KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 18: Starting pitcher John Danks #50 of the Chicago White Sox smiles as he walks to the dugout after being relieved in the seventh inning during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
After I went over several available starters via in Thursday's Rockpile, Troy Renck brought up a few more on Friday. Most I had looked at and dismissed, and today I'll explain why, while one I definitely should have mentioned. Surprisingly, in the comments to Friday's Rockpile nobody latched on to him as I have.
Wandy Rodriguez - In a vacuum, I like the idea of adding Rodriguez to the Rockies rotation. He would improve the team for 2012, I have little doubt of that, and I think it's pretty clear that Houston could try to move him this winter. The trouble is the cost that improvement for the Rockies would require likely doesn't justify it. Rodriguez will cost $36 million over the next three seasons and he will also cost the Rockies a prospect or group of prospects that the team will likely be better off not dealing. Even if the Rockies somehow get Ed Wade to back off the demands of Wilin Rosario and/or Drew Pomeranz (and why should he now, with more competition for Rodriguez's services?) the resulting prospect package added to the salary outlay likely won't be worth it. Both the money and prospects should instead be utilized to fill multiple holes rather than just the one. By the way, to find out how Wade works, read this article about the Michael Bourn trade, the good news to glean from it is that Wade will back off of his top prospect demands if he gets offered a package that's attractive enough to him. I still have doubt's whether this will work out in Rodriguez's case, however.
Ricky Nolasco - I really would like this, but the Marlins seem more likely to keep Nolasco and deal Chris Volstad given all the reports I've read out of Florida, as the Marlins are looking to add the same kind of veteran starters the Rockies are looking at and even go a step further than the Rockies, as they're also looking at expensive free agents like C.J. Wilson and Mark Buerhle. Nolasco right now seems very much in their plans for 2012. Rockies fans looking to Florida for help should focus for the moment on Volstad. Should the Marlins sign Wilson, it could be that they revisit trading Nolasco instead to offset the salary add.
Carl Pavano - I don't know if it's registered yet for O'Dowd how bad of an idea this is. Like the Marlins, the Twins are trolling for more starting pitching, and right now seem intent on keeping Pavano as a staff anchor. Given his expiring contract, he should be available, but the cost of acquiring him will far surpass the expected return on the field, and unlike the case with Wandy Rodriguez, there's little assurance that return on the field will actually be of benefit to the team.
Wade Davis - I lumped Davis in with James Shields and Jeff Niemann the other day as fool's gold, because the Rays have a lot of leverage right now in picking among multiple suitors for the best available offer. Everybody's looking to Tampa for starting help, and whatever team winds up getting it from them will get the short end of the stick as with options available for prospects Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, there's no real imperative for the Rays to deal any of the three more experienced starters until they've got a deal that they win. All three of these pitchers would be solid adds, and Davis' contract is particularly attractive, but the likely prospect cost makes it seem unfeasible to me.
So now that I've given a thumbs down to most of Renck's starting pitching ideas, let's give a roaring thumbs up to the one I think should be aggressively pursued by Dan O'Dowd:
John Danks - Kenny Williams has publicly stated that he'll trade Danks only for "major-league ready" players, meaning that he's limiting the prospects that he's listening about to the AA level and above. As is the case with Rodriguez, if the Rockies can keep Williams from fixating on Rosario and/or Pomeranz, this actually could make a lot of sense for Colorado, depending on how much the White Sox GM would want to raid out of that White/Gardner/Friedrich/Wheeler/Blackmon/Pacheco/Field group. Danks has two 200 IP seasons under his belt already and will only be 27 next season. Given that the flame throwing southpaw doesn't have major issues, produces at a solid #2 starter level and is available, I'd rank him ahead of Volstad at the top of my pitching wishlist. After a down season in 2011 that was still nonetheless pretty impressive in the peripherals, Danks will likely cost $8 million or less in salary. Like a couple of the pitchers I brought up Thursday, he's eligible for free agency after 2012, but as far as the available one season rentals go while the Rockies other arms recover and develop, he's likely the best possible solution.
Renck's most recent piece is a "culture of winning" article that while I think most of us feel it exists and is likely needed more in the Rockies clubhouse, philosophically it's difficult to prove, and you can forget trying to go about it empirically.
My opinion on the pending Jason Giambi return: I noticed a lot of Sturm und Drang yesterday in the Rockpile over the news, but I don't really get it. As was the case this past season, if at any point Giambi proves less valuable to the Rockies than some prospect more deserving of the roster spot, then it's not going to be too hard for the team to figure out a way to open a path. How hard can it be to find a DL worthy malady in a 42 year old bench bat? Giambi was more than worth what the Rockies paid for him, whatever issues the Rockies have had the last three seasons, they aren't with Giambi. Given that constant DL flexibility, he doesn't waste 25 man roster space, and as to the 40 man, it's very unlikely that a Rule 5 pick will prove more valuable. Teams are about as likely to find MLB value in the minor league free agent pool, and they don't require the strict roster rules that Rule 5 picks do.