Carlos Gonzalez on the Trade Block? Buyer Beware! Part 1 of 3 On Coors Field Effect

Wednesday June 27th, 2012

Jonathan Hacohen:  With the mid-season classic almost upon us, trade talks are also starting to heat up. It seems that every year, that the trade climate rises as the temperature outside increases.  This year is no different. What we do have though is a unique situation this year. With more teams in contention than ever before, we may find fewer sellers by the trade deadline. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31st, while the waiver deadline is August 31st. While some “unmovable contracts” could shift in August, the real deadline according to most analysts comes up at the end of the next month. Kevin Youkilis has already moved, shifting from Boston to Chicago (AL). Now the million dollar question is: who’s next? A name that I have heard thrown around the last couple of days is Colorado Rockies “superstar” outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez. With the Rockies so far deep in the NL West basement, some speculation is that a CarGo type player could be moved to bring in some fresh prospects and restart the process. The Rockies have denied that such a move will happen, which should the end the discussion there. Or does it? I am here to tell you that many teams will still be sniffing around the Rockies for offensive help. If they even think about trading for CarGo, I am here to tell them: think again. You may not be purchasing the goods that you are expecting to receive.

For Part 2 of the Article Series:  The Humidor Effect at Coors Field-One Decade in click here

For Part 3 of the Article Series:  The Coors Field Effect 2012- Part 3 of A 3 Article Series click here

Every year it seems that I have countless Carlos Gonzalez fans tweeting me- singing the praise of their beloved superstar. By no means do I discount or belittle the trust and faith that they have in the player. Overall, his numbers are very good to almost superstar levels. Personally, I will admit that I am not a huge CarGo guy, so to speak. Reason? I am a big believer in patience and power. Walks and home runs. Walks and extra-base hits. Adam Dunn is a classic example. Give me 100 walks and 40 home runs, I will be a happy man. CarGo with his 30ish home runs and 40ish walks don’t do it for me. The man can plain hit. I get that. .336 average in 2010 and .331 this year. If CarGo hits .300+ and gets a .360 obp, he is playing at a high level. No arguments. But to hit the elite superstar levels that I envision, I would like to see a .400+ obp and .600+ slg. Those are elite numbers in my book- ones that a player of CarGo’s talent level should hit. But as long as he walks under 50 times per year, he won’t get there to start off. I preach patience. Finding the right pitch to hit. Laying off the bad ones leads to higher walks, which in turn should lead to higher home run numbers. But that is but one part of the equation.

There is more to CarGo than meets the eye. A part of his numbers that many fans either tend to ignore or minimize. But they shouldn’t. It would be a mistake. The home/road splits. Let’s take this year for example. A classic CarGo year. The home/road splits so far are almost identical. 34 games at home, 138 at-bats. 33 games on the road, 134 at-bats. At Coors: .384 AVG, .441 OBP, .671 SLG, 12 home runs, 37 RBIs, 32 runs scored. On the road? .276 AVG, .329 OBP, .478 SLG, 5 home runs, 17 RBIs, 21 runs scored. Look at those splits. Mind boggling, aren’t they? CarGo is Babe Ruth at home and well, not so much on the road. Check the yearly numbers. They tend to be fairly consistent. For as much as people would like to think that there is no longer a Coors Field effect, think again. CarGo is a product of his home park in many ways. At home, he is a superstar. On the road, he is good- but not great. Something to think about if you are a team looking at taking on what would appear to be a superstar on the surface.

I have read many reports blasting Billy Beane for trading away a franchise player in Carlos Gonzalez. I thought quite the opposite. I do that sometimes, think against the grain. But I try to go with gut, feel and numbers- not popularity contests. Carlos Gonzalez is not the patient type hitter that I would expect Beane to go after. The anti-Nick Swisher. CarGo was part of a large haul received for Dan Haren, once upon a time. I saw CarGo as being a piece to later move, not hold onto when acquired. If you look at CarGo’s numbers in Oakland, they were nothing special. When he was moved, I applauded Beane for moving a player that didn’t fit the mould of his team. But then CarGo started to thrive. And people questioned why Oakland would move such a great young player. I disagreed and still disagree to this day. My stance is firm. I need to see more.

Take Carlos Gonzalez’s numbers this year on the road over a full season. What do you get? 20+ home runs, 75 RBIs, 100 runs scored, .276 AVG and a .800 OPS. Are you blown away? Neither am I. Keeping the man playing half his game at Coors, you are looking at a .380 AVG, .990 OPS, close to 40 home runs, close to 120 RBIs and runs scored. My point? I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. But take the man out of Coors and you take the numbers out of his bottom line. Still in denial? Look at last year. At home: .331 AVG, .999 OPS, 16 home runs, 60 RBIs, 61 runs. On the road: .252 AVG, .757 OPS, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 31 runs scored. CarGo had 263 at-bats at home vs. 218 at-bats on the road, but despite the extra at-bats, the average and OPS don’t lie. You can try to sell me on Carlos Gonzalez the superstar player all you want. I will listen and taken in your arguments. But until the man learns to walk and hit on the road, I will not be sold. I suspect many teams have studied the numbers and have come to the same conclusion that I have. A product of Coors is not an investment that may fit in other ballparks on a regular basis.

CarGo is in the 2nd year of a 7-year, $80 million deal. Agent? Scott Boras. Why would Boras let his client sign a “below-value deal”, when players in their mid-20’s playing at elite levels can get more in free agency? Scott may have suspected what I have been saying for some time. The numbers don’t lie. The splits are what they are. CarGo hits in Colorado. That much we know. Better to leave the man where he is most productive. CarGo may never learn true patience and walk more. But as long as hits .330+ in Colorado and launches home runs at a steady clip, he may never have to. The overall numbers may look good, but the splits tell another story. CarGo isn’t going anywhere folks…and if he is moved: buyer beware.

For more information on how Coors Field has impacted other players in Colorado, hit up those links!

For Part 2 of the Article Series:  The Humidor Effect at Coors Field-One Decade in click here

For Part 3 of the Article Series:  The Coors Field Effect 2012- Part 3 of A 3 Article Series click here


Jonathan Hacohen is the Founder & Lead Baseball Columnist for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on June 27, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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