Rockies acquire catcher Morales from Twins

December 16, 2010 | 6:06 pm | 89  

The Colorado Rockies have traded for Jose Morales, a switch-hitting catcher, from the Minnesota Twins for minor-league pitcher Paul Bargas.

Morales, 27, hit .194 in 19 games with the Twins in 2010. He will compete with Mike McKenry and Matt Pagnozzi for a job backing up Chris Iannetta in 2011. A third-round pick in 2001 draft, Morales has made brief appearances with the Twins in three seasons. In 54 games in 2009, Morales hit .311.

Bargas, 22, was a 13th-round pick by the Rockies in 2009 draft. The left-handed reliever was 5-4 with a 3.59 ERA and five saves at Single-A Asheville in 2009.

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89 Comments »

  • SteveinAurora | December 16, 2010 | 6:14 pm

    Any idea how he handles himself from a defensive-standpoint??

  • ProgMatinee | December 16, 2010 | 6:21 pm

    rockies parting with their young pitchers a lot recently…and very little to show for it. Young pitchers are what you need to sweeten pots in mid season trades, not for backup catchers that shouldn’t make the roster anyway for the long term progress of the current C depth. Poor move.

  • Steve Foster | December 16, 2010 | 6:25 pm

    Bargas was organizational player with an outside shot because he’s left-handed, but not someone in the picture for the Rockies bullpen in the future. Twins needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster and couldn’t option Morales, so they picked up an extra arm rather than designating Morales. Don’t know much about Morales as a ballplayer — sorry to not be of more help there.

  • ProgMatinee | December 16, 2010 | 6:31 pm

    i don’t see how a 22 year old kid who was drafted in 2009 already be ruled out of the picture. i guess he could have stunk, but 2 years out and we give up on him for a player that may not make it past spring, be let go and in the end nothing to show for it, thats sad. especially given that P is a position the rockies are constantly looking to fill.

  • Steve Foster | December 16, 2010 | 6:35 pm

    Wouldn’t say he had been ruled out entirely — like I said, as a lefty, everyone has an outside shot. But the Rockies have a lot of young arms in the system right now who rank ahead of him as a prospect.

  • Steve Foster | December 16, 2010 | 6:47 pm

    Rockies were looking for a backup catcher to hold them over until Pacheco or Rosario is ready. Neither one will be major-league ready to start the season, so Morales gives them another option without eating up much of the budget or getting in the way of Iannetta (whether they should be going after someone to compete with Iannetta is another debate). Bargas has a shot, but if the Rockies traded him for a backup catcher he was clearly someone they had determined wasn’t going to be a big part of their plans down the road. Morales isn’t the kind of player who brings a team much of a prospect in a deal during the offseason. Rockies weren’t desperate to make this move, but were looking for major-league depth at a position they didn’t want to spend a lot of money on given the minor-league depth they already have.

  • Jasper | December 16, 2010 | 7:15 pm

    This trade is hardly worth a comment – looks like the Rox could still use a back up catcher. This smells like very little for next to nothing. Morales value will probably peak out in spring training where many catchers are needed to get all of the many pitchers their needed repetitions. But he may have and likely does have a better chance at nosing out McKenry than Pagnozzi does.

  • Wayne | December 16, 2010 | 7:25 pm

    I really don’t see much wrong with the trade. We gave up nothing that we were going to utilize in the future for a player with some MLB experience who the Twins thought enough of to keep in the majors for 3 seasons. He obviously had something going for him. Yes we have alot of bodies at catcher, but the arm we gave up was and interchangeable part with many other arms. We have all been saying how we do not want the Rockies to sign a C that will block Rosario and/or Pacheco. We have also said that we need to give Chris a chance. And we also said that we really didn’t think McKenry was much of a back-up (Prog you roster in last thread hinted as much). So what’s wrong with the trade. We got a potential back-up that does not block Rosario and/or Pacheco, one who will not hinder Chris’s chance, and one who at least pushes McKenry some. All for a pitcher we will never have seen.

  • Jack Etkin | December 16, 2010 | 7:49 pm

    Prog,

    Plenty of players are drafted who are not prospects and never will be. Yes, the players are drafted because they have some ability to play professionally. But the majority of them don’t project to be major leaguers. Organizations have rosters to fill out at the lower levels and that, too, is a function of the draft. So to trade a 22-year-old LHP with two seasons of pro experience, one of them a full season, for a potential spare part isn’t all that surprising.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 16, 2010 | 7:51 pm

    Classic Prog. What makes you so sure Morales is useless? I don’t know much about the hitting environment in Rochester off the top of my head, but IL fields don’t tend to be as high octane as PCL ones, and he has a career .400 OBP at AAA. Bargas has had decent stats so far, but at that stage of a player’s career (low A), teams are relying far more on scouting.

    Looks like the biggest question mark on Morales is his health. Hampered by injuries in recent years, including a wrist injury, recovery from which probably explains a lot of his poor 2010 season.

    He’s seems a bit like Jordan Pacheco albeit with 1163 PA at AAA, quite a bit further along. Converted middle infielder, good avg/OBP, good contact rates, but little power.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 16, 2010 | 8:01 pm

    Serious misread there on the OBP. Career AAA stats: .367 OBP/.405 slugging. That’s quite a bit more pedestrian.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 16, 2010 | 8:31 pm

    For old timers (middle-timers?), the name will remind you of another former Twin who was a great pinch hitter. The other Jose Morales held the record for pinch hits in a season until Rockies pinch hitter John Vander Wal broke it in 1995.

  • Julian | December 17, 2010 | 12:29 am

    I think that Wayne summarizes the advantages of the deal perfectly.

  • ProgMatinee | December 17, 2010 | 6:27 am

    haha. Clearly, I’m mistaken and Morales will end up overtaking Iannetta for the starting position and become an all-star. ;) Just kidding.

    I understand that Bargas may never amount to anything, I simply don’t understand if Mike McKenry is chopped liver, why keep him around? Why not trade McKenry for something then?

    To me these deals for mediocre players does nothing but block your own rookies.

    Historically over the past 10 years, the Rockies draft classes have produced very little in the way of pitching. And I haven’t read very many reports of the Rockies trading for more minor league pitchers and those that they do trade for like Al Alburqurque are later lost for nothing anyway.

    I guess I’m too skeptical, just with the lack of pitching depth on this team and the continual disappointment of our top P draft picks in recent years, I would like to see trades bring Ps in and not out.

    I want to thank Steve and Jack and the other readers though for keeping it in perspective with the facts. Hope I don;t annoy too often with my pessimism.

  • chris | December 17, 2010 | 7:09 am

    I am a MN fan and we traded Morales because he couldn’t handle our pitchers and his defense was lackluster overall with a below average arm and too many passed balls. His offense projects out to a spray for good average hitter with good plate discipline but little to no power. He played backup 1b and looked better there, but mediocre defense and no power at 1b is a hole for most teams from a production output. Put him at catcher and you will have your pitchers shaking off more pitches then they throw. Overall you did not give up much for an emergency catcher/1b to try out in spring training, so I see it as a little to no impact trade for both teams.

  • Wayne | December 17, 2010 | 7:35 am

    Chris, that doesn’t sound too good. Was there anything to like about him?

    Prog, you keep on playing devil’s advocate. It livens up the discussion and makes us all think of good reasons to disagree with you,lol.

    Report from DP that we are interested in Aardsma. I know he is a hard thrower and still relatively young, and the last two years have been his best two for era and whip. I wonder what we would have to give up?

    I’m not sure that he makes much sense, I would rather use the roster spot on Beimel.

  • Richard | December 17, 2010 | 7:49 am

    On a different point — why are the Rockies not looking at Grienke. They have the young middle infielder — Gomez and some young pitching. In return they get a legitimate No. 1 who would be a number 2 here. Rotation would be very strong — something that is necessary with S.F. and Phillies. Rockies are kind of small market team that he would be successful in. Don’t understand why they are not at least part of the discussion.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 17, 2010 | 8:03 am

    Interesting comments.

    I’m in line with Prog on this one and happen to think he raises some valid points. Not to say that Morales is useless, although after reading the post from Chris, it sounds like maybe some MN fans might think so.

    I guess my biggest thing is, it appears the Rockies have little or no confidence in McKenry. WHY? So, as Prog pointed out, why not just test the trade market/value of McHenry? Is Morales really any better than McKenry?

    I agree with Jack Etkin’s response to Prog. It’s definitely not surprising. Here is what I struggle with. Why trade a pitcher? As many seem to know behind the scenes, pitching is alleged to be something that is hard to come by for the Rockies. They have gone the way of grooming to come from within. Why give up on a pitcher so soon that is showing signs of potential?

  • Robb | December 17, 2010 | 8:16 am

    Agree with Richard in terms of looking at Greinke, although he may be like a lot of pitchers who don’t want to pitch half their games at Coors Field. To get value you have to give value so the Rockies would have to give up 3-4 very good players/prospects to get Greinke. Supposedly KC wants to strenthen themselves up the middle, so would a Fowler/Gomez/Pacheco or Rosario/Decent AA pitching prospect be enough? I am not advocating that trade, but just wondering what it might take. Sometimes you have to just go for it and I think a Greinke-type pitcher could be the piece that pushes the Rockies to the top.

  • ProgMatinee | December 17, 2010 | 8:26 am

    I love Fowler, and wouldn’t want to see him go. I would trade some of the infield and catching youth for sure though.

    Mike Raysfan, thanks for saying what I meant, only not as whiney as I say it.

  • Eric G. | December 17, 2010 | 9:17 am

    I would assume the Rockies are on Greinke’s no-trade list. No pitcher wants to pitch in Coors Field.

  • Wayne | December 17, 2010 | 9:19 am

    I agree with you there Prog. Now that we have stockpiled certain positions, we can now trade from some strength, although pitching is what everyone will always want.

  • Anonymous | December 17, 2010 | 10:14 am

    Who would the rockies get in return for trading mcKenry? The rockies haven’t traded for pitching prospects because they have held onto their valuable chips. Remember who the rockies gave up to get Al Alburqurque? Jeff Baker. Jeff Baker is basically a sub-par utility man. Thus, you get what you pay for. A lot of these trades happen because the two clubs have seen enough of the players they have and want to see if some change in scenery helps the players they are getting in return in the trade.

    If the rockeis want to trade for strength they will have to give up strength. So that means trading a chip like rosario or chacin or matzek or all three to get someone like Greinke.

    It seems to me that the rockies are stockpiling these positions Because they want insurance against injuries and many of the players they are picking up play multiple positions. So unless you want to see some of our more promising prospects head out of town, don’t expect the rockies to trade for a player that will step into the everyday lineup in the number 5 spot in the order. That kind of player does not come cheaply

  • Robb | December 17, 2010 | 10:18 am

    Dexter would be the one I would least want to include in a trade as I don’t know who else the Rockies have that can play CF even close to him? Maybe CarGo, but it would be nice to keep him as a corner OF and save his legs over the course of a season/career. One of the few knocks I have about DOD is holding onto prospects too long (Ryan Shealy) and then getting very little for them when they start to level off. Sell high if you’re going to do it.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 17, 2010 | 10:50 am

    Giving up prospects or even a 1st round draft choice will always be the issue. That is why I am struggling to believe the Rockies are seriously going after Grant Balfour. Personally, I hope he stays with the Rays.

  • Brian | December 17, 2010 | 10:53 am

    Would EY2, Friedrich and one of the prospect catchers be doable from a Royals prospective? I’m not saying mortgage the whole system, but when a top pitcher comes available and you already know what SF and Philly have, you have to consider a move otherwise you are consistently stuck in the middle with your “nice” 85 win years. Ubaldo, Grienke, De La Rosa, Chacin is a very nice rotation and if Cook or Hammels give you anything in the last spot, you should be in a nice spot.

  • Eric G. | December 17, 2010 | 10:59 am

    How do you know Grienke is available to the Rockies? He can block trades to certain teams. The Rockies may be one of them. I think we should sign Francis. I don’t think Cook will last long this year at all.

  • Wayne | December 17, 2010 | 11:13 am

    Tracy, Steve, Jack, or any of the esteemed posters on this site. Does anyone know if the Rockies would have any interest in 2 pitchers that may have bounce back years.

    Brandon Webb and Fausto Carmona.

    I’ve been searching and can’t find any interest by the Rox. Both maybe pitchers to at least inquire about.

    Let me know if you have heard anything on these two.

    Thanks

  • ian | December 17, 2010 | 11:27 am

    CNNSI MLB power rankings have the Rox in a nice spot, with a tip of the hat to O’Dowd for the Paulino trade.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/joe_lemire/12/16/offseason.power.rankings/index.html

  • Jasper | December 17, 2010 | 12:14 pm

    Grienke is not a pitcher I want. Take a cue from AL teams that shun him due to an inability to win when pitching against AL top teams. Apparently, he has trouble in important games with big crowds present, especially hostile ones. Unless we think that Appodaca and our team psychologist can do for Grienke what they did for DLR, he is not a good choice. We got DLR for one relief pitcher; Grienke costs much more in players, making him a bigger risk than DLR was. To me, he projects as a #4 or even #5, not worth the cost. A caveat to this comment – I have not checked his records – this comment is a repeat of what I have noted on AL web sites concerning Grienke, i.e., comments from fans.

  • Rich M | December 17, 2010 | 12:35 pm

    I heard very early on in the off season (the source was probably from MLB Trade Rumors) that the Rockies had checked in on Webb, but there has been very little connection since then. The salary numbers for Webb that have been bantied about are likely way more than the Rockies would consider for such an injury risk.

    The Rockies would have to move Cook to even consider bringing in Webb, and that’s just not going to happen. Obviously Webb is a big name, but the scouting reports coming in have been pretty ugly with regrad to his velocity. Carmona – frankly I haven’t heard anything about being connected to the Rockies.

    Prog you may have severe Uggla remorse, but I have ten times that remorse over missing out on Willingham. The A’s winning bid seems to be about a Blackmon and Billings package, and I would have done that deal and then some to get a ligit RH power hitter.

    Hope I am wrong on this but it seems to me that we spent WAY too much money on Lopez and Wiggington without really solving the RH power bat issue. All I can say is that the Lopez and Wiggington combo is somewhat of an upgrade over Giambi and Mora – since Giambi is a LH hitter.

  • Eric G. | December 17, 2010 | 1:36 pm

    Rich M,

    You don’t consider Wigginton a power hitter? Just curious, what do you consider a power hitter?

  • Robb | December 17, 2010 | 4:42 pm

    Greinke just switched agents to Casey Close. Isn’t that Tulo’s rep?

  • Alex Colfax | December 17, 2010 | 6:04 pm

    Robb (@10:18)…While I agree that O’Dowd has tended to overvalue prospects and hold onto them too long, Ryan Shealy may not be the best example. The Rockies got Jeremy Affeldt for him, and the lefty with the great breaking ball was quite helpful during the unforgettable 2007 season.

  • robba | December 17, 2010 | 7:32 pm

    I just don’t get it. Why do the Rox let Paul Phillips, an excellent handler of pitchers and a pretty good defensive catcher, go out of the organization, only to replace him with someone who is NOT as good as a pitch caller, and whose defense is (apparently) questionable?

    Where is the upside?

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 17, 2010 | 11:37 pm

    “Where is the upside?”

    The upside is that Morales could turn out to be something useful, even if the chances are low, whereas they know Phillips is a poor enough hitter he’d have to be Johnny Bench behind the plate to help. Plus Phillips will be 34 this season. Don’t make too much out of his 54 PA’s in 2009.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 17, 2010 | 11:43 pm

    So…just in case the contracts for Tulo, Werth, Lee and the proposed extension for Adrian Gonzalez didn’t tell you money is back in baseball…Orlando Hudson signed a 2-yr deal (gasp-his first multi-yr deal!) for $11.5 million.

    Terrific player, but he’s now at an age when he could very well decline in the field during that 2 yr deal, negating a lot of his value as a player.

    Not sure what to make of the impact on the Rockies. Probably further cements the idea that the Rockies will not be big players on the FA market, and will at most seek only complementary players there (like Wigginton). It’s one thing to know you’re in a position to go after top FA’s, but it’s another thing to know the decent starting-level players are likely out, too.

  • Rich M | December 18, 2010 | 6:57 am

    Eric D,

    You are right I don’t consider Wiggington a true power hitter or #5 hole hitter because unless there is an injury he doesn’t have a position on the Rockies to get out on the field everyday.

    Wiggington is a nice power hitting utility player, but for the money I would much rather have Willingham playing left field everyday and hitting in the #5 hole protecting Tulo’s backside.

    The Uggla money that is being reported out of Atlanta $60m over 5 years is way too much, so in retrospect (sorry Prog) I am glad that the Rockies didn’t acquire Uggla. But Willingham woukd have been a serious upgrade over a regressing S Smith and topped out Spilborghs.

    If you all thought Hawpe was a streaky hitter, just wait until you see the streaks that Wiggington will go on. Feast or famine right there!

  • Wayne | December 18, 2010 | 7:32 am

    I was shocked to see Hudson got 2 years at $11.5 mill. I have always liked him, but a this point f/k/a Mike is right, too much chance of decline. I thought he was a one year at about $3 to $3.5 or a 2 year at $5.5 to $6 max. Money is back all right, just look at what theses teams are giving relievers.

    There reason I like Wiggington over Willingham (and I like Willingham a lot) is that he is much more versatile and gives Tracy many more options. That being said, I would have welcomed Willingham. I hope Seth Smith is not really regressing, as Rich M said, and only had a bad 2nd half.

  • Steve Foster | December 18, 2010 | 7:53 am

    On Greinke, I would surprised if he didn’t do what he could to block a trade to the Rockies. He can block a trade to 15 teams and the Yankees, Blue Jays, Brewers and Nationals are on that list, which doesn’t leave much of a clue to what his preferred destination would be. The change of agents is curious. (Casey Close represents Derek Jeter, not Tulo; Tulo and De La Rosa are both repped by Paul Cohen and Bobby Barad.) Greinke wants of out K.C. and what his previous agent was doing or not doing to make that happen is unclear. If he wants out badly enough and the Royals are unable to find a match with a team he wouldn’t block, maybe he’ll go anywhere just to get out. But as I’ve noted in a previous post, two years from now he’s going to be in a position to sign the biggest contract of his career, a deal that could approach CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee money if he returns to Cy Young form the next two seasons. Denver is just a not a high-probability bet for someone in his position. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, just that I already find it unlikely before even considering the asking price.

    The Royals are reportedly asking for Travis Snider, Kyle Drabek and more from the Blue Jays. That’s roughly equivalent to Ian Stewart and Jhoulys Chacin from the Rockies. How much more could the Rockies give up for Greinke without hurting themselves next season and down the road? I would prefer the Rockies keep Chacin and I just don’t see any way the Rockies could get Greinke without giving up Chacin. You can package whatever prospects you want, give up six players instead of three or four, but the Royals are looking for quantity AND quality. If other teams are offering pitchers like Kyle Drabek, the Rockies would have to include Chacin. Friedrich, Rogers, even Matzek just won’t cut it in a trade like this. That’s not the sort of pitcher the Royals are looking for in return.

  • Steve Foster | December 18, 2010 | 8:00 am

    On Webb: Rockies are/were interested but lots of teams chasing him. Price might be getting pretty high for a guy who’s pitched four major-league innings in the past two seasons.

    On Carmona: Haven’t heard what the Indians want in return.

  • SteveinAurora | December 18, 2010 | 8:25 am

    On Greinke…I say kick the tires and see what’s possible. Worst case, he vetoes the trade and we’re at where we are now with nothing lost. Denver and the Rockies’ team would be a perfect place for a guy like this to pitch. Great teammates, good fans and not in the national spotlight but, more of a winner and more potential than with the Royals. Let him work with Doc for awhile, like DLR. Investigate a long-term deal…maybe that makes sense for him and he realizes (like Lee seems to have) that real bright lights and money aren’t always the answer for everyone. If he wants to go elsewhere, send him out at the trade deadline in a year and half for a small army (including that majors-ready pitching prospect that you had to give up). The window of opportunity that Rox fans keep talking about (although it changed somewhat, recently) is here and now. Ask Champ what he thinks about waiting until next year.

  • Eric G. | December 18, 2010 | 8:58 am

    Rich M.,

    I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one. I think Wigginton has just as much if not more power than Willingham. I look forward to watching him play for the Rockies for the next two years.

    Having said that, I would also look forward to seeing Willingham play for the Rockies if we were to aquire him.

  • Rich M | December 18, 2010 | 9:02 am

    Two Rockies prospects that I think are geberally over rated are Matzek and Rosario. So it might not get KC to pull the trigger, but I would offer in trade Matzek, Rosario, Blackmon and Billings to get Greinke.

    If that won;t get it done, then move on because I tend to agree that Chacin should be untouchable at this point in time. Chacin barring injury has the stuff and mound presence to be a solid #2 starter for a very long time.

    But in the end I also agree with Steve, no way Greinke is coming to Coors Field by his own choice to build up his market value for that big payday two years down the road.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 18, 2010 | 9:56 am

    I think the Rockies odds of signing Billy Bulter are better than signing Greinke.

    If you really search through local media sites from various baseball cities you could probably come up with about 8-10 of the no thank you’s.

  • Julian | December 18, 2010 | 11:58 am

    Rich M,

    If I’m reading Steve’s post correctly, that trade doesn’t cause the Royals to trade Greinke to us.

    From a Rockies’ standpoint, I wouldn’t do that trade either. By the end of 2012 you might be talking about players that might constitue a starting catcher, a starting outfielder, a starting pitcher with upside (having Matzek arrive by late 2012 might be a little optimistic), and a 7th inning bullpen guy. I wouldn’t trade all of that for one pitcher who’s likely to be gone after two years, and whose 2010 wasn’t that stellar.

    Of course, I’m a consistent voice for taking advantage of our home grown prospects, because that’s a lot cheaper, and going outside of the organization when we don’t have home grown prospects to fill particular positions, like what we’ve done this offseason for a backup 1B/3B and a backup catcher.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 18, 2010 | 2:17 pm

    Steve,

    Since Greinke seems to be a hot topic, and he was previously linked to this story, have you heard any behind the scenes rumblings from the Rockies about Nolasco or Nunez?

    It appears there are still some in FL that believe something may yet happen between multiple teams. Some question whether or not the Marlins can reach a long term deal or will go $6M for a single season, if that’s the outcome of arbitration.

    Perosnally, I would rather see Greinke in a Rays uniform over a Marlins.

  • Eric W. | December 18, 2010 | 3:11 pm

    W

  • Eric W. | December 18, 2010 | 3:17 pm

    Sorry what I meant to say is on MLB trade Rumors.com it says the Rockies have signed Mike Jacobs to a minor league deal. And this guys is capable of hitting 15 to 30 homeruns. Could the guy be a bat off the bench if he makes the team?

  • Julian | December 18, 2010 | 3:32 pm

    Mike Jacobs sounds like the Sky Sox’s starting first baseman, and insurance if the Rockies suffer injuries to their first basemen.

  • Steve Foster | December 18, 2010 | 3:48 pm

    Marlins are still trying to sign Nolasco to an extension. Earlier rumors during the winter meetings were pretty confusing about who was after who. Not sure if the Rockies were interested in either Nolasco or Nunez, but either would make some sense. I expect Nolasco’s availability to follow much in line with Uggla’s: the Marlins are going to try to sign him to an extension and if that fails, move quickly to trade him while the value is high.

    One more thought/clarification on Greinke. The Rockies have certainly kicked the tires there. My point is that given what other teams are reportedly offering or what the Royals are asking from the Blue Jays and Nationals, the Royals should have and would have asked for Chacin, at which point any talks or possibility of talks would have ended. The package Rich mentions above isn’t a bad return for Greinke if the Royals were looking for quantity and were just starting a rebuilding process. But the Royals have just a ton of talent about to emerge and are looking for specific pieces to complement the group of players who will join the team in 2011 and 2012 and will anchor the team when the second wave of talent hits in 2013. Rockies have one of those pieces — Chacin — but don’t want to (nor should want to) trade him.

    On Jacobs, Julian your assessment is dead on.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 18, 2010 | 5:32 pm

    Thanks Steve. There are those in FL that are saying pretty much what you just said. If they can’t sign Nolasco they would probably try to move him before going the $6M/yr.

    I think I would give Paulino a shot at the backend of the rotation before signing Nunez. Hec, if Cook is still a Rockie when the season starts, I would even give serious consideration to seeing how he works out of the BP and starting Paulino.

    I’m looking forward to spring training.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 19, 2010 | 9:28 am

    Rumors are Greinke is going to Milwaukee for ss Alcides Escobar, CF Lorenzo Cain, P Jeremy Jeffress, P Jake Odorizzi.

    The Brewers are also receiving SS Yuniesky Betancourt. Not clear if they actually wanted him (to replace Escobar) or if it’s a salary dump.

    That seems like a pretty fair package as these things go. Escobar, Cain and Jeffress have seen time in the majors and have 5, 6, and 6 cost-controlled years left. Escobar hit poorly last season but was a BA top 20 prospect, I believe. Cain was not regarded as highly but performed well in his first trial in the majors (150-ish PA’s last season). Odorizzi is in A ball, late 1st rounder in 2008; Sickels likes him, at any rate (B-). Jeffress is the classic blazing fastball and no-command guy; has hit 101 but has a career avg of 5.5 walks/9 in the minors. And other things have been blazing as well as he served a 100 game suspension for substance abuse.

  • SteveinAurora | December 19, 2010 | 9:31 am

    So, Greinke goes to a mid-market team that supposedly wasn’t focused on starting pitching this offseason. Three position players (two of which I’ve heard of), a highly regarded pitcher from the Brewers’ system and a player to be named. How does that group compare with names from the Rockies’ system that were discussed herein? Interesting that Zack was okay with going to Milwaukee, a team that really wasn’t discussed in the stories floating about.

  • Wayne | December 19, 2010 | 9:32 am

    So, did the Royals get a good return? What would the Rockies have had to give up comparably to make the trade?

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 19, 2010 | 9:39 am

    “but I would offer in trade Matzek, Rosario, Blackmon and Billings to get Greinke.”

    I have no idea what KC was looking for but Steve’s take seems reasonable. If if they didn’t need major league ready guys, this package doesn’t match the Brewers’ package. Matzek is probably a better prospect than anyone in the deal due to his upside but he is still far off, and the other 3 don’t match up.

    Tough competition when a guy like Greinke becomes available, I guess.

  • SteveinAurora | December 19, 2010 | 9:46 am

    Substitute in Cook and part or all of his salary, Nelson/Herrera/EY2, Spilly or Smith for some of those mentioned?

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 19, 2010 | 9:51 am

    “I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one. I think Wigginton has just as much if not more power than Willingham”

    Wigginton actually has less power, though it’s close. Willingham career ISO (BA – singles) = .210 vs. Wigginton .179. Higher HR/AB as well. Willingham walks more so his career OBP is also 41 pts higher, so overall, he’s a much better offensive player.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 19, 2010 | 9:58 am

    If you included Smith and Cook and paid the bulk of Cook’s salary, it gets closer in value in the abstract. But then Cook is gone a year later and Smith is arb-eligible. Again, it’s hard to know what KC values, but there’s a value in the guys they got in that at least 2 of them were both major league ready (have demonstrated some ability to stick) and have many cost-controlled years left. Plus Cain is a CF.

    If KC valued a combo of major-league readiness, cost-control years remaining, and upside, that seems like a difficult package for the Rockies to match.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 19, 2010 | 10:31 am

    Guess I will watch the press conference. Surprising trade. Seems Ken Rosenthal and Peter Gammons are not on the same page with Jeffress or a player to be named later.

    In any event, it will be on MLB TV.

    The Red Sox get another Rays player and give him $3m base loaded with incentives. It sounds like they may overtake the Yankees in the highest payroll department.

  • Steve Foster | December 19, 2010 | 11:00 am

    The Brewers gave up some very good players for Greinke. Not quite what what the Rangers got a few years ago for Teixeira from the Braves, but not as far off as it looks at first. Possibly three of the Brewers’ top 10 2010 prospects and another player. Escobar is going to be an All-Star shortstop. Opinions differ on Cain: could be a star or could be a fourth outfielder, but he’s coming off a big season in the minors and a good debut with the Brewers. Rumors aren’t clear if Jeremy Jeffress and/or Jake Odorizzi is part of the deal. If it’s one, that’s already good. If it’s both, that’s a huge haul. Jeffress is a former first-rounder with huge talent but has been sidetracked by substance abuse problems. Escobar, Cain and Jeffress are major-leaguers or major-league ready. Odorizzi is a 2008 supplmental first-rounder and will reach Double-A in 2010.

    One thing to keep in mind is how trades actually come together. When a team like the Royals is trading a player like Greinke — arguably their best player and the reason some people buy tickets — they look first for a premium player or prospect to replace in return. Part of it is smart baseball, but part of it is PR — you can’t give up a premium player without getting a potential one in return. Think of when the Rockies traded Holliday. The deal would not have happened without Carlos Gonzalez. The A’s could have offered three good prospects in his place and the Rockies wouldn’t have done it. They had identified Gonzalez as the potential big-time player they needed to replace the big-time player they were trading. Maybe in the long run you get more value of quantity, but teams with good to great minor-league systems — as the Rockies had then and the Royals do now — look for high-reward potential in trades like this. So while shopping Greinke, the Royals would have identified with each potential partner the player or players they absolutely had to have in return to make it happen. With the Rockies, those conversations start with Chacin and Fowler — high ceiling guys a few years away from free agency. If the Rockies don’t have interest in moving those players, talks just end because a team with a bigger need — the Brewers desperately needed an ace (Gallardo is more of a No. 2) while the Rockies already have their ace in Jimenez — steps into the picture. If the Royals hadn’t found a team willing to give up a premium player then they would have started talking about secondary offers, but the Yankees would have given up Jesus Montero, the Nationals would have had to give up (and were reluctant to do so) Jordan Zimmerman. With the Brewers it was Alcides Escobar.

    Fowler might be roughly comparable to Escobar except for the position. The Rockies don’t have the middle-infield equivalent — Tulo’s better, but as much as I like Young, Herrera or, in particular, Nelson, they don’t come close to comparing to Escobar. He’s not going to turn into Tulo or Gonzalez, but he’s plays a premium position and will probably be the Royals leadoff hitter soon and for some time. Royals wouldn’t have had interest in Cook except as a throw-in if the Rockies paid his salary — he’s just not the sort of player they were looking for. Players in their 30s either late in the arbitration years or close to free agency wouldn’t do the Royals any good unless they were able to get draft picks when they left a year later. Royals were looking for young major-leaguers who will settle in to the team in 2011, maybe help the team make a run a respectability and still be in the lineup (and cheap, if possible) when the next wave emerges in 2012 and 2013.

    This is all academic in any case because Greinke wouldn’t have cared what the Royals got in for him and he had a say in where he went.

  • Steve Foster | December 19, 2010 | 11:03 am

    One more thought: you still have at least the Rangers, Yankees, Nationals and Cubs seeking a pitcher in a trade right now and only two pretty big names out there: Matt Garza or Ricky Nolasco. That the Brewers, rather than one of the others, landed Greinke and paid a pretty big price for him just raised the expectations for the Rays and Marlins. No selling low Garza or Nolasco.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 19, 2010 | 12:20 pm

    Steve,

    First, thanks for your insight and explanation. As far as Garza goes, the Rays wouldn’t let him go cheap regardless. By all accounts, if Joe Madden has his way Garza won’t be leaving at all.

    Inspite of the DP’s reports to the contrary, I still believe the rumor I heard in FL, back when Olivo’s trade went down, that the Rockies had in fact “interest” in Nolasco.

    It was interesting to read the interview with Dick Monfort this morning. He clearly stated his budget plans.

    “The Rockies are budgeting for a payroll of approximately $86 million in 2011. That is based on their business model.

    “We need to be right around 50 percent of our revenue. So that puts it in the mid-80s. With playoff appearances and increased attendance, obviously it would go up,” Monfort said.”

    Source: DP

  • ProgMatinee | December 19, 2010 | 2:59 pm

    So with playoff or increased attendance, obviously thats a post season awareness (or psychic ability) needed. We already know that last years attendance was high…but playoff appearance obviously wasn’t there.

    Basically what their saying is that they need to go to the playoffs one year in order to increase the payroll the next. Did that playout in 2008 or 2010? I don’t think it did. So I take what Monfort said with a giant grain of sea salt.

    In the end, if you want a championship…you make an investment on what you WANT to happen, not on what has happened. If the Rockies ownership WANTS to win the World Series, you have to be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE.

  • ProgMatinee | December 19, 2010 | 4:00 pm

    I get the sense that the Brew Crew is making their play now while they still have Fielder and Braun under control. If it doesn;t work out, they will have to maximize their trade with Fielder to get some of this stuff they spent on Grienke back.

    IMO its a rish well worth taking for a midmarket team.

  • SteveinAurora | December 19, 2010 | 7:35 pm

    Prog,

    I’m in total agreement with you. What happens with the other 50% of revenue?? Or, if you increase revenue by putting more backsides in the seats (better pitching, more reliable hitting, more wins, playoff games, etc.) and sell more parking spots and over-priced beers…shouldn’t that equate to increased spending on players?? Turn DOD loose and let him try to make it happen…not just sit and hope that the planets align in the next 3-5 years.

  • SteveinAurora | December 19, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    Let’s look at things from a different perspective. According to stats on ESPN, the Oakland A’s (define “mid-market team” here) sold 1.4 million tickets last year and averaged 17,500 per game. Total tickets was exactly half of what the Rox sold in 2010. The stadium is a dump (use other adjectives when the Raiders are playing) and there hasn’t been too much for their fans to support over the last couple of years. According to the couple of news items for the A’s that I browsed, the A’s have signed Matsui, Harden (who the Rox had interest in), traded for Willingham (who several on this site would have liked to have seen in purple pinstripes…probably me, included) and have extended a significant multi-year offer to Adrian Beltre, who would also be an improvement for the hometown team. Billy Beane may be an egomaniac, but it seems to me like he’s able to do a little more with less resources than hope the kids at Tulsa don’t blow out a knee.

  • SteveinAurora | December 19, 2010 | 8:17 pm

    Okay…I took a breath. I’d better qualify that I don’t understand how MLB’s revenue sharing program works, or how the A’s use/manipulate the system. That being said, I think that you see where I was going with the last posting.

  • Trip | December 19, 2010 | 10:04 pm

    SteveInAurora,
    Just an fyi – you mention the A’s making new signings this off season. Their payroll was the third lowest in all of baseball in 2010, and the lowest median salary on top of that. So no, they are not spending a lot of money on payroll. How big their payroll is for 2011, I do not know.

  • Steve Foster | December 19, 2010 | 10:23 pm

    A few thoughts:

    The A’s have been active this offseason, which is probably a good thing since they reached .500 last season for the first time since 2006. I like the moves for DeJesus and Willingham a lot and was really disappointed the Rockies didn’t make a harder play for Willingham, although it might have been a matter of the A’s having players the Nationals liked better than what the Rockies could offer. With Harden, it wasn’t about money but about role: the Rockies were willing to pay him as much, but wanted him for the pen, while the A’s are giving him a chance to compete for the rotation. He’s betting that he can stay healthy in the rotation and pitch well enough to earn a multiyear deal elsewhere. The Rockies (among other teams) didn’t think he could stay healthy and were offering him a new career path he wasn’t interested in. Matsui is only making slightly more ($250,000) to DH than what the Rockies will pay Ty Wigginton to play 3-5 positions. Beltre, meanwhile, not only rejected the A’s offer, but seemed to barely acknowledge it; some reports around Oakland suggested the offer was for show anyway because the A’s have tried to sign Beltre before and he has shown no interest in playing there. Like it or not, the Rockies are committed to Ian Stewart at third and had no interest in getting into talks for $15 million a year for a player at the position. They were willing, however, to look at adding significant salary to acquire Michael Young from the Rangers because they viewed him as an upgrade at second base with the flexibility to pay third as well, if needed.

    The A’s philosophy is different than the Rockies. If it wasn’t, they would still have Carlos Gonzalez. While the A’s sometimes are willing to spend money on short-term contracts with free agents, their payroll last season was almost $25 million lower than the Rockies’ and will probably be so again. The biggest difference in their philosophies, though, comes through player development. The A’s do not invest in Latin America the way the Rockies do. It’s a huge investment the Rockies have in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in particular and it’s paying off with Ubaldo Jimenez and Jhoulys Chacin, plus a big part of the next crop of prospects like Wilin Rosario, Albert Campos, Rafael Ortega and Chrishtian Adames. It’s a different approach, but the Rockies’ seems to work better — they’ve at least been to the playoffs more often in recent years. If the A’s devoted more resources to player development, two things might happen: they wouldn’t have to chase players like Beltre who don’t want to play for them and they might have some consistency on their roster so fans have someone to latch on to, which could maybe help raise attendance. The A’s roster gets turned over with great regularity each offseason without much change in wins, which have been declined since their best years in the “moneyball” era, 2000-03. It’s notable that the A’s’ last playoff team, 2006, was led by largely homegrown players — Eric Chavez, Nick Swisher, Dan Haren (correction: I had forgotten Haren started with Cards and came over as part of the Mark Mulder trade), Barry Zito, Joe Blanton and Huston Street. Their current team is largely free agents or prospects they’ve acquired from other teams. The four players that have made up the A’s plans for the 2011 — DeJesus, Willingham, Matsui and Harden — will almost certainly be gone in 2012. All four are free agents and for a variety of reasons are likely to test the open market and might find more lucrative offers there. The Rockies, meanwhile, have locked up the face of their team for the next decade.

    Player payroll accounts for a only part of the cost of running a baseball team. The mid-80s payroll target for the Rockies doesn’t take into account the cost of running the minor-league system, bonuses to draft picks, salary for non-baseball player personnel, including ticketing, accounting, stadium overhead, travel not just for the team but support personnel and so on. That’s not to say that the Rockies ownership is pouring every cent they take in back into the team. It’s a business and the Monforts and their mostly silent partners (among them, the Denver Post, which sadly inherited a share of the team from my old paper) want to see a return on their investment each year.

    One thing the Rockies aren’t doing is gaming the system as the Marlins have been, collecting revenue-sharing money that is supposed to be put into raising a payroll to competitive levels. The Rockies payroll has increased in proportion to their increase in revenue. The real difference between the Rockies and, say, the Phillies or the Rangers isn’t a unwillingness to spend more of their money, but the TV contract. Despite being in the top 10 in attendance, the Rockies’ TV market is the 16th largest in the country, about half the size of Philly and about 2/3 the size of the Rangers’ market. The Rangers just emerged with new ownership and a huge new TV contract that dwarfs what the Rockies are collecting each season. It was enough money that the Rangers could chase Cliff Lee and the Rockies couldn’t. The Rockies’ TV revenue is hampered a bit by the fact that until recently the team played in the HUGE shadow of the Broncos and even for a time the Avalanche. Then just as the Avalanche started to fade, along comes Melo. From a TV standpoint, the Rockies weren’t a much of a ratings draw before 2008 and 2009 (they signed a 12-year deal with FSN in 2008). For those of you who live in an around Denver, you’ve probably noticed that it’s only been in the last couple years more people you would consider casual baseball fans seem to know what’s going on with the Rockies and are familiar with the lineup in a way they weren’t six or seven years ago, when, much the like the A’s now, the lineup changed dramatically year over year.

    The Rockies are emerging as the most competitive major sport team in Denver, and that may be reflected in their next contract several years from now, which, in turn, would affect their payroll.

  • Wayne | December 20, 2010 | 7:09 am

    Great analysis Steve, thanks for putting things in perspective and giving us a little insider look.

    What is happening with Beimel? I would think that we would have brought him back. He had been consistently good the last two seasons and I don’t know of another lefty BP pitcher out on the market that could do the job he has for us.

  • Steve Foster | December 20, 2010 | 8:29 am

    Beimel seems to be following the pattern of his past two offseasons when he was one of the latest signings, first with the Nationals in 2009 then with the Rockies in 2010. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the Rockies, but probably on a similar schedule to last season if he does.

  • ProgMatinee | December 20, 2010 | 8:32 am

    Great to read your input Steve, thanks!

  • Julian | December 20, 2010 | 9:34 am

    I think that it would be great to sign Beimel, but I wonder if we will get to sign him given the market for relievers and the fact that he might get a multi-year offer from one or more other teams, and probably only a one year offer from the Rockies.

    If Francis resigns with the Rockies, but doesn’t beat out the other starting pitchers, then would he be the second lefty in the bullpen?

  • Trip | December 20, 2010 | 10:02 am

    Steve,
    Many thanks for the explanation of the finances of running a ball club.

    What are your thoughts on ways Baseball can level the playing field? By the very nature of baseball a national contract, such as the NFL, is probably not a viable option. But there must be someway a team such as Kansas City can be on a more level field with the Yankees. There has been some chat in the national services, cbssports.com for example, that baseball is losing it’s fan base because year in and year out, only the major markets can reasonably expect to be in the playoff hunt.

  • Rocky | December 20, 2010 | 10:21 am

    Another great thread, thanks for the enjoyable read.

  • Eric W. | December 20, 2010 | 10:23 am

    What about signing Trevor Hoffman to a 1 year deal with incentives to be Street’s backup closer and to be a mentor in the Rockies bullpen? Could the Rockies make one more surprise move?

  • Steve Foster | December 20, 2010 | 11:29 am

    What baseball could do:

    1) Continue to increase the popularity of the game and find national revenue that is split among the teams, through national TV contracts and MLB revenue through its website.
    2) Expand smarter. Expansion into Miami and Tampa Bay was handled terribly — the fan bases needed to be developed, but in both places you have terrible stadiums and in Miami, you’ve had ownership groups that seem to have worked harder to anger fans than draw them in. I would expand now into two more cities like Denver that have strong, loyal fan bases and a history of supporting their local teams. Cities like Memphis, Nashville and San Antonio, maybe Charlotte, have the populations and fan bases to sustain a mid-market team. Baseball should also consider putting another team in the NY area, either upstate or in New Jersey to eating into the biggest of the big TV markets. Use the expansion money to subsidize new stadiums for the Marlins, Rays and A’s. If that’s not going to help those cities draw better, then baseball shouldn’t be in those cities. Use expansion to level the middle of the playing field first and realign to get the Rays and Marlins away from the Northeast behemoths.
    3) At the same time, hold the small markets teams accountable, too. Revenue sharing is about keeping those teams competitive, but what we learned from the leaks of financial documents from teams like the Rays and Marlins is that several teams receiving that revenue aren’t always pouring it back into the team on the field as they’re supposed to. The more teams competing for top free agents, the less likely it is that players get concentrated with a few number of high revenue teams. Not every team needs to be out chasing free agents, but with the revenue sharing system there’s not much excuse for a team to have a payroll under $70 million, yet nine teams in baseball did in 2010.
    4) Build better. What we’re seeing with the Rockies, Twins and Brewers is that teams in small TV markets can draw well and get to the point where an $80-90 million payroll is possible and allow for a profit. While a payroll like the Rockies’ does come with limits and force tough decisions, if you can’t build a winning team with $85 million, you shouldn’t be a major-league general manager. You have to build differently, but that doesn’t mean it’s a worse approach. Look at the Cubs and you’ll see what happens when a team with money doesn’t spend it wisely. Look at the Indians from the late ’90s on and you’ll see what happens when a small- to mid-market team forgets the fundamentals of how to build a team on a budget. We keep hearing about how a team in the AL East just can’t compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, yet one of the smallest of small-market teams, the Rays, has won the division two of three past seasons. If the Blue Jays and Orioles hadn’t so ineptly run in the past decade, the Red Sox and Yankees wouldn’t have seemed like such a lock every year because they would have faced tougher competition. The Rays, meanwhile, had one of the most interesting teams in baseball in 2010 but still only drew 1.9 million fans. That’s about the market they play in, not the economics of baseball. If the Rays had drawn as well as a mediocre team like the Brewers or Astros did, losing Carl Crawford wouldn’t have been a foregone conclusion.

    I don’t buy the argument that baseball is losing its fan base because of the Yankees and Red Sox. The economics leave something to be desired, but the bigger problem is that too many teams are trying to be like the Yankees and Red Sox rather than accept that their circumstances are fundamentally different. The Twins are a good example of a team that understands its circumstances: Baseball tried to contract them. But they hunkered down, built from within and produced a steady winner for a few years. That led to a new stadium and third-highest attendance in baseball. They signed their best player to the fourth-largest contract in baseball history. They haven’t reached the series, but they’re in a position to do so and baseball is as interesting in the Twin Cities as it has ever been. The other franchise that faced contraction, the Nationals (formerly the Expos) spent the most money on a single player this offseason in Jayson Werth. Cliff Lee certainly went to a big-market team in the Phillies, but took less money and spurned the Yankees. Tulowitzki chose to stay in Denver instead of becoming a free agent after 2014 when the Yankees and Red Sox might both be looking for shortstops. The Cardinals, a mid-market team with an incredibly loyal fan base and a regional market, signed the biggest free-agent contract last season. The Yankees and Red Sox get to shop for whatever they want, but what the past two offseasons have shown is that if players are given other options, some will choose them.

    The Royals have a ton of talent and the trade of Greinke was a smart trade in that he would end up leaving anyway before the talent in their system fully emerges. If the talent they’ve collected in the past few drafts (Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers) doesn’t turn the team into a winner in a division that’s winnable, their GM rather than the economics of baseball is to blame. The economics can, however, be blamed for the decisions the Royals (like those faced by the Rockies, Brewers and Twins) have to make when their nucleus reaches free agency. That’s where local TV contracts make such a huge difference and that’s what separates MLB from the NFL. But baseball is already trying to level the playing field with revenue sharing to make up for the discrepancy in revenue. What we learned this year is that some of those teams are pocketing the money and still crying poverty or using the money for things they aren’t supposed to like the Marlins using revenue sharing money to pay down their debt rather than invest in players.

    All that said, I think the Rockies, like the Twins, will end up with a payroll around $90-100 million at some point in the next three or four years. That still has some limits, but when you have revenue that allows for $100 million payroll, you should be able to build a consistent winner. You have to do it differently than teams like the Yankees or Red Sox, but there’s no way short of a salary cap (which will never happen) that you will ever get more than a couple teams able to spend at the level of those two teams. But Denver, like Minneapolis, is starting to prove that good baseball will find its fans, even if it’s not on the East Coast.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 20, 2010 | 5:56 pm

    Very nice response, Steve.

    Part of the problem is that markets are fluid. Well, the Yankees’ market isn’t really, but most are…so what’s a small market? DFW is a big market, but how often were the Rangers thought of as a big market team? Ditto for SF, yet those are your two WS teams. Then there all the great examples Steve brought up. The Rockies can sort of join the Indians as teams that seemed to have large markets due to constant stadium sellouts, only to perform poorly and hit hard times as a consequence. (Now the Rockies are rebounding to some degree, but if they have an injury and win 78 games in 2011, would anyone be surprised if attendance dropped?) Very hard to tell which franchises are messing up year after year vs. which truly have structural impediments to competitiveness.

    How do baseball’s World series reps compare to the NFL’s in terms of the number of teams? I’m guessing it’s pretty close, if baseball doesn’t actually come out on top.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | December 20, 2010 | 5:57 pm

    BTW, some folks mentioned Ricky Nolasco in this thread. He just signed an extension for $26 million or so. Sheesh.

  • Bill | December 20, 2010 | 9:29 pm

    Great thread here. The economics of baseball is fascinating. As Steve (I think it was Steve) mentioned above the smaller market teams just have to spend smarter. Rockies blew their wad 10 years ago when they signed Hampton and Neagle. I think they made a poor decision by signing Helton to his mega deal although I realize most Rockie fans disagree with me.

    However I think they made the right decision when they signed Tulo to his 10 year extension. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Rockies have made the playoffs in 2 of Tulo’s 4 years but had only made it once in the previous seasons.

    Twins spent smartly in signing Mauer for big money. I’m not sure about the Nationals signing of Werth. I think he’s a good player but not a great player. And 7 years for the big bucks! I’m not sure he’s worth it. If Yankees or Red Sox make that kind of mistake, no big deal for them. But for other teams they better be right it it will hurt them for a long time.

  • Roc ky | December 21, 2010 | 9:12 am

    The day I learned that my favorite player, Tim McCarver, was traded from the Cardinals to the Phillies (the same trade that involved Curt Flood) is the day I learned that baseball is a business. I never got over it. And from that moment on I hated the Cardinals. Sorry, but all this talk about baseball business brought back that memory. Anyway, I do have a comment/question.
    With expansion, wouldn’t that further dilute the baseball talent pool, and drive up salaries even more for mediocre players?

    Just a thought.

  • Trip | December 21, 2010 | 9:49 am

    Steve,
    Many thanks for a thoughtful response. Gives me things to think about.

    T.

  • ProgMatinee | December 21, 2010 | 11:14 am

    For whatever reason, baseball doesn’t generate a national audience like the NFL does. It may have to do with the schedule size and the frequency of games.
    Following MLB is like following a daily soap opera vs the NFL is like watching a weekly sitcom. Its so easy to just catch 2 or 3 games a week of the NFL and know whats going on league wide. Also, with the small schedule, NFL games are almost must watch TV. Even the biggest matchups of the baseball season are simply 1 game of 3. In the end, the size of the baseball schedule is a blessing and a curse.

    I will say, for me the best thing to happen to baseball in the past 20 years in terms of following the game is MLB Channel. I pretty much watch that channel 365 days a year.

  • Steve Foster | December 21, 2010 | 11:19 am

    Good point, Rocky. But I look it from a slightly different perspective. One of the reasons I think baseball could consider expanding is that we’ve reached a point players like Jay Payton, Jim Edmonds and Jermaine Dye, quality ballplayers who have trouble finding jobs because of their price tag, are struggling to find jobs because teams prefer to go with, for example, young fourth outfielders who make $400k rather than someone like Payton for $4 million. Some of the players, rather than sign for below what they perceive to be their market value retire or take a year off. So I think the initial result of expansion would be that these tweeners find jobs, and that maybe players like Orlando Hudson, Orlando Cabrera or Felipe Lopez find themselves with two- or three-years deal rather than going year-to-year as they have been. It would be fair to see that as mediocre players getting paid more, but I don’t think it would dramatically drive up the payrolls for small-market teams, at least no more than I think some of them should be driven up. (I don’t see any excuse for teams like Florida or Pittsburgh to be limping around with payrolls in the 30s and 40s year after year when Kansas City and Tampa Bay can manage $70+ million.)

  • Jon S | December 21, 2010 | 5:03 pm

    Great thread. Thanks for your thoughts Steve.

    I think too often fans get enamored with the approach of the Yankees and Red Sox, and forget that for most teams there is a budget to consider. It’d be nice to have a blank check to write to whatever free agent you wanted, but that’s rarely reality (seems to match real life, eh). Most teams have to play by the rules of development and smart management. I don’t want to see the Rockies give a “good” outfielder 126M$ any time in the near future. Better to lock up guys like Tulowitzki, Gonzales and Jimenez than pick over the free agent market and pay an unnecessary premium. No more Hampton and Neagle deals, please.

    I’m quite happy with the approach the Rockies have taken in the past few years. You have to build from within, and be smart with your draft picks and how you develop your minor league system (e.g. the Rockies and the new Dominican facility). I feel better about the direction of this franchise compared with pretty much any other out there. The Rockies have a good bit of talent waiting in the wings, and locking up guys like Tulowitzki and De La Rosa is exactly what they should be doing to stay competitive. As Steve notes, the Twins have done things the right way as well. The team seems ready to continue bringing in good talent and keeping the pressure on the competition for years to come – there’s no risk of them running out of steam any time soon. Spending a huge sum of money on a guy like Lee, Crawford or even Beltre will get folks excited, but is almost assured of costing more than it gives back in the long run.

    If the Rockies trade Chachin, I’ll be up in arms – the guy is going to be a great pitcher for many years to come (barring injury, of course), and sending him elsewhere at this point would be a terrible idea. Would I like to have a .300-hitting, 30-HR monster in the 5-hole? Sure, but you have to be realistic. If the Rockies have to give away 5 years of winning seasons to acquire that in 2011, I’ll pass. Much better to have a solid team with a good (maybe even great, on occasion) chance of competing EVERY year than a one-hit wonder that’s doomed to scavange the top draft picks the for next decade.

    Jon

  • Bill | December 21, 2010 | 8:27 pm

    I agree with Jon S for the most part. The Rockies need to be smart with their money and for the most part have been in the past few years. Signing 30+ year old players to long term contracts is usually not a good move. Jayson Werth is the prime example of that. But even Cliff Lee is in his 30′s although the Phillies signed him for 5 years, not 6 or 7. Zach Grienke has had one great year. The Brewers gave up an awful lot for him. And he will be a free agent in two years.

    However I think that when they are in the playoff hunt but need some pieces they need to spend a little to get over the hump. In 09 they did that successfully by getting Betancourt early and Giambi late. Last year they didn’t get anybody early and the one guy they went after late (Del Carmen) was a bust. Maybe they signed or traded for somebody else but I don’t think so.

    I think in those situations it’s ok to overspend to rent a player for two months to get to the playoffs and hopefully to the World Series and win. The Rangers did that to some extent last summer when they got Cliff Lee. They didn’t win it all but I’m guessing the fans were pretty happy to finally make the World Series

  • SteveinAurora | December 21, 2010 | 10:17 pm

    Good insight on a number of levels. Still, frustration builds when true fans hear names that are recognizable and would generate excitement that get mentally inserted into a pretty good lineup. Then, several weeks later, said names end up signing with another team as they didn’t fit in fiscally with the “business model”. Seems like it would be better to attach the label “Rockies trolling for bottom-feeders” to those media-generated names so that the reports can generally be ignored. Still of the opinion that signing/trading for an above average free agent (even stellar, once in awhile) will put more butts in the seats and generate more revenue to contribute to the “model”. Might even liven up the talent base just a little.

  • Mike Raysfan | December 22, 2010 | 9:40 am

    Steve, as always, great stuff.

    Interesting comments on the Rays. I could get on my soap box and go with a 5 page dissertation about the Rays. Since this is a Rockies site, I won’t.

    Your assement that expansion into St. Pete was handled terribly was an understatement. You were being kind. Can you say POLITICS? Yes politics had as much to do with the mishandling as anything else.

    Also, it should be noted that your mention of “revenue aren’t always pouring it back into the team on the field as they’re supposed to” would probably apply to the orginal Rays ownership, not the current.

    Sadly, as rumored, the new ownership did cut the budget by alleged estimates of around $20M this offseason. The $70M you mentioned probably no longer applies.

    Your right about the fan base. It’s VERY hard to figure out. Just the counties that comprise the local tv viewing audience have a total population pushing what the entire state of CO has. I’m not even sure I agree with the reported attendance numbers. A team goes to the WS and can only drum up about 13k per game the next season? Well from a family that has season tickets, PITIFUL. Absolutely pitiful. Next season the Trop will be a home game for the Red Sox and that is also pitiful.

    What’s on the horizon for the Rays? Who knows. If it wasn’t for the HUGE monetary, long term commitment to the city of St. Pete, I think the Rays would be gone. Some believe that still might happen. There is a new commission studying ways to understand how to best finance and keep the Rays through local business support and not tax payer money. Believe it or not the CO Rockies model was mentioned!

    Time will tell what happens.

    Drew Goodman, if you are reading this, there is NOTHING Tampa about the Rays other than some “sense of community”, political, sports media name.