Note, this is largely taken from a payroll relief standpoint (as the Monforts won’t look at it any other way) and takes into account the fact that some things just won’t be (and can’t be) done, like trading away Todd Helton. The result is what in my opinion is a young, hungry roster that will be ready to compete by 2011 at the latest. Consider the following twelve steps a modest proposal to the Monforts…
1. Do not re-sign/extend Clint Hurdle. Whatever magic he had with the players is gone now. If the Monforts are too cheap to fire him, fine. But they simply can’t re-sign him next year. The Rockies need a fresh perspective in the dugout…from an old face. Don Baylor should be the new manager of the Rockies. Seriously.
2. O’Dowd needs to either go now or stay for a few years. Dealin’ Dan’s years with the Rockies have been plagued by a lack of strong strategic planning with some good tactical planning. Unfortunately, this team really needs long term strategic planning—needing a serious reboot—and if O’Dowd isn’t the man for that, it is time to give him his walking papers. A GM in his last year is bound to get desperate and make moves that could cripple the team’s future growth opportunities at the expense of fleeting immediate benefits. There are plenty of GM candidates out there who are willing to commit to the youth and rebuild specifically around the great talent the Rockies have up the middle (Iannetta, Jimenez, Tulowitzki, Fowler).
3. Flip Brad Hawpe for a) a high-impact infield bat prospect, b) a sinkerballing, hard-throwing pitching prospect, or c) a combination of those/a second baseman that is not Clint Barmes. Hawpe is our hottest hitter right now (value as high as it will ever be), he’s signed for one year past this one for $7 million, and he’s at a position of depth for the Rockies. The Rockies could then bring up Carlos Gonzalez and be relatively fine. In addition, there are a dearth of power corner infield prospects right now in the system. Getting a power first baseman prospect for Hawpe that is a couple of years away would be perfect for the Todd Helton-blocked Rockies.
4. Trade Garrett Atkins (but be realistic on the return necessary to get him) to a team like the Twins or Astros that needs a third baseman. If the Rockies could get a decent reliever for Atkins and some salary relief that would be swell, but if it is effectively just the latter (maybe at PTBNL) we’d all be okay with it too. As a result, Stewart slides over to third base full time.
5. See if we can get a relief prospect at the deadline for Jason Marquis, who thus far this year has seen a resurgence in his value. Innings-eaters like Marquis are always overvalued at the deadline (see Hernandez, Livan) and getting a power bullpen arm back would be a bonus. Morales and Hammel have shown they can fill, at least in the short term, a rotation slot, and there is Smith, Chacin, Rogers, Reynolds, Hirsh, or even Deduno waiting in the wings.
6. The Huston Street sweepstakes could be hot and heavy this summer as big market teams like the Yankees, Mets, and Angels look for bullpen relief in the form of a proven high-leverage guy like Street—even if he is being paid $4.5 million and still has an arbitration year remaining. The return wouldn’t have to be exceptional to help the Rockies—an upside arm or toolsy infielder would suffice.
7. Omar Quintanilla is not depth…place him on waivers, keeping Baker as a stopgap utility guy only until he can be replaced by an EY2 type next year. In any case, neither should be in the Rockies’ long-term plans.
8. The Rockies need a real second-baseman. If they can’t secure one via one of the listed trades, the Rockies should aggressively move either Hector Gomez or Chris Nelson quickly through the system with the intent of having one of them start in 2010. They have been potential high-impact guys in the system for several years and need to either do so or step aside. The Rockies have to give them an opportunity at a high level to prove themselves.
9. Thou shalt not be married to marginal talent (read: Clint Barmes). Verily, Barmes is a utility infielder that is being asked to do too much. He’s even a solid bench guy, but is ultimately replaceable next year by a Gomez or a Nelson. In addition, Ryan Spilborghs is projected as a fourth outfielder that some teams could be valuing higher. If the Rockies can flip him or Matt Murton for a younger player, even with similar tools/upside in the outfield, that would be a bonus.
10. Sell high on Aaron Cook, if possible. He’s under contract for at least two years after this one and has shown signs of decline this year. The Rockies have several young starters that will be ready soon enough, and Cook could bring back ( this theme again) a young impact bat or arm.
11. Keep Jorge De La Rosa. His stuff is electric and he is the type of pitcher the Rockies should invest in for at least the next three years. He’ll be more valuable to the Rockies by the end of this year than Cook, if he isn’t already.
12. Following steps 1-11, build the 2010 roster along these lines. Note that some of the players traded for in the earlier steps should be on the team (and at least one would be), though I’m being pessimistic in the return (AKA no great second baseman traded for). This should be the big league club in 2010 (starters at each position listed first):
C: Iannetta, McKenry
1B: Helton, Prospect (from Hawpe/Cook, back-up at 1B and 3B)
2B: Nelson or Gomez, EY2
LF: Smith, Murton
CF: Fowler, Spilborghs
SP2: De La Rosa
Long Man: Chacin
Middle Relief: Corpas, Daley, Grilli/Hirsh
LOOGY: FA pickup
And this roster is assuming that we get very little in immediate return for all of the players we would trade. The starting rotation is a little uninspiring but the hope is that with the trades and the draft we'd get a few more high upside guys in the system to fill out the rotation. Which brings me to the bonus 13th step:
13. Take risks in the 2009 draft! The Rockies will be saving a bunch of money if they trade the players they should this year, so why not go above slot and take some high risk/reward guys? Pay high-impact guys in later rounds well above slot to get them in the system. Don't stop there though. Expand efforts in Latin America, where the best chance of acquiring another Jimenez rests.