November 2010

Rockies hot stove is on simmer

The general managers meetings in Florida offer a good time for teams to survey the free-agent landscape. And according to the Denver Post, things are about as expected with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a player the Rockies want to keep. Interest is strong: former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has taken over the Pirates and identified De La Rosa as his top target, according to the newspaper, and the Nationals, as reported by MLB.com’s Bill Ladson last week, and Orioles are already in the mix. The Yankees and Rangers could jump in, depending on what happens with lefty Cliff Lee. The paper says the key, as has been the case all along, is if the offers are at three years, the Rockies will compete — and they offer an environment in which De La Rosa has been successful. If it goes beyond three years, De La Rosa is likely gone, and the Rockies could look for a free agent such as Carl Pavano or Javier Vazquez, or seek a trade.

The paper also reported that the Rockies are unlikely to re-sign right-handed hitting utility man Melvin Mora, who wants a contract quicker than the Rockies want to move on him. With the Athletics not looking to trade Conor Jackson, the Rockies could take a look at the Nationals’ Josh Willingham or the Angels’ Mike Napoli for right-handed hitting help.

 

Rockies release Manuel Corpas

It’s been a rapid fall for onetime Rockies closer Manuel Corpas. In 2007, he was one of the key figures in the team’s unexpected run to the World Series. He was rewarded with a four-year, $8.025 million contract. But since then, inconsistency and injuries has derailed his career. Now word comes down that the Rockies have placed him on unconditional release waivers.

Corpas, who had bone chips removed from his elbow in 2009, underwent Tommy John ligament transfer surgery on his right elbow late in the 2010 season. It’s unclear if he was going to contribute to them at all in 2011.

The move was necessary from the Rockies’ standpoint. They can’t afford to tie up a spot on the 40-man Major League roster with a player who might not be able to contribute. They also have Huston Street as closer and several right-handed relievers to cover them late in games — Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Manny Delcarmen, and Matt Daley, who is expected to make a full recovery from late-season shoulder problems. Still, it turns heads when the team says goodbye to a key member of a magical squad.

 

Rockies deal Olivo to Blue Jays for player to be named

DENVER — The Rockies traded catcher Miguel Olivo to the Blue Jays on Thursday night for a player to be named or cash considerations, the Rockies announced.

The deal occurred just before Thursday night’s deadline for picking up Olivo’s 2011 option for $2.5 million. Olivo, 32, hit .269 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs as the Rockies’ No. 1 catcher for much of last season. It was unclear whether the Jays would pick up the option. They could allow him to become a free agent, and receive a pick between the first and second rounds of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

The trade leaves Chris Iannetta, 27, as the lone catcher on the Rockies’ roster with significant Major League experience, although the club is expected to obtain another backstop through free agency or a trade.

Iannetta, an organization product who showed promise in an extended look in 2008 (.264, 18 HRs, 64 RBIs), but has struggled since and has not grabbed the No. 1 job. Last season, after signing a three-year, $8.35 million contract, Iannetta spent part of last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs and finished with a .197 average, nine home runs and 27 RBIs in 61 Major League games.

The Jays also are formulating their catching plans. They picked up a $1.2 million option on Jose Molina and have a top prospect in J.P. Arencibia. John Buck, the Jays’ No. 1 catcher and an All-Star in 2010, is a free agent. Like Olivo, Buck is a Type B free agent.

Rockies still deciding on Olivo

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said he will take until Thursday’s deadline before deciding whether to pick up catcher Miguel Olivo’s $2.5 million option for 2011. Even if he decides, the Rockies still have to determine whether Olivo, Chris Iannetta or a combination of both are solid enough to handle catching duties. Do the Rockies seek a trade or free agency? That’s one of this winter’s big questions.

The Rockies will not pick up left-hander Jeff Francis’ $7 million option for 2011. Three years of shoulder problems makes it too risky, but O’Dowd says he wants Francis back.

It should be an interesting free agency season. The big question is whether the Rockies can retain lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who could have numerous bidders.

 

My thoughts? If the bidders stay in the three-year range, the Rockies can compete. If someone goes overboard on years, the Rockies will wish him well.

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