Ubaldo Jimenez trade in the middle of the 2011 season, the acquisition of Alex White played an important role in my talking myself into it. At that time I had no idea that Ubaldo would turn out to be a disappointment and kind of an egomaniac. So as I, like so many Rockies fans, tried to rationalize the deal and convince myself it might work out OK that the team had traded the beloved ace to the Cleveland Indians, I took a great deal of comfort in the bravado Alex White displayed in his first press conference as a member of the organization.
While we had to wait for Drew Pomeranz. who was the prized piece of the deal, here was White, a red-headed starter who stared pitching at altitude dead in the eye and said “bring it on.” He was going to throw sinkers and pound the strike zone. He was a little bit cocky. He had the chance to be “Aaron Cook with an edge,” a distinction that means little outside of Colorado but everything among its loyal fans. He could be the next gritty, gutsy, groundball-getting starter to not just survive, but conquer the task of Coors Field.
If you are attached to that version of Alex White, the starting pitching prospect with a chip on his shoulder when he arrived from Cleveland, then the team’s decision to trade him and somebody named Alex Willingham for reliever Wilton Lopez seems crazy. Nuts. Whacko, even for this
innovative baffling front office. Why? Because you simply do not trade young starting pitching. Ever.
But if we let go of those aspirations for White and consider the actual evidence from his performances on the Rockies, they did not actually trade young starting pitching. They traded a pitcher who profiles as a reliever for a pitcher who has succeeded as a reliever. White’s lack of a third pitch called into question his ability to be a starter, and while the Rockies are in the process of developing a number of young starting pitchers, they decided that White was never going to be part of that group. They had him pegged as a relief pitcher, and they saw an opportunity to flip him for a better relief pitcher.
If that ends up being the case…well…this trade actually makes sense!