The Rockies pursuit for the best return for trading their slugger continues to generate plenty of buzz. Troy E. Renck reports that Dan O'Dowd is keeping an open mind about what he expects back, realizing that pitching may not necessarily be the best way to go. Is O'Dowd open minded enough to get involved in a three way? Yahoo's Tim Brown offered up a rumor which would have the Mariners getting Hideki Matsui, the Yankees getting Holliday, and the Rockies getting Robinson Cano, Seattle pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith and some unnamed Yankees prospect. Given that the Mariners get the shaft in this scenario and New York is able to hang on to Phillip Hughes, I'm guessing that the Yankees camp floated this one out there to see if it had legs in Denver and Seattle.
Rowland-Smith isn't a bad young left-handed pitcher, but he's not going to be any better than Jeff Francis, and therefore shouldn't have more of ceiling than Christian Friedrich. His stuff also grades lower than Jorge De La Rosa and he certainly does not have more of an upside than Franklin Morales. So why deal for a pitcher who on talent alone would only rank as the organization's fifth best LHP? Rowland-Smith is MLB ready right now, making his debut in 2007, and has better command than Morales or JDLR. Because Seattle nurtured him as a reliever and due to some injuries, he pitched the most innings in his career in 2008 at 137. The bottom line in this scenario is that the Rockies get another pitcher to throw into the bottom of the rotation mix, but who could also replace Brian Fuentes in bullpen if necessary, an upgrade at second base in Cano, and an unnamed prospect for Holliday. Similarly to yesterday's Carl Crawford rumor, this isn't a bad place to start, but unless that prospect is Jesus Montero, I don't think this would beat a Crawford centered package from Tampa. The Angels are explicitly stated to not be interested in Holliday, with a condition that this may change, which implies that they're waiting to see where the Mark Teixeira derby goes. I don't believe the Rockies will get the really solid offers for Holliday or Garrett Atkins until Tex signs.
Brown also mentions that the Yankees plan to get involved in the Willy Taveras talks, but the interest of Brian Cashman seems a little tepid compared to that of Kenny Williams. For that reason, I would say the White Sox remain the front-runners, and given the relative lack of complications, I wouldn't be surprised if Willy got dealt before Matt.
Over at the Rocky, Tracy Ringolsby updates us about Todd Helton's rehab from back surgery. Todd really is a wild card for next season that could mean the difference between mediocrity and having a legitimate playoff caliber team. The Renck link at the very top mentions how Ryan Spilborghs is playing center in Mexico with the idea that he could be the Rockies opening day starter at that position next year in place of Taveras as Dexter Fowler finalizes his education. Added to an expected rebound by Troy Tulowitzki, this gives the Rockies upgrades at two of their three offensive sinkholes in 2008's lineup. The one real mystery to me remains how Helton will fare, but if he gets some of the run production back, that would help immensely to make up some of the ground lost by dealing Holliday.
Also in a blog entry, Ringolsby discusses the idea that Brad Penny might be an interesting one-season contract play to rebuild his value after a down year in 2008. I don't see it happening with teams being as pitching crazed as they are and my belief that pitchers will still shun rebuilding their reputations in Coors Field when places like PETCO are available, but were it possible it would be a decent move. Speaking of pitchers and Coors, Renck mentioned three relievers, Doug Brocail, Brandon Lyon and Kyle Farnsworth who are open to coming here. I don't know if I'd give up a draft pick to sign Brocail, and I've seen enough of Brandon Lyon to not want him in our pen, which I guess would leave Farnsy as the only one of that trio that wouldn't make me bang my head against a wall. Pain free is good, I guess.