Former Colorado Rockies reliever Matt Belisle signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, putting an official end to his tenure in Denver.
Belisle endured his fair share of struggles over the last two seasons, posting a 4.58 ERA in 137⅔ innings spanning 138 appearances. But for a four-year period between his arrival in 2009 and the Rockies' catastrophic 2012 season, Belisle was one of the most valuable relievers in baseball. During that time, the veteran right-hander managed a 3.53 ERA and 3.10 FIP with 7.9 SO/9 and 1.7 BB/9. In the final year of that impressive run, Belisle somehow was able to accumulate 2.2 WAR -- as a reliever -- in 2012. The result of that season, of course, didn't bode well for Belisle's immediate future; he was the most oft-used reliever in baseball that year and his results in 2013 and 2014 were indicative of significant wear-down.
Dealing with Belisle in a professional setting was an absolute treat. He never shied away from the media after a tough outing, and one image that will always be etched in my mind is the gigantic smile he carried on his face after he was picked to start -- and pitched well -- in the first game of a doubleheader in August.
People talk about "being a pro" as if it's some mystical quality that only a select few humans are allowed to possess. I don't know exactly how to quantify it -- and I'm not sure what it really means in the context it's constantly used in sports media -- but I do know that Belisle definitely fits whatever description that might be. The Rockies will miss him, and the Cardinals will benefit from having him around.
Justin Morneau joins former Rockie Larry Walker as a three-time winner of the Tip O'Neill Award, presented by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Here's what the group had to say about the Rockies' renaissance man:
"Justin Morneau represents everything you want in an ambassador for the game of baseball and for the sport in our country," said Scott Crawford, the Hall's director of operations. "Yes, he's a batting champion and a Gold Glove finalist on the field, but he's also a passionate supporter of the national program and he quietly and selflessly supports a long list of charities. We're proud to present this award to such a great all-around player and humanitarian."
Grantland's Jonah Keri posted the first half of his MLB trade value rankings. Carlos Gonzalez came in at No. 24 on the list last year but is unranked this year because, in Keri's words, he "got hurt, again."