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The Coors Effect


September 1, 2009 7:26 AM

Rockies acquire Jose Contreras

Desperation sometimes makes a person do questionable things.  Monday night, shortly before the waiver deadline, the Rockies acquired Jose Contreras from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for AAA pitcher Brandon Hynick.

It's been a rollercoaster year for Contreras, going from terrible in April and May (0-5, 8.19 ERA), then getting hurt, to being effective in June and July (4-5, 3.13 ERA) and back to terrible in August (1-3, 7.66 ERA.)  The Rockies evidently are hoping that Contreras can catch lightning in a bottle over the last month of the season, and his June and, to a lesser extent, July numbers suggest that he's still capable of doing that.  On the season, Contreras has credible component numbers (7.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9) that suggest he's been getting unlucky.

The bigger reason that the Rockies did this, though, is not Contreras himself but the void created with Aaron Cook's injury.  The Rockies evidently weren't going to start Josh Fogg again, and Jhoulys Chacin's struggles since being demoted have likely given them pause about bringing him back up in 2009.  Aside from that, the Rockies' options were Adam Eaton and Russ Ortiz.

And, of course, Brandon Hynick, the player sent to the White Sox.  Hynick is a middling prospect who's had a good year at Colorado Springs, but doesn't do anything particularly well: he doesn't strike people out (5.05 K/9) and doesn't get that many grounders (41.9%.)  Hynick burst onto the scene with an excellent half-season at Casper in 2006, when he struck out 70 in 64 innings, but since then his strikeouts have fallen off and while he still has good control, there's only an off chance that he develops into something.  Pitchers like Hynick are a dime a dozen, and they're exactly the type of player you give up for a guy like Contreras.

The Rockies struck out on their attempts to sign Brad Penny and apparently the Diamondbacks' asking price was too high for Jon Garland (rumor has it that the Diamondbacks wanted Juan Nicasio, who's much more likely to come back to bite the Rockies than Hynick is and, furthermore, would be doing it for a divisional rival in that case.)  The failure to sign Penny irks me a bit, but I can't fault the guy for wanting to pitch in San Francisco rather than Colorado.

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