Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 18, 2004
BASEBALL: Hidalgo Gold
All trades involve a certain amount of risk; you just have to weigh the upside against the downside and the cost and compare that to doing nothing. And the Mets' trade of David Weathers and B-grade pitching prospect Jeremy Griffiths for Astros outfielder Richard Hidalgo looks like a great gamble:
1. Weathers is 34; Hidalgo is 28. So, you can't view this as compromising the future for a win-now posture.
2. Hidalgo has just one year left on his contract, which the Mets can buy out for $2 million:
So, this isn't a deal that ties the Mets' hands much beyond this season.
3. Weathers has been terrible (see this analysis from Avkash at the Raindrops, which I linked to last week).
4. Even when you factor in that he's leaving Minute Maid Field, Hidalgo's a guy who can put up some serious power numbers. Hidalgo had a huge year last year, slugging .572 in more than 500 at bats, and started this season like a house afire before sliding into a slump at the end of April that he hasn't shaken yet. Here's his numbers for 2003-04:
Now, that is indeed one horrendous slump, and if you're Houston and paying Hidalgo $12 million, it looks twice as bad. But in a lot of ways, Houston's decision to drop Hidalgo after a bad six weeks looks suspiciously like the White Sox' abandonment of D'Angelo Jimenez this time last season in the midst of a similar slump; I questioned that move at the time here and showed how badly it worked out here. It's possible that something's seriously wrong with Hidalgo that was fine in April (he has been battling some shoulder problems lately), but if this is just a slump, the Astros could really regret dealing him. Recall that Baseball Prospectus had Hidalgo projected for this season at .278/.498/.358, and thought he would probably exceed that (the Established Win Shares method lists him as a 15 Win Shares player entering this year, which is quite solid).
I'll take this bet any day.