CBS Sports Danny Knobbler is reporting that the San Diego Padres have acquired Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies for the presumably small price of a player to be named later.

I suppose it’s possible that the player yet to be named was a draft pick from 2011 that isn’t eligible to be traded, but otherwise the deal appears to be a straight salary dump, with the Padres picking up the remainder of Street’s contract which includes a $7.5 million salary in 2012, plus a $9 million mutual option in 2013 (with a $500,000 buyout).

There are two ways of looking at this deal: 1) The Padres got better by not re-signing Heath Bell, reaping a compensatory draft pick and acquiring Street, but 2) San Diego just acquired a reliever who will be their team’s highest paid player next year. Why?

I suppose there’s something to be said for the mid season trade value of a relief pitcher, but the new collective bargaining agreement effectively eliminates the insurance that non-competitive teams previously enjoyed when they picked up a relief pitcher and could rely on a supplemental draft pick the next season at worse.

That’s not to discredit Street, whose availability I’m surprised didn’t create more buzz this off season. As I wrote earlier this week, Street allowed something close to one home run per nine innings in every year of his career prior to this past season, when he posted a below average 1.59 HR/9 rate in 2011.

That would be far more concerning if we didn’t also see his HR/FB basically double from his career rate coming into this past season. Street actually saw his fly ball rate decrease overall in 2011, but a larger percentage of those fly balls went for home runs. There’s an element of luck involved in this as there’s little difference between deep fly balls getting caught at the warning track and sailing over the fence. Of all the relievers to throw at least 50 innings last season, Street’s HR/FB ratio was the fourth largest in the league. Typically, pitchers with homerun rates much higher or lower than league average, or even their career average, will normally regress back toward those numbers in the future.

Much more important than worrying about the number of home runs he gave up with such a high HR/FB ratio, is that Street had the fourth lowest walk rate in the league last season. He accomplished this despite throwing a below average 42.6% of his pitches in the zone thanks to an impressive swinging strike rate of 13.1% (the league average last season was 8.6%). Meanwhile, the velocity on his fastball, slider and change up were close to his career averages despite a mid-season injury.

Last year, Street did a great job of using his fastball to set up his swing and miss slider against righties and change up versus lefties. Although left handed batters performed better against Street last year than in previous seasons, it’s worth noting that Street might benefit by trying his slider more often against lefties, something he did in 2010 to great effect.

Of course, that could all be moot because pitching to left handed batters in Petco Park is one of the easiest things in baseball to do, answering the two concerns that you might have with Street if you believe that the sudden increase in home runs wasn’t random or that he can’t improve against left handed batters.

Like most pitchers, he’s a perfect fit for San Diego.

For the Rockies, they dump salary and will now pursue a deal with local boy Brad Lidge, according to Ken Rosenthal. I’m sure that will work out well for them.

 

Comments (13)

  1. Too bad.

    It looks like it won’t cost the Padres much, except one year of slight overpayment.

    Janssen, Street and Santos would have looked pretty good in the Jays pen next year.

    • I don’t even think that’s overpayment for a healthy Street, especially in San Diego. It’s just an overpayment in the sense that the Padres aren’t competing and spending more money on a closer than anyone else on the team. On a competitive team, this deal is brilliant.

  2. I can’t believe parkes just said there’s no difference between a deep fly ball and a home run. oh wait it’s parkes. so we gave up a top prospect for santos when we could have got a closer for nothing! God help us!

    • amen, bro.

      keep gloating about how smart Anthopolous is.

      makes me wonder if it’s the typical stranglehold money grabbers of sports owners in toronto that made us have to settle for SAntos and not get Street.

      Man, I wish Toronto teams were owned by individuals and not multi-billion corporations not willing to spend money to something exciting.

  3. Probably right actually.

    Francisco just got $12 mill / 2. Street at $8 mill / 1 is probably a better contract.

    Maybe the prospect going the other way is better than we thought?

  4. Santos is much cheaper, locked up for much longer and is probably going to be better than Street. Of course he’s going to be more expensive.

    Until you see the PTBNL you really don’t know how much he cost.

  5. We cannot write the PTBNL off in this deal until we find out who it is. Most deals involving a PBTNL seem to be deadline deals and you are basically getting limited time of some mediocre veteran talent so the PTBNL turns out to be some AA scrub. But for a whole season of Street the PTBNL is nopt going to be a scrub.

    Also consider that Santos is under team control for 6 years (3 of which are very affordable, and cheaper than Street). Street is only under control for what? 1 year?

    So, the PTBNL will not be some scrub, but definitely will not be a prospect of Molina’s stature.

    • I would’ve thought that too before the swap was made, but how often is the PTBNL good. A team wouldn’t want anyone of any talent being handled by another organization’s coaches for too long of a period.

  6. Street should net them more than whatever it is they gave up for him after a year pitching in PETCO.

    • This seems to be the key to the deal for Padres, but it’s a bigger risk than it used to be under new CBA.

      • The increase in risk negligible unless the PTBNL is significant (also unlikely). Even in a worst case scenario where you can’t trade him for some reason, you’re stuck with a year of Street for 7.5. I’d be pretty happy with that if I were any team, even a shitty one like the Padres.

  7. What a move for Street though – to leave Colorado and go to San Diego in a contract year. I think that is every pitcher’s wet dream.

  8. Do the Jays still have Carlos Villanueva in 2012?

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