Marco Scutaro may have been the most satisfying acquisition of the 2011 offseason. This is for a couple of reasons. First, Michael Cuddyer in RF was likely overpaid, was redundant, and seemed to be an act of desperation: signing a guy to say they signed somebody. For what it's worth, I hold most of those opinions still, but it's not because I don't think Cuddyer's going to be decent. It's because I'm a gigantic Seth Smith homer.
Second, Casey Blake was brought in for 3B, and he's taking the back seat, as far as attention goes, for a couple of reasons that aren't really even about him. The first reason is the circumstances which brought him here; the second is the fact that he's so temporary for this organization. Ian Stewart, for all his promise and controversy, left an unpleasant taste in most Rockies fans mouths, and Ty Wigginton practically had a parade escorting him down Pena Boulevard to send him to Philadelphia. 3B isn't a position Rockies fans are thrilled with. The expectations aren't really high for Blake this season as it stands, as we're just hoping he can put up 60-100 competent games at the hot corner before Nolan Arenado is ready to roll in the majors. Blake's tenure with the Rockies will likely be forgotten, much like Royce Clayton and Desi Relaford.
There's something different about Scutaro, though. It's not the skill level, per se. It's not the glove either, really. It's perhaps the fact that for players with 100 or more games in the season played at 2B, the best season the Rockies have ever seen was roughly a league-average season. That's right, Eric Young's 1995 campaign in which he posted a .317/.404/.473 batting line with 35 stolen bases and 6 home runs, good for a whopping 108 OPS+. That's right, folks. 8 percent above average with that batting line (115 wRC+ for you fans of the linear weights). The rest of the top-5 go as follows:
Clint Barmes, 2008, 98 OPS+
Eric Young, 1996, 98 OPS+
Jamey Carroll, 2006, 94 OPS+
Kazuo Matsui, 2007, 87 OPS+
Bad 2B has been the story of the Rockies existence. If Scutaro can meet his ZiPS projection of .289/.350/.415, he's going to end up just a shade above average (that is, 100 OPS+/wRC+). A potentially slightly-below-average glove will peg him as a totally average player, and having that league average player at 2B is going to make most Rockies fans turn cartwheels.
The cherry on top of Scutaro's acquisition is just the way he came to be part of the Rockies: Scutaro was identified as a trade candidate for Colorado, trade rumors flopped one day, returned the next, and then the Rockies sent Clayton Mortensen to the Red Sox and took on Sctuaro's salary. While $6M may not seem that much for a starting-caliber player, we know the Rockies have been relatively content to let their own infield depth battle it out up until about June 30, 2011, when they traded for Mark Ellis. Knowing that they pulled the trigger on a trade that was essentially a salary dump feels good for me, as it's usually other teams who can afford the salary dump guys.
The irony of this entire breakdown is that Scutaro is very temporary as well. At age 36, we're going to need him to be big for Colorado in 2012, both starting at 2B and backing up Troy Tulowtizki at SS. Unless Chris Nelson takes over the 2B position at some point in the 2012 season, we might even need Scutaro to give us another year while we await DJ LeMahieu or Josh Rutledge to suddenly grasp their potential or hard work or something and become that 2B we've all been waiting for.
But until then, let's enjoy our
senior citizen veteran stopgaps leaders while they're here, and hope they help instill the clubhouse culture we've all been promised.
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The Post was all about articles today, so let's at least cover last night:
Rockies' young left-hander Drew Pomeranz armed with rare poise - The Denver Post
Pomeranz' minor league career has been one of mental fortitude: nothing flusters Drew, he just goes out there and throws hard. I'd wager this mental toughness fits in well with the team's whole "work hard or get traded for borderline pitching talent" philosophy this season.
"My dad was a really big baseball guy who helped coach me and thought the game should be played the right way," Pomeranz said, remembering some visits to the mound by his father during the formative years. "If I was doing something out there, whining, complaining, moping, he would just say, 'Shut up and do your job.' "
Is it any wonder that the big left hander is very stoic and doesn't get flustered by much?
Speaking of daddy issues...
Like father, like son: Jim and Chad Tracy both in Rockies uniform | On the Rox — Colorado Rockies news — Denver Post
Good lord, this story was unavoidable. I mean, all respect to Patrick, if I were in his shoes I'd make sure to put the "personal interest: family" spin onto the spring. Lil' Tracy, at age 26, looks to be another Joe Koshansky type in that he can hit home runs in AAA and drive 'em in, but he's really like 3rd string injury replacement for Colorado. If Helton goes down, Giambi becomes the starter. If Giambi goes down, Cuddyer is the starter. If Cuddyer goes down, sure, bring up Tracy. Why not.
Yeesh, I'm already biased against the guy just because I'm not a fan of his father's managerial performances. That's completely unfair. PROVE ME WRONG, CHAD.
Roy Oswalt and the Must Trade Clause | FanGraphs Baseball
How's THIS for an interesting contact structure? Dave Cameron suggests that Oswalt sign with a team in a pitcher's park and then:
However, make it a non-standard contract with a few interesting wrinkles.
1. The base salary is $5 million, paid out evenly over the course of the season.
2. There’s a $3-$5 million signing bonus, payable September 1st.
3. Oswalt specifies a list of teams to which he will accept a trade before the season begins.
4. If Oswalt is not traded to one of those teams by August 1st, he has the right to opt out of the contract and become a free agent.
Russell Wilson trades baseball for shot at NFL career - The Denver Post
While I'm pretty disappointed about Wilson not only not winning the Rose Bowl but also because he didn't stick around with the Rockies. He's really raw, and was about 3 years out, so he wouldn't have been a surefire major leaguer. Jeff Legwold of the Post paints the decision as one not taken lightly, so I think we can all respect Wilson as he leaves the Rockies' organization.
In the event that everyone changes their minds, the Rockies have Wilson's rights for 5 years, so the door isn't closed.
Colorado Rockies minor-leaguer Joe Torres apologizes for his failed drug test - The Denver Post
Alfonzo, Jacobs, and now Torres. At what point is this just bad luck, and at what point does it reflect the guys we pick up as depth?