Restoring the rosters: No. 7 – Colorado

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
The Rockies’ presence in the top 10 may surprise many, but they boast one of the deepest lineups of any team and an underrated starting rotation. If only they could do something about the pen.
Rotation
Aaron Cook
Ubaldo Jimenez
Jeff Francis
Jake Westbrook
Franklin Morales
Bullpen
Manuel Corpas
Mark DiFelice
Jamey Wright
Jason Jennings
Sean Green
Matt Daley
Jhoulys Chacin
Cook and Jimenez are both legitimate No. 2 starters, with Jimenez potentially on his way to being something more, and Francis could again jump into the same boat if he’s able to get healthy. Mix in a strong innings-eater like Westbrook and a still promising youngster in Morales and it’s a fine group. The problem is depth. Only untested prospects like Chacin and Christian Friedrich are behind them.
The bullpen is a real problem, but the breakthrough seasons experienced by DiFelice and Daley help somewhat. It’s still a terribly shallow group, and I’m not sure it wouldn’t be a better arrangement to have Morales in a key late-inning role and Chacin in the rotation.
Lineup
2B Chone Figgins
1B Todd Helton
LF Matt Holliday
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Brad Hawpe
C Chris Iannetta
3B Ian Stewart
CF Dexter Fowler
Bench
OF Juan Pierre
INF Garrett Atkins
INF Craig Counsell
OF Ryan Spilborghs
C Josh Bard
How about that for a nice top-to-bottom lineup? Two legitimate stars hitting third and fourth and two more players with 900 OPSs this year in Helton and Hawpe. The top six are all clearly above average regulars, and Stewart and Fowler aren’t far away from fitting into the same category. Plus, just look at the bench. Pierre and Atkins could resume playing regularly next year, and Counsell’s solid OBP and excellent defense make him very valuable. It’s such a strong group that Seth Smith, Clint Barmes, Jody Gerut and Jeff Baker all failed to win spots.
Summary
7th out of 30 in developing talent, yet never once first out of five in the NL West race. In 16 seasons, the Rockies have finished second twice. Since the Diamondbacks made it a five-team division in 1998, they’ve finished fourth or fifth nine times in 11 years. Of course, things have gone a lot better lately. The Rockies lost the World Series in 2007, and after a very disappointing 2008, they’re back in contention now. Still, it shouldn’t have taken so long. A ballpark that made it incredibly difficult to win on the road took a heavy toll, but so did poor management. GM Dan O’Dowd used to pick a plan and stick with it for a good three weeks or so. I’m still not completely convinced that shouldn’t have gone in a different direction long ago, but O’Dowd has done more good than harm the last few years. The Rockies are in fine position for the future if they keep their current pieces in place.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.