Sunday, January 22, 2012

Colorado Rockies acquire Marco Scutaro from Boston Red Sox

On Saturday, the Colorado Rockies shipped Clayton Mortensen to the Boston Red Sox for Marco Scutaro, filling their need for a second baseman and giving them another veteran presence in the clubhouse.

The Colorado Rockies offseason has been unique, to say the least.

For the most part, fans have been disappointed with the Rockies moves, or lack-there-of-moves in since the Cardinals were crowned champions in late October.

Without sitting in the front office and hearing the conversations that go on, without knowing the personality of the players, it is easy to suggest that the team seems confused by what they are trying to accomplish.

However, take a deeper look at what this team has done and the answers are easy to find. The Rockies are less concerned with getting better talent and more concerned with fixing the issues that were present in the clubhouse.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Colorado Rockies ship Seth Smith to Oakland A's for two pitchers

Seth Smith
The Colorado Rockies completed a trade on Monday, shipping Seth Smith to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman. 

The move should put the finishing touches on the Rockies main priority this offseason. That priority? Not getting better on the field, but getting the attitude right in the clubhouse.

The club has now parted ways with Chris Iannetta, Ian Stewart, Huston Street, and Smith. What do all of those players have in common? They had all been accused of being too lifeless. They all had a hard time outwardly showing their emotion. 

Monday's move showed fans that the club is looking for players who are going to wear their passion on their sleeve. They want more fire in the dugout and less stoic looks after losses.

The move added two more names to the list of potential fifth starters that the Rockies will be looking at when they head to Scottsdale in February. That list seems to includes the name of every starter to throw a pitch at the bantam 12-year old Fourth of July tournament last summer. If every candidate got to throw one inning in a spring game, they would probably have to find some time in a minor league game to get Jhoulys Chacin some work.

Moscoso is less of a prospect than he is a minor league journeyman. At 28-years old, and one full Major League season under his belt, his youthful days are behind him. He posted a 3.38 ERA in 128 innings in Oakland in 2011, but gave up 14 home runs, several of which came the gigantic park that used to be known as the Oakland Coliseum. 

As far as Outman goes, his name might be ideal for a pitcher, but he too is no young prospect. He will enter spring training at 27-years of age, with a small Major League resume that features three seasons of work in which he went back-and-forth between Oakland and Sacramento, the home of the A's Triple-A affiliate.

With the trade, the Rockies still have their biggest question of the offseason left to answer. Who will play second base? The answer is in the form of many internal candidates at the moment. It could be Chris Nelson, it could be Eric Young, Jr., it could be Jonathan Herrera or any other number of players. 

However, the more likely answer is that the Rockies are not done with their offseason moves. Most likely they are still looking for a way to trade for a proven second baseman, one who they can rely on for everyday duty. The team certainly has been stocking up starting pitchers that they could use as pieces in a potential trade. 

The Rockies certainly don't look like a team that is finished with it's offseason work. At the moment, they look much more like a team that isn't looking to win in 2012, but in 2013.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Drew Goodman wins Colorado Broadcaster of the Year award

It is becoming the least surprising award in Colorado. 

On Friday, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Drew Goodman of Root Sports as Colorado Sportscaster of the Year. 

Goodman will most likely have to build a bigger mantle in his living room to fit the award on it. This is his ninth time winning the award in the past 10 years. 

It makes for a good time to mention something that is all-too forgotten about in the middle of the Colorado Rockies season. That is, the Rockies have the best broadcasting team in baseball.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What the Colorado Rockies and Troy Tulowitzki can learn from the Denver Broncos and Tim Tebow

The Colorado Rockies had their window. They had their chance to be in the Denver sports spotlight.

That chance came and went, thanks in large part to the new face of Denver sports, Tim Tebow.

The scene was set for the Rockies to take over. The Broncos were coming off a 4-12 season in which their head coach was fired and their team was in disarray. To top it off, the NFL was heading into a lockout that threatened to end the season before it ever started. The second worst team in football would never lose it's fan base, but there certainly fans out there looking for something different. 

The Rockies were poised to be in that position. They had just locked up their two youngest and brightest stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. They were moving into a new spring training home in Scottsdale and the experts were picking them to win the National League West for the first time in franchise history.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Have the Colorado Rockies done enough this offseason?

There is no way to sugar coat it.

The 2011 Colorado Rockies season was one to forget. A team that was destined to win their first-ever National League West title fell on their faces. They came out of the gate winning 11-out of-13, then proceeded to win just 62 of their next 149 games.

Injuries were a huge part of the disappointment. It seemed that almost every Rockie went down with an injury of some sort at least once throughout the season. Carlos Gonzalez hurt his wrist running into the wall in July, and if the truth were told, he never fully recovered.

As the season came to an end, Jim Tracy pointed to the nagging injuries as a reason why the Rockies ended up contending for the basement of the National League West rather than the crown. The excuses were empty. They were just that, excuses.

The reality is, every team deals with injuries. All 30 teams in Major League Baseball will have their depth tested throughout the course of a 162-game season. Some teams are more fortunate than others, but the reality is, injuries are a part of the game. They cannot be used as an excuse.

What injuries really point out is how deep a team really is. They expose the truth in a farm system. The Rockies have pointed to their farm system as their crown jewel for several years. They have been overly hyped as having one of the best farms in baseball. Oftentimes the Rockies have held on to prospects instead of trading them for big-name players that could help their current big league team out. Those players have hit the big league level and never shown their potential.

The glaring problem for the Rockies in 2011 was not their injuries, but what the injuries pointed out. The Rockies farm system was over hyped. They have players that the valued as impact players at the big league level that will most likely amount to average, at best.

The other big issue for the Rockies was in the clubhouse. It became clear after Ubaldo Jimenez was shipped off to the Cleveland Indians that he had lost favor with certain team leaders--particularly Troy Tulowitzki.

Apparently Jimenez took a trip to Europe in January instead of continuing with his offseason throwing program, which generally consisted of him playing in the Dominican Leagues. Instead, Jimenez took the site-seeing tour and wasn't ready for spring training. When a groin injury and a thumb injury came up in March, it compounded, and the end was beginning for the former ace.

Jimenez's trip to Europe was most likely an innocent one. However, it seems as if it sparked clubhouse dissension that ultimately led to the team's failures. The Rockies were known for having a tight-knit, family atmosphere in the locker room. However, that seemed to go away with the Jimenez issue, and players took sides.

Those issues seem to have forced the hand of Dan O'Dowd, who has nearly finished shipping out all of the players whose attitudes never contributed to a winning clubhouse. The offseason has been full of one thing for the Rockies, getting rid of the passive personalities on the club. First it was Ty Wigginton, the player who never learned team baseball, then it was Chris Iannetta, shipped out for pitching depth. Next came Huston Street, then it was Ian Stewart, given up on after a miserable season. Within weeks the final decision will be made when the Rockies find a suitor for Seth Smith.

The reality is, the players the Rockies are getting rid of are not the fiery-type. They aren't the ra-ra types that thrive under the leadership of a player like Tulowitzki. They go about their business, and go home. Losing may make their skin crawl, but they don't wear their emotions on their sleeve like Tulo. It may not be a bad thing, but it was clearly deemed a problem by the Rockies front office.

It was clear. The objective was to create a winning atmosphere in the clubhouse. One where losing is unacceptable and makes the players sick.

So have the Rockies done enough to make that happen? They brought in Michael Cuddyer, a Twin who has seen what it takes to win. They may have overpaid for him, but he may be the answer to some of clubhouse issues.

Beyond Cuddyer, the Rockies haven't done much to add proven talent to the big league roster. There are some patch-work fixes that have been made, and some flyers taken on a few players, but the team really seems to be hanging their hat on Cuddyer turning things around, and an addition by subtraction in the clubhouse.

Will it be enough?