Not only do his outings just seem to linger on forever, but now his contract does, too! We learned from Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes yesterday evening that the Rockies have extended Rafael Betancourt, guaranteeing his $4.25M mutual option for the 2013 season and adding a 2014 team option.
So this kind of makes me wonder why the Rockies feel they need Rafael Betancourt for potentially the next 3 years. Well, Occam's Razor would suggest the simplest reason is likely the best, and that's the fact that Betancourt has done nothing but own since joining the Colorado Rockies. For example, at no point in his Colorado Rockies tenure has Betancourt had a K/9 less than 10.3. Never with the Rockies has Betancourt walked even 2 batters per 9 innings. Amusingly enough, Betancourt pitched the same 62.1 innings in 2010 and 2011 (walking 1.16 per 9 in both seasons too), right at around a 2.50 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) level. SIERA likes him even more (2010, 1.57; 2011, 2.00).
Betancourt has worked with some of the young Latin pitchers on the team, just as kind of that helpful veteran presence. He's established himself as a leader on the team, and having someone in that role is absolutely huge going forward.
Intangibles aside, the numbers pretty much paint the picture of Betancourt being a model pitcher for high leverage innings. He has a high strikeout rate and low walk rate, good for keeping batted ball fluctuations and any other sorts of baserunners off of the paths. His downside is obviously that he gives up too many home runs, but with diminished traffic due to a miniscule walk rate and high K rate, they tend to be less damaging than other pitchers' long balls.
The one downside I have with Betancourt right now isn't even involving him. Betancourt was named closer in lieu of the injured Huston Street, a position he never relinquished, and he's already been named the closer for the 2012 season. Funny story, Betancourt always ends up closing for me in my OOTP sims. I don't like the way managers handle closers, especially our manager, as they're relegated to the 9th inning and the 9th inning alone and then are "saved" in extra innings for that magical half inning when your team has the lead. I liked seeing Betancourt come in and clean up a rocky 7th and then pitch the 8th. A big part of Betancourt's excellent fWAR figures (excellent for a reliever, anyhow) was the fact that he pitched in all sorts of tricky situations and has had a distinctly positive impact on the team's chances of winning (per WPA) due to his usage in those high-leverage situations. Oh well.
Juan Nicasio commanded attention Thursday when he walked into the Coors Field clubhouse, but not for the one-inch scar on his neck. He had a mohawk.
La Violencia indeed.
Troy Renck treats us to a bunch of short summaries of Rockies players' offseasons - mostly sound bites, but they're not the standard Spring Training cliches. For example, did you know that Apodaca visited Alex White this offseason to discuss pitching philosophy and how to attack hitters? Good stuff.
Jamie Moyer is old!