Results tagged ‘ Dan O'Dowd ’

A busy Rox weekend

– Two free agent targets appear headed elsewhere, with outfielder Grady Sizemore reportedly having reached an agreement with the Indians and onetime Rockies infielder Clint Barmes reportedly headed to Pittsburgh to rejoin his old Rox manager, Clint Hurdle.

The Sizemore situation was a race against time. Signing him was somewhat predicated on trading left fielder Seth Smith. The plan to trade Smith was to fill the second base hole or one of the starting pitching holes. Although there have been stories about talks with the Braves about infielder Martin Prado and the Rockies have been debating trying to pry former Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson from the Padres, not much in the way of real negotiation had materialized.

But with all the health reports on Sizemore positive after a postseason knee surgery (he had surgery on the other knee in 2009), teams decided to move quickly. The team that knows him the best, the Indians, figured the price was right and made the move.

The Rockies see Smith as an asset, so it’s not as if they’re dying to trade him. They’d deal him, but not in a trade that they aren’t totally comfortable making. To trade Smith now, the Rockies need a viable alternative in left, whether that player comes in the same trade or the Rockies end up with a left fielder through other means. Or they can just keep Smith.

“We like Seth Smith — he’s a good player for us,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd told me the other day.

Barmes would have made a lot of sense. He played shortstop last year for the Astros, and will do so for the Pirates. If the Rockies could have signed him, he would have offered a high-quality replacement if Troy Tulowitzki were to be injured.

If the Rox don’t find a second baseman, some combination of Jonathan Herrera, Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. would have to suffice at second. Both have experience at short, and can move over in case of injury to Tulowitzki.

Since Tulowitzki is a big shortstop who never takes it easy, it would be nice to have someone of Barmes’ ability to plug into the position. It would give manager Jim Tracy peace of mind when he wants to rest Tulowitzki during the season.

It’s a concern, but the Rockies aren’t going to build their offseason strategy around protecting themselves from a longterm injury to Tulowitzki. Replacing him for a few days for a nagging injury is one thing. A long absence is something else.

“If we lost Tulowitzki for a long period of time, we’re in trouble,” O’Dowd said. “I don’t know of many teams that can withstand losing their best player for a long period of time.”

– The Rockies dealt veteran utility man Ty Wigginton to the Phillies on Sunday for a player to be named.

While it’s nice to have a vet to come off the bench, the Rockies might be covered with a younger player. They liked the offensive work of late-season call-up Jordan Pacheco, and Tracy used Pacheco at first base and third base — essentially the same way he used Wigginton.

Keep an eye on Rockies pitching, Barmes discussions could occur today

As MLB.com reported last week and as the Denver Post reported last night, the Rockies’ wide-ranging search for an innings-eating starting pitcher, or two, includes standout free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt (4-0, 2.25 ERA in five career starts at Coors Field).

The Post reported that the Rockies won’t trade for the Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez, who want quite a bit in return. But just about any young, accomplished starter is on the radar — the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, and the Rays’ Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis. All have been Rockies targets before. The Rockies are interested in their one-time No. 1 pitcher Jeff Francis and Kevin Millwood, who finished last season in purple pinstripes, as well as, according to the Post, Paul Maholm.

The Rockies are dangling left fielder Seth Smith in trade talks for either a pitcher or a second baseman, or both. That helps explain the pursuit of Grady Sizemore, who is recovering from right knee surgery but, according to his agent, will be ready to start Spring Training and to start the season.

If they don’t make a trade at the keystone position, they could look to the past and pursue Clint Barmes, who played for the Astros last season but had spent all is previous seasons with the Rockies. Barry Meister, Barmes’ agent, will arrive at the MLB General Managers meetings in Milwaukee today. Although there have been internal discussions about Barmes — who is attractive to the Rockies because he can move to shortstop if Troy Tulowitzki needs a break or is banged up — there had not been negotiations as of yesterday. Barmes is receiving interest at a shortstop and a second baseman, and is open to playing each spot.

Potential trade targets are the Braves’ Martin Prado and the Padres’ Orlando Hudson, with the Rockies already having had discussions with the Braves.

In the coming weeks, watch for the Rockies to seriously explore dealing right-handed reliever Huston Street, who is guaranteed $8 million next year. Rafael Betancourt ended up supplanting Street as closer late in the regular season.

– Thomas Harding

Giambi might have to leave to chase ring; Iannetta ignoring rumors

Jason Giambi loves Colorado, but realizes he might have to go elsewhere to chase his goal.

At 40, Giambi signed with the Rockies before the season hoping to win a World Series ring for the first time in his career. But with the team needing a major turnaround now, if not yesterday, to become relevant in the playoff race, general manager Dan O’Dowd recently met with Giambi and acknowledged that some prime playoff contenders have expressed interest in him. The Phillies and the Pirates are known to have expressed interest in Giambi to serve as a left-handed bat off the bench and a first baseman.

Even if he is not dealt before Sunday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, he can be moved later in a waiver deal. As long as he is on the new team’s roster before Sept. 1, he will be eligible for the postseason roster. Although Giambi is under a regular one-year deal, because of his experience and the respect he has earned from the Rockies, he will be consulted before any trade occurs.

“I’m definitely in open communication with Dan, and I’m open to whatever,” Giambi said. “That’s part of this game. But I love it here. The Colorado fans have been incredible. The front office has been unbelievable. I love Jim Tracy and my teammates. It would definitely have to be the right situation.”

Giambi said he hasn’t thought about whether he’d prefer to continue his current role with a National League team or return to the American League, where he spent his entire career before joining the Rockies in 2009, as a designated hitter. He said the team would need to have a solid plan for days off for him if it is counting on him as part of the first base equation.

Also high on the list of Rockies players who could be moved is catcher Chris Iannetta. The Pirates, a contender, have surfaced as a possibility. The Padres, who aren’t contending but like Iannetta’s experience and ability to reach base, are another team believed to be interested. Iannetta is avoiding following the rumor mill.

“It’s counterproductive,” Iannetta said. “So I just avoid it all together and focus on what I can control.”

Rockies don’t mind Ubaldo pitching winter ball … if he’s still with them

Chances are if the Rockies end up receiving an offer they’ll accept for right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, it’ll be close or at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But if the Rockies aren’t blown away and they hold onto him, his preparation for 2011 will be different.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Jimenez said he will pitch in the Dominican Winter League for Licey, something he has done for most of his career. The club has been asking some Latin American players to back away from winter ball in recent years, fearing it causes additional wear and tear.

But after Jimenez suffered a cut on his thumb cuticle in Spring Training and also battled leg muscle issues, then missed time early in the year with the cuticle injury, he has decided pitching in the winter actually reduces risk because he is more ready for the season.

“Yeah, for sure it got me ready. This year, when I got to spring training I was getting ready for the season,” Jimenez told the AP. “But a year before when I played winter ball I went to spring training already ready.”

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd told the AP: “Sounds like a great idea.”

How available is Jimenez, exactly? Jon Heyman of SI.com says via Twitter it’s a “Justin Upton-esque trial balloon.” During the offseason, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said even Upton was available in a way of saying anything was on the table when it came to improving the club. Of course, the D-backs are a surprise National League West contender, and Upton is a key reason.

In another Trade Deadline-related story, foxsports.com reporter Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter that teams are interested in backup first baseman and pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, but Giambi would like to stay with the Rockies. According to Rosenthal, the team will consult Giambi before making a deal.

Jimenez makes his case

Ubaldo Jimenez would prefer not to be traded. On Tuesday night he did everything he could to let the Rockies know he wants to stay.

After he struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings of the Rockies’ 12-3 victory over the Braves, he was asked in several different ways if he would do anything to stop the club from dealing him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Well, he can do most anything on the mound. But when it comes to phone conversations between clubs, that’s where his power ends. He is not a general manager or an owner, and he doesn’t have a no-trade provision in his contract as leverage.

He was asked directly would he tell general manager Dan O’Dowd he doesn’t want to be traded.

“I think he already knows,” Jimenez said with an easy laugh. “But like I said before, they’re going to do anything that’s good for the team.”

While we’re on the good-for-the-team subject, something interesting has arisen during his last two starts. For much of this season, the team didn’t do much when he was on the mound. But in two starts after the break, the Rockies have scored 24 runs. Instead of not scoring runs for Jimenez, they’re not scoring runs for other guys.

What’s fueling all of this is the Rockies are not scoring runs and therefore not winning. To deal him, they’re going to have to get back a package of players who will correct the run problem. But they also need a bona fide starting pitcher. It’s not like there is an Ubaldo tree from which the club can pluck another Jimenez.

The question is whether the Rockies are better off letting Jimenez have his bad first two months of this season, and let the team have a bad year, or is the model so broken that they need to scrap it, even if it costs them a pitcher many said could not be developed by an organization that plays at altitude.

And besides pitching the way he has for nearly two months, Jimenez doesn’t have a say in the matter. Besides, if his pitching shows the Rockies how much they need him, it may encourage another team to make an offer the Rockies cant refuse.

He has two more starts — Sunday at Arizona and next July 30 at San Diego — before the deadline.

“I’ll just do what I’ve done the last five days,” Jimenez said. “Even before this game I had heard a lot of things. I got a lot of text messages, a lot of messages on Facebook asking, ‘Are you going to get traded? It’s the same thing. I’m going to keep doing my thing, keep working hard, showing up to the stadium and being myself.

“It’s a really tough situation. I’ll do anything possible not to think about it, but you’re a human being. Once in a while you’re going to think about it. So once the trade deadline passes, if I’m still here, I’m going to be happy about it. I won’t have to worry about that for a little bit.”

Rockies have interest in Berkman

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd has said it’s doubtful he can land a big bat, but he’s trying. According to The Denver Post, the Rockies have aggressively pursued switch-hitting Lance Berkman to play the outfield corners and occasionally spell Todd Helton at first base.

The key here would be Berkman’s desire to return to the National League. Berkman saw a dramatic drop in his power with the Astros and Yankees last season, although finished he year with the Yankees as a designated hitter on an upswing as far as average is concerned.

An important aspect of the pursuit of Berkman, according to the Post, is Helton would be on board with bringing in Berkman. The two have the same agent. Helton helped the Rockies recruit Jason Giambi as his backup last season, but by season’s end Helton admitted not playing nearly every game was difficult. Still, the Rockies need a solid alternative, given Helton’s history of back problems and his age.

The Rockies desire a right-handed corner bat, preferably one that can play some first base. Berkman has more power from the left than from the right, but he fits — if the price is right. The Cardinals, Blue Jays and Athletics also have pursued Berkman.

The Mariners’ Jose Lopez, if he’s non-tendered, Jorge Cantu, whom the Rockies considered trading for last season, and Troy Glaus are acknowledged targets. The Rockies also are looking at the Athletics, who appear to be deciding whether to non-tender Edwin Encarnacion or Colorado native Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Some current Rockies will no doubt be watching the situation closely. Third baseman Ian Stewart and outfielders Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs could potentially lose playing time, depending on who is signed. Interestingly, the Rockies hired Carney Lansford as hitting coach and charged him with the task of waking up the bats of all three. Stewart and Smith didn’t meet the club’s expectations for production last year. Spilborghs finished strong but struggled with strikeouts early.

– Thomas Harding

 

Rockies mulling Olivo option

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said he will take until Thursday’s deadline before deciding whether to pick up catcher Miguel Olivo’s $2.5 million option for 2011. Even if he decides, the Rockies still have to determine whether Olivo, Chris Iannetta or a combination of both are solid enough to handle catching duties. Do the Rockies seek a trade or free agency? That’s one of this winter’s big questions.

The Rockies will not pick up left-hander Jeff Francis’ $7 million option for 2011. Three years of shoulder problems makes it too risky, but O’Dowd says he wants Francis back.

It should be an interesting free agency season. The big question is whether the Rockies can retain lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who could have numerous bidders.

 

My thoughts? If the bidders stay in the three-year range, the Rockies can compete. If someone goes overboard on years, the Rockies will wish him well.

 

– Thomas Harding

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