You Make The Call

From the Rockies' Web site: Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd insisted that dealing team career wins leader Jason Jennings on Tuesday was for one reason -- to make the team better in 2007.

The Rockies received high-upside right-handers Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz, as well as speedy center fielder Willy Taveras from the Astros for Jennings and Minor League pitcher Miguel Asencio.

Recent headlines centered on the Rockies' inability to sign Jennings beyond 2007, for which he is signed for $5.5 million, which meant that they risked losing him for a mere draft pick if they didn't deal him.

From the Astros' Web site: Wasting little time filling the void created by the departure of Andy Pettitte to the New York Yankees on Friday, Astros general manager Tim Purpura announced on Tuesday that the club had acquired right-hander Jason Jennings from Colorado in a five-player swap.

Jennings, 28, was 9-13 with a 3.78 ERA for the Rockies in 2006 with three complete games and two shutouts. Colorado's all-time leader in victories, Jennings' 3.78 ERA last season represented the second-lowest full-season mark in Colorado franchise history and ranked 12th overall in the National League. Jennings also posted career-high totals in 2006 in innings pitched (212) and strikeouts (142).

"This is obviously a big piece of our puzzle that we tried to solve all offseason, to get that solid No. 2 starter and put him in our rotation," Purpura said. "Jennings has been very impressive. Last year we watched him very closely, from May 29 to the end of the season his ERA was only 3.17, the second-lowest in the NL during that time and fourth in the Majors.

From the Rockies' Web site: Hirsh, the key to the deal, was chosen Pitcher of the Year in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season and the Double-A Texas League the previous season.

O'Dowd said, "When I talked to Jason, I told him that this had nothing to do with his contract. We would have made this trade at any point in time."

From the Astros' Web site: "We certainly think that now with our lineup with Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman and some of our other hitters, (Jennings will) benefit from...much better run support to look forward to."

From May 29 until end of the 2006 season, Jennings' 3.17 ERA trailed only Johan Santana (2.44) of Minnesota, new teammate Roy Oswalt (2.78), and Erik Bedard (2.91) of Baltimore.

Jennings, who is signed through the 2007 season for $5.5 million, is eligible for free agency next winter and had been seeking a contract extension with the Rockies. Purpura said the Astros hadn't discussed an extension with Jennings yet and Jennings said he hadn't thought about his contract since hearing the news that he'd been traded.

From the popular "A Hundred Next Years" Web site: I wish the Cubs had picked up Jason Jennings instead of Jason Marquis. But the Astros gave up their starting centerfielder plus a first-class prospect in the deal, and Jennings could easily walk after just one season in the Juice Box. What's more, many of Jennings' numbers aren't that much better than Marquis'. So in the end, perhaps this move will hurt the Astros, which will make Milo Hamilton a little surlier, which is one of the things I enjoy thinking about.

REVISED: Last night, when I wrote, "...many of Jennings' numbers aren't much better than Marquis'," what I meant to say was, "Jennings is a lot better than Marquis and I feel worse than ever about not getting Jennings." One of the things that separates the two is their tendency to throw the home run ball: even pitching in Colorado, Jennings has allowed about 25% fewer home runs per 9 innings than Marquis. The fact remains, however, that the Astros had the prospects to offer the Rockies and the Cubs didn't.


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