Rumors are swirling that a trade may be in the works to help shore up the starting rotation for the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies are reportedly in talks with the New York Yankees to swap center fielder Willy Taveras for starting pitcher Ian Kennedy.
The Colorado Rockies have made it well known that they are in the market for a starting pitcher this winter. Most pundits have assumed that they would be dangling All Star outfielder Matt Holliday or slugging third baseman Garrett Atkins.
In Colorado, Taveras has become expendable to make room for top prospect Dexter Fowler, another speedster who also hits for average and power. Even if the Rockies choose to let Fowler gain some experience in Triple-A Colorado Springs, they still have Ryan Spilborghs and Seth Smith to man center field.
In New York, the Yankees are looking for an upgrade in center after Melky Cabrera turned in a disappointing '08 season. Taveras' numbers (.251 BA, .308 OBP) nearly mirror Cabrera's (.249 BA, .301 OBP), except in the stolen-base department, where Taveras set a Rockies record with 67 stolen bags.
Both players have an extreme upside. Scouts have said that Taveras, who is one year removed from hitting .320, is still learning how to read pitchers and steal bases. George Frazier, the Rockies' TV analyst, believes that Taveras could steal 100 bases in a season sometime in his career. He is entering his second year of arbitration and could only improve at the plate hitting in front of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.I'll be honest, I think this rumor is bulls***, but with that said I still felt the need to pass the info along to my fellow fan. At least we can spend some time debating the issue.
It's an interesting idea, but I think we already have a Willy Taveras type player in Brett Gardner, and Gardner may be the better defensive player. Taveras had a -5 in the Bill James fielding bible plus/minus ratings, ranking him 22nd in the league. Taveras was 14th in the MLB with a .875 zone rating, ranked 13th with a 2.61 range factor, and was dead last in qualifying center fielders with a .976 fielding percentage. In limited time Gardner showed that he was a very good defensive center fielder, and I don't think it was a fluke.
On the plus side Taveras has shown that he can hit at this level, he's a .283 lifetime hitter, and as the article stated he hit .320 in 2007.
So let's pretend this rumor has something behind it; I probably wouldn't make the move. I think the Yankees can get a little more for Kennedy, and there's also the slim chance that Kennedy may turn out to be a decent pitcher. I also think Gardner can be just as good a Taveras if given the chance.
What about you, would you trade Kennedy for Taveras?