Adios, Jose Mesa. I'd say Good Riddance, but that might sound rude.
By Tracy Ringolsby, Rocky Mountain News
November 30, 2006
The Rockies filled their glaring late-inning void in the bullpen, agreeing to terms with veteran right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins, the Rocky Mountain News has learned.
The Rockies are expected to announce the signing today. Hawkins received a one-year contract with a base salary of $3.5 million plus a mutual option, according to a source close to the negotiations.
With the signing of Hawkins, the Rockies are now focusing on adding a veteran left-handed reliever, which could be filled by re-signing Tom Martin, and deciding on whether they will tender a contract to Josh Fogg or fill the fifth starter spot by bringing in another pitcher.
The Rockies are looking to Hawkins, who turns 34 on Dec. 21, to handle the eighth-inning setup chores for lefty closer Brian Fuentes, and also fill in as the closer on days where Fuentes is unavailable.
Hawkins has shown an ability to get left-handed hitters out. In the last three years, left-handers have a .257 average against him compared to .268 by right-handers, which adds to his value in an eighth-inning role as opposed to being limited to facing right-handed hitters.
Rockies officials could not be reached to comment on the deal late Thursday, but general manager Dan O’Dowd has said he was focused on ``a veteran pitcher who has worked in the role of a closer, a lot like what we had with Jose Mesa, only younger.’’
Hawkins fits that to a tee. Nearly six years younger tha Mesa, Hawkins has had experience in closing with both Minnesota in 2001 and the Chicago Cubs in 2004. He, however, has more success in 10-plus big-league seasons working in a setup role.
A native of Gary, Ind., who was originally signed by Minnesota as a seventh-round draft choice in 1991, Hawkins has appeared in at least 60 games each of his seven seasons as a reliever. He began his career as a starter, but was moved into the bullpen role by Minnesota in 2000.
The Rockies will be his fifth team in five years.
After playing for the Twins in2003 he signed with the Cubs as a free agent. Chicago dealt him to San Francisco for former Cherry Creek High pitcher David Aarsdma in the midst of the 2005 season, and the Giants, in turn sent him to Baltimore for lefty Steve Kline last off-season.