The Colorado Rockies have certainly had a busy offseason, much to the surprise of many, including myself. When I laid out an apparently never-to-be-published plan for how to fix the Rockies a month or so ago, I did so thinking there was no chance in you-know-what that any of the moves would actually be made.
As it turns out, none of them were, which isn't too shocking. However, the Rockies did some other things in the place of my hypothetical transactions and acquisitions that leave the team not far off of what I came up with in fantasy land.
I advocated the Rockies should have made a play at Chris Young or Justin Ruggiano for a bench role because of his ability to provide significant right-handed pop and a pretty good insurance plan for Carlos Gonzalez. Of course, Young got starter money from the New York Mets, placing him out of the Rockies' price range, and will probably get the opportunity to be a regular. I was a bit off-base there.
Ruggiano is a different story. He had major appeal as a right-handed hitter with power and was flying under the radar while wasting away with the Marlins. The main difference between he and Young is that Ruggiano was not a free-agent, although that didn't make him any less available. The Cubs recognized Ruggiano's potential as a lefty-killer and picked him up in exchange for Brian Bogusevic, who showed similar platoon splits as Ruggiano but from the other batter's box. Charlie Blackmon might be a decent comp to Bogusevic, and a Blackmon-for-Ruggiano swap is one that I definitely would have explored in order to improve the ball club.
Instead, the Rockies created a bit of a hole in their starting outfield by dealing Dexter Fowler to Houston in exchange for Brandon Barnes -- who will, if he makes the team, fill the role that I had pegged for Young or Ruggiano -- and Jordan Lyles. That's a pretty significant downgrade, but it probably also means that Colorado plans to heavily utilize Blackmon and Corey Dickerson in 2014. That's not the worst thing, but it also potentially puts the Rox at a major disadvantage against southpaws.
I also advocated that the Rox sign James Loney, who was coming off a breakout season in which he owned the best road batting average in baseball. Loney is a very good defensive first baseman and has always hit well at Coors Field. His approach indicates that wouldn't have went away any time soon, making him a pretty good bet to provide a major boost over what the Rockies saw at first base a year ago. Yet, Colorado chose the "clubhouse character" route and signed Justin Morneau, a guy who is three years older than Loney and whose production is trending in an opposite direction.
When it was all said and done, maybe the Rockies weren't willing to go an extra year and an extra $1 million in annual value for Loney, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Rays on Monday. If that's the case, it's really unfortunate, considering the superior production Loney is likely to provide due to the fact that he's still in his prime. Morneau might be in for a rebound year this season and it won't take much for him to outproduce the departed Todd Helton, but I don't expect much from the 32-year-old Canadian in the second year of his two-year, $12.5 million deal.
The Rockies didn't do as well as they could have in those two areas, but they exceeded my expectations (and to a degree, even my hopes) in the starting rotation by swapping Drew Pomeranz for 25-year-old right-hander Brett Anderson. I wanted the Rox to seek out a deal for Tigers starter Rick Porcello, but the team would have likely had to part with an impact reliever to do so, and that's an area from which they were rightfully unwilling to part with talent. Instead, Dan O'Dowd and company swung a deal for Anderson, who has been great when healthy and profiles extremely well for Coors Field.
There is, of course, some risk involved with a guy who hasn't made a full season's worth of starts since 2009. However, all starting pitchers present a risk when you consider how much team's usually have to part with in order to acquire a good one. Porcello would have been no different, especially when taking into account his propensity for allowing hits while pitching in a ballpark that's nowhere near the hitter's paradise that is Coors Field.
I love the Anderson move. I don't hate the Morneau one, upon further review, although I think there was a better option out there. And I despise the Fowler move, although I at least understand it a little more now. And the Rockies' signings of LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan? Well, relievers are an unpredictable bunch, so we'll see.
Regardless, one thing is becoming clear: the Rockies are trying to win. And soon. They might be going about it differently than how you or I or anyone else would like, but, hey -- it's a start.
At this point, the Rox are probably done. However, if they're not, let's hope they have their eyes focused on a decent bench bat who can provide some sort of insurance in the case that Troy Tulowitzki gets hurt again. I wanted to see the team make a push for Rafael Furcal, as I mentioned before, but there might be some other options out there. Sticking with Jonathan Herrera and Josh Rutledge isn't a terrible idea on its own until you consider the fact that, if (when?) Tulo gets hurt, one of those guys and DJ LeMahieu will be in the lineup at the same time.
Or, maybe the team will listen to the Denver Post commenter types and GET SOME PITCHING INSTEAD.
What do you guys think?