The Rockies have a late-innings reliever in right-hander Rafael Betancourt, whom they acquired from the Indians on Thursday for Class-A right-hander Connor Graham. Betancourt gives the Rockies an experienced arm for, potentially, the eighth inning as primary setup man for closer Huston Street.
With the Rockies leading the National League Wild Card race by 1 1/2 games over the Giants, who come to Coors Field on Friday, and with Rockies righty Manuel Corpas undergoing arthrtscopic surgery on his throwing elbow on Friday, the move became necessary. The Rockies also called up their top pitching prospect, Jhoulys Chacin, from Double-A Tulsa, for a right-handed middle role.
The Indians, who had no intention of picking up a $5.4 million option on Betancourt for 2011, add Graham, a Bowling Green, Ohio, native who has a 93 mph fastball.
The Rockies called up their top right-handed pitching prospect, Jhoulys Chacin, 21, from Double-A Tulsa to shore up their bullpen, but that isn’t all the news on Thursday. Club officials confirm that they’re making a trade today for right-handed bullpen help. Stay tuned to MLB.com.
Chacin won 18 games at two Class-A levels last season, impressed the club during Spring Training and pitched well enough at Tulsa to be invited to the Futures Game during All-Star weekend.
The club has been looking to increase its talent level, but also is in need of experience. That need became greater Wednesday when right-hander Manuel Corpas annonuced that he will undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his throwing elbow.
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.”
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