Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rocky Mountain High-Low

  • Mixing and matching and streaking:

I'll continue my hot stove previews with the Colorado Rockies.

Colorado Rockies

Free agents: Joe Beimel; Manny Corpas; Jorge de la Rosa; Octavio Dotel; Jeff Francis; Jason Giambi; Kaz Matsui; Melvin Mora; Jay Payton; Paul Phillips; Juan Rincon.

Players available via trade: Todd Helton; Ryan Spilborghs; Aaron Cook; Huston Street.

What they need: A part-time catcher; a veteran second baseman; an outfield bat; starting pitching; bullpen help.

Catchers to pursue:

Free agents---Rod Barajas; Gerald Laird; Bengie Molina; Miguel Olivo; Yorvit Torrealba; Jason Varitek; Matt Treanor; Gregg Zaun.

Trades---Mike Napoli; Ronny Paulino; Ryan Doumit; Russell Martin.

For a team that committed a contract extension to Chris Iannetta, the Rockies have been remarkably reluctant to tell their now-27-year-old catcher that the everyday job is his, one way or the other. Granted, he was terrible at the plate last season and wound up back in the minors, but unless they give him a legit chance to play every single day, they're going to have to keep bringing in an annual "tandem" catcher.

With that in mind, there are the usual suspects like the multiple Rockie Yorvit Torrealba; they could bring back Miguel Olivo, whom they traded to the Blue Jays rather than make a decision on his contract option; they could go the mediocre veteran route; or they could make a bold attempt for Russell Martin.

Second basemen to pursue:

Free agents---Ronnie Belliard; Orlando Hudson; Adam Kennedy; Felipe Lopez; Andy LaRoche.

Trades---Ben Zobrist; Jed Lowrie; Aaron Hill; Gordon Beckham; Asdrubal Cabrera; Howie Kendrick; Jose Lopez; Luis Castillo; Skip Schumaker; Mike Fontenot; Ryan Theroit.

Eric Young hasn't established himself as an everyday player in the big leagues; the Rockies just traded Clint Barmes; they need a veteran second baseman. Hudson would presumably be available relatively cheaply; the other free agent names are stopgaps.

Via trade, they could get Castillo for nothing and would only have to pay a fraction of his contract; Hill would be the name I'd pursue most aggressively.

Outfield bats to pursue:

Free agents---Johnny Damon; Pat Burrell; Manny Ramirez; Adam Dunn.

Trades---B.J. Upton; Justin Upton; Nick Swisher; Mike Cameron; Luke Scott; Delmon Young; Carlos Quentin; Juan Rivera; Carlos Beltran; Josh Willingham; Colby Rasmus; Matt Kemp; Casey Blake; Hunter Pence; Kosuke Fukudome; Chris Young.

The Rockies don't spend a ton of money on big name free agents, so you can forget about Dunn unless his market crashes. Damon is looking for work and could be a bargain. Manny is Manny. He's worth a shot on a short-term incentive-laden deal as he tries to rejuvenate his career in the hitter-friendly confines of Colorado.

Their best bet to boost the offense is doing so via trade. They inquired on Justin Upton, but might be better off with the cheaper and more readily available B.J. Upton. I'm a big fan of Willingham; I love the way he hits and he too is available from the Nationals.

Presumably they'd have to dump a salary to take on a Beltran or a Fukudome, but both can be had.

The Cardinals have said they're not trading Rasmus, but I'm betting they'll listen to a serious offer.

Starting pitching to pursue:

Free agents---Erik Bedard; Jeremy Bonderman; Doug Davis; Jon Garland; Justin Duchscherer; Aaron Harang; Rich Harden; Scott Olsen; Carl Pavano; Brad Penny; Brandon Webb; Javier Vazquez; Zach Duke.

Trades---Matt Garza; James Shields; Gavin Floyd; Zack Greinke; Chad Billingsley; Wandy Rodriguez.

The Rockies make it a habit of finding pitchers on the scrapheap, getting use from them and discarding them. This is the reason they're not going to go crazy to keep De La Rosa; nor should they. He'll get a 4-year deal somewhere and either get hurt or revert to the pitcher that stumbled in Milwaukee and Kansas City; this is how he wound up in Colorado to start with.

There are many rolls of the dice like Webb, Vazquez and Duke; the Rockies might have the young players to make a move on Greinke or Billingsley. They'd have to unload Cook to make a Garland-type signing.

I love the trade they made for Felipe Paulino. Paulino's a pitcher who has great stuff and rotten results. He could be a big win for them with 12-14 wins as a starter.

Relievers to pursue:

Free agents---Hisanori Takahashi; Josh Banks; Jason Bergmann; Kevin Gregg; Pedro Feliciano; Aaron Heilman; Dan Meyer; Justin Miller; Chad Qualls; Scot Shields.

Trades---Joba Chamberlain; Joakim Soria; Brandon League; Jonathan Broxton.

If there was one thing Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd was always great at, it was building bullpens; he did it not by signing expensive flavors of the month, but by bringing in a bunch of failed starters or out of favor closers and mixing and matching until finding something that worked.

They won't go after the "glossy" reliever names like Grant Balfour, but they can build and improve their bullpen inexpensively.

  • Viewer Mail 11.20.2010:

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE the Braves:

Lots of mail today!

I feel the Braves are going to give the Phillies various headaches through next season. I'd go after Soria for no other reason that he was excellent while he was on a poor team. You can only imagine his performance if he plays for a competent team - top class closer.

I'm reeling them in!!!

Joakim Soria would be a great fit for the Braves, but it seems as if they're going to go the route I suggest and use one of their youngsters while keeping an eye open for the free agent bargain bin; then they'll see where their needs are during the season and try to improve on the fly. You can't argue with what they've done so far.

One idea that just occurred to me would be...Billy Wagner.

Would Wagner want to stay home for the first three months of 2011 and perhaps come back for the rest of the season? I'm having trouble reconciling Wagner's career ending on an injury as it did. He's prideful and wants a championship, something for which the Braves have a legit shot.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Braves:

If I were the Braves, I'd throw everything at winning now. NOW! That means going out and making big moves, the sorts of moves that make the Uggla deal minor.

I understand that sentiment, but they're good enough that they don't have to get crazy now. They do need a bat and to be concerned about Chipper Jones's comeback; a rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman; and the center field situation with Nate McLouth. I'd concentrate on a bat now and worry about the pitching as the season goes forward. They need to bring Eric Hinske back too.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE the Mets managerial situation and Wally Backman:

I haven't been Wow'd by any candidate. No one really stands out for me. I think part of the sentimentality for Backman is lack of a stand out candidate. If I'm choosing from the list of final four, I'm with Backman too. And it's not because I really want him, it's just the other guys seem so inconsequential to me. But Backman is also one of those cats who is nothing without Baseball. He needs Baseball to exist. There's been many great managers in Baseball history cut from that mold. You have to admit Wally fits a profile. I'll keep it local too and I don't think it's hyperbole to just toss this around for fun; Billy Martin, John McGraw, Leo the Lip, even Casey who manipulated the platoon system before they had a name for it, were all unconventional loners, kooks and boorish but at the same time brilliant managers. From once being 'marginal' players, they get their starts somewhere.
Who ever Sandy hires will have my full support regardless.

It's so much different in today's world that I honestly wonder whether Martin would've lasted more than a couple of years as a manager, period. Any off-field misstep is everywhere immediately; this is my concern with Backman.

Strategically, if he's going to alter his approach from all-go, all-the-time to suit the new front office, then what's the point of hiring him in the first place?

Pedros Rooster writes RE Moneyball and Billy Beane:

I was all set to argue with you about a few things, because I enjoy statistics and analysis (and arguing), and enjoyed reading Moneyball way back when. Then I perused the actual roster construction of those fabled A's teams.

Hmmm. Seems to me that they had very high draft picks like Mulder, Zito, Giambi, Grieve, and Chavez all pan out together; had a few others blossom (Hudson, Tejada), then made a few decent midseason trades for Damon and Dye, etc.

It looks like they got lucky with a lot of homegrown talent, then were asked to explain it. Perhaps they simply shared their drafting philosophy with Lewis, who then applied it to the coming wave of draftees, who ultimately didn't pan out. Or hubris got the better of them, and they really believed they had it all figured out.

In any case, it seems that their draft success came when they were a poor team and drafted high. When they became a good team and drafted lower, their acumen disappeared. A simplification, I'm sure, but I think it works.

Not sure that Beane is to blame for the Moneyball narrative, tho. I'd imagine he just shared some ideas, which were blown up by a guy who wanted to write a very interesting book.

Oh, and as bad as Farnsworth usually is, he's no Francoeur. Farnsworth actually has one or two good numbers on his resume; Francoeur gets by on his winning smile, his arm that "ZOMG! saves hundreds of runs a year!!!!", and a half a season back in 2005.

Thanks for an interesting read.

I've never questioned Beane's intelligence; but others need to follow my lead and question his opportunism. My whole issue is the book and the way it's trickled into the implication that Beane is infallible regardless of results and that when he does fail, there's the underlying excuse that, "well, everyone's using the same stats now and the A's money is limited".

It doesn't work that way. Either he's a genius or he's not and if he is, he has to adapt to maintain on-field excellence. Lewis had an agenda in writing the book and many don't seem to realize how easily a skilled writer can twist any subject to suit his purposes. Beane and his people used the afterglow to their advantage and continue to do so.

The most ridiculous assertion in the book was how Beane and his people were said to be "counting cards" in the draft. If anything is a "crapshoot" as Beane referred to the playoffs (and provided him a convenient caveat for if----when----they lost), it's the draft.

I sense you're on the verge of conversion to my cause from focusing on stats.

All are welcome!

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