Rockies went all in this offseason


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Colorado Rockies were the most active team this offseason in all of Major League Baseball.

It takes me back to the winter of 2000 when Colorado dished out big bucks for some big busts in Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton. Now, we all know how that turned out, but this season and a few years down the road, the Rockies should only reap the benefits of what their front office accomplished during the past few months.

Colorado got much more experienced, cleaned house and held onto most of their top prospects all in one very busy offseason. Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd went nuts this season, hoping that quantity will outweigh quality. Colorado didn’t go for big names like Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols like they did in 2000 to bolster one of the weakest starting rotations in all of baseball. Instead, the Rockies made 10 trades, signed three free agents, resigned five of their own free agents and dumped seven guys from last year’s team — five of whom signed minor league deals with other teams.

Wow. What an offseason. And one the fans should be proud of. They just might have a tough time trying to guess who will be where when opening day hits Coors Field. In the end, however, the plethora of transactions may pay off with a return to the playoffs.

Here’s a breakdown of what the Rockies were up to this offseason by transaction type:

Trades

Starting pitcher Guillermo Moscoso was a great pickup for the Rockies this offseason after recording a 3.38 in 21 starts for the Oakland Athletics last season. Photo by: Josh May / Flickr

Best move: The fans probably won’t agree because it wasn’t the sexiest deal the Rocks made, but swapping outfielder Seth Smith to the Oakland Athletics for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman could payback big time. Smith is an average hitter, belting 15 home runs and 59 RBIs with a .284. And in return for mediocrity, the Rockies get two young pitchers who are legitimate contenders for the rotation. In 27 starts for Oakland last season, Moscoso posted a 3.38 ERA and went 8-10 for a losing team. Outman also had some success with the A’s, earning a 3.70 ERA with a 3-5 record. I wouldn’t be surprised if either of them lands in Colorado’s rotation over guys like Drew Pomeranz or Alex White, especially if that pair of youngsters aren’t quite ready for the bigs yet.

Worst move: It has to be the Rockies’ last trade, which the squad shipped starting pitcher Jason Hammel and possible closer candidate Matt Lindstrom to the Orioles for starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Why does Guthrie get so much hype? I guess it’s because he can eat up innings and is sort of young. But I think the Rockies gave up to much for a guy who has a lifetime ERA more than 4.00 and a record of 47-65. Hammel didn’t do much better, posting a 4.76 while going 7-13 during his rookie year. However, Lindstrom proved he is a very talented setup man, earning a 3.00 ERA and giving up just three homeruns in more than 60 innings of work. The Rockies could’ve also used him this season, considering the team traded closer Huston Street within the N.L. West to the San Diego Padres. That automatically made Rafael Betancourt the closer. Betancourt has the potential to hold that job down, but if I were a fan of the Rocks, I would’ve liked to see a position battle between him and Lindstrom during spring training.

The Others: C Chris Ianetta, C, traded to Angels for  RHP Tyler Chatwood; RHP Huston Street traded to Padres for LHP Nick Schmidt; RHP Daniel Turpen traded to Twins for RHP Kevin Slowey; 3B Ian Stewart and RHP Casey Weathers traded to Cubs for OF Tyler Colvin and INF D.J. LeMahieu; Kevin Slowey traded again to Indians for RHP Zach Putnam; and Clayton Mortensen traded to Red Sox for IF Marco Scutaro,

Signings

Outfielder Michael Cuddyer was perhaps the Colorado Rockies' best addition this offseason. Photo by: John McNab

Newly found power: The Rockies were the winners of one of the best free agent bats available this offseason. Former twin Michael Cuddyer chose Colorado over returning to his team of 11 seasons for a chance to shine in the Mile High City. Wearing the Rockies’ Black and Purple, Cuddyer should reach his 500th career home run and who knows what he could do with the elevation change, not to mention switching leagues. If Cuddyer can figure out NL pitching fairly quickly, he should thrive for the Rocks. There’s no question he will add power after hitting 20 home runs and 70 RBIs last season, which he didn’t play all year because of injury.

Exciting battery: Rockies fans may not like that the team traded away starting catcher Chris Ianetta, but they can’t get too angry because the team replaced him with veteran backstop Ramon Hernandez within the same week. Hernandez’s veteran leadership will only mean good things for Colorado’s very young rotation. He primarily worked with young arms in Cincinnati and he’ll get more of the same in the Mile High City. Hernandez isn’t a slouch with the bat, either. In fact, he may even be an upgrade to Ianetta, who didn’t really live up to a lot of hype. Hernandez was very limited last year, playing in just 91 games, but he still hit 12 homers and 36 RBI, which will is an offensive production that any manager should welcome when it comes from a catcher. Hernandez won’t be a long term solution. though, as he is 35 years old. But that might be interesting if he one day catches Jamie Moyer, who the Rockies invited to Spring Training. After the 49-year-old Moyer missed all of last season, the Rockies took a gamble, signing him after a workout in front of several other teams. If Moyer makes the team, he will offer yet another veteran presence in a club house filled with players of all ages. And Moyer may be valuable on the mound, eating up some innings, after he went 9-9 with an ERA a little lower than 5.00 with the Philadelphia Phillies two years ago.

The others: INF Casey Blake

Players lost/resignings

No one to miss: Seven guys who wore purple and black last year will be playing elsewhere this season. The handful of players Colorado bid farewell to shouldn’t leave management kicking themselves about not bringing them back. The mediocre group is led by Aaron Cook … maybe? It’s tough to say when that list also includes like Mark Ellis, Kevin Kouzmanoff and J.C. Romero. Fans may have felt disgruntled when Colorado chose not to resign long-time Rockies players Cook and Ryan Spilborghs, but they didn’t exactly shine last season.

Other players lost: OF Cole Garner (Yankees) and SP Kevin Millwood (Mariners)

The Colorado Rockies picked up their team option on first baseman Jason Giambi, 41, this offseason.

One more year: Baseball fans had to crack a smile once they heard the Rockies picked up veteran Jason Giambi‘s option, signing him to another one-year deal this offseason. And why not? The 41-year-old hit 13 bombs and 32 EBIs last season as Colorado’s primary pinch hitter. He headlined a group of five players who the the Rockies resigned from last year’s roster — each of whom signed one-year contracts. And although Giambi is the big name on the list, he may not be the most important player the team brought back. The Rockies also inked projected closer Rafael Bentantcourt and hope he can close the door after showing signs that he has he stuff last season. Betancourt proved he was one of the better setup men in baseball in 2011 with a 2.89 ERA with eight saves in 68 games.

Other players resigned: OF Dexter Fowler and RP Matt Belisle

 

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