Saturday Rockpile: Bye-bye Taveras and Herrera, Hello Embree and ?

While Willy Taveras had been expected and rumored to be cut leading into Friday night's contract tender deadline, Jonathan Herrera's name sort of came out of the blue, but having the flexibility of another open roster spot is a good thing. Right now it looks like the Rockies are targetting Tim Redding for the spot, but there's nothing concrete there yet, so I suppose that plan can shift as the winter continues to unfold.

This past week's moves have clarified the state of the division somewhat, here's a brief recap of what I said each team still had yet to do last week, along with a short analysis of what's actually been happening:

Arizona:

What still needs to be done: Given their fiscal constraints, targeting higher quality complementary pieces (I like Alex Cora for the Rockies, he'd fit decently in Arizona, also) would help. Restocking the bullpen should be a priority as well. Scout like crazy to make the most of their draft haul.

The Diamondbacks made a somewhat surprising end-around from the rumors in snatching up Felipe Lopez to take over at second base, and he would definitely qualify as a higher quality complementary piece considering that he takes Chris Burke's spot on the roster. They also essentially replaced third catcher Robby Hammock with Rule 5 pick James Skelton and left-hander Wil Ledezma with Scott Schoeneweis. The Lopez move does make their team a little better offensively, a little worse defensively, but if stability itself has value, it should result in an improvement over the position they found themselves in a week ago. As far as their chances in 2009 go, I can't say the same about the Skelton and Schoeneweis moves, but Skelton at least provides some additional upside down the road that wasn't there last week.

The Connor Robertson for Schoeneweis trade confuses me, and I put it in a category of the sort of expensive pointlessness that teams do sometimes. The Rockies are getting Alan Embree for just a little more than the $2 million the Snakes will pay Schoe, and he's a far more effective pitcher against right handers. I do see one good reason for this trade for Arizona: one of the main reasons the other NL West teams will want to have a solid lefty or two in their pen over the next two or three years is to counteract the Rockies many left handed hitters, and Schoeneweis if nothing else has shown he does a fine job with that with a .216/.275/.243 line for the Rox in his career against them.

Colorado:

What needs to be done: If the return fits, trade Willy Taveras and possibly Garrett Atkins or Yorvit Torrealba. Extend Chris Iannetta. Find more pitching particularly an ace that's willing to come pitch at Coors Field for peanuts. Bobo the elephant comes to mind.

Adding Alan Embree while subtracting Willy Taveras doesn't really have that much of an impact on the Rockies compared to what was already known a week ago. I haven't really mentioned this, but there's a chance that Embree could be about as valuable to the club as Brian Fuentes despite being an inferior reliever thanks solely to the effects of him not being blessed with the closer mantel, and therefore free for Hurdle to put in other high leverage situations.

Did you know that the spread between the amount of pitches swung at by Chris Iannetta outside the strikezone (16.2%) and those he swung at inside the strikezone (72.3%) was the highest in the majors since Chipper Jones in 2006? Seriously. This guy is better than you realize Rockies bigwigs.

Los Angeles:

What needs to be done: Signing Manny. And a pitcher. And an infielder. And another pitcher. And another infielder. And some bench players.

Signing Casey Blake and Mark Loretta pushes the Dodgers a lot closer to where they need to be than they were at the beginning of last week, but they still have a long way to go. Neither is the impact bat that the Dodgers need to add, and the Dodgers are running out of available top of the rotation options to pursue for their pitching staff. But they did get an infielder, and Loretta by himself counts as a couple of bench players, which is useful. 

San Diego:

The Padres failed to trade Jake Peavy, but remain somewhat of a spectacle for their highly publicized attempts. They ripped Everth Cabrera from us in the Rule 5 draft. 

San Francisco:

What needs to be done: Sign a slugger or three.

A lot of the Giants work was done prior to the Winter Meetings, so there's really not much of a change here. They are still lacking an impact bat, and it's looking less likely that they will target one before the spring training camp opens.

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