You just knew Billy Beane and Dan O'Dowd — two of baseball busiest general managers this winter — were going to hookup eventually. They found their match on Monday — completing their fourth deal together in a little over four years — as the Oakland A's acquired outfielder Seth Smith from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso.
This deal isn't quite the blockbuster Beane and O'Dowd put together involving Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez three years ago, but if used properly Smith should help Oakland replace some of the production its losing with the departures of Josh Willingham and David DeJesus. And by used properly I mean if only used against right-handers pitchers, because the left-handed hitting Smith still hasn't figured out how to handle southpaw hurlers as his .202 lifetime average and a .588 OPS against them would indicate.
Consistent at-bats against lefties, which he never received under Jim Tracy's management in Colorado, might help Smith in that department, but a platoon situation with Michael Taylor, Collin Cowgill, or another right-handed bat added at a later time would seem like the most sensible plan for manager Bob Melvin. The recent acquisition of Josh Reddick from Boston and the re-signing of Coco Crisp should afford him the flexibility to go that route, and even use Smith in the DH role.
Of course, there's always a certain degree of concern when a hitter ventures away from Coors Field for the first time. In Smith's case, however, I don't think it's a real big worry. Sure he hit 39 points higher (.296-.257) at Coors Field than on the road during his five seasons in Denver, which is a fairly significant gap, but that pales in comparison to some of the other ridiculous splits we've seen from hitters who logged that much time in the Rocky Mountains.
That's not to say Smith can't or won't struggle with the adjustment to playing at sea level, but he strikes me as a guy who's capable of completely washing the Coors Field experience and the bad habits that go along with it from the hitting portion of his brain. Once he does, I think he'll continue his career as a solid platoon outfielder/designated hitter.
As for the Rockies side of the deal, you'll be hearing mixed reviews from the fans and some writers because many of them had hoped Smith would be a chip in a potential deal to acquire Martin Prado from the Atlanta Braves. Those talks never really got off the ground, so the Rockies instead focus on adding depth to their pitching staff. After a disastrous 2011 season that saw their starting pitching depth tested and ultimately exposed, it's difficult to fault Dan O'Dowd for taking that approach.
Statistical analysis and scouting reports will tell us Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso's flyball rates and pitching approach don't mesh favorably with how Coors Field plays. I'm not sure O'Dowd cares at his point, he just wants arms with sound ligaments attached to people with professional baseball experience. That he received two of those who have achieved some degree of success at the major-league level, even if it occurred in Oakland's pitcher friendly ballpark, makes the trade more than worthwhile for him.
And now the craziness begins for Colorado. As the Denver Post's Troy Renck pointed out post-trade, the Rockies have roughly 15 starters in the major-league and AAA mix entering spring training. Of those starting options, which could soon include Jamie Moyer, only Jhoulys Chacin is considered a lock to break camp in the major-league rotation.
As O'Dowd put it.
"We will have a raging competition in spring for spots.''
What more can you say after that?
Let the raging competition begin.