The days of catching insanity are over for the Angels. For a pitcher with little upside (Tyler Chatwood), the Angels received Chris Iannetta from the Rockies and have instantly improved themselves by a couple of wins. For some reason, the Rockies were never fully invested in Chris Iannetta and after several testy seasons have basically let him go for a song. Meanwhile, the Rockies replaced Iannetta with Ramon Hernandez who they signed as a free agent on the same day as the Iannetta trade. Hernandez was the long time catcher for the Reds.
Iannetta at 28 years of age is a better player than Ramon Hernandez who is six years older. Iannetta's only real weakness as a player is a low contact rate meaning he'll never hit for a high average. But at this point in their careers, Iannetta has more upside than Hernandez. Iannetta is a better receiver defensively than Hernandez and Iannetta's plate discipline is much better. The power numbers are pretty much a wash. You have to question the Rockies strategy in this move as they appear to have weakened themselves at the catching position, given up a good and fairly young catcher and only received a starting pitcher in Chatwood that isn't an upgrade on any of their current starters.
Perhaps the Rockies are banking on Hernandez being a mentor for Wilin Rosario, Baseball America's #49 prospect before the 2011 season. Rosario has some pop in his bat but has shown little patience at the plate in his minor league career giving the Rockies two free-swinging catchers who have similar games--one old and one very young. Rosario got his first taste of the majors last season and didn't fare well in a very small sample size.
Under Mike Scioscia, Chris Iannetta should become an even better catcher for the Angels than he has been. And what he has been was good for three runs above average on defense last season. It's not like replacing Mathis with Iannetta is going to cost the Angels a lot behind the plate. And at the plate there is no comparison. Iannetta is pretty much guaranteed to give the Angels an on base percentage above .350 with something over .370 much more likely. His home and away splits for the Rockies are kind of scary though. We'll have to see how that plays out with the Angels. But even the worse case scenario for Iannetta is better than the best case scenario for the offensive wasteland of Jeff Mathis.
Iannetta is Jerry DiPosto's first major move and it's a very good one. The Angels come up roses on this deal. The Rockies? Well, let's just call this a head scratcher.