With news coming Wednesday that the Colorado Rockies have traded second baseman Corey Wimberly to the Oakland A's for Matt Murton, the ball club has shored up a major hole in its 2009 lineup, and added insurance for an outfield that sorely needed it.
Having lost Matt Holliday earlier in the offseason, most of the lineup's major threats are now lefthanded, including Brad Hawpe, who has struggled in the past against left-handed pitching.
Replacing Holliday with up-and-coming prospect Carlos Gonzalez does little to solve the problem. Certainly a player with a lot of upside, Gonzalez' numbers last year against lefties were nothing short of abysmal (.188/.207/.247).
Expecting Gonzalez to produce in the middle of the lineup on an everyday basis might prove disastrous.
However, with the Murton trade the Rockies receive a player who can at the very least platoon with Gonzalez. In three years Murton has hit very respectably against lefthanded pitching, posting a line of .291/.365/.462 with moderate power numbers in nine home runs in 251 at-bats.
Although Murton hasn't proven enough to slip into the middle of Colorado's lineup it would be fair to assume he may be able to take some of the pressure off of Gonzalez's shoulders. He is a player the Rockies are committed to not throwing into a large role before he's ready.
It is also not outside the realm of possibility that Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd picked up Murton not only as insurance for Gonzalez, but also for Hawpe, who has notoriously struggled with left-handed pitching in the past.
While Hawpe hit a respectable .282/.350/.476 in limited at-bats against lefties last season, over the last three years he has looked significantly worse, posting a line of .245/.313/.436.
Assuming Murton can return to form, and play consistently the way he did for the Cubs in 2006 and 2007, expect him to fill a platoon role on the team and gather roughly 300 at-bats, mostly against lefties.
While the Rockies have made only a handful of moves this offseason, O'Dowd has found a way once again to improve the team without sacrificing anything significant in terms of young players or payroll.