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Friday Rockpile: 2011 Free Agency - Go Big or Go Home

This past week has been absolutely tumultuous. Do we bring in Michael Cuddyer? Is Carlos Beltran a realistic option? Can Seth Smith be the guy we want him to be if we straight platoon him? Is this all a waste of time and money? What is the best course of action for the Rockies to take?

I'm seeing this working on 2 different extremes: do nothing and store up for next offseason, or just throw our chips in the middle and push this as far as we can this offseason. Just making one move, like acquiring Cuddyer and not doing anything more is obviously not enough. On that note, just acquiring Beltran wouldn't be enough either. Trading for Prado wouldn't be enough. Signing Andruw Jones or trading for Jonny Gomes to platoon with Smith wouldn't be enough. Adding just one bat isn't going to be enough to take a semi-building 2012 and turning it into a contenting team.

In saying that, I don't think that the Rockies are going to just land Cuddyer or whoever and then call it quits. They know their own weaknesses, they're not going to sit pat. They still have their eyes on Hiroki Kuroda, possibly Joe Saunders, and various trade targets. But here's the thing: I don't see a way for the Rockies to keep their prospect depth AND pick up all of the necessary pieces to make 2012 a success.

So option 1 is the safe and fiscally "sound" option: sign a few strong, competent glovemen to fill in the holes on the team, save the Cuddyer money and go sign someone in the 2012 offseason. Maybe David Wright, Kevin Youkilis, Brandon Phillips or Howie Kendrick? Someone like that. This way, you support the young pitching with the best defense possible, you might be surprised by Josh Rutledge and Nolan Arenado, who knows what could happen. But it would be the following season that anything of interest REALLY happened.

Or, you go for absolute broke.

Take the Brewers for example. They didn't have the best farm on earth, but they had enough prospects near the surface that they were able to make packages to acquire both Zack Greinke AND Shaun Marcum. That took them to the NLCS. Then they went and signed Aramis Ramirez. The downside for them is that it cost them Brett Lawrie, among other top-tier prospects. Thing is, despite a loss to the Cardinals in the NLCS, the Brewers are still poised to take that division in 2012.

That plan could've fallen SQUARELY on its face. Greinke could've turned back into a pumpkin. Marcum could've gotten hurt. All sorts of other things could've gone very wrong, and Lawrie is looking to be an absolute stud over in Toronto. The Brewers figured they had a shot to make some big acquisitions and make that one big push before they lost Prince Fielder to Free Agency, so they went for it, and it totally paid off.

After a season like 2011, the Rockies could use a little calculated chaos. I don't mean that they should go sign a whole pile of absolutely stupid players just to say they signed somebody. But if we're set on Cuddyer, try this:

Play Cuddyer at 3B. I don't like it, not one bit, but I do recall that the starting 3B for the NL representative in the 2007 World Series was none other than Garrett Atkins.

Bring in a defensive replacement for Cuddyer, a la Jamey Carroll to Atkins in 2007.

Bring in a platoon partner for Seth Smith, such as Andruw Jones. OR we go for the Andrew Fantasy Option, which involves trading Seth Smith for some sort of excellent return (see below) and bringing in Beltran as well as Cuddyer. (Hey, if we're gonna spend money, let's get ALL the good players!)

Perform some sort of voodoo and throw every Tim Wheeler caliber player/prospect we have (and possibly Seth Smith as well) at Atlanta until they HAVE to give us Martin Prado. (Yes, I'm completely aware that this part of the plan is totally full of holes.)

If we have any top prospect talent left that we can move, maybe go see if we can land Anibal Sanchez or John Danks to fill out the rotation.

Opening Day:

CF Dexter Fowler

2B Martin Prado

LF Carlos Gonzalez

SS Troy Tulowitzki

3B Michael Cuddyer

1B Todd Helton

RF Seth Smith/Andruw Jones (depending on the opposing pitcher)

C Ramon Hernandez (because they bat 8th. We learned that over the past year or so.)


Pipe dream? Absolutely. Feasible? No, not really. Realistic? Not even close. Budget breaking? Oh my, yes.

But here's ultimately how I see it: If the Rockies can either put out a really exciting team like the lineup above (and maybe Beltran), OR if the Rockies put out a fundamentally sound, hard working, competent team, fans will be at least SOMEWHAT satisfied with the season.

Really, isn't that what we want? To know that they tried their hearts out, played the best they could, win or lose, DL and health, till Boras do we part?