The Dodgers have acquired Orioles lefty closer George Sherrill to shore up their left-handed setup situatoin, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Carrie Muskat of MLB.com is reporting that the Cubs are in on Pirates lefties John Grabow and Tom Gorzelany.
So where does this leave the Rockies, who have only Franklin Morales throwing from the left in the bullpen?
The Denver Post mentions the Orioles’ Mark Hendrickson and the Blue Jays’ Scott Downs as possibilities. The Jays, trying to trim payroll, would be happy to part with Downs, who is due the remainder of his $3.75 million salary this year and $4 million next year. Hendrickson is more economical. He is making $1.5 million this year, and is not signed beyond.
The Rockies, however, are not wanting to disturb the Major League roster, and have been unwilling to deal prospects like second baseman Eric Young Jr. We’ll see if an offer they like comes.
— Thomas Harding
Last week’s trade with the Indians for right-handed eighth-inning guy Rafael Betancourt brought the Rockies close to a bullpen that can be considered a strength. Despite his struggles in Monday night’s 7-3 loss to the Mets, Juan Rincon is more suited for a role other than primary setup guy. Rookie Matt Daley has more room for error.
But there’s still the case of the missing lefty.
Franklin Morales is all the Rockies have from the left side. He is electric, but he also has some growing to do. His pitch sequence before giving up a grand slam to the Mets’ Fernando Tatis was an example of a guy learning on the job. But that might have been a good spot for a more experienced pitcher. (Of course, it could’ve been just one of those things that happen: Tatis has a .219 average against lefty pitchers.)
It would be nice, though, to have one more guy with a history of matching up with key left-handed hitters who can also handle the righty pinch-hitter. Some of the relievers have problems with lefties.
Lefties hit .260 with nine walks agaisnt 10 strikeouts against Daley. They hit .250 but with six walks agianst five strikeouts against Rincon. From a batting average perspective, the best option is Josh Fogg, who has held them to a .185 average. But the Rockies have used him sparingly because he is a long reliever on a staff that has its starters going deep in games.
The Orioles’ George Sherrill has been floated as an option, but it’s unlikely the Rockies could give up the pacakage the Orioles want. The Denver Post citing other clubs executives, point to the Orioles’ Mark Hendrickson and the Nationals’ Joe Beimel as possibilities. The paper noted the Rockies have gone after both in the past.
The ultimate for the Rockies would be to land one of them or another useful lefty by parting with a prospect, rather than disturbing the roster. They have to think long and hard before giving up outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, who is a strong clubhouse presence and more importantly has a history of providing exactly what the club needs offensively and defensively. Third baseman Garrett Atkins has been speculated about since the end of last season and lost his job to Ian Stewart during an ealry slump. But the at-bats have cleaned up to the point that he is a stategic weapon for manager Jim Tracy.
It’s been fodder for sports talk radio and made for good conversation, but the idea of the Rockies acquiring Blue Jays star and Denver native Roy Halladay for the stretch run is fantasy. Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said as much.
“I don’t think that fits for us, no,” O’Dowd said Wednesday morning. “Both financially and talent-wise, short-term and long-term, it would be devastating for us.”
Reports say the Blue Jays, who set a July 28 deadline for making a trade, want prospects and a stellar young arm, such as the Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez, in return. O’Dowd said building a team from within, then destroying it for one player doesn’t make sense.
“Ours has to be a collective sum of the parts, not an individual,” he said. “It has to be the whole team.”
Also, O’Dowd said he likes the Rockies’ lineup, and will not break it up to add another hitter.
The area most pressing need is the bullpen, which sometimes struggles to give leads to closer Huston Street. Franklin Morales, a converted starter, is the only lefty. Manuel Corpas and Ryan Speier are coming off injuries and are not being given full workloads.
The Rockies are trying to be creative. They’ve signed veteran right-hander Matt Herges, a member of the 2007 team that went to the World Series, and have him at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Veteran righty Mike Timlin threw a bullpen session Wednesday and will throw another Friday, and could be signed to a Minor League deal. Speier and Corpas were key members of the 2007 bullpen during the September stretch run.
The Rockies keep looking and listening on the trade front, but they’re hoping the relievers they have form an effective bullpen.
“We keep looking to improve our talent base, and if we can improve our experience,” O’Dowd said. “But it’s going to be hard. it’s an industry where a lot of teams are in contention and the few that aren’t, there’s not a lot of pitching that’s out there.”
“Otherwise, it’s really up to the guys [with the Rockies] themselves. It’s not me. It’s not up to Jim [Tracy, the Rockies’ manager]. It’s how they perform.”