Tuesday, October 30, 2007

GM for a day

I hopped on the Rockies bandwagon fairly late, but couldn't resist -- it's great to have a young and successful team in your hometown. And unlike many clubs that reach the World Series, the Rox roster is not filled with mid-career or aging veterans who will demand a lot more money for next year or leave. Even better, the team has depth at a number of positions (making trades possible to fill gaps) and prospects who may be major league ready next year.

So here's my advice to Dan O'Dowd: Choose the young players you keep wisely. Your future includes Holliday, Tulowitzski, Corpas, Morales, Jimenez. Lock up Holliday with a deal like the Mets paid to Jose Reyes and David Wright and buy out his first few years of free agency (OK, not quite that lucrative, but certainly generous).

Garrett Atkins, Willy Taveras and Brian Fuentes? Probably not. Those three will get higher salaries in arbitration but they can be replaced with guys you now have. In fact, they need to go now while their trade value is highest, coming off a World Series season. Atkins has pop in his bat and good hands but little range. Fuentes needs a change of scenery and always looked hittable to me (though he's a two-time All-Star). Taveras? He can bunt and steal and cover lots of ground in center field. But he walked 21 times this year. That's pathetic for a leadoff man.

Here's a nice summary of the season and potential personnel moves from today's Rocky. It also suggests what the potential free agents might expect from O'Dowd et al.

I say re-sign Kaz and Affeldt -- leave Kaz in the leadoff spot and make Affeldt your 8th inning guy. Give Ian Stewart the third base job. Ryan Spilborghs and Cory Sullivan performed well as a CF platoon when Taveras was hurt -- in fact, they were in the lineup during the amazing 21 for 22 stretch, not Willy -- and they would make a fine, low-priced, full-time alternative to the speedy but otherwise offensively worthless Taveras.

Oh yeah, and Aaron Cook's performance in Game 4 of the series means that the Rockies just found their #2 starter for next season. And he's available for $4.5 million, which is peanuts in today's market.

I look for the Dodgers and Padres to shake things up a lot this winter, and the DBacks will slip, but not much. Still, the Rockies are in great shape for '08, if the front office is smart.

UPDATE: I forgot Torrealba. Yes, re-sign him. He worked well with the young pitchers, played fine offensively, and will demand much less than any FA on the market.

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