Colorado Rockies: Grading Dan O'Dowd's Offseason Moves Thus Far
This has been a surprisingly quiet offseason for Dan O’Dowd and the Colorado Rockies.
While the Rockies lay stagnant, O’Dowd’s seat continues to get hotter after ending with the third-worst record in baseball in 2012.
No longer having the job security he’s been accustomed to over the years, O’Dowd needs to fix the perennial pitching predicament and compliment the Rockies' hot bats.
Here are the grades for Colorado's offseason moves thus far.
Ryan Wheeler, Third Base: B+
"We love Matt," said director of major league operations Bill Geivett, "but we’ve had our eye on Wheeler, and getting him was big for us." (h/t Denver Post)
Back in November, the Rockies traded relief pitcher Matt Reynolds to Arizona for third base prospect Ryan Wheeler.
At this point, Wheeler is the best acquisition the Colorado Rockies have made so far this offseason.
The 24-year-old will likely fill the gaping hole at third base that’s been plaguing the Rockies since the Ian Stewart experiment.
In 362 at-bats for Triple-A Reno in 2012, Wheeler hit a ridiculous .351 with 90 RBI and 15 home runs. After his call-up midway through the season, Wheeler, who settled mostly into a platoon role, had 26 hits and 10 RBI in 109 at-bats for the Diamondbacks.
Wheeler will spend a decent amount of time in the minors in 2013 with Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco splitting time at third, but if his numbers are anything like 2012’s minor league performance, expect a quick call-up.
Wilton Lopez, Relief Pitcher: C-
Rockies fans knew this was coming at some point this offseason.
It all went downhill for White after he was charged with a DUI prior to the start of the 2012 season. To make matters worse, White lied to O’Dowd, saying he only had two drinks before he was pulled over. O‘Dowd discovered White’s blood-alcohol measurement was .174, twice the legal limit.
While the Rockies were glad to rid themselves of a problem pitcher, they didn’t get much in return for one of their top organizational pitching prospects.
Wilton Lopez, who posted an ERA of 2.17 in 66.1 innings pitched for the Astros last year, has been pretty consistent over the last three seasons.
The numbers are there, but the Rockies have to be careful throwing out a 29-year-old relief pitcher at the mercy of Coors Field.
While the Rockies gave up a little too much, they replaced Reynolds in the pen with a better arm, making the Wheeler trade even more successful.
Walt Weiss, Manager: B
Hiring Walt Weiss was a pretty good move for an organization with some excellent young shortstops.
Weiss, a former Rockies shortstop and adviser to the front office, will have the injury-plagued Troy Tulowitzki, a promising young star in Josh Rutledge and the highly-coveted prospect Trevor Story to work with.
While Arizona’s Matt Williams may have been a more experienced option for manager, Weiss, who has no managerial experience other than high school, is a promising new face.
Weiss will have a lot on his plate for 2013, including fixing a broken pitching staff and digging the Rockies out of last place in the division.
In the end, the Rockies will improve under Weiss, but whether or not the pitching is successful is anyone’s guess.
Jeff Francis, Starting Pitcher: F
If any other organization in the majors had the choice between Alex White or Jeff Francis in their rotation, they would pick the rookie.
The Rockies signed Francis to a one-year deal in December. I’m not sure why Rockies management feels like the owe something to their 2002 first-round draft pick.
The fact is the now 31-year-old Francis can’t pitch in Coors. Why sign him to even a one-year deal?
This is by far the worst move the Rockies have made this offseason. Francis’s presence on the roster will not help a pitching staff that posted an MLB-worst ERA of 5.22 last season.
Other Bullpen Signings: C+
Logan Kensing, D
Kensing, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009, will likely spend the majority this year in the minors unless his numbers show improvement.
He posted a 3.97 ERA in last season, bouncing around from Triple, Double and Single-A. Those numbers are not good enough to make the Rockies' exhausted bullpen at this point.
Mike McClendon, B-
The 27-year-old McClendon has yet to be given a legitimate chance in the majors, and the Rockies are prepared to provide him with that chance.
McClendon pitched in 34 innings over his first two years in the bigs, but struggled last season. While he’s not prepared to join the rotation just yet, his slider alone is worth a signing.
He should develop his fastball over spring training and the first few months of the season, but expect a midseason call-up.
Justin Berg, C-
Justin Berg showed a lot of promise for a 43rd-round draft pick out of Iowa, but just hasn’t panned out in the minors.
His fastball has regressed each season and is now down to a mediocre 88 mph.
I commend the Rockies for giving the 28-year-old Berg one more shot, but it’s not likely we’ll see him in the majors in 2013.
Erick Threets, B
Threets has proved himself worthy of a spot in the bullpen, and if the Rockies are smart, they’ll put him there.
The 31-year-old hasn’t seen the majors since 2010, but has put up a collection of nice numbers in various minor league stints.
Threets can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and has developed a sharp breaking slider over the last two years. For the price, Threets is a steal for the Rockies.
If O’Dowd wants to keep his job, he’s going to need to do better than this.
The Rockies desperately need some help in the bullpen, and it’s about time they consider bringing in a pitcher they know is capable of getting the job done.
I like the idea of Colorado pursuing right-hander Kyle Lohse, who posted a 16-3 record with a 2.86 ERA in 2012. He’d be a nice addition and an instant ace to a rotation that badly needs one.
Expect a lot of work to be done in 2013 before Opening Day.