Tuesday, January 04, 2011

CarGo's Contract Is a Risk

The new $80 million deal the Rockies bestowed upon Carlos Gonzalez could end up being a real steal for the Rockies if CarGo continues to put seasons together like he did in 2010. But there are strong reasons to believe that 2010 was a fluky year for the outfielder which makes this risky business for a guy who just completed his first full big league season.

Yes, Carlos Gonzalez led the National League in batting. Yes, he slugged nearly .600 with 36 homers and yes he added 26 steals with a good percentage. But call the Fan a skeptic if you will. This long term deal is based on some extenuating circumstances.

For one, CarGo's BABIP was an insane .384. In two of his last three months, his BABIP was over .400! There doesn't seem to be any reason why that can be sustained for any length of time. His line drive percentage at a little over 20% is good, but not high enough to jump on a bandwagon. Add his insane splits at Coors Field and you have to be a bit hesitant to name him the next big thing. His OPS at home was 1.161 and his OPS away was .775. That said, he's going to continue playing at Coors for the next seven years, so he can look forward to a cozy home split for a long time.

The Fan is perhaps digging a bit too deep to look for flaws. Gonzalez only had one big season in the minors and that was his last one, where he played...in Colorado...for Colorado Springs. Otherwise, Gonzalez put up a good, but not superman OPS of .832 for his minor league career. The Fan also doesn't like the fact that he only walks 6.5% of the time and had 135 strikeouts.

In short, there just doesn't seem to be any long term indication that 2010 was more than a fluke for Gonzalez. Hopefully this writer is wrong because CarGo is a cool guy and a lot of fun to watch. If this Fan is wrong and CarGo continues to excite the home fans for years to come, this deal will look pretty sweet as it wraps up the player through all his prime years and only extends to his 32 birthday. The Fan is simply afraid that CarGo will fall back to earth.

While thinking about this, it once again brings up the point about how sad it is that Coors Field steals so much of a player's cred. Larry Walker may never get elected to the Hall of Fame because of his long tenure with the Rockies. It's probably unfair to Walker because he probably would have been a superstar anywhere. But we'll never know. The same can be said for Todd Helton. Helton has compiled over 2200 hits and has a career 137 OPS+. He has a healthy career OPS of .873 on the road. But those who look at Helton's stats closely five years after he retires will see that his OPS at home was more than 200 points higher. This post is just another in a long line of posts that tear down a Rockies player's accomplishments because his home field happens to be in Colorado.

Anyway, the Rockies think they've tied down a good young player for a long time and along with Tulo, believe they have a nice core they can build around for years to come. If they are right about both, then they are very smart and we will be singing their praises. If they aren't? Well, that's what we do best, right?

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