How About Aaron Rowand?

Al, over at Bleed Cubbie Blue, did his second annual roster forecast, and it includes some really interesting proposals (as well as great a great breakdown of the money situation). I want to examine his proposal to trade Aaron Miles and Milton Bradley to the Giants for Aaron Rowand. Why any team would be willing to take in Bradley and his contract right now is beyond me, but we're assuming -- I guess -- they're news stations only covered stories about fires and cyborg governors out on the west coast, so they have no idea what kind of trouble they're bringing to town.

Okay, assumptions aside, is this a good deal? More after the jump...

Well, what makes this deal plausible is Rowand's double-stupid contract ($9.6M in 2009, and $13.6M in 2010 through 2012, per Cot's Baseball Contracts). Like Bradley, he was signed followed an extra-amazing, outlier-spectacular season (2007), in which his BABIP (our favorite sabermetric tool for luck) shot up 50 points from his previous norm and his HR total leaped from 12 to 27. In other words, he got a little better, and lot luckier.

So the Giants handed him this absurd contract. At the price of $9.6M, he was worth only about $8.5M in 2009 -- which was a "good" year for him. In 2010 (when he'll be 32), we can expect him to be worth around only $7M or so, but earning $13.6M.

HOWEVER: He plays center field, and he plays it well. This is what Al on Bleed Cubbie Blue liked. Rowand allows Fukudome to move to RF, where -- as we'll discuss soon -- he seems to do better. Also, Rowand has always played above-average defense and stays pretty healthy, so the outfield takes a dramatic, defensive leap forward. However, we're still looking a lineup that's not likely to intimidate many pitchers.

And then, on the other side, there's Milton Bradley and Aaron Miles. Bradley seems destined to leave town, even though he posted a decent offensive season (though certainly under his contract value). And Miles, as I noted earlier, had an unlucky season. Of course, his expected BABIP (xBABIP) shows that, had he actually had a lucky season, he still would have been terrible.

Either way, the Cubs are surrendering two players at (almost) their lowest possible values. I say almost because Bradley's sabermetric number aren't bad at all, really. His xBABIP indicates that his numbers could/should have been .015 higher (he had a really unlucky start to the season). That brings his slash from (.257/.378/.397) to (.272/.393/.412), assuming the .015 went for singles. That's a great OBP (.393) with nominal power. I genuinely think the power hasn't disappeared entirely, I think we could expect 13 HRs or so, but many more doubles.

Would I make this trade? Well, no. I think both Bradley and Miles would serve us better if they stick around for at least the first half of next season, rack up some reasonable-luck statistics, and then ship them away for something (anything) more valuable. Also, if anything, Rowand's already mediocre batting numbers were a little lucky (.320) given his xBABIP (.313).

Would I be okay if the Cubs make this trade? Yes. Certainly. I think the situation at present (from the Lou-Bradley tensions, to the front office's perceived urgency of his departure) has made an off-season move inevitable, and this is about as good as it gets (unless we find something better :D).

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