Ah... PTBNL... how I've longed for your return to our transaction sheets. How I love grasping at the incalculable mystery of who you might be, waiting and anticipating that final anticlimactic moment when your true identity is revealed...
"That was it?" I will say, and you will smile smugly and say,
Alright. So what we know almost for sure about our mystery man is this:
He's not Sean Smith.
Which I'm guessing means he's not Adam Miller, Aaron Laffey or Chuck Lofgren either. I'm thinking Cleveland gave a list of prospects that Colorado couldn't touch with those names on it and then added Smith's name in crayon after it started to get out that we were thinking of taking him. I'm going to try and be realistic with this, while I'd love it if Trevor Crowe or Jordan Brown is announced as the PTBNL, we all know that's not going to happen, so I'm going to try and limit our look to some of the down ballot guys who are also relatively close to the majors, meaning that they played in 2007 at High A Kinston or above. We're still left with some intriguing possibilities, there are a few that I like, but realize that I've been pretty bad at guessing things like this lately (see Rule 5 results):
David Huff, lhp If we're not getting Smith, it seems likely Huff's off limits as well, since he's essentially the same pitcher in terms of stuff with the added bonus of being left handed. He had a good showing in the Arizona Fall League, meriting the bottom rung of Baseball America's Top 20 prospects list for that league. His college career kind of mirrored Garrett Atkins' in that he went from UCI to UCLA, but Huff added a stop at Cypress JC in between. He might be in play because he's got somewhat of an injury history, Cleveland's well stocked with pitchers (including LHP's like Lofgren) and just because I naively wish it to be the case. I'm going to put this one in as my semi-realistic pipe dream.
While we're on lefties, let's throw Ryan Edell's name as probably out of the realm of possibilities as well, but rest assured I wouldn't mind getting him, either.
Kevin Dixon, rhp He's only been pitching full time since being drafted in 2005, as he played first base/DH in college (Minnesota State-Mankato where he was a teammate of current Rockies relief prospect, Andrew Kreidermacher) but Dixon has put up some pretty decent numbers in his minor league career thus far, including a pretty impressive GB%. He had a low nineties fastball coming out of college, but I haven't heard if he still gets that much, and a decent slider and change combo to complement it. At any rate, he's probably going to be overlooked but his pitch to contact, keep the ball down approach seems to fit our philosophy well.
Josh Rodriguez, ss This would be replacing one current utility infielder with a future utility infielder. Carroll had an advantage on defense as Josh isn't going to stick at short in the majors, but Rodriguez showed more pop in his bat this year than Carroll ever has. While his overall D could be better, he's got a great arm, and could backup third, short or second in a couple of years. He's got decent patience, and could be almost as good a baserunner as Carroll is, although I think he might be too far away from contributing to be who we wind up getting.
I'm working on a longer post about Todd Helton's value that will take some of this article into account, but Dave Studeman takes an interesting look at long term contracts and why it might not be good to give them to relievers. LaTroy Hawkins and/or Shawn Chacon might be getting some of Jamey Carroll's left over money, but thankfully our team has it right when it wants to go year by year with them. This path might prove a little more expensive than picking up Hawk's 2008 option when we had the chance, but I can't fault the team for the approach it took here.
The real question this brings up is in the whispers of a possible Brian Fuentes extension, which would almost have to be long term. I've got to say that right now, unless we get a better offer than Aaron Heilman by the trade deadline, that I'm in favor of keeping Brian through 2008, offering him arbitration for 2009 and picking up the two high draft picks when he signs with another club.