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Thursday Rockpile: Rafael Betancourt extension becomes official

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DENVER:  Rockies sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo is moving on to the MLBNetwork.
DENVER: Rockies sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo is moving on to the MLBNetwork.

The Rockies picked up Rafael Betancourt's 2013 option and the parties agreed to add a 2014 option season to his current contract. As Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated points out, and as should be fairly obvious in light of the deals given to other closers this winter, Betancourt comes at a bargain.

The Rockies have four prospects on MiLB's top 100 list, Nolan Arenado, Drew Pomeranz, Wilin Rosario and Chad Bettis.

Rockies sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo has accepted an on-air position with MLBNetwork. No word yet by Root Sports who will be taking over her field reporting or Rockies All Access host duties. My guess is that if it's a telegenic female (and knowing how NewsCorp runs its networks, there's no reason to assume otherwise,) she will be seen as lacking intelligence by many fans, or simply as a useless sex object by others, especially given that her reporting assignments will be vacuous and lightweight by design. Now whether any of the assumptions of fans about this woman will be true or not is another question, but it's going to be a tough job working under that kind of scrutiny either way. I do not envy the woman who fills Rizzo's shoes. At any rate, congratulations goes to Rizzo on her new gig.

In non-Rockies news, economist Dave Cameron still misses some of the basic economic realities that baseball's free agent market teaches us. Namely that superstar players signed to very long term contracts are seen as good investments by all but a handful of MLB teams. In this case, Prince Fielder's value to the Tigers relative to the cost of his contract is still seen by the Tigers as profitable for the club, but not to Cameron:

Based on a projection of Fielder producing about +25 wins over the next nine years, the Tigers paid about $8.5 million per win. You'll have to believe that inflation is going to go bananas to believe that this contract isn't going to turn out badly in the long run.

The issue for teams is when general managers misjudge who truly is a superstar in "big fish, little pond" periods such as happened with the Rockies in the case of Mike Hampton, or the Nationals fairly recently with Jayson Werth. I don't believe that this standard applies to Fielder, as he already has a substantial national brand presence and locally in Detroit, thanks to the exploits of his father, he will be more valuable to the Tigers at the box office than he would to most other MLB teams.

Before I get too far, Cameron also ignores that there are indications that "inflation is going to go bananas" in the MLB over the next decade with monstrous television contracts already in place for the Rangers and Angels, another on the near horizon for the Dodgers, and other teams such as the Marlins apparently anticipating the TV gravy train extending to mid-tier markets. The Detroit television market ranks #11 in the United States currently, and with a rebounding economy, doesn't figure to significantly lose ground over the next decade.

Cameron can't seem to grasp that the premium paid on win value in cases like this is what the team sees as revenue coming in based on the player's brand alone, and it's not just about what they add in terms of wins to a team on the field. If you cataloged all contracts and extensions covering 5 or more of a player's free agency seasons, I think you would see a point on the market size scale, likely just a little lower than Denver in terms of revenue streams available, where these contracts become too great a risk for a team.

So saying all of that, the Fielder contract sheds a better light on recent and past long term contract extensions the Rockies have given out to star players like Troy Tulowitzki (whose contract Cameron also claimed was a bad bet on inflation,) Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton. Those three contracts make more sense with each subsequent superstar signing. Albeit, it does nothing to make overextending in dollars spent on mid-talent players like Hampton, Huston Street, Aaron Cook, or Michael Cuddyer look any better, so I'm not trying to paint Dan O'Dowd as perfect when it comes to the contract game.