December 2010

Rockies acquire Lindstrom from Astros

The Rockies filled a key spot in their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Matt Lindstrom from the Astros. Full details will come soon.

Lindstrom, who turns 31 on Feb. 11, went 2-5 with a 4.39 ERA for the Astros last season. The Rockies attempted to acquire him in November, when they obtained righty Felipe Paulino from the Astros for second baseman Clint Barmes, but the clubs could not find a match.

Lindstrom is 10-13 with a 4.00 ERA in 249 relief appearances with the Marlins (2007-09) and the Astros (2010). According to media reports, the Astros were looking to deal the arbitration-eligible Lindstrom for payroll-management reasons.

Lindstrom, who has an offseason home in the Denver area, is a strike-thrower — 187 career strikeouts to 91 walks in 225 innings. He also has earned 43 career saves, including 23 for the Astros last season. Lindstrom began last season as the Astros’ closer, but he went to the disabled list with a back issue and never regained consistency. Lindstrom joins Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle as primary right-handed setup men.

A key reason for acquiring Lindstrom is for protection in case right-hander Huston Street is injured. Street missed the first 69 games of last season with a shoulder injury and suffered some setbacks during his rehab. Left-hander Franklin Morales, who is still with the club, struggled when replacing Street. Manuel Corpas, the Rockies’ one-time closer, had some success in the role but was released after the season.

The trade for Lindstrom also pushes the Rockies’ Major League roster to the limit of 40, which means they’ll need to either make all further signings Minor League contracts, or they’ll have to make a move to add someone on a Major League deal. The Rockies have acknowledged that they’re trying to re-sign left-handed starter Jeff Francis, their No. 1 pitcher before shoulder injuries marred his last two seasons, and left-handed reliever Joe Beimel.

 

Rockies, Gonzalez close to a deal? Many say no

Reports via Twitter out of Venezuela have Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez having agreed to a seven-year, $80 million contract with the Rockies.

 

However, club officials reached Thursday would not confirm the report, beyond saying the Rockies would like a long-term deal with Gonzalez, who finished third in National League Most Valuable Player voting. Gonzalez’s agent, Scott Boras, could not be immediately reached.

 

Since the original tweet, in Spanish from a radio commentator in Venezuela, numerous reporters in Venezuela and the U.S. are saying there is no deal. A tweet from CarGoMedia5, which is believed to be official, denies there is a deal.

 

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki recently signed a seven-year, $134 million extension that will keep him with the club through 2020. Tulowitzki has three years left on his current deal. The Rockies also reached out to Gonzalez and ace pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who finished third in the Cy Young Award voting in 2010.

 

If such a deal is completed, it would qualify as a holiday shocker.

 

The Rockies often look to lock up young stars before they reach free agency, and Gonzalez won’t be eligible until 2014 at the earliest. However, Boras’ clients tend to test the market, and receive big-money, long-term contracts, when they become eligible to do so.

 

It will be the biggest pre-arbitration deal signed by a Rockies player since Tulowitzki signed a six-year, $31 million contract after a strong rookie year in 2007.

 

 

Rockies manager Tracy says ‘everything is positive’ after health scare

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Friday evening his heart is strong and, just as importantly, in good hands.

 

Tracy collapsed during the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., because of an arrhythmia after a long day and evening with his staff, and was taken to a local hospital for testing. He was released several hours later.

 

Since then, Tracy went to Denver and has been under the care of a cardiologist, Dr. Barry Molk at the Sky Ridge Medical Center in Aurora, Colo. Not only is the prognosis good so far, but he expects to be healthier.

 

“Dr. Molk, honest to goodness, his bedside manner is as professional as anybody I’ve ever been around in my life,” Tracy said. “He’s absolutely aware of what took place in Orlando, and I’ve had every test you could possibly think of, and everything is positive.

 

“I feel really good as it gets closer to Santa Claus. There is a 30-day window and there are a couple of he wants to look at, and he wants to see me again at the end of January. But unless I’m told otherwise, I may push down the clutch and switch to yet another gear. I mean it. There is nothing to slow me down. I don’t have to do things step-by-step. No way. I’m going to keep on plowing forward.”

 

In addition to making doctor’s visits, Tracy has been busy. He made an appearance at the Rockies’ annual employees Christmas party, attended a luncheon with Greg Feasel, the Rockies’ executive vice president of business operations, and executives of FSN Rocky Mountain, and was at a special event at The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs on Thursday. Tracy also visited with new infield acquisitions Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez, who made visits to Coors Field.

 

On Friday, Tracy was headed back to Florida for a happier occasion — the holidays with his family.

 

There will be a full story on the Rockies’ Web site soon.

 

Rockies get backup backstop

The Rockies acquired backup catcher Jose Morales from the Twins on Thursday for Minor League left-handed pitcher Paul Bargas. Morales will be the primary backup to Chris Iannetta.

Morales, who turns 28 on Feb. 20, has hit .297 in 74 Major League games over three seasons for the Twins, who have star Joe Mauer as their regular catcher and Drew Butera as his primary backup.

By acquiring Morales, the Rockies also bought time for a deep group of catching prospects.

Before Morales arrived, Michael McKenry, who hit .265 in 99 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs and had eight at-bats in six Major League games, was in line for backup duty.
 
Wilin Rosario, who turns 22 on Feb. 23, was playing well at Double-A Tulsa — .285 with 19 homers and 52 RBIs — and had appeared in the Futures Game during All-Star Weekend before suffering a season-ending knee injury. After reconstructive surgery, Rosario is expected to be ready to play early in Spring Training, but the Rockies don’t want to pressure him to move quickly.
 
The Rockies also have Jordan Pacheco, who turns 25 on Jan. 30, is coming off a head-turning offensive season in which he hit a combined .323 at Class-A Modesto and Tulsa, and followed that up with a .317 season in the Arizona Fall League.
 
The Rockies have also signed former Cardinal Matt Pagnozzi for depth.

 

Bargas, 22, a 13th-rpound pick out of Cal-Riverside in 2009, went 5-4 with a 3.59 ERA in 58 relief appearances at Class A Asheville last season.

 

Rockies looking at SS Everett for Minor League deal

The Rockies, looking for protection in case shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is injured, say they are “kicking the tires” with free agent Adam Everett, a club source said Tuesday. The club is

The Tigers released Everett last June after he appeared in 51 games and hit .185. Everett played for the Astros 2001-07, the Twins in 2008 and the Tigers in 2008 and 2009.

By trading Clint Barmes to the Astros last month, the Rockies lost their most proven backup shortstop. Barmes started at second but played short when Tulowitzki was out with a fractured left wrist.

Jonathan Herrera and Chris Nelson have played short in the Minors, but Herrera played more second base in the Majors, and the Rockies began training Nelson as a multi-position infielder last year.

The team has acquired Jose Lopez in a trade with the Mariners, and on Tuesday was closing in on a two-year contract with Ty Wigginton. Both play multiple infield positions.

 

Wigginton, Rockies reportedly produce contract

Ty Wigginton apparently will fill the Rockies’ right-handed utility role, which includes spelling veteran Todd Helton at first base.

 

FoxSports.com’s Tracy Ringolsby reported that he has agreed to a two-year deal guaranteeing $7.5 million, which includes a $500,000 buyout on an option for a third year.

 

Wigginton, 33, batted .248 with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs in a career-high 154 games for the Orioles last season while playing first base, second base, third base and designated hitter. Wigginton also has played 38 games in left field in his career. Wigginton is a .277 career hitter with 143 home runs and 501 RBIs in 1,060 career games

 

If the deal becomes official, the Rockies will have filled the holes that opened when the team didn’t re-sign Melvin Mora, who signed with the D-backs on Monday, and Jason Giambi, who backed Helton at first base last season but was a left-handed hitter and not an ideal choice when the Rockies faced a difficult left-handed hitter.  The Rockies traded with the Mariners for right-handed hitting infielder Jose Lopez last week.

 

Wigginton has played for the Mets, Rays, Pirates, Astros and Orioles.

 

The Rockies list of utility possibilities also includes Jorge Cantu and Jeff Francoeur. The team lost out on catcher-first baseman Victor Martinez, who signed with the Tigers, and first baseman-outfielder Lance Berkman, who signed with the Cardinals.

Plenty of baseball left for Melvin Mora

Nice bit of news Monday at the Winter Meetings…Melvn Mora agreed to a one-year deal with the D-backs.

The Orioles didn’t bring him back after the 2009 season, after several years of distinction, mostly at third base. Mora felt he could extend his career by becoming a utility player, and he had a nice year for the Rockies doing it last year (.285, 7 HR, 45 RBIs in 354 plate appearances). Before leaving at the end of the season, he expressed appreciation to the Rockies for giving him a chance to revisit his versatility. Before establishing himself with the Orioles, he played multiple positions with the Mets.

“I enjoyed what I did here … it was an exciting year for me,” said Mora, who played first base, second base, third base and left field. “I thank [Rockies manager] Jim Tracy for teaching me to play first base.

“It was great for me to do my exactly what the manager wanted me to do, and do it right.”

Mora, who turns 39 on Feb. 2, has thoughts beyond 2011.

“I want to play through at least the next World Baseball Classic, 2012,” said Mora, who wants to represent Venezuela. “After that, we’ll talk about it.”

Free agent Jorge Cantu is a candidate to fill the role Mora filled with the Rockies. The Rockies also could trade to fill the spot, with Angels catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli and Nationals cornerman Josh Willingham among the reported possibilities.

 

 

Rox’s catching list includes Martin, Molina and Paulino

Names are beginning to surface in the Rockies’ search for a complement to catcher Chris Iannetta. The least-name known might end up the best fit.

 

Former All-Star Russell Martin and Bengie Molina, a respected veteran, created buzz. However, Ronny Paulino is more of a true backup. The Rockies have had Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo push Iannetta out of playing time in recent years, and they vowed to give Iannetta a clean shot at the starting job without having to look over his shoulder.

 

Actually, the search for a relief pitcher might be more important to the Rockies’ quest to return to the playoffs. Righties Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Kevin Gregg and Matt Guerrier are at the top of the Rox’s shopping list.

 

Jorge Cantu is a utility possibility, and the club will do due diligence on Edwin Encarnacion. There are trade possibilities. Angels catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli and Nationals corner bat Josh Willingham would be high on such a list.

Lance Berkman a possible Rox target

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd has said it’s doubtful he can land a big bat, but he’s trying. According to The Denver Post, the Rockies have aggressively pursued switch-hitting Lance Berkman to play the outfield corners and occasionally spell Todd Helton at first base.

The key here would be Berkman’s desire to return to the National League. Berkman saw a dramatic drop in his power with the Astros and Yankees last season, although finished he year with the Yankees as a designated hitter on an upswing as far as average is concerned.

An important aspect of the pursuit of Berkman, according to the Post, is Helton would be on board with bringing in Berkman. The two have the same agent. Helton helped the Rockies recruit Jason Giambi as his backup last season, but by season’s end Helton admitted not playing nearly every game was difficult. Still, the Rockies need a solid alternative, given Helton’s history of back problems and his age.

The Rockies desire a right-handed corner bat, preferably one that can play some first base. Berkman has more power from the left than from the right, but he fits — if the price is right. The Cardinals, Blue Jays and Athletics also have pursued Berkman.

The Mariners’ Jose Lopez, if he’s non-tendered, Jorge Cantu, whom the Rockies considered trading for last season, and Troy Glaus are acknowledged targets. The Rockies also are looking at the Athletics, who appear to be deciding whether to non-tender Edwin Encarnacion or Colorado native Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Some current Rockies will no doubt be watching the situation closely. Third baseman Ian Stewart and outfielders Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs could potentially lose playing time, depending on who is signed. Interestingly, the Rockies hired Carney Lansford as hitting coach and charged him with the task of waking up the bats of all three. Stewart and Smith didn’t meet the club’s expectations for production last year. Spilborghs finished strong but struggled with strikeouts early.

– Thomas Harding

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