Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/7/11

On Tuesday’s edition of our award-winning, critically acclaimed podcast, managing editor Dave Cameron suggested that Aaron Harang should donate a portion of his new $12 million contract (courtesy of the Dodgers) to the San Diego Padres. It was, after all, San Diego’s cavernous Petco Park that aided Harang in recording a career-best 3.64 ERA, even while posting an xFIP- (109) considerably worse than his career average (95 xFIP-).

While it’s unlikely that Harang will be making any sort of financial contribution to his former team’s coffers, it’s very possible that the new Padres front office has plans to leverage the effects of its pitcher-friendly ballpark to its benefit with the news today that they’ve acquired closer Huston Street from Colorado for a player to be named later.

The wisdom of such a move appears questionable when taken at face value. While the Padres have some interesting talent here and there, the team is unlikely to be particularly competitive in the upcoming season. Brian Cartwright’s OLIVER projection system, for example, has the Padres as a 71-win team at the moment — or, about 23 games out of first place in the NL West. Sabermetric orthodoxy suggests that the priotity for such a team is basically every other position but closer. And, in fact, it’s unlikely that the acquisition of Street will bring the Padres much closer to the the NL West title.

However, two things. First, there’s the fact that Colorado is reportedly picking up all but $1 million of Street’s $8 million salary for 2012, making him basically free. In terms of value, Street has only to produce something like 0.2 wins above replacement to earn his salary. meaning that, in terms of value, Street needs to produce something like 1.6 WAR. Street’s average WAR per 60 innings is 1.4. Close. Furthermore, whichever PTBNL goes the other way, given the fact that he is a PTBNL, he’s more likely to profile as organizational solider than impact player.

Second, there’s the very real possibility that Huston Street won’t be a Padre past July. The right-hander is entering the final year of a three-year, $22.5 million deal he signed with the Rockies in January of 2010. Given that the Padres are unlikely to be in a playoff race at the trade deadline, Street is likely to become available to contending teams in search of bullpen help.

When general manager Josh Byrnes & Co. go start talking with those contending teams in July, they’ll likely have a more valuable commodity in Street than they do now. The popular narrative suggests that Street had his worst year as a professional in 2011. He posted the highest ERA (3.86) of his career, largely because he allowed the most home runs (1.54 HR/9).

Yet, Street’s defense-independent numbers reveal that he was basically the same guy he’s always been. The strikeout rate was a little lower (23.0%, compared to 25.2% career), but so was the walk rate (3.8%, versus 6.4%). A slightly lower ground-ball rate (34.9%, compared to 38.0% career) combined with an inflated home run-per-fly ball rate (14.5%) conspired to hurt Street’s end-of-season line. But, all told, Street posted an 81 xFIP-. His career average? 80.

Now, Street is the subject of a great experiment, moving from one of baseball most hitter-friendly parks, to one of its most pitcher-friendly. Per Baseball-Reference, Coors Field allowed about 17% more runs than other other parks in 2011; Petco, about 7% less. Apply the Petco effect to Street’s lifetime SIERA of 2.92 — a crude method, yes, but not the absolute worst — and you get something in the vicinity of a 2.72 ERA. That would represent Street’s best ERA since his rookie season of 2005, when he posted a 1.72 mark.

What could the Padres get for that kind of high-leverage reliever? One needn’t look far or wide for precedent: this same Padre team traded reliever Mike Adams to the Rangers at the deadline in 2011, netting pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, the former of whom our Marc Hulet rated fourth in the Ranger system before the 2011 season. Wherever Erlin is ranked this year in the Padre system, given his 2011 performance it’ll likely be above whatever player San Diego sends Colorado-ways.

And there lies the point: San Diego has acquired in Street less a player to close out games for four months, and more the opportunity to acquire, at the trade deadline, one of a contending team’s top-10 prospects. Provided Street stays healthy for those same four months, that’s very likely what the Padres will be doing.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brandon Marshall talks about how he can help Odell Beckham

Scherzer makes Tebow look silly in spring training at-bat

Lonzo Ball discusses headlines his father creates

NFL owners approve Raiders relocation to Las Vegas

Laettner taunts Kentucky after Elite Eight heartbreaker

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Chargers finally sell out season tickets after two months

Report: Heat still hoping to trade Bosh

Report: Kaepernick wants $9 million, chance to start

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California for A’s coverage

NFL owners to rake in absurd money in relocation fees

Report: Childs facing aggravated assault, pot possession charges

Best, worst and hard to stomach MLB offseason moves

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best, worst and hard to stomach MLB offseason moves

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Baseball movies you can stream now to hold you over until Opening Day

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker