Results tagged ‘ Orioles ’

Rockies’ Blackmon getting a chance to work through his slump

blackmon swing
Sometimes when a player commits a major mistake, he draws on the experience of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. Once after he made a game-losing error, he noted that he was just happy he would have the opportunity to make more such mistakes. It wasn’t that he enjoyed making the mistake. He was just happy the Orioles would keep giving him a chance to play.

Now Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon can identify.

Blackmon entered Monday night’s game against the Padres hitless in his last 10 at-bats and 3-for-33 in August. But he led off the game with an infield single – Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista dove behind second to stop the ball, but didn’t have a play at first – that for all anyone knows could start a reversal of the trend.

In previous years, as Blackmon battled foot injuries and was trying to establish himself in the Majors, he might not have received as many opportunities. A slump could have meant time on the bench or even an option to Triple-A Colorado Springs. But he made his first Opening Day roster this year,
was one of the Majors’ hottest hitters in April, and he was voted by players to the National League All-Star team.

“I did pretty well earlier in the season, and that’s afforded me some opportunities to be able to make the adjustments,” Blackmon said. “Last year, instead of getting to play the next day, you’d have to come off the bench that day and maybe do it again the next day.”

After Blackmon’s hot start, he began seeing more off-speed pitches early in the count. Blackmon was able to fight through that. Now pitchers are varying from pitch to pitch at a level he did not see earlier.

“They’ve mixing it up way more – velocities, locations and all that stuff,” Blackmon said. “It’s not just, ‘I’m going to throw fastballs away until you do something with it.’ It’s in, out, hard, soft, right from the get-go.”

Does being a leadoff man make it easier or harder?

“It depends on how things are going,” Blackmon said. “You always want one more at-bat [than players lower in the order in a particular game]. But sometimes I feel like I want to be able to see how the pitcher is throwing. The first time you see a changeup might be 0-2.”

– Thomas Harding

Disclaimer: No indication Rockies owner can be swayed into dealing Tulo … Still, team has to be prepared if talks occur

We preface everything here with the simple statement, based on conversations with sources inside and outside the Rockies organization:

 

Owner Dick Monfort has no interest in trading shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at Thursday afternoon’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. The belief that a healthy Rockies club, with an improved rotation and a bullpen overhaul, is a winner next season means odds are against Monfort moving Tulowitzki — signed for extreme riches through 2020 — this offseason.

 

But the way to not get caught off guard is to be prepared, even if you know nothing may happen.

 

In the days leading to the Trade Deadline, the Rockies are getting ready for the magic phone call, even if it’s not coming.

 

The Rockies spent much of Monday studying the Mets organization, looking at current Major Leaguers and prospects, and gauging the abilities of young pitchers who have not reached their arbitration years. Any Mets pitcher who is anyone, whether he is working in Queens – like National League Rookie of the Year candidate Jacob deGrom – or prospects such as righty Noah Syndergaard (No. 1 on the MLB.com Mets Top 20 Prospects list) or Rafael Montero (No. 6), the Rockies are prepared to discuss. If the names of numerous position players come up, the Rockies are prepared.

 

But here’s the thing. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Monday said it is “unlikely” the team will make any deal, and sources throughout the game are saying it’s unlikely anything serious will occur with the Rockies. And, as can’t be stated enough, it’s all fantasy unless Monfort changes his belief that the Rockies will win with Tulowitzki.

 

But that’s the way these things work. Oh, it’s not only the Mets. We hear the Rockies have beefed up their knowledge on the Cardinals and the Angels – two teams with the money and Major League-ready players to make the Rockies’ baseball people at least listen if they were to call – and a few other teams that may have interest. Speaking of which, since Tulowitzki’s showing up at Yankee Stadium Sunday sparked so many conspiracy theories, we are told the Yankees are not one of the teams that the Rockies believe have players it takes to pull off a Tulowitzki deal.

 

There’s absolutely no indication either team will make that call before the deadline. Nonetheless, the Rockies want to have detailed information if talks ever begin.

 

Other fronts appear to be quiet, although there is interest.

 

• We recently identified the Pirates as a team that is taking a look at Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins, and now we’re told that 5-6 clubs are interested in Hawkins, knowing he can pitch in any situation. But two issues are making it hard to deal the 41-year-old reliever with the ageless right arm:

 

The Rockies believe his influence is strong enough on young players and young pitchers that they want to keep him around, even though the team is in last place.

 

The Rockies’ requirement for help at the start of next season, plus pitchers under club control applies to Hawkins. Teams in contention haven’t offered what the Rockies want.

 

• It’s doubtful the Rockies will move lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who has pitched better at Coors than any pitcher in their history. The Rockies have been listening when clubs inquire, but after it surfaced that the Rockies coveted Orioles righty Kevin Gausman and a whole haul of prospects, no other team’s interest made it to the rumor stage. Expect the Rockies to make the $14 million qualifying offer for De La Rosa, a free agent after this season, and use that as the basis for keeping him.

 

• While the Rockies have scouted lefty Brett Anderson since his return from a broken left index finger, there are no active discussions. The Rockies are expected to pick up Anderson’s $12 million option for next season.

 

– Thomas Harding

Blake reaches agreemernt with Rockies

Veteran third baseman and utility man Casey Blake has agreed to terms on a one-year contract, Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd announced Tuesday, during outfielder Michael Cuddyer’s introductory press conference at Coors Field.

Blake, 38, appeared in just 63 games for the Dodgers last season (.252, 4 HR, 26 RBIs) because of various injuries — a back problem, an elbow infection and a neck nerve issue that led to surgery. O’Dowd said Blake checked out medically, but the contract will not become official until Blake passes a physical. The physical is not likely to occur until after the holidays.

“We think we added a culture-changer, just like we added in Michael Cuddyer,” O’Dowd said.

The contract calls for a non-guaranteed base salary of $2 million, with another $1 million available in performance bonuses.

Over 13 seasons with the Blue Jays, Twins, Orioles, Indians and Dodgers, Blake has hit .264 with 167 home runs and 616 RBIs.

Another closer job fills, but Rox still have chances to deal Street

One of the possibilities for the Rockies to deal closer Huston Street just disappeared, because the Blue Jays acquired closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox for righty pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Although Street’s $8 million guarantee in and of itself was going to make it tough for the Rockies and Jayus to make a deal, the Rockies did like the Jays’ young pitching.

A distinct possibility is Baltimore, although the Orioles appear to want more for Street than right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. The deal looks even from a dollar perspective, with Guthrie projected to make as much as $8.3 million in arbitration. The Rockies like the fact Guthrie has thrown 617 1/3 innings thje last three seasons. Street would fill an Orioles need, but he will be a free agent at season’s end and the Orioles would like another asset, since Street will be eligible for free agency at the end of the 2012 season.

(Update: the O’s aren’t the only team looking beyond 2012. The Rockies would also like to receive assets beyond 2012 in a Street deal. For example, right-handed potential starter Kevin Slowey, obtained from the Twins on Tuesday for a player to be named, has two more years of arbitration.)

The Rockies also are looking at the Reds, with hopes of acquiring right-hander Edinson Volquez.

 

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.

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.

 

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