Beats talking about the government. Anyway, Tracy Ringolsby's Friday notes column mentions that the loss of Casey Weathers in 2009 doesn't affect the Rockies closer plans, and therefore will have no bearing on the team's stance with Brian Fuentes, but the truth is that the team now faces a talent shortfall in the bullpen. Let's look at it with simple algebra:
If you take a player of value X out of the bullpen, regardless of what role he has or inning he gets used in, and replace him with another player of that same value X, again without regard to inning or role, you've essentially scored a wash and your bullpen is just as valuable as it was before you started. This is what would be happening if the Rockies let Fuentes walk but had Weathers come into a role sometime next season. Now if you lose a player of value X and replace him with a player of value Glendon Rusch, this is where you start to run into some problems. The Rockies are without a doubt going to have a weaker bullpen in 2009 than they did in 2008 without finding a suitable replacement for Fuentes. If they don't make up that value lost in the pen, they have to make it up somewhere else on the diamond just to keep even with last season's team. Anybody who wants that is aiming low. With the team also still projecting to trade Matt Holliday or Garrett Atkins, there may be another talent deficit the team will need to make up somewhere else on the field.
Right now, it seems likely that the team might get one of those upgrades at shortstop just from having a more mature and consistent Troy Tulowitzki. Another could come at third base if it's only Atkins that gets traded in Ian Stewart. At that point we'd be left in essentially the same situation we were headed into 2008, hoping that somehow our rotation and second base solutions are up to the challenge of keeping us competitive. It could be that it will work. of course, losing Holliday also isn't accounted for yet, but the trade market might give us a decent payoff that contributes immediately. As Troy Renck mentions in that Glendon Rusch link, the team does have hope for 2009 in this division. The D-backs aren't going to be increasing their payroll, which means that they will have to head into 2009 with essentially the same team they headed into 2008 with sans Orlando Hudson. That's a big loss to be sure. The Dodgers will be dangerous even without Manny Ramirez, but at the moment it looks like they too won't be getting Ramirez to return despite offering him a crazy two year, $60 million contract. Still, I'd like to see signs that the Rockies are a bit more ready to make a statement with their moves this winter.
Tampa Bay last night became the third of four nineties era expansion teams to win a World Series game, with one notable hold-out. At least we made it to the WS, though, which is more than a few earlier expansion squads such as the Rangers, Nats or Mariners can claim.
I guess the other notable note from Ringolsby is the Jayson Nix free agency. With Eric Young Jr. heating up the AFL, we're ready to move on from that chapter. Note that this also closes out the Rockies last tie to the Matt Harrington draft debacle, as Nix was selected with the compensation pick the team received for failing to sign Harrington.