December 2009

Rox take new look at Tim Redding

One Rockies free agency target, right-handed reliever Matt Capps, reportedly is leaning to the Nationals. But when news of the Rockies’ interest in Capps came to light, general manager Dan O’Dowd said the club was looking at a variety of pitchers. According to a Major League source, one is right-hander Tim Redding. The Rockies pursued Redding last year, but he signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Mets.

 

Redding had foot surgery after the 2008 season and didn’t become active until May. He went 3-6 with a 5.10 ERA in 30 games, including 17 starts. With the Rockies, Redding would offer insurance for the starting rotation or give the bullpen length and experience.

The Ian Stewart era is here

Ian Stewart’s time at third base for the Rockies actually arrived last season, but with Garrett Atkins now officially with the Orioles, there is no question that third belongs to Stewart.

The Rockies made Stewart a first-round pick expecting him to be a key part of the lineup. They’ve seen pieces of what Stewart can provide. In 2008, after a slow start, Stewart hit .270 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in his last 63 games. Last season, Stewart dipped to .228 but hit 25 homers and drove in 78 runs.

Jim Tracy believes there is more.

“We got power out of Ian Stewart, but, especially when he gave me a glimpse of what it could look like if he figures out the word consistency and how to become that, I don’t view this guy as a .220 hitter,” Tracy said.

To truly be a difference-maker, Steart has to hit left-handed pitchers with consistency. In 2009, he hit .178, but five of his 18 hits were home runs. But he hit .370, with four home runs and 17 RBIs, against lefties in 2008.

It could work for all parties. Atkins has a chance for regular duty at the infield corners or as a designated hitter, rather than as a pinch-hitter. Atkins went 4-for-24 as a pinch-hitter. The Rockies are going after players who have played multiple positions or come off the bench before to replace Atkins.

Talks heat up with catchers; Capps to narow suitors

Nothing is happening between the Rockies and catcher Yorvit Torrealba. That $400,000 gap doesn’t seem to be getting any narrower. Dan O’Dowd, the Rockies’ general manager, acknowledges talking to Miguel Olivo — the No. 1 alternative — Josh Bard and others on the market.

“We’re working our way through the process with a number of catchers out there, so I wouldn’t say we’re any farther along than we were a week ago,” said O’Dowd, who said there is simply a “difference of opinion” between the Rockies and Torrealba that can’t be bridged at this time. That at least leaves the door open for Torrealba.

Also, righty reliever Matt Capps’ agent, who found himself fielding multiple suitors, said Capps will narrow the list to the five most-serious. The Rockies have definite interest, since current Rockies skipper Jim Tracy managed Capps in Pittsburgh.

By the way, former Rockies fan favorite utility man Jamey Carroll reached an agreement with the Dodgers. O’Dowd said the Rockies were not necessarily looking for a glove man.

Matt Capps a possible target

An interesting bullpen target has emerged for the Rockies — former Pirates closer Matt Capps. Rockies manager Jim Tracy helped mold Capps into a closer.

Capps’ agent said there is “mutual interest” between the Rockies and Capps, but about nine teams are interested.

Capps is available because the Pirates non-tendered him in a surprise move on Saturday night. The move was contract-driven, The Pirates didn’t want to risk losing an arbitration case and paying a high dollar figure. But Capps didn’t show the fastball command he showed in past seasons.

However, Capps didn’t lose any velocity, so the belief is he is capable of regaining past effectiveness. With the Rockies already set with Huston Street as closer and having some good arms in setup roles — Rafael Betancourt, Manuel Corpas and Franklin Morales — Capps would not be under ninth-inning pressure.

It could be a good fit. However, dollars will be a huge factor. Other teams have roles later in the game, and could outbid the Rockies.

Atkins the only Rockies non-tender

As expected, the Rockies parted ways with third baseman Garrett Atkins, who struggled to .226 batting average and lost his starting position to Ian Stewart in 2009. Atkins was the only arbitration-eligible Rockies player the club did not tender a contract offer before Saturday’s 10 p.m. deadline or doing so.

The Rockies will turn their attention to players to fill a bench role, one Atkins fell into last season. The Rockies are looking at right-handed hitters Jamey Carroll, Nick Green, Melvin Mora and Fernando Tatis and Robb Quinlan, and probably will see some more on the market. Left-handed hitters Jason Giambi, who helped the team down the stretch last season, and Chad Tracy also intrigue the Rockies.

Torrealba still pending …

This is not to say that things are falling apart in the Rockies-Yorvit Torrealba talks, but there has been no movement this far today. The Rockies have a soild idea of what they want to spend. Torrealba’s reps still are testing the market to make sure what he signs is of proper value. So this may take awhile. It’s still most likely that Torrealba will sign, but the Rockies see Miguel Olivo and Josh Bard as other options.

But Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd allowed that retaining Torrealba, who has been with the club since 2006, and Iannetta beyond this year is important to the Rockies. The Rockies are negotiating with Iannetta, who is eligible for arbitration, on a multi-year deal.

“It’s a position that we look at maybe a little differently,” O’Dowd said. “The continuity of what you get with your pitching staff … If you keep going year-to-year, you have to learn the staff. The relationships are so valuable.”

Catching competition is a good thing

Yorvit Torrealba wants to stay with the Rockies. The Rockies want him. A two-year deal in the $5 million to $5.5 million range is close to happening, possibly as soon as today.

The Rockies have stated that they want Chris Iannetta to add high average to his proven power, and hope to sign him to a multi-year deal to show how much they want that to happen. However, manager Jim Tracy doesn’t sound like a man who is going to just give Iannetta the catching job and not give Torrealba a chance to be the man again.

You know what? I like competition,” Tracy said Wednesday. “When you’re a good baseball team and you have interest in being a

good baseball team consistently year in and year out, I don’t like the term entitlement or the sense of it to filter into our clubhouse.

Iannetta, Rox talk multi-year deal

The Rockies’ maintained faith in catcher Chris Iannetta despite his struggles in 2009. They’re backing that faith in contract talks.

 

General manager Dan O’Dowd said Monday that the Rockies are discussing several contract structures, including a multi-year deal, with the arbitration-eligible Iannetta. The Rockies are also talking about more than one year with two other arbitration-eligible players — closer Huston Street and second baseman Clint Barmes.

 

The latter two were known to be discussing multiyear deals, but O’Dowd revealed the talks with Iannetta during Monday’s first day of the MLB Winter Meetings.

 

The club continues to talk to catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who is a free agent who is testing the market to find a more favorable contract structure and playing opportunity. But the priority is Iannetta, who hit .264 with a .440 slugging percentage in 2008 but hit .228 last year and lost playing time (despite a .460 slugging percentage) to Torrealba in 2009.

 

Left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, coming off a career year (16-9, 4.38 ERA), will be signed to a one-year deal. De La Rosa will be eligible for free agency after 2010. With a good year, he not only will be in line for a big contract but could find himself a Type B free agent. That would give him added leverage and allow the Rockies to receive a pick in the 2011 Draft as compensation should he leave.

Josh Bard a possibility

The Rockies are letting catcher Yorvit Torrealba survey the market. But many teams are seeking catchers, and scouts and front-office executives from other teams say they are still wary over Torrealba’s troublesome right shoulder. In fairness, the shoulder didn’t cost him time last season and his throwing improved as the year progressed. Still, concern over the shoulder could scare teams away from offering him a contract fitting of a No. 1 catcher, and that keeps the Rockies solidly in the mix.

A possibility is former Cherry Creek high catcher Josh Bard, who struggled offensively with the Nationals last season but played through a sore right groin. He could have benefitted from time on the disabled list. The Rockies looked at him last winter.

Betancourt to take his time … Multiyear deal possible?

Players have until midnight tonight to accept or reject arbitration offers from their teams, and we’re hearing that Rockies righty reliever Rafael Betancourt may take until the last minute. His representatives are talking with four or five teams that are interested, but any team that signs him will have to give up an early pick in the 2010 Draft because Betancourt is a Type A free agent.

It’s been reported that Betancourt rejected a two-year deal from the Rockies. We hear today that he “temporarily” rejected the Rockies’ offer. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Betancourt ends up with the Rockies’ multi-year offer.

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