We have hit the half-way point of the off-season, so it serves to be a decent time to grade the off-season moves made thus far. As we know, the Rockies have not been particularly active this off-season, but as Rox Girl pointed out yesterday, there is not writing on the wall for too much more.
Here are the changes so far for the roster since the off-season started, with re-signed free agents in parentheses and free agents lost in bold.
Additions - RHP Wilton Lopez, 1B/3B Ryan Wheeler, (LHP Jeff Francis), LHP Daniel Rosenbaum, RHP Mike McClendon, RHP Jeff Manship, IF Tommy Manzella.
Subtractions - RHP Alex White, LHP Matt Reynolds, RHP Josh Roenicke, RHP Guillermo Moscoso, RHP Coty Woods, IF Tommy Field, RHP Carlos Torres, OF Andrew Brown, LHP Jonathan Sanchez, 1B Jason Giambi
There certainly isn't much there that moves the needle. Yesterday, Jayson Stark posted a story at ESPN asking MLB executives who the most improved and least improved teams were this off-season. Not surprisingly, the Rockies did not appear on the top five of either list, as they simply have not been in the headlines.
Yet Stark cross-referenced that list by employing Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections on rosters from the start of the off-season to now. Only the Marlins and Mets have hurt their projected win total more than the Rockies this off-season, according to ZiPS. How is that possible with such minimal moves made? Because if you aren't getting better, you are getting worse.
When the off-season began, all free agents were floating around, unassigned to teams. Colorado did not sign any top free agents, yet many joined the NL West, improving the win totals of divisional rivals. Those wins come in expense to wins for teams that stayed still. A summary of moves made in the NL West this off-season, again with re-signed free agents in parentheses and free agents lost in bold:
Additions - RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, 2B Skip Schumaker, LHP Rob Rasmussen, 1B/OF Nick Evans
Subtractions - RHP Joe Blanton, OF Bobby Abreu, LHP Randy Choate, 2B Adam Kennedy, OF Shave Victorino, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Todd Coffey, OF Juan Rivera, C Matt Treanor, RHP Blake Hawksworth, 2B Jake Lemmerman, OF Alfredo Silverio, RHP John Ely
Additions - (CF Angel Pagan), (2B Marco Scuataro), (LHP Jeremy Affeldt), OF Andres Torres, RHP Chad Gaudin, IF Wilson Valdez
Subtractions - OF Melky Cabrera, IF Ryan Theriot, 1B Aubrey Huff, 2B Freddy Sanchez, RHP Brad Penny, RHP Guillermo Mota, 2B Emmanuel Burriss, RHP Clay Hensley, C Eli Whiteside, RHP Brian Wilson
Additions - RHP Brandon McCarthy, SS Didi Gregorious, SS Cliff Pennington, RHP Heath Bell, OF Eric Hinske, 3B Eric Chavez, LHP Matt Reynolds, LHP Tony Sipp, 1B Lars Anderson, RHP Starling Peralta, 3B Mark Teahan, OF Jeremy Reed
Subtractions - RHP Trevor Bauer, CF Chris Young, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Matt Albers, C Henry Blanco, RHP Matt Lindstrom, LHP Mike Zagurski, IF Jake Elmore, RHP Sam Demel, C Konrad Schmidt, RHP Takashi Saito
Additions - (RHP Jason Marquis), OF Travis Buck, RHP Tyson Ross, 1B AJ Kirby-Jones, RHP Sean O'Sullivan, SS Gregorio Petit, RHP Wilfredo Boscan, RHP Brandon Kloess
Subtractions - RHP Tim Stauffer, RHP Dustin Moseley, RHP Cory Burns, LHP Andrew Werner, IF Andy Parrino, LHP Josh Spence, CF Blake Tekotte
The Dodgers signed the top ranking starting pitcher in MLB and the top ranking international pitcher. The Giants did not add anyone really, but they used a lot of money freed up by contracts coming off the books to retain notable pieces in Pagan and Scutaro that moved the needle from the start of the off-season. The Diamondbacks have added potentially eight players who will be on their Opening Day roster, including a 3-4 WAR starting pitcher, without losing too much. The Padres haven't done much, but hey.
The only move left that has the Rockies heavily involved would likely not improve the Major League roster, and it probably won't occur anyway.
So a failure of the off-season? Not really. Dan O'Dowd has said repeatedly that he expects the team to improve next season just from being healthier and having more experienced young players. That is perfectly reasonable. After winning 64 games in 2012, ZiPS had the Rockies projected to win 75 just from being healthier and more experienced. The lack of moves made this off-season has them projected at 71 wins.
In the end, the difference between 71 wins and 75 wins is not significant. It would take historical fortune in one-run games, pristine health, or multiple unforseen breakouts to push a 75 win team to playoff contention. Instead of paying for the difference, O'Dowd and Geivett appear to be content giving the youth the room to improve, filling in the gaps with cheap, depth veterans. Clearly, 2013 is not the end game goal, nor should it be.
The Rockies brass just has to be careful to field a competitive enough team not to allow the negative momentum in the fan base to continue to snowball.
Top 12 of 2012: GJ Rockies make the Pioneer League playoffs - KKCO in Grand Junction ran down their top 12 sports stories of 2012 leading up to Christmas, and the new Pioneer League team making the playoffs was one of those stories. Honestly, it should be a top 12 Rockies story as well, as it marked the first time the franchise placed a Pioneer League team in the playoffs.
kind of exciting news I think, I just signed a contract to write a movie, about 40,000 to One and my life,— Ben Petrick (@benpetrick) December 20, 2012
Ten years ago was the catcher of the future for the Rockies, struggling when he should have been Colorado's Buster Posey. He was traded to the Royals for Adam Bernero in 2003, then was out of the game at age 26 after just 43 games in Detroit. It turns out Petrick had Parkinson's Disease. He wrote a book, 40,000 to One, about his struggles. I have not read the book, but there's a last minute Christmas gift idea for you.