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Tuesday Rockpile: Injuries Force Roster Overhaul

In early February, I wrote about how injuries were no more likely to happen to the Rockies this year than any other team.  There would be no massive shift to the side of misfortune to balance the universe.  It was more of a plea to the baseball gods than anything.  Now that 60% of our projected rotation is on the disabled list, it is safe to say my plea fell on deaf ears.

Hours after honoring Dante Bichette and his most famous home run, the Rockies' roster was demolished by a sledgehammer, leaving pitchers a mess of roster moves.  I'll sort it all out.

Jorge De la Rosa to DL

"He will be DL'ed. He's going to be out for a while. We have to be cautious. We don't want to lose him for the season," -Dan O'Dowd, via Troy E. Renck

Word is DLR has a "torn flexor tendon band" in the middle finger of his pitching hand, which will force him to rest for "extended time."  And here I was hoping he didn't have a blister.  Risking the loss of de la Rosa for the season would be risking the playoffs, so the move makes sense.

2010 - Jhoulys Chacin 3-0 4 4 0 0 21.1 15 4 4 4 11 21 57 1.69 1.21 3.59

Fortunately, as Rox Girl prophesized a week ago today, the Rockies have depth in pitching at AAA.  Jhoulys Chacin will get called up to take de la Rosa's spot in the rotation.


Hammel to DL

Jason Hammel has not had one good outing this season, and the continuous gut punches his starts have given to fans have no turned on he himself.  After his final pitch of the third inning, Hammel strained his groin.  With Manuel Corpas unavailable for a few days, the Rockies don't have a long reliever.  There are six pitchers on the 40-man roster who could fit the bill, but all six would be making their MLB debut, starting their service clocks.

Instead, Juan Rincon has been called up to give more available innings to the bullpen after Manuel Corpas worked through his second consecutive sterling 3-inning performance.  Barring further injuries, Rincon will get sent down Sunday, when Esmil Rogers returns to the big club to take Hammel's spot in the rotation.  This doesn't bode well for Hammel.  If either Chacin or Rogers runs with their chance at the rotation, his spot might be taken when he is healed.

2010 - Esmil Rogers 0-0 2 2 0 0 10 6 2 1 0 1 7 58 0.90 0.70 2.16

Rincon is not on the 40-man roster, and no move has been announced regarding the corresponding move to place him there.  My educated guess that Greg Reynolds will be shifted to the 60-day disabled list.  After fracturing his elbow in March, being on the 60-day retroactive to the injury won't put Reynolds behind schedule.


Chris Iannetta Demoted, Paul Phillips Promoted

This move was not motivated by injuries in the slightest, unless you count Iannetta's confidence hit as an injury.  The thinking is that Miguel Olivo is hitting better than Joe Mauer, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Brian McCann, so Iannetta was not going to get any playing time to work out the kinks in his swing.   It is **NOT** the Rockies "pulling the plug on the Iannetta experiment." 

For more on this and other links, take the jump.

Chris Iannetta was riddled by high strikeout and flyball rates last season.  The addition of a toe tap was intended in part to add a timing mechanism that allowed him to stop over-thinking.  It hasn't worked in the 34 plate appearances he has had.  While he has a ridiculously low .118 BABIP, his strikeout rate has gone up 40% and his flyball rate has increased from 53% to 58%.  That's not going to work.

So with Olivo on fire at and behind the plate, Iannetta wasn't going to get consistent playing time to work out the kinks.  It isn't difficulty with MLB pitching so much as continued flaws in his swing and approach, so it could still be beneficial to face AAA pitching.  Don't look at it as a demotion as much as an opportunity to get more at-bats in a lower pressure game situations.

Replacing him on the roster is the definition of replacement level catcher: Paul Phillips. Like Rincon, Phillips is not on the 40-man roster, and like Rincon, the corresponding move has not been announced yet. So unless someone is DFAed or traded, either Huston Street or Jeff Francis will need to be transferred to the 60-day DL. Both had been optimistically tagged for a possible mid-May return, though neither look positively ready for that. You can bet, though, that the front office is not going to block Street or Francis from returning as early as they can just to get some AAA bats for Iannetta. This move suggests to me that the FO already knows either Street or Francis will be out until June, or that bullet could have been saved for a later date.

When Olivo inevitably cools, Phillips can be passed through waivers and Iannetta can gallop in, take off his chainmail, and bash walk-off home runs again.  At least we can hope.


The only other link I have for you this morning:

Home run drought deepens for Helton in early season - The Denver Post

Renck points out that our 3-hole hitter has yet to go deep this season.  But since he's never had more than two in April the past seven seasons, there's not much to worry about there.