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adam-laroche | July | 2009 Articles

2009 Archives

...Adam LaRoche?

Written by Joe Lucia on .

OK, so the Braves made one move today on trade deadline day. Apparently, picking up a reliever to take some of the strain off of Soriano, Gonzalez & Moylan was considered secondary, because the only move Frank Wren made was...to do what appears to be a lateral move at first base, dumping Casey Kotchman off onto the Red Sox and getting former Brave Adam LaRoche in return. Does this make any sense...? My initial thoughts on the deal, when I heard it 5 minutes before my shift ended, was "well...uh...the Braves are getting a little more power". That was really it. Below are LaRoche & Kotchman's stats from this year in a few important categories. ...what? Kotchman has a higher average, and the 2 have OPSes that are within spitting distance from each other...LaRoche clearly has the power advantage, but he strikes out a ton more and actually costs us about a win over a full season on defense. Because of the near parallel nature of their offense, and Kotchman's significant defensive advantage, Casey is actually worth MORE than LaRoche. WHAT?! LaRoche's low average could be attributed to a low BABIP (.291...while low, its not obscenely low), but he's never been a huge average guy. Below are the CAREER numbers for LaRoche & Kotchman, for a more full comparison. Now things tilt in the Braves favor a little more. The batting averages are a wash, and because of that, LaRoche's huge edge in power pushes his OPS above Kotchman's career line. Still though, Kotchman strikes out a hell of a lot less (the K and BB rates for him should be reversed in that graphic, sorry) which is something that can't be overlooked. LaRoche is a guy who will strike out 120 times in a season without batting an eyelash, while Kotchman can barely break 40. I think the real reason this trade was made is because of second half performances and the push for a playoff spot. LaRoche's career second half OPS is 100 points higher than Kotchman's (.899 compared to .797), and at Turner Field, he crushes Kotchman (.816 compared to .653. .653 at your home park!) Overall, its a win on offense if LaRoche can do what he normally does in the second half, at Turner Field, while its a loss on defense. Many people seem to be assuming that the trade of Kotchman will open up first base for superprospect Freddie Freeman in 2010...please. Freeman is definitely not ready. The likely scenario in 2010 will be that LaRoche will be offered arbitration and hopefully decline it, which will net us a supplemental draft pick (LaRoche is currently a Type B free agent), and that Barbaro Canizares will get an extended look at first. Another possible option is to shift Martin Prado to first and let Kelly Johnson start at second, assuming he gets his stroke back. Regardless, its going to be quite an interesting few months in Atlanta.
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