As the 2011 season limped to another disappointing finish, the warning smell of change was in the air. It had to be. The Colorado Rockies fell far short of expectations two consecutive seasons, and outside of a strong four month stretch at the outset of Jim Tracy's tenure, there has been nothing but disappointment since the 2007 World Series.
This is the backdrop for this offseason, and it is one that is almost universally missed by analysts. Rockies fans endured multiple offseasons in a row with little to no change to the roster, only to see a comparable result the same team produced the year prior. It was at the point where the formula needed to change.
Dan O'Dowd has set about blowing up the team formula without harming its core, an important point to realize. The loyalty shown homegrown top prospects was reevaluated, and as a result several top draft picks and/or top homegrown players were shown their walking papers. Chris Iannetta, Ryan Spilborghs, Ian Stewart, Casey Weathers, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Greg Reynolds were all sent away in the last six months.
You can now add Seth Smith to that list, who was dealt to Oakland yesterday for lefty starter Josh Outman and righty starter Guillermo Moscoso. It is hard to argue with dealing a platoon outfielder for two starting pitchers with MLB experience, especially with the low leverage O'Dowd found himself in after acquiring Michael Cuddyer and Tyler Colvin.
As has been the key signature of the offseason, O'Dowd's moves have received a chorus of boos by analysts outside of Colorado, most of whom have not watched the team as constituted falter continuously in recent years. Jack Moore says Moscoso and Outman have "shiny ERAs and little else." Former Rockies employee Paul Swydan suggests the two pitchers have so little value that it was like trading Smith for nothing. Keith Law believes both are poor fits for Coors Field.
Outman and Moscoso join a crowded cast as competition for the starting rotation. Already, Jhoulys Chacin is a lock, Jason Hammel and Juan Nicasio are likely, and Kevin Slowey, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood, Jorge de la Rosa, Clayton Mortensen and Esmil Rogers all made at least four MLB starts last season. O'Dowd has extended a minor league contract to Jamie Moyer, who, as Troy Renck points out, is older than every player in the Rockies first ever lineup in 1993, except Andres Galarraga. You can't have too much pitching until you do, it seems. Count on a future trade of some of these arms, perhaps as late as Opening Day, when other organizations are desperate for arms due to injuries. Otherwise, this stockpile has surpassed its purpose.
It is certainly debatable whether the Laws, Moores and Sheehans are more suited to accurately judge the Rockies, as their position is theoretically more objective, yet lacking access to the team pulse that has necessitated this roster purge. Or maybe Rockies fans, naturally lacking objectivity yet more familiar with the day-to-day perils, have a better idea. Probably a little of both. Frankly, my prevailing opinion is relief that O'Dowd recognized the need to change things up and did something, rather than ride the same cast to a familiar fate. My opinion on each individual move ought to be couched a little more than it has been until we see the Opening Day (40-man) roster.
Off-season critiques by outside analysts after the jump.
What They Are Saying About the Rockies Offseason
It's perhaps the strangest offseason any team has put together. The Rockies didn't improve in any of their four major-league trades or in their biggest free-agent signing. Collectively, they're a few games worse than they were a season ago, and quite a bit older than they were on Opening Day 2011. The combination leaves them well behind the Giants and Diamondbacks heading into February.
Erik Karabell (ESPN)
Odd winter for Rockies. And not in a good way.
Eno Sarris (Fangraphs, RotoGraphs, BloombergSports)
Love how the Rox were collecting ground-ball wizards, then decided to zag and get a bunch of mediocre fly-ball dudes. #diversity
Matt Klaassen (Fangraphs)
The Colorado Rockies housecleaning of useful-and-inexpensive players continued with their trade of Seth Smith, who was made superfluous by the Rockies' acquisition of the barely-superior Michael Cuddyer