In another under-the-radar move adding to the spice of the MLB Hot Stove by GM Dan O'Dowd, Colorado as added another member of the backup-catcher battle in Minnesota's Jose Morales. In exchange, the Rockies surrender A-SAL Asheville Tourists lefty reliever Paul Bargas.
Morales, 27 (28 on opening day), backed up Joe Mauer in Minnesota this year, playing in 19 games, but struggled at the plate, posting a .194/.295/.250 line in 44PA. 2009 fared much better for Morales, however, where he received extended playing time in light of Joe Mauer's late start to the 2009 season. Morales posted a .311/.381/.361 line over 54 games (134PA), splitting time between C and DH.
Bargas, 22, finished the 2010 season in Asheville with a 3.59 ERA, appearing in 58 games and finishing 18 (5SV). He amassed 67.2 innings, striking out 64 while walking only 19.
This goes to show that the Rockies either A. Don't trust their MLB backups or B. Don't want to rush Pacheco or Rosario to the AAA level, given that 2 of Michael McKenry, Matt Pagnozzi, and Morales will be demoted to AAA Colorado Springs, while the winner will back up Chris Iannetta in the majors. There's also just the chance that Colorado is stocking their spring training catching corps 2 months early this year.
It won't be an easy battle though, as McKenry is likely the most defensively sound of the 3, Morales is a switch hitter one season removed from some pretty solid MLB numbers, and Pagnozzi had a very hot September with St. Louis (.359/.405/.487; .394 wOBA, 152 wRC+, 1HR, 10RBI). Morales also has the potential name confusion (Morales pitching to Morales, etc) working against him, although the humor potential is excellent.
Depth moves for the Rockies have paid off in the past, utility guys/backups making major league impacts (remember that one game where Jason Smith hit 2HR? That was pretty great), so who knows, maybe we'll see something special from one of these guys.