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Protecting our Core Assets:

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With the shift in personnel the team went through this week, and with spiralling free agent contracts creating difficult decisions when it comes to roster management, I thought it would be good to do a survey of Purple Row readers as to who they feel are the Colorado Rockies "core" players -those central to the franchise identity and its future success- and who they feel is more expendable.

Me, I'm a cruel mistress, and I see players as little more than stepping stones, tools if you will, in a relentless pursuit of the ultimate prize, but I do save some soft spots for personal favorites. At any rate, my own list breaks down into a few categories:

Behind the Vault

These are players who are completely off limits. You can't even look at them for this upcoming season and the next after that. We'll re-evaluate after 2008 and let you know if their Vault license is renewed, otherwise, go away. I mean, unless it's one of those trades where George Steinbrenner pays a million dollars to every Rockies fan and gives Rockies bloggers his AmEx for a day on Fifth Avenue, then you might get me to reconsider letting you in.

Jeff Francis - By virtue of his skill, his affordable contract and his desire to remain a Rockie, I'm putting him at the top of my list right now.

Chris Iannetta - Catchers, especially quality young catchers are one of the rarest varieties of player. Definitely on the list.

Troy Tulowitzki - The Rockies have to allow him to show the team what kind of ceiling he has at short before we can even think about trading him. He gets one season for a warm-up and one year to prove himself.

Franklin Morales - Our top pitching prospect, and the only pitcher in our system seemingly capable of being an ace. Forget about it.

You may look, but no touching!

Players who we might be thinking of sending to Sotheby's in a year or two to auction to the highest bidder, but for now, they're just display pieces only.

Aaron Cook - He's our best pitcher now that JJ's gone. Without him, 2007 could be a minefield.

Garrett Atkins - Ditto for our top offensive threat.

Brian Fuentes - Again, without another sure fire bet to step in to close, we can't offer him yet.

Jason Hirsh - Our most recent acquisition will likely move to the vault by the end of Spring/Early Summer, but for a limited time he's on display in the gallery.

Several other top prospects fit into this category as well, including Ian Stewart (getting married tomorrow! Congrats Ian and Barbara!) Ubaldo Jimenez and Dexter Fowler. Some we might move into the vault later, some we might allow to be sold, it's too early to say.

Silent bids allowed, but they better be very impressive to merit any sort of consideration:

The rest of our corners, including our team leader in Helton, aren't actually being shopped, but we'll listen to offers from other clubs. It would take a large package, well above their own value to pry them away. Helton's here now and actually might even be in the "look but don't touch" category because of the PR disaster that would take place if we lost both him and JJ in the same offseason.

Brad Hawpe -
Matt Holliday -
Jeff Baker -
Todd Helton -
Manuel Corpas - I think he also fits here, he's not really available.
Juan Morillo and other second tier prospects like Joe Koshansky and Seth Smith.

You might be surprised how much we think these players are worth:

These are players that I think the team sees as better than the rest of the league seems to see them (I like most of them too), and thus it's unlikely that they will be leaving any time soon, but they're probably available if someone steps up:

Kaz Matsui
Jamey Carroll
Willy Taveras
Taylor Buchholz
Ramon Ramirez
Yorvit Torrealba - might move to a different category if we sign Barajas
Byung Hyun Kim
Probably LaTroy Hawkins and much of the bullpen falls in here as well.

Reasonable Offers Considered:

Cory Sullivan
Josh Fogg - Given the return we got for Jennings, I wonder if we tendered him just to see what he could fetch later.
Choo Freeman
Jeff Salazar - I really don't think all three of our other centerfielders are available, but we likely need to send one or two packing. They might be more urgently shopped during Spring Training, particularly Freeman, who's out of options.

Readily Available:

Luis A. Gonzalez - He could reclaim the second utility role from Barmes by Spring, however if he continues his solid play. We might not have seen the last of Luis A.

Check Back Later:

Clint Barmes
Helton - I know he's in two categories, but if we're out of it already by the end of June...
Others, as well I'm sure.