Braves take smart risk with Glaus over LaRoche

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I’m not a big fan of yesterday’s Javier Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera (and prospects) swap from Atlanta’s point of view, but using some of the money saved on the deal to sign Troy Glaus to an incentive-laden one-year pact makes plenty of sense for the Braves.
Adam LaRoche was fantastic for the Braves after coming over in a July 31 trade for Casey Kotchman, hitting .325/.401/.557 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 57 games. No doubt Atlanta hoped to re-sign him, but with LaRoche reportedly looking for a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $30 million the Braves were absolutely right to move on.
LaRoche’s excellent second half led to his hitting .277/.355/.488 with 25 homers overall last season, which is remarkably similar to his hitting .270/.340/.500 with 25 homers in 2008. Toss in good defense at first base and that makes him a solidly above average all-around first baseman, but at 30 years old he’s not the type of guy at whom a cash-strapped team should be throwing $30 million.
Glaus missed nearly all of 2009 with shoulder problems and that makes him a question mark for 2010, but by moving from third base to first base his throwing is much less of an issue and he batted .270/.372/.483 with 27 homers in 2008. In fact, prior to the shoulder injury Glaus had posted an OPS above .800 in nine straight seasons, batting .259/.366/.513 during that time. He’s definitely a risk, but if healthy Glaus should be very similar to (and perhaps even slightly better than) LaRoche offensively for a fraction of the cost.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.