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Wednesday Rockpile: Inertia and Jorge De La Rosa

Yesterday brought some joy to the Rockies' organization but it also sowed some confusion among its fanbase. Three major noteworthy events occurred that affected the Rockies in some way, all of which merited articles on Purple Row as they happened. Here's my quick take on each of them:

Ubaldo places third in NL Cy Young vote | News

Good for Ubaldo--it's hard not to wonder if he would have won the award had he won a few of those games that he deserved to win, but then again, he got lucky with losses a few times too. There's a considerable amount of introspection by Jimenez in the article and it's well worth the read for anyone who wants a closer look into his psyche. I for one am satisfied with a Rockies pitcher being given recognition as a top 3 NL pitcher. Let's hope a repeat performance is in the offing.

Rockies cut ties with former closer Corpas | News

This move is unsurprising in that Corpas was dead money anyway and Colorado wanted to free up another 40 man roster slot. Still, there's a certain amount of sentiment to be had here, as Corpas was instrumental in Colorado's magical 2007 run and pitched pretty well to begin 2010. For that, he is owed a debt of gratitude. The Rockies will still owe their former closer $3.75 million less any salary he receives from another team this year.

Uggla, Infante switch teams - The Denver Post

This is the aforementioned source of confusion, in that Dan Uggla, god of thunder, has been traded for "All-Star" Omar Infante and a reliever with control problems (Michael Dunn). It has come to light that the Rockies really weren't interested in Uggla, but the price to acquire him (and to a Wild Card rival too!) was so low that it's tough for Rockies fans not to come up with a better trade package (EY2, Morales, Spilborghs, and/or Belisle is my personal favorite). Florida has gone insane.

At its core, the Rockies' inaction on this front is an unwillingness to sacrifice their payroll flexibility for one year of Uggla (who I estimate will receive close to $13 million in arbitration this year). On the one hand, it's very frustrating to see a valuable MLB piece like Uggla that would really fit the Rockies' needs very well (RHB, 2B, slugging, could back up 1B) go for so little. On the other, Dan O'Dowd has guided the team pretty darn well the last few years and deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one, especially since the offseason has barely begun. After all, Uggla would have been expensive to the 2011 payroll, precluding the Rockies from signing the ideal pitching help.

The problem is that A) the Rockies' biggest need according to statistics isn't pitching, it's hitting and B) lots of Colorado's targets going into free agency are already being signed. Hiroki Kuroda? One year, $12 million. Jake Westbrook? Two years, $16.5 million. Conor Jackson? Not happening. Heck, five teams are seriously interested in Jeff Francis. At some point, O'Dowd will be forced to use his payroll flexibility to acquire someone via trade, someone we don't even know is definitely available (namely Josh Willingham and Mike Napoli).

Which brings me to our very own Jorge De La Rosa.


Valuing De La Rosa

The Denver Post reports that the Rockies are interested in keeping JDLR, but not for four years. Troy Renck lists several teams as seriously interested in the lefty free agent, none more fearsome than the Yankees. At this point, if teams are looking for anything higher than middle of the rotation starters in free agency, the list is down to Cliff Lee (very expensive), De La Rosa, and Carl Pavano (though several others have the potential to provide middle of the rotation performance). Let's quickly see how much De La Rosa is worth paying using the trade value calculator:

Here's a three year, $30 million contract for DLR with WAR totals of 3.5, 3.0, and 2.5 over its length.

Jorge De La Rosa
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M)
2011 $10.0 3.5 $16.0 $6.0
2012 $10.0 3.0 $13.9 $3.9
2013 $10.0 2.5 $11.7 $1.7
FA Picks $5.0
Total $30.0 9.0 $46.5 $16.5

As you can see, JDLR possesses considerable surplus value at that price. However, given his lack of a reliable track record, I think it's more than reasonable to factor in a 20% chance of major injury/ineffectiveness each year.

Jorge De La Rosa
Year Sal (M) WAR Val (M) Net (M)
2011 $10.0 2.8 $12.8 $2.8
2012 $10.0 2.4 $11.2 $1.2
2013 $10.0 2.0 $9.4 -$0.6
FA Picks $5.0
Total $30.0 7.2 $38.4 $8.4

As you can see here, even with the injury risk De La Rosa will provide positive value the first two years of his contract. Even at 3/36 (taking $6 million off the projected surplus), De La Rosa isn't an awful deal. He's a guy that has the potential to be a big-time bust, sure, but the potential reward should he harness his considerable tools consistently is significant.

At this point, JDLR represents the Rockies' best chance of having a formidable playoff rotation (though he probably isn't as necessary to get to the playoffs as many would have you believe if Colorado's pitchers stay relatively healthy), which is pretty valuable, especially if the extra marginal wins he provides propel Colorado into the postseason. He's a great talent, and I'm in favor of paying a premium to retain talent. I'd like to get him for under 3/30, but we'll see if that's even possible. I'm a believer...we'll see if O'Dowd and company are too.

Quick Link

The notes for this Renck blog post indicate that Wilin Rosario is progressing quickly on his torn ACL rehab. If this is true, Rosario could (but probably won't) be up with the big club by the All-Star Break.