Tuesday Rockpile: Rockies Now Trying to Improve Team's Greatest Strength

Jason Grilli had a 2.93 ERA for the Rockies in 2008. Will they bring him back in 2013? - Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Other than shortstop, there is arguably no position the Rockies need to address less than the back end of their bullpen, yet that is their apparent target one day into the Winter Meetings.

The Rockies do not listen to me - they never have. Many times, I look back and am relieved, yet now, I'm just confused. Last week, I covered the most important members of the Rockies' bullpen in 2012, and my conclusion: the overall bullpen ERA was ugly (4.52), but that was inflated by piggyback relievers and short term cameos; indeed, the back end of the bullpen was the strength of an otherwise feeble team. After one day of the Winter Meetings, what are the Rockies' targets?

Rockies on the prowl for a closer or late reliever at winter meetings - The Denver Post

Huh. Rex Brothers, closer in waiting, had a 3.29 FIP and K/9 north of 11 in 2012. Matt Belisle had a FIP below 3.00 in EIGHTY innings. In sixty appearances, Rafael Betancourt had arguably his worst full season as a Rockie. His ERA was 2.81 and his FIP was 3.09. That trio was acquired for the low prices of a draft pick from letting reliever Brian Fuentes go, a minor league contract, and Conner Graham. Yet the first order of business at Opryland is finding a closer or back-end reliever?

Yet if one reads deeper than in Renck's piece, it is not quite as high profile of a target as the headline suggests. Colorado inquired on Joahkim Soria and Jordan Walden before they found new homes. Both Soria and Walden once were dominant closers but are now wild cards due to injury. The other "back-end relievers" mentioned in the piece are really standard middle relievers: Jason Grilli, Peter Moylan and Daniel Schlereth. Grilli will carry a hefty price tag after posting a K/9 of 13.81 last year, 4th best in MLB. Yes, really. The others should be cheap.

Walt Weiss remembers his 1995 squad, while headlined by the Blake Street Bombers, made the playoffs on the strength of a strong bullpen. Getting decent middle relief, which is more of what I'd classify the relievers tied to the Rockies here as, is quite a bit cheaper than closer or back end relief as the headline stated. While the back end of the pen is a strength, I would be okay with Colorado strengthening the pen, as having a dominant pen that can pitch at Coors Field is imperative to keeping a home field advantage. However, I fear that doing so would be at the cost of using the available trade chips or money that could be better allocated.

Renck: Rockies in no position to consider players untouchable - The Denver Post Except for Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton and Carlos Gonzalez. And Jhoulys Chacin I guess. It would not make sense to trade a talented starting pitcher at this point. The premise for Renck's piece here is expressing why Dexter Fowler is a popular target. Just please no Homer Bailey.

Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki nearing full recovery from groin injury - The Denver Post This is good news. But after 2012, it might just make fans new to pessimism have nightmares of a newly healthy Tulo playing in the WBC and tearing his hamstring, just tearing it right off.

Links

TwitLonger — @ChrisChrisman In answering questions about the 4-man rotation and piggyback system, Dan O'Dowd has repeated cited the Rockies' research of elite starting pitchers faring significantly worse at Coors Field the third time through the line-up. It's an interesting premise, and one in which you had not previously researched. But is it true? Chris Chrisman did the legwork to find all of this data on the elite pitchers Dan O'Dowd continues to mention, and it pains me to say that the data does not support O'Dowd's notions.

Live from the 2012 Winter Meetings - Baseball Nation Baseball Nation has Rob Neyer, Cee Angi and Steven Goldman on the ground at the Winter Meetings. So you can follow this continuously generated feed for unique SBN content from Opryland.

Baseball Prospectus | 108 Stitches: Pulling Back the Curtain on the Winter Meetings If you further want to imagine yourself at the Winter Meetings, former Dodgers/White Sox GM Dan Evans describes the scene.

Unlikely replay ready for MLB's Opening Day in 2013, sources say - ESPN - You didn't think Bud was in a hurry, did you?

Baseball Prospectus | Western Front: Thou Shalt Not Run on Johnny Cueto The date was September 7, 2010. Things were grand in Rockies-land. Troy Tulowitzki was on a Ruthian rampage. Colorado had just won their fifth straight and would go on to win five more in a row and eight of their next 10 to pull within a game of a playoff spot. Ubaldo Jimenez had secured franchise record win number 18 the day before, leaving him two wins shy with five starts left. Remember that time? Yeah, that day was the last time Johnny Cueto allowed a successful steal of second base. It was by Eric Young Jr. while Ramon Hernandez was busy framing a third strike on Dexter Fowler. Great stuff from Geoff Young here, who found all 12 attempts at second base (a low number in 61 starts to begin with) were unsuccessful. That's one way to have the 3rd best ERA in MLB the last two seasons.

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