Tuesday Rockpile: Jim Tracy Taken to Hospital, Rockies Sign Ty Wigginton, Events Unrelated

The Winter Meetings can be a very exciting time for baseball people. It can be exhausting too. Rockies manager Jim Tracy collapsed at an elevator at his hotel last night just after 1:30AM Eastern time, and while we do not yet know the cause, I am hoping exhaustion was the root of it. I am less than half his age, but 1:30 seems late to me. He was with coaches Tom Runnels and Carney Lansford. Colorado's skipper was rushed to a hospital, conscious and responsive.

The most recent news on Tracy is that he is resting in an area hospital, awaiting orders from medical personnel after undergoing tests. All serious causes for the collapse have been ruled out.  We will certainly keep you posted as more news develops.

The show must go on for the Rockies, who still have holes to fill at the Winter Meetings.

Indeed, the show already has gone on, as Tracy Ringolsby has reported the Rockies have signed Ty Wigginton. The contract is for 2 years and $7.5million, with a $500k buyout on a 2013 option.

After having little defensive versatility on his bench in 2010, Dan O'Dowd was a sucker for Wigginton's versatility, who can play third base, first base, second base, right field and left field, though none of them particularly well.

Offensively, he profiles as a league average bat, which makes him about as dangerous as Melvin Mora in 2010. Most of his production coming from the power profile, as he could easily eclipse double digits in home runs in a part-time role. The 33-year-old made $3.5million in 2010 with Baltimore, so O'Dowd wooed the veteran by keeping his salary in the same ballpark, a bit of an overpay. No doubt O'Dowd felt Wigginton was worth the salary because he has many hats. We will have a more detailed analysis on this move later, but a hasty analysis of the roster fallout of this move:

  • Wigginton's salary probably removes all possibility of acquiring Josh Willingham or Mike Napoli, fitting them into the budget and filling other holes. Unless payroll is increased higher than previously reported, O'Dowd will likely fill remaining holes frugally.
  • Given the point above, it is reasonable to expect that Wigginton will act as the fifth outfielder, leaving two of Eric Young Jr., Jonathan Herrera and Chris Nelson to fill out the roster. Wigginton has positive defensive statistics in criminally small sample sizes patrolling the lawn, but one would hope the 33-year-old stands in the Coors outfield as minimally as possible.
  • Other players who fit the same rough profile as Wigginton are now out as options. Jeff Francouer and Jorge Cantu will be playing elsewhere. If you are upset about Wigginton, remember the most likely alternatives were those two.

Off-topic.

 

There are more pieces to fill. One piece that has grown in momentum of late is a legitimate middle to late inning reliever. Troy Renck also mentioned yesterday that the Rockies have inquired on lefty Pedro Feliciano. Dan O'Dowd has been known to utilize the sharp blade of patience as his ultimate weapon in building bullpens. (See: Beimel, Joe v2010).

Thomas Harding suggests that method could work wonders again this offseason. The names Harding mentions: Bobby Jenks, Jon Rauch. Kevin Gregg, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and even Brian Fuentes. He also dismisses two names recently mentioned. Alfredo Aceves is out of the picture due to injury concerns. The Rockies also apparently started asking about Houston Astro Matt Lindstrom when working the Clint Barmes trade. So when O'Dowd says there isn't a fit there in trade, I believe he has pursued Lindstrom as much as he could.

"There are only certain select guys that we really like. So if we can't get a guy that we like, we're not going to spend our resources adding a guy for the sake of adding a guy." - Dan O'Dowd, via Harding

Expect a pen arm to be added, but don't hold your breath that it will happen soon.

Ronny Paulino was mentioned as a target for backup catcher Sunday. Paulino should come at a reasonable price and seems to fit the good-but-not-great backup the Rockies are targeting. While the ever optimistic Bill James expects Paulino to produce an OPS+ of 100 in 2011, the more reasonable ZiPS projections suggest an OPS+ of 81. That is not spectacular, but it IS better than Chris Iannetta's 2010.

Projection programs are far from perfect, but they can be useful tools to give us ballpark figures of what to expect when the purple tinted glasses are removed. CHONE was widely considered the best projection system, but creator Sean Smith has been hired by an MLB team, meaning CHONE projections won't exist in 2011. In my opinion, I would turn to ZiPS next. The Rockies' team projections should post later today here.

 

Links

Rockies' Alves receives public relations award | ColoradoRockies.com: NewsJay Alves, the Rockies' executive vice president of communications/public relations, was announced as the recipient of the 2010 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence on Monday.

To be honest, I don't follow the public relations game close enough to have any idea of how deserving Alves was, but Keith Law says it is "well deserved," and Law is always right, right?

 

Carney Lansford is traveling to work with Chris Iannetta, Ian Stewart and Seth Smith. Those three players represent the club's biggest chance for organic improvement, and Lansford's hire has been constantly linked to those three. If Lansford can help the three, it will add more to the team than any free agent hitter O'Dowd signs.

Melvin Mora leaves Rockies to sign with Diamondbacks - The Denver Post  Mora really wanted to return to Colorado, but the acquisition of Jose Lopez left him without a roster spot. Mora joins free agents Jason Giambi, Miguel Olivo, Jorge de la Rosa and now Joe Beimel who have crooned openly this offseason about their love for playing with the Rockies. It's a small thing really, but it certainly helps Dan O'Dowd when the organization such has a growing reputation among free agents.

Ruling in Dodgers' divorce case expected Tuesday | Dodgers Blog | Los Angeles Times
In an event that could dramatically change the outlook of the NL West (or potentially mean nothing at all), a judge will make a decision that could award Frank McCourt sole possession of the Los Angeles Dodgers. So if you want the drama to continue, root for Judge Scott Gordon to side with Jamie McCourt today.

Rule 5 Possibilities, 2010 - Bucs Dugout
The Rule 5 draft is Thursday, and while the Rockies have open spots on the 40-man roster, a selection by Colorado would be incredibly surprising. So to keep your interest, here is a list of possible players to be selected, as compiled at the Pirates SBNation blog. Notable names include Aneury Rodriguez, who was dealt for Jason Hammel in 2009, and Zach Simons, a former Rockie farmhand who was traded for Jason Grilli. I'll throw Connor Graham (dealt for Rafael Betancourt) as another name to watch.

Twitter / Jerry Crasnick: Kevin Correia was briefly tied to the Rockies as a potential back end/emergency starter. You can unsurprisingly cross his name of that list, as he signed a 2-year, $8million contract with Pittsburgh. He really only fit into the Rockies' plans if his market value plummeted.

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