This one's for Pat!
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: SLC, UT
Ringolsby: Rockies completely incapable of mistakes!
I'm so glad I read this column - SO GLAD! I was feeling kind of down about the Rockies. I had been embarrassed about the motivation regarding the Jason Jennings trade. I felt even more embarrassment when Chuckie Monfort basically admitted the other day that we were going to be Expos West when he said, "...you keep them while you can go through arbitration and hope that you have somebody coming behind them to take their place because, quite frankly, in this market we can't afford that. If people want to say that we are a minor-league team for the Yankees and somebody is going to pick Matt off for $14 (million) a year (as a free agent), so be it."
I was feeling down in the dumps as a fan when I was thinking about how many winning seasons (one - barely) the Rockies have had this decade.
Well, it turns out that things are, in fact, pretty rosy! I just needed a dose of Tracy Ringolsby. I failed to realize that Rockies ownership were puppet masters for the rest of baseball; that there should be no concern with being in Year 14 of the Five-Year-Plan.
It's good to know that regardless of how many games we lose this year, the future will be bright!
Ringolsby: Rockies on need-to-owe basis
February 2, 2007
Too much has been made of the Rockies' payroll. It's projected to be $54 million in 2007.
It will be among the lowest in the big leagues.
Question: Which player who might have made the Rockies a markedly better team did they miss out on because they didn't have the money to sign him?
The payroll budget isn't the issue. The issue is whether ownership will blow the budget if such a need were to arise.
For three years, the Rockies have had low-priced needs. There was the year of transition, 2004, when they signed veteran free agents to one-year deals to give prospects another year to develop in the minors.
Two years ago, the Rockies were showing patience and allowing their rookies to get their feet on the ground.
Last year, it was a matter of assessing how the inexperienced players adjusted.
This year, the Rockies face expectations, having been built on the nucleus in place. The only area in which they had hoped to make an offseason adjustment was center field, and the truth is, an impact center fielder was not on the market. And the center fielders who were available signed contracts that have the makings of long-term headaches.
The question isn't whether the Rockies can stretch the budget to overpay Dave Roberts, Gary Matthews Jr. or Juan Pierre - or to take Coco Crisp off Boston's hands. The question is whether the Rockies will step up if a player such as Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter or Vernon Wells becomes available.
"What we saw out there (this offseason), there were no game changers," managing general partner Charlie Monfort said. "We felt the players who were available would make a marginal difference and we are better off to save money and wait for that impact player to surface. If you have a chance to sign a game changer, you re-evaluate the budget.
"The appearance is the free agent market will be stronger the next year or two, and in another, year we're going to know more about our team. We're going to have another year to evaluate. We're going to have another year to develop."
Too often, teams get in a financial trap. The Pittsburgh Pirates want to show fans that money is being put into the budget, so the payroll gets bumped $10 million. The front office decides it needs to spend the money to prove to fans an effort is being made. And so a player such as Jeromy Burnitz gets $6 million and spends the final part of the season sitting on the bench.
• San Diego has put on hold a proposed trade of right- handed reliever Scott Linebrink to Philadelphia for outfielder Aaron Rowand. The Padres want to check out outfielder Terrmel Sledge and see how the bullpen fits together before making the move.
• Right-hander Curt Schilling has told Boston he wants to continue pitching in 2008, but he also had told the Red Sox he wants a contract before the season starts. Schilling is looking for something similar to the $13 million he will make this year.
• Cubs right- hander Carlos Zambrano is looking for a multiyear deal that will carry a salary similar to the $18 million-a-year average of the Giants' Barry Zito.
Kelly Barton writes: "The Rockies traded Jason Jennings because both sides couldn't agree on an extension. The Astros now face the risk faced by the Rockies before the trade - Jennings tests his value in free agency. Did the trade with Houston improve the Rockies' rotation? Second, the Astros lost Andy Pettitte and maybe Roger Clemens, but they're willing to accept the risk of a short-term rental with Jennings because they think Jennings will help their rotation more this year than the two guys they traded to the Rockies. It seems the Astros made the trade for baseball reasons and the Rox made the trade for financial reasons. Do you agree?"
Kelly, I don't. From talking with scouts and general managers from other organizations, they are amazed the Rockies were able to not only get Jason Hirsh, but Willy Taveras and Taylor Buchholz in the deal with Houston.
Hirsh is the one being counted on to pick up Jennings' load. The Astros, meanwhile, were very much in need of a veteran presence in light of the Pettitte-Clemens situation. The Astros also believe Jennings' ties to Texas and Baylor University, alma mater of Astros owner Drayton McLane, will make him interested in a long- term deal.
Whether it was a negotiating ploy or he was serious, Jennings made it known in Colorado he was eager to test the free-agent market rather than sign an extension.
For Tracy Ringolsby's response and to ask questions of your own, check out the Rockies blog at www.RockyMountain News.com/ rockies.
Two cents' worth
Why is it that the players become the villains when they sign oversized contracts?
Teams set the value by what they are willing to shell out to sign a player. Once the deal is done, however, it's the player who is held accountable for earning the seemingly outrageous salary.
MILE HIGH WATCH
• Jamey Wright continues to wander down his career path.
After making good on a minor league invitation from San Francisco last year, Wright has accepted a similar challenge from Texas this year. This time, though, the odds are against Wright - unless he finally accepts a move to the bullpen.
For now, Wright, the Rockies' first-round draft pick in 1993, is one of six candidates for the fifth spot in the Rangers' rotation.
John Koronka, Kameron Loe, Edinson Volquez and John Rheinecker are all back after getting a shot at the job last year. Josh Rupe, who was supposed to have the job a year ago but injured his elbow, has rehabilitated and is ready to go.
• In addition to the regular- season schedule, FSN Rocky Mountain will televise 15 of the Rockies' spring training games, including a March 30 game at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Five of the Rockies' eight weekend games are in the cable/satellite- TV package, along with the spring training opener March 1 against the Chicago White Sox.
• Eduardo Villacis will replace Mark Thompson as pitching coach for the Rockies' Rookie Casper affiliate. Villacis, 27, originally signed with the Rockies in 1999 out of his native Venezuela. The right-handed pitcher made his only major league appearance in a 2004 game with Kansas City. He pitched for Bridgeport (Conn.) in the independent Atlantic League last year.