Tuesday Rockpile: Dan O'Dowd Rediscovers His Rolodex

He was once known as "Dealin' Dan O'Dowd." That was back when the glue on O'Dowd's office name plate was still wet and his business cards still freshly printed. He flexed his muscle and overhauled the Colorado roster. Then, he was quiet for a decade. That's a long time. O'Dowd was hired one year after Google was created, over a half decade before YouTube.

While the world was changing, O'Dowd kept his roster of players relatively consistent, at least as much as one can. Maybe he finally rediscovered his rolodex, allowing him to call the GMs whose numbers he hadn't memorized (Billy Beane and Theo Epstein). Or maybe he was rightfully fed up with the result from 2011. One may argue with the players acquired, but the roster upheaval was due.

Here is 2011's designed Opening Day roster compared to what we can expect in the first week of April, 2012.

Chris Iannetta (trade) - Ramon Hernandez
Jose Morales (free agent) - Wilin Rosario
Todd Helton
Jason Giambi
Jose Lopez (released) - Marco Scutaro
Jonathan Herrera - Herrera, DJ LeMahieu, Chris Nelson, Eric Young Jr.
Troy Tulowitzki
Ian Stewart (trade) - Casey Blake
Ty Wigginton (trade) - Jordan Pacheco
Carlos Gonzalez
Dexter Fowler
Seth Smith (trade) - Michael Cuddyer
Ryan Spilborghs (non-tender) - Charlie Blackmon

Ubaldo Jimenez (trade) - Jeremy Guthrie
Jorge de la Rosa (injury) - Juan Nicasio
Jhoulys Chacin
Jason Hammel - (trade) - Drew Pomeranz
Aaron Cook - (free agent) - Josh Outman, Guillermo Moscoso, Alex White, etc
Huston Street (trade) - Rex Brothers
Rafael Betancourt
Matt Belisle
Matt Lindstrom (trade)
Matt Reynolds
Franklin Morales (trade)
Felipe Paulino (trade)

Those last three bullpen spots are open now. Likely candidates to fill them are Zach Putnam, Edgmer Escalona, and/or Josh Roenicke, plus at least one starter who fails to win a rotation spot: Esmil Rogers, Alex White, Josh Outman, Guillermo Moscoso, Christian Friedrich, Tyler Chatwood.

If you're keeping track, that's 15 of 25 men on the Opening Day roster in 2011 who are guaranteed to be elsewhere a year later. Sixty percent turnover. Ten of those 15, or 40% of the roster, moved on via trade.

The latest move involved trading Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom for Jeremy Guthrie, who will likely reprise his three-time role as Opening Day starter in Baltimore with Colorado in 2012. In the past 5 years, Baseball Reference has Guthrie as the #30 most effective starting pitcher in MLB. While many have objected to the flyball nature of acquisitions, Guthrie included, arguably more important to succeeding at Coors Field is strikeouts. In acquiring Guthrie, O'Dowd parted with two very below average strikeout pitchers.

It doesn't seem that way. Lindstrom has an explosive fastball, but he ranked just 110th of 129 MLB relievers with 50+ IP in strikeout rate, a rate that is on a downward slope in his career. Jason Hammel ranked 86th of 94 qualified starting pitchers in K rate. Those rankings are just not going to do it. At one time, Hammel was good for his share of strikeouts, but he was unable to put hitters away in 2011.

Thanks to the amazing work of Harry Pavlidis and Dan Brooks, there is little guesswork here. Fastballs aren't generally used as a punchout pitch, especially if it comes with average velocity. It is the secondary offerings that Hammel used to strike men out. So what's the culprit for Hammel's evaporating strikeouts? Just check his handy Pitch F/X player card:

Hammelwhiffrate_medium

His deuce took a deuce. That is a pretty drastic difference. Whether it is due to there being a better book on Hammel or his inability to spin a good yakker anymore, I don't have time to check at the moment. It is pretty clear, though, that Jason Hammel will need to fix his curve in Baltimore.

Off Topic

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Links

Rockies building a troubling rotation - The Hardball Times Troy Patterson seems to echo the fairly predictable analysis that the Rockies' are foolish for acquiring arms with flyball tendencies. This article was spurred on by the acquisition of Guthrie, whom Patterson admits makes the Rockies better. It's just a chance to beat on Guillermo Moscoso some more, who might not make the roster anyway.

10 things I didn’t know about one-hitters - The Hardball Times Chris Jaffe goes historinerd on one-hitters for you. Among the nuggets - The Rockies' have been one-hit 18 times, yet they've only one-hit an opponent once.

Don Baylor hit managerial summit first in Colorado | MLB.com: News Thomas Harding features the Rockies' first manager, who still harbors some love for the only franchise in the Mountain Time Zone.

The Elite Prospects: 2003 through 2006 - Minor League Ball John Sickels has been doing a wonderful retrospective series on prospects in the last few weeks. Yesterday, he looked at the top prospects he ranked from 2003-2006, only looking at position players that earned an A- or above. Despite being theoretically easier to predict than pitching prospects, roughly a third of them disappointed and there were a good number of outright busts. The only two Rockies to make the list there significantly disappointed.

Nolan Arenado fits into this realm of prospects with his A- this offseason. His exceptional contact tool leads me to believe he is actually of very low bust risk. He may not reach his star potential, but a solid regular is a reasonable expectation.

The only Rockies' prospect to have earned a A- or above this offseason, thereby fitting in with Sickels' study, was Drew Pomeranz. Sickels will do an identical series for pitching prospects today or later this week. Check for that.

Here is Guthrie on MLB Network yesterday:

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