The other half of the trade

added 12/16/2006 by Scott Barzilla

As promised, we're taking a look at the players coming in from the trade. The analysis may have looked a little hollow last time, but no one wants to read the never ending column. Obviously, Jason Jennings is the key to this trade, but we cannot forget Miguel Asencio. Is he just a throw in or will he actually play in role on the 2007 Astros? We will evaluate that after we look at Jennings.

Before we dive head first into numbers we have to look at the practical side of this trade. The Astros made a conscious decision to get off of the one year at a time game they've been playing Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. Clemens was enough for the past two off-seasons, but when Pettitte began playing the same "retirement" games it likely became too much for Purpura and company. Yes, Jennings will be a free agent after the season, but I find it hard to believe he will threaten retirement in order to extort money.

So, while Jennings may not have the same name power that Andy Pettitte or Roger Clemens do, but even with the free agent status following 2007, the team has a more stable feel than it has had before. That will have to go into our evaluation of the trade beyond the numbers you are about to see. Obviously, Clemens is always a wild card, so we will compare Jennings with Pettitte.

       NW   NL   GS   INN   SO/9   BB/9   HR/9   SO/BB
2004    5    5   15    83   8.57   3.36   0.87    2.55
2005   19    7   33   222   6.92   1.66   0.69    4.17
2006   15   12   35   214   7.47   2.94   1.13    2.54
Total  39   24   83   519   7.41   2.46   0.90    3.01

2004   11   12   33   201   5.96   4.52   1.21    1.32
2005    7    8   20   122   5.53   4.57   0.81    1.21
2006   13    9   32   212   6.03   3.61   0.72    1.67
Total  31   29   85   535   5.89   4.17   0.93    1.41

So, when you look at the following numbers you see that Pettitte (pitcher on top) struck out more hitters and walked fewer hitters. That was the only appreciable difference. Of course, that's a lot like saying all Peyton Manning does different than most QBs is throw more touchdown passes. However, Pettitte had only two seasons in New York where he had more strikeouts per nine innings than in any one season in Houston. His career average is 6.63 strikeouts per nine innings.

We also can't help but notice that Jennings stikeouts went up and his walks went down last season. His homeruns also went down. Obviously, there is a lot more going on here than just Jennings getting better. Part of it has to be the "humidor effect" in Denver. As we know, Houston has a natural humidor effect that few markets in baseball can replicate. This is promising considering that Pettitte and Jennings had nearly identical home run rates in vastly different environments.

Now, we need to take a look at Miguel Asencio. Since he has had limited experience we will take a look at his combined numbers. Unfortunately, that means we need to take a look at both Kansas City and Denver numbers, but when you are dealing with limited experience you have to do what you can. In each season we will look at the park factors along with the other numbers you saw here. In the end, we will look at the average park factor and average numbers.

       NW    NL    GS   INN   SO/9   BB/9   HR/9   SO/BB   PF
2002    6     5    21   123   4.23   4.67   1.23    0.91  136 
2003    1     2     8    48   5.03   3.91   0.74    1.29  127
2006    1     0     1     7   8.22   4.70   1.17    1.75  115
Total   8     7    30   179   4.62   4.47   1.10    1.03  126

Asencio is a mixed bag. On the one hand, he probably has had the worst park factor for any pitcher in baseball not named Jason Jennings. This can only be encouraging for someone moving to a neutral park. His 5.12 career ERA could turn out to be lower here, but his strikeout and walk rates are very disconcerting. When you combine the inability to strikeout hitters at an acceptable rate (6.5 per nine innings is roughly average) with the inability to avoid the free pass you don't expect to see a great pitcher. However, he appears to be a decent middle relief candidate. If he can produce in that role it might make the trade that much better. I wouldn't count on much more than that though.