The Daily Wave: Grading The Rapids Front Office, Part 2

Paul Bravo and Oscar Pareja - Doug Pensinger

Part 2 of the Rapids Front Office's report card continues with grades for the rest of the team's acquisitions in 2013.

Following last week's Part 1, here are the rest of the grades for Paul Bravo/Tim Hinchey/Oscar Pareja for their 2013 acquisitions.

Player Acquisitions, Part 1:

Dillon Powers - Grade: A

I covered the Rapids dismal history of top 10 picks last week, so by Rapids standards Powers is already a phenomenal pickup. As pick #11, Powers should have high expectations, but so far he has surpassed them. He's contributed big goals, showed good positioning and work-rate, and an almost veteran ability to run the offense from central midfield. He's an early favorite for Rookie of the Year, which would be the Rapids' first. Theoretically, he will be playing less as the expected starters regain fitness, but he's played well enough to make that a surprisingly tough decision for Oscar Pareja.

Atiba Harris - Grade: B+

The Rapids acquired Harris from Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for an international roster spot. So basically, he was a salary dump. However, that's not insignificant, since he makes $165k. Given his underwhelming career success and how well-traveled he is, I expected him to be a backup (at best). I thought he had been picked up to maybe be an energy guy off the bench--Wells Thompson but with speed. But he's been a starter in 13 of the Rapids 14 games. Get this: he leads the team in games played, games started, minutes, shots on goal, fouls committed, fouls suffered, and--thanks to his recent scoring barrage--goals. I still have a hard time seeing him as a starter in a full-strength team, but there's no denying he's been in the thick of the action so far. And if the last two games are not just an anomaly, if he's finally figured out how to shoot somewhere other than right at the keeper...

Kevin Harbottle - Grade: C+

Harbottle really deserves an incomplete, but we'll go with a slightly above average grade. He has shown promise, but between injuries and the usual adjustment period young players often need when they come to MLS, we haven't seen much from him yet. At $180k, it's fair to expect bigger things from him soon.

Edson Buddle - Grade: C+

Buddle was acquired from LA Galaxy for a first round 2013 Supplemental Draft Pick (Andy Reimer) and allocation money. As usual, we have no idea how much money that was. The Rapids essentially swapped out Conor Casey for Buddle--one well-paid, injury prone striker for another. His acquisition also gets a slightly above-average grade, based mostly on his past results and therefore, his potential. We've seen him be a monster in this league, and if he can continue to get healthy and fit (which, granted, is no given at this point), he could get back to that level. Or, he could be an expensive, overweight backup. It's hard to know.

Danny Mwanga - Grade: C+

This pickup is especially tough to grade, since the Rapids gave up a 2015 first round draft pick to get Mwanga. Without knowing what that pick turns into, it's hard to say how good an acquisition Mwanga is for the team. But if the Rapids continue to grow as a team and have a good season next year, that would be a pick in the 10-20 range of the draft. Based on his potential, Mwanga is probably worth that price. With the right coach--and I believe Pareja is that coach--he may yet develop the confidence he needs to maximize his ability. Given that the Rapids seem to have finally learned how to draft, a first round pick is no longer something to throw away. But if he does get anywhere close to his ceiling, he could be a steal.

Brenton Griffiths and German Mera - Grades: Incomplete

We'll see if these two young central defenders ever get a chance to earn a grade.

I'll finish the grades next week by looking at the players the Rapids let go in the off-season. In the meantime, vote below on which of these five acquisitions is the biggest win for the front office.

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