The 2011 Winter Meetings have arrived, and the Rockies are also there, ready to play ball.
Typically this is the part of the offseason where every organization identifies their weaknesses and prepares to find ways to improve upon their weaknesses. The motivations and the actual commitment to solving problems will vary from team to team, but the teams are there, the agents are there, and it's time to see some interesting stuff go down.
This offseason, the Rockies entered with 2 goals: Shore up Starting Pitching, Find a Starting Infielder.
Now, we've heard about the Rockies entering the Winter Meetings with big goals in mind and coming up way, way short. Granted, every team does this, so to say the Rockies do isn't really an indictment. What feels different about this offseason is the fact that the team's already been pretty active in moving players. For starters, they cut ties with apparent team anchor Ty Wigginton, trading him to Philadelphia.
Next, they moved longtime catcher Chris Iannetta to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for young starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood.
Finally, and in the same swoop, the Rockies signed veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez to a 2-year, $6.4M contract, ostensibly to aid top catching prospect Wilin Rosario's transition to Major League Baseball.
Recall also that 5 months ago, the Rockies dealt the best pitcher in franchise history.
We've been envisioning the Rockies as being a lost puppy, tearfully limping into the Winter Meetings, just hoping that those mean big boys won't laugh them away from the table when they come looking to trade for their players. Well, I have, if you've seen many of my recent supercritical comments.
But what if it's completely the opposite? What if the team HAS been watching their young players, the ones the team is built on, underperform over the past 2 seasons, and now they've had enough of it? There's a lot of dead weight on this team, and the Rockies are looking to build some momentum by means of some selective pruning.
Right now, it seems that everyone who isn't an established stud or a prospect on their way to becoming an established stud is up for grabs.
Wigginton was pretty much jettisoned at the first real inquiry over the offseason.
Iannetta, while a positive player, never really wowed the front office. He's been traded for a pitcher who is likely going to have to fight his way into a MLB pitching role, and likely gain favor of the organization while doing it.
Hernandez was brought in to say "Look, Rosario, we need to you to steal this guy's job. But he won't make it easy, and if you fail, we're OK falling back on this guy", as well as bringing a different batting style to the backstop.
Street's being dangled in basically a "You make way too much money to have lost your job to Admiral Veteran von ThrowsOnePitch" scenario. At least as far as I see it. It could be a salary dump, or it could actually be a productive trade.
Seth Smith picked a rough season to massively regress in the outfield. His bat is still there though, and there'll be a number of teams interested in a guy like him.
Jason Hammel should be counting his lucky stars that he's in a position the Rockies are thin at?
Possibly, could it be that the Rockies have some momentum now and are going to shake this thing up until it resembles a fighter again?
When you read lines like this from Thomas Harding, you hope it signifies that something big is about to happen:
Closer Huston Street and left fielder Seth Smith are being offered in what the Rockies hope will be a major deal, with third baseman Ian Stewart also being dangled. The Rockies are seeking starting pitching and are seeing if they can end up with a starting infielder.
"will be a major deal" is like music to my ears. I just want to see this team do something awesome. I think they're going to go get someone awesome to take the place of one of the players who isn't awesome enough to play for the Rockies.
This is something to hope for.
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Fun fact: Did you realize that Jhoulys Chacin already has 2 of the top 5 best single season ERAs in Rockies history? He also has the lowest career ERA in Rockies history. You can learn more about Jhoulys Chacin by visiting your local library.