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Wednesday Rockpile: Should Rockies Target Magglio Ordonez, Lance Berkman?

The big news yesterday was that Colorado will offer arbitration to pitchers Jorge De La Rosa and Octavio Dotel. The De La Rosa offer was certainly expected, because as Jim Armstrong writes, the odds of retaining his services grow slimmer by the day. Dotel's offer certainly surprised me, as the 37 year old righty reliever could command a salary close to $4 million if he were to accept arbitration.

Considering the Rockies' already crowded bullpen, this move is very interesting to me. Colorado must think more highly of Dotel's potential than I do because they must believe that he will either a) decline arbitration feeling he can get a bigger contract as a free agent or b) become an asset through either his production or as a trade chip worth more than his $4 million salary. I guess I don't see this being a likely occurrence.

Magglio Ordonez Anyone?

In any case, Armstrong brings up a name that several Rowbots have also mentioned as a potential target, Detroit's Magglio Ordonez. There is certainly a lot of evidence to recommend Ordonez He is a Type A free agent, but Detroit declined to offer him arbitration so he wouldn't cost a draft pick to get. The soon to be 37 year old Venezuelan outfielder has been a great hitter as recently as 2007 (171 wRC+, 8.2 WAR) and was a good hitter last year (136 wRC+, 2.5 WAR) in a half season of work (and he's right-handed to boot).

Those numbers would have made him Colorado's third best hitter in 2010. Actually, Ordonez hasn't been a below average hitter since 1998. In addition, he doesn't strike out alot (his career K% is 12.2%, BB% is 8.5%). Bill James' admittedly optimistic projection system has him pegged at .306/.374/.473 with 17 HRs and 82 RBIs (.372 wOBA, 134 wRC+). When you account for the fact that Ordonez would be moving to Coors Field and the National League, those numbers look pretty reasonable.

Then again, Ordonez has recorded four seasons of -10 or worse UZR as a left-fielder. Signing him would mean an everyday role in the outfield, likely in Brad Hawpe's old stomping grounds, unless Colorado could convince Ordonez to play some first base. I just don't see that happening. Ordonez career is on the decline and he could fall off the cliff offensively at any moment. Is that worth a two year $16-24 million deal? That's what it would probably take to get him. The Rockies have money to do it, but should they?

After the jump, let's look at another potential free agent signing.

Off Topic.

Lance Berkman Rumored as a Rockies Target

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Rockies are in on 1B Lance Berkman. The switch-hitting Berkman, who will be 35 in 2011, insists that he can still play in the outfield. He is coming off an injury-plagued 2010 in which his usually stellar numbers dipped to .248/.368/.418 (117 wRC+, 2.1 WAR). His last four wRC+ totals leading up to last year were 162, 135, 162, and 141 so I wouldn't count out a resurgence from him.

In fact, Bill James projects him to be a slightly better player than Ordonez in 2011: giving him a .275/.393/.483 line with 22 HRs and 79 RBIs (.385 wOBA, 143 wRC+). Again, considering the move to Coors Field these numbers seem reasonable to me. I see him as an excellent bounceback candidate next year. He strikes out more than Ordonez (20% career) but he also walks more (15.5% career).

Of course, Berkman has the same concerns as Ordonez: age, defense, requiring a full-time position, etc. However, unlike Ordonez, Berkman has played first base considerably and would likely be willing to split time at the position with Helton if he also were allowed to play in the outfield. He's not a great platoon candidate, however, as he hit only .171/.261/.256 as a righty against LHP (44 wRC+). It would be better to have Todd Helton be the guy against LHP and have Berkman against RHP.

So, assuming the cost was similar (2/16-24), which guy would you rather have? Vote in the poll.

Other News

When one of your top news links is that a guy robbed a bank wearing a Rockies hat in Houston, you know that it's a slow news day. Although, has anyone seen Jonathan Herrera lately?

Jonathan Herrera

#18 / Second Base / Colorado Rockies





Nov 03, 1984