|Franklin Morales will be back in purple pinstripes in 2014.|
Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd earned the nickname perhaps infamously back in 1999 when he took the reins of the club and almost immediately traded seemingly half of the roster. On Wednesday O'Dowd and Bill Geivett continued what has been an extremely busy off-season.
The Rockies dealt lefty reliever Josh Outman to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Drew Stubbs. A year after the Rockies stockpiled middle infielders, they now seem bent on bringing in as many outfielders as possible.
As fans reacted to the trade, the Rockies continued working. The next move saw them ship Jonathan Herrera to the Boston Red Sox for lefty reliever Franklin Morales and former Rockies farmhand Chris Martin. Yes, that Franklin Morales. As a 21-year-old, Morales was thrust into the big league rotation and flourished for the Rockies in 2007, becoming an integral part of a team that eventually lost to the Red Sox in the World Series.
Morales' time with the Rockies didn't end well in 2011, but it shouldn't be forgotten that he had a huge role in the rotation in '07 as well as filling in phenomenally as the closer late in 2009 when Huston Street went down with a shoulder injury.
The move to acquire Stubbs seems to be one that suggests that the club isn't comfortable giving too many at-bats to both Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson. Perhaps it is a sign that the team would like Dickerson to play everyday in Colorado Springs and continue with his seasoning by getting regular at-bats instead of platoon situations.
Stubbs would have made more sense had Dexter Fowler not been traded for Brandon Barnes, another fringe outfielder. Stubbs shares something in common with Barnes, they both don't seem to understand that they can also get on base by walking. Stubbs led the National League in strikeouts in 2011 with 205 punchouts. In barely more than four full seasons in the big leagues, Stubbs has struck out 729 times in 2221 at-bats. He has walked just 219 times.
The message is that regardless of what the Rockies have said, the Fowler trade was nothing short of a salary dump.
Sometimes the Rockies moves don't seem to be typical. Oftentimes the objective doesn't seem clear. The trades on Wednesday fall into that category.
However, take a step back and look at the moves. The Rockies roster subtracted Josh Outman and Jonathan Herrera and they added Stubbs, a guy who has un-reached potential and Morales, who squared his mechanics away in Boston and found himself.
With all due respect to Herrera, every franchise in baseball has five guys in their system that are equal to Herrera. He is the definition of a guy who is a 25th man who comes in late in the game to play defense and occasionally spell a guy who needs a day off. There is nothing special enough about his game to justify making him a long-term solution for any club.
Outman perhaps owns the best name a pitcher has ever had. The only problem is that he never lived up to the name. The lefty was hardly untouchable, pitching to the tune of a 1.463 WHIP in 2013. Confidence in him nailing down a tough situation couldn't have been lower.
No one is claiming that the Rockies are suddenly World Series contenders, or frankly, that they are even good enough to make the playoffs. However, love them or hate them, O'Dowd and Geivett have made the Rockies a better team heading into 2014 than they were in 2013.
Even if the moves aren't completely understandable, Rockies fans have to be slightly happy that the team isn't standing pat after another miserable season. Following the 2012 season, the Rockies did next to nothing in the off-season. They allowed Jim Tracy to walk away and brought in Walt Weiss, but did little beyond that.
It is slightly refreshing to see the Rockies seem to care about the makeup of their team and having a desire to get better. The usual frustration is the Rockies seeming to be just fine with a terrible season. The moves so far suggest that they are at least doing something to change things.
The reality for the Rockies is that they operate on a model of "cross your fingers and hope for the best." The talent is there for them to go to the playoffs. They have two of the most dynamic hitters in baseball in their lineup. They have plenty of talent in their rotation and their bullpen has power arms and the ability to get guys out. However, if one thing goes wrong, they are in big trouble. There is little room for error. If things don't go exactly right, they won't just be mediocre, they will be flat terrible.
The Rockies still have plenty of issues, but the moves over the past 10 days have made them a better team.
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