Impact: Angels, Rockies Making Moves

Yesterday, the Angels traded Tyler Chatwood for Chris Iannetta. The Rockies then immediately signed veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez to a two-year deal. Here’s how those moves might affect your fantasy team in 2012…

As I wrote yesterday on Twitter, the best thing about Chris Iannetta is that he’s not Jeff Mathis.  Jerry Dipoto’s first big move as the Angels’ new GM clearly sent a signal, in my opinion, that he’s the man in charge, not Mike Scioscia. Iannetta is the anti-Mathis, which is a great thing. He draws plenty of walks and hit for power and both of those attributes led to 3.3 wins above replacement (WAR) last season.

After the trade was announced, I immediately started to text one of my buddies, who is a life-long Angels fan. He asked, “Didn’t Iannetta have horrible home/road splits?” I thought that he would have some noticeable splits, but when I actually checked the numbers, I was amazed by the difference.

Career home: .262/.377/.492 (.869 OPS), .375 wOBA

Career road: .208/.338/.369 (.707 OPS), .317 wOBA

Those are some huge disparities in each category, especially the drop of about .100 points in his SLG%. These number have to give fantasy GMs pause since not only is Iannetta moving away from Coors, he’s moving to the American league and into a ballpark that is favorable to pitchers, fly-ball pitchers in particular. Iannetta typically hits more fly-balls than ground balls or line-drives, so his batted ball data gives us another reason for pessimism.

All of that being said, and moving away from the stats for a second, a change of scenery could do wonders for Iannetta, who was up-and-down throughout his Rockies career. He has always had tremendous power potential -– he hit 18 home runs in only 333 at-bats in 2008 and 16 in only 289 at-bats in 2009. Last season, Iannetta hit 14 home runs in 345 at-bats, a pace that would result in about 20 home runs in 500 at-bats.

The addition of Iannetta makes Jeff Mathis expendable, though I would argue that he was expendable anyway. The Angels should go with the tandem of Iannetta and Hank Conger next season with Iannetta getting the lion’s share of playing time. AL-only leagues should be able to take a late-round flyer on Conger for next season, as he could get 250-350 at-bats and put up some decent numbers.

Going from Anaheim to Denver is 22-year-old starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood, a former second round pick, showed a 90-94 MPH fastball in his 142 innings with the Halos ast season, but his overall results were quite unimpressive. In those 142 innings, Chatwood only struck out 74 and walked 71, just about a 1:1 K/BB ratio, which is downright awful. While in the minors, Chatwood had trouble refining his control as well, though many people thought that the Angels rushed him through the system, ultimately brining him to the big leagues well before he was ready.

Chatwood held a good 47 percent ground ball rate in 2011 and his minor league ground ball rates were above average as well. That gives NL-only leaguers at least some hope that he could be useful in spots should he make the Rockies rotation in 2012. The groundball rates should help negate at least some of the effect of moving to Coors Field.

Mixed leagues should avoid Chatwood on draft day, he still needs a lot of refinement before anyone can predict usable numbers. Most prospect gurus don’t see him as anything more than a back-end starter.

After the trade went down, the Rockies moved swiftly to sign the 35-year-old Ramon Hernandez to be their starting catcher and mentor to young power prospect Wilin Rosario. Hernandez “is who he is” at this point. He’s not getting any younger, so a regression is likely, but he should still put up good enough numbers to be a catcher in NL-only formats. Hernandez is coming from Cincinnati, so he’s moving from one hitter’s park to the next, and his batted ball data indicates that his line-drive groundball approach isn’t likely to lead to a spike in home runs anyway.

Top catching prospect Wilin Rosario hit three home runs in 54 big league at-bats toward the end of last season. He had hit 21 long balls at Double-A before the call-up and scouting reports indicate that he has plenty of power to spare. However, many are concerned with his tendency to swing and miss too often and not draw many walks, which together could easily lead to consistently low AVGs and OBPs. Rosario could get 250-300 plate appearances or so if he starts the season with the Rockies, but don’t expect much more than a handful of home runs in 2012.