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Wednesday Rockpile: Recession + ? = Profit!

Clearance Sale! Bargains on All Merchandise...

With the news that the Angels and Bobby Abreu are close to an agreement, we can really look at the impact the economy had on this year's free agency class. Abreu was allegedly seeking a 3 year, $48 million contract entering free agency at age 35 (the Angels are reportedly offering 1 year, $5 million), and in this market, that wasn't going to happen--even for a player that had produced as consistently as Abreu. I mean, Abreu is a career .300/.405/.498/.902 hitter. Those guys aren't usually just looking for any work they can find in February.

That's why teams that are willing to spend (e.g. the Giants) really scare me. There are still several quality free agent bargains out there, like Hudson, Dunn, Beimel, Griffey, Cruz, Crede, Durham etc...not to mention Manny! If our division rivals decide to go out and get not only Manny, but Cruz (AZ rumored), Dunn (LA), or the others, they instantly shore up weaknesses, and cheaply. The last-minute free agent market is one that certainly merits watching as Spring Training approaches.

Troy Renck Deviates from the Company Line...

According to Troy Renck of the DP in his mailbag, the Rockies are averse to "sexy" (high-five!) free agent signings. Renck also reveals some disagreements that he has with the way the Rockies are conducting business. For example, Renck wishes the Rockies had pursued Braden Looper (who is signing with the Brewers) and Orlando Hudson. Renck also chastises (in response to fan questions): Hurdle for his inconsistent lineup construction and lack of PT for Baker, the ownership group for the lack of an expanded, open to everyone Fan Fest, and to an extent, O'Dowd for the selection of Greg Reynolds (though who hasn't done that already?).

However, what is most telling is Renck's take on the Holliday situation (emphasis mine):

Weren't the Rockies better off keeping Holliday for one more year and getting two draft picks when he signed elsewhere? It seems like the "haul" they got for him is nothing more than middle-of-the-road talent, while the picks could have turned into higher-quality players down the road.
-- Mike, Durham, N.C.

Mike - I thought that would be the team's strategy as late as last September. But it became clear that the Rockies didn't want to deal with Holliday's uncertain future. I disagree that it was a distraction, and think they should have held onto the slugger until June or July. But they felt it was, so they moved the player. Carlos Gonzalez is the key to the deal. If he reaches his potential, I don't think they could have landed a player like that in the draft.

In this mailbag, Renck really allows his opinions to shine through. Hopefully he keeps this up as Spring Training approaches.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life...

Tim Brown at Yahoo! sports provides an NL West Preview, in which he appears to favor the D-Backs in the division. Brown, as has been the case in a number of national sports pieces, takes a rather pessimistic view of the Rockies, focusing on the departure of Matt Holliday and Jeff Francis' injury. Brown mentions Hurdle and O'Dowd as both being on the hot seat--with Hurdle's chair just a bit toastier. CarGo is also mentioned as the next big thing (yet again) and the fifth starter battle is mentioned briefly as well. In short, it's your typical preseason preview article.

Trivial Transactions (And Awesome Alliteration)...

In other Rockies news, after O'Dowd confirmed that the Rockies were not going after Joe Beimel after signing Josh Fogg, the club signed another former Rockie, 33 year old pitcher Randy Flores, to a minor league deal worth $600,000 provided he makes the big club--which is unlikely. Beyond the fact that Flores was never that successful in the big leagues, he'll have to fight through droves of bullpen contenders to make an impact. In addition, he's got a lingering shoulder problem that could keep him out until June. It's a low-risk signing for the Rockies financially, adding major league depth to the minor league system if nothing else.

Also mentioned in the notes in the article was this tidbit:

... The Rockies signed pitcher Greg Reynolds to a split contract, with the right-hander scheduled to make $114,795 in the minors and $402,000 in the majors.

The erstwhile 2nd overall pick in the 2006 draft is unlikely to win a spot in the rotation this year, but if he does, he'll come cheaply. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

Sage Advice to Owners...

If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's gonna stop 'em.
--Yogi Berra