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.
Right-handed relievers Joel Peralta and Manuel Corpas struggled in the final two innings of Monday night’s win over Arizona, which means speculation over the Rockies’ trading plans began anew. Actually, the feeling that the Rockies need bullpen help has lingered for more than a month. Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post has linked the Rockies to Arizona’s Chad Qualls and Houston’s LaTroy Hawkins (who pitched for the 2007 NL Champion Rockies). Renck also reported recently that the price for obtaining Toronto’s Roy Halladay — righty Ubaldo Jimenez and prospects — is likely too high for the Rockies.
The player to keep an eye on is third baseman Garrett Atkins, who hit .327 in June but has dipped again in July. Teams continue to scout to see if his swing has returned to previous levels.
— Thomas Harding