The Rockies finally settled on Matt Lindstrom as their final bullpen piece, trading minor league pitchers Jonnathan Aristil (who had been re-signed after leaving as a free agent earlier in the year) and Wes Musick, who spent the year with Asheville.
Lindstrom will be the pitcher that the Rockies brought in Octavio Dotel to be at the end of last year, ensuring that the Rockies have alternatives to Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt before handing the ball to Huston Street. He also provides insurance for Street himself should something go wrong there. The heavy lifting of the offseason is now done, unless some money for more catching or outfield depth grows on a tree somewhere by the front office.
But the Rockies were active on the minor league side as well, and this will likely continue into January. Before taking off for the holidays (or possibly after, who knows, one can be a GM from home too), the Rockies added three more players to their list of incoming minor league faces, two of which are familiar. In addition to infielder Tug Hulett, who can play anywhere in the infield, the Rockies re-signed former draftees Jeff Salazar (who left via waiver claim for the Arizona Diamondbacks after a September callup with us in 2006) and Matt Macri (who was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 2007 for Ramon Ortiz). So far, none of these three players have Spring Training invites, but may change when the list is being finalized. All three have some major league experience. Read about the signings from Thomas Harding here.
Back to Lindstrom, the bullpen has now reached what will almost certainly be its final form on opening day, barring injury or surprise meltdown. Street, Betancourt, Belisle and Lindstrom will control the late innings, with Matt Reynolds joining in for lefty situations. Franklin Morales backs Reynolds from the left side, with Felipe Paulino rounding out the team pitching middle and long relief. This all assumes that Esmil Rogers will have his fourth option year - if he does not, the options become limited to dumping one of the optionless players or optioning Reynolds to AAA and going with Morales alone from the left side. By my calculations, Lindstrom has an option year left because his 2008 option was not long enough to count, but they signed him to pitch here, obviously.
Like most people (or at least those clogging up my streets trying to get into the Cherry Creek Mall), the Rockies wait until the last minute to get their Christmas shopping done. Also, with two Matt signings today, the Rockies are well above their Matt quota for the year.
After the jump, I'll be taking a brief initial look at the 2011 schedule.
Now is always around the time I start looking at the 2011 schedule and trying not to think so hard about it I start writing 2011 season fanfics in my head.
As I always emphasize when writing here, I hate trying to boil down the season before it happens with speculation that is at best nothing more than educated guesswork and at worst picked at random out of a hat along with a rabbit. This is especially true with something like a 162 game baseball schedule, which is more than unpredictable enough as is to encompass any number of surprises during the actual season.
But that said, let's take a look at what we can expect. As usual, the Rockies will be playing each divisional rival 18 times, 9 at each stadium. Also per the norm, every NL opponent this year will be played in two series of 2-4 games, one at home and one away, with one exception to make up for the extra inter-league series we do not participate in. Interestingly, this season we play the same team we did last year for the extra series, the Milwaukee Brewers, only this time instead of two series at home, we'll be getting two at Miller Park.
This means we have three home interleaque series this year, which will consist of the AL Central's Tigers, White Sox and Royals. We'll be visiting the Indians, and instead of the Twins who we played last season, we'll be getting our first look at the new Yankee Stadium.
A couple of scheduling oddities: the Rockies do not play any of their divisional rivals on the road until May 3rd, when we travel to Arizona and San Francisco. The Rockies do face the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Giants in April, but all at home. 2010's schedule was very top heavy with the Padres, with four series before the All Star Break and only one at the very end, but this time we will not be seeing the Padres until May 13th. Our road time in April will be spent hopping about the East with the likes of Pittsburgh (our first away series of the year), New York and Florida. We will also have finished both series with the Cubs by the end of the month.
I am focusing on April not only because it is the closest part of the season to look at from here, but because these are the games that traditionally are going to be a little more difficult for the Rockies. Assuming the Rockies are going to have a better shot at winning tough games later in the season, which is never a guarantee, the lack of NL West games in April could work for us, though it obviously makes the game down the stretch interesting. The Rockies will be ending the season in San Francisco.
Opening day this year is on a Friday (April 1), after being on Mondays for quite some time, allowing the regular season to end before October starts.
You can, of course, view the official schedule here, and point out any other things of note. RhodeIslandRoxFan sent me some of his own schedule notes which he may like to share in the comments.
A new Rockies farm report is out from Inside the Rockies, for those who subscribe. This preview here hints of stories regarding Charles Blackmon, Rafael Ortega, Christian Friedrich and Darin Holcomb.
Troy Renck reminds everyone that the Rockies have NOT signed Carlos Gonzalez to a 7 year deal.