Diving into the depths: Colorado Rockies

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Colorado Rockies
Rotation
1. Ubaldo Jimenez
2. Aaron Cook
3. Jorge De La Rosa
4. Jason Hammel
5. Jeff Francis
6. Jhoulys Chacin
7. Greg Smith
8. Tim Redding
9. Franklin Morales
10. Greg Reynolds
11. Samuel Deduno
12. Chaz Roe
13. Christian Freidrich
Colorado’s rotation is a strength, even though neither De La Rosa nor Hammel can be counted on to be as effective again. I really like the depth. If Chacin’s command improves a bit, he’ll fit in nicely as an injury replacement, and Smith, who was effective for the A’s as a rookie in 2008 before arriving in the Matt Holliday trade and missing most of last year, could prove to be pretty good insurance.
Bullpen
1. Huston Street
2. Rafael Betancourt
3. Manuel Corpas
4. Franklin Morales
5. Matt Daley
6. Matt Belisle
7. Juan Rincon
8. Tim Redding
9. Justin Speier
10. Jhoulys Chacin
11. Randy Flores
12. Casey Weathers
13. Jimmy Gobble
14. Shane Lindsay
15. Al Albuquerque
16. Esmil Rogers
The Rockies made an attempt to sign free agent Kevin Gregg, but they should be OK as is in the bullpen. Five spots appear to be locked up, and there are plenty of veterans around to battle for the two openings. Plus, Taylor Buchholz could return from Tommy John surgery in June.


Catcher
1. Chris Iannetta
2. Miguel Olivo
3. Paul Phillips
4. Paul Lo Duca
5. Michael McKenry
First base
1. Todd Helton
2. Jason Giambi
3. Brad Hawpe
4. Ian Stewart
Second base
1. Clint Barmes
2. Melvin Mora
3. Eric Young Jr.
4. Omar Quintanilla
Third base
1. Ian Stewart
2. Melvin Mora
3. Omar Quintanilla
4. Jonathan Herrera
Shortstop
1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Clint Barmes
3. Jonathan Herrera
4. Omar Quintanilla
Mora was an interesting choice as the new utilityman, given that he’s 38 and he hasn’t started a game at a position other than third base since 2003. Still, he’s a nice complement to Stewart, and the Rockies do have the option of going to Barmes at shortstop in the event of an injury to Tulowitzki. If that happens, they’d probably be better off with Young at second than with Mora.
Left field
1. Carlos Gonzalez
2. Seth Smith
3. Ryan Spilborghs
4. Eric Young Jr.
5. Jay Payton
6. Matt Miller
Center field
1. Dexter Fowler
2. Carlos Gonzalez
3. Ryan Spilborghs
4. Eric Young Jr.
5. Jay Payton
Right field
1. Brad Hawpe
2. Ryan Spilborghs
3. Carlos Gonzalez
Rather than trade Hawpe or Spilborghs, the Rockies opted to keep all five of their outfielders. My suspicion is that the Rockies would be better off with Gonzalez in center and Smith in left against right-handers, but Smith will probably take a backseat initially. They’ll probably go with a bench of Smith, Spilborghs, Olivo, Mora and a second utilityman. Quintanilla could be the choice, since the Rockies won’t want to carry someone who would be better off getting at-bats in Triple-A.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.