Tag: Manuel Corpas

Ranking the Best Remaining Players the Marlins Could Invite to Spring Training

We’re less than a month away from when pitchers and catchers report to spring training, so it’s time to assess what the Miami Marlins need and who is still out there to be had.

But before we begin, let’s check the Marlins shopping list and see if there’s anything the Marlins forgot to buy.

An offensively skilled catcher? Check. The Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year contract worth $21 million. 

A power-hitting first baseman? Check. The Marlins signed Garrett Jones to a two-year deal worth $7.75 million.

An upgrade at second base? Check. The Marlins signed Rafael Furcal to a one-year agreement worth $3 million. Furcal can also earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Fixing the black hole known as third base? Check. The Marlins signed Casey McGehee to a one-year pact worth $1.1 million. McGehee can also earn an extra $400,000 in performance bonuses. 

About the only item still on the Marlins shopping cart is a veteran reliever, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, especially after the Marlins nontendered Ryan Webb, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles, while Chad Qualls inked a deal with the Houston Astros

Looking back at last season, the Marlins signed Qualls and Jon Rauch and they had a few commonalities. For starters, both guys signed a one-year pactQualls on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training while Rauch joined the Marlins on a $1 million contract. The other commonality they had was Qualls and Rauch had experience in high-leverage situationsQualls has 51 career saves while Rauch had 62—which might come in handy as Steve Cishek was penciled in as the team’s full-time closer. 

Now, the Marlins are probably looking to add a reliever or two in the same mold as Qualls and Rauch even though Rauch was designated for assignment six weeks into the 2013 season while Qualls (5-2 record, 2.61 ERA in 62 innings) exceeded expectations. 

Without further ado, in descending order, here are the best remaining available free agent relievers the Marlins could target for an invitation to spring training or sign to a major league contract.

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Colorado Rockies Fall Try-Outs Continue with Pitchers

The Rockies have swept the Atlanta Braves and now once again find themselves on the edge of the playoff picture only four games behind in the Wild Card Race.

However, it’s not all good news as reliever Manuel Corpas went down with an injury. Corpas will have an MRI done today, and the Rockies are hoping he won’t have to have Tommy John surgery. Yeah, it’s a bad injury whenever TJ is thrown out there.

When the major league rosters expand at the first of September, the Rockies will be adding several pitching arms. With position players it’s more about a try-out, for many pitchers it’s about getting in bodies and giving a break to an over-worked and injury depleted bullpen.

Previously I looked at the position players the Rox may take a look at, now let’s take a look at the pitchers, those hurlers on the mound that are now the most important position in baseball. Many of these are names we are already familiar with, but the Rockies will be trying to determine where these all fit in the future plans.


Starting Pitching

Ubaldo Jimenez: Jimenez of course will be back in 2011 and the Rockies have him under contractual control for three more years. He may be the only starting pitcher that doesn’t have questions the Rockies will have to evaluate besides how can they afford to pay him.

Jason Hammel: Hammel stepped up this year, and put up some impressive numbers. His stuff is not that great, but he pitched much more aggressively and threw strikes. Hammel has always been looked at as a back of the rotation starter, but for much of the season Hammel was the second best pitcher in the Rockies rotation (which is actually very telling as to why the Rockies are where they are now). How Hammel performs this last month may affect how willing the Rockies are to go after a starting pitcher in Free Agency.

Jeff Francis: Once labeled Jeff “Franchise,” his future is in question. Jeff had a terrible shoulder injury that in 2009 that was pretty severe—about as bad as you can get with out having to have major reconstruction surgery. Still it was an injury many guys don’t come back from at all. Jeff has spent time this year on the Disabled List and is currently on the DL right now. When Francis has pitched this year he’s been surprisingly good. His ERA of 4.56 is below his career ERA of 4.72. Also his Hits/9 HR/9 and WHIP are all below his career averages.

The question around Jeff (the Rockies have an option on his contract for next year at $7 million) is how well can he perform in the future. $7 million for one year isn’t bad for a No. 2-type pitcher, which Francis once was and could be again, but it’s way out of line for an injury damaged pitcher which Francis has been in 2010.

I don’t expect Francis to pitch again this year, unless the Rockies find themselves in a tight playoff race. I do expect the Rockies to re-sign Francis this off-season and even give him an extension, but that extension should be closer to $5 million per year for two years with a third year as an option.

Aaron Cook: Cook is the biggest problem in the Rockies organization right now for pitchers. He’s got one more year on his contract where he’ll make $10.6 million dollars in 2011 including the buy-out for 2012. That will make him the highest paid Rockie next year, tied with Todd Helton. He’s been terrible this year in the majors. I expect the Rockies to recall Cook from his injury rehab assignment, and give him some starts. They need him to perform well, to raise his trade value from near nothing to something, so when they trade Cook this off season, they don’t end up eating too much of his contract.

Jhoulys Chacin: He’s a top prospect for the Rockies. He has four-plus pitches. He’s not an over powering fastball guy, so he has to locate, but his performance for the Rockies in 2010 screams that he’ll be in the Rockies rotation for 2011 and beyond. More outings like Sunday against the Diamondbacks where he went seven and 2/3 giving up only three hits and shutting out Arizona, and he’ll be a great No. 2 pitcher behind Jimenez. Chacin isn’t on any try-out, he’s here to stay.

Esmil Rogers: Rogers has one of the top fastballs in the National League; however, that does not make a pitcher. So far Rogers has been more of a thrower than a pitcher. At times his stuff looks more like he should be a reliever or even a closer, but the Rockies have liked him as a starter. Rogers should get plenty of starts as the Rockies look to see if he will be in their rotation for 2011 or if he’ll be a major trade chip this off-season. Next year Rogers is out of options so the Rockies have this month to decide his future role with the organization.


Relief Pitchers

Samuel Deduno: Deduno is one of those pitchers who has had several starts and stops as he’s progressed through the system. He’s 27 now, and has been a starter in Colorado Springs, but he might be a long guy out of the ‘pen. He’s running out of time, but his numbers have been very solid for the the humidor-less Sky Sox with a 2.93 ERA in six starts with 29 K’s to only 18 walks. He’s on the 40 man. Expect to see him for a cup of coffee as he is on the 40 man roster. Deduno might log several innings as the Rockies give him a good look. Scouting reports project Deduno to be better suited as a reliever in the majors.

Franklin Morales: Yeah, that’s a familiar name. First called up in 2007, Morales helped the Rockies make the playoffs. This year he’s been working mostly in the AAA after starting the season with the Rockies. The Rockies hope he can be a closer, or at least a power set up guy. His numbers have been good in the Springs with a .286 ERA, and he’s walked only 18 in 28 innings which isn’t great, but it’s an improvement. His WHIP is 1.34. Look for Morales to get some work in late in games and even in pressure situations due to his experience.

Since teams always need left-handed pitchers that can throw it 95 mph, Morales has value. Now, we’ll find out if that value can be with the Rox or if it’s going to be with another team.

Edgmer Escalona: Escalona has been a work horse for the Sky Sox this year, logging in 63.0 innings in 51 games. Double E was a candidate to make the Rockies bullpen after a terrific year in AA, but Escalona’s numbers haven’t been great in AAA this year. The question will be whether he can improve his numbers from AAA once he has a humidor helping him out. He won’t be used in any tight situations though. I wonder if he can help the ‘pen out in 2011 or if he just hit his ceiling in AAA. I’m sure the Rockies would like an answer to that question as well.

Chaz Roe: Once a top pitching prospect for the Rockies, he’s logged the most innings pitched this year for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He’s been hittable in AAA with a WHIP of 1.62 and an ERA of 5.81. It will be interesting to see if Roe or Deduno gets a start during their call up. Like Deduno, I expect Roe to be added to the roster as he’s on the 40 man, and also like Deduno I expect Roe to be mainly used in September as a long man out of the bullpen. Roe is not the prospect that he once was and Roe is now looking to be future organizational depth at the starting pitcher or a B level prospect trade throw-in.

We should also expect to see Taylor Buchholtz (who is on an extended rehab assignment currently in AAA) back with the Rockies. With some roster juggling to get guys on the 40 man roster, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rockies, who really need bullpen help, to add a few guys like Al Alburquerque, or even 2009 draft pick Rex Brothers, both currently in AA Tulsa.


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The Rockies at the Trade Deadline: The Bullpen

The July 31st Trade Deadline is fast approaching. The Rockies after this last road series, are in need of help, and lots of it. Will the Rockies be serious buyers? Will they be able to upgrade their team for a 2010 playoff race? What areas will the Rockies be looking at? In the next week, I’ll write a series on the Rockies needs at the trade deadline. Today’s will be relief pitching, and later I’ll look at offensive/position players and another article will be starting pitching.

Right now the Rockies bullpen consists of:
Right Handers : Games IP ERA Batting Average Against
Matt Belisle          45 60.1 2.69 .237
Rafael Betancourt 41 34.2 4.67 .277
Taylor Buchholz     1 1.0 18.00 .400
Manuel Corpas     45 51.0 4.41 .244
Huston Street      14 15.0 3.00 .189

Left Handers: Games IP ERA Batting Average Against
Joe Beimel           43 29.2 2.43 .223
Randy Flores       39 22.2 2.78 .182

In AAA the Rockies also have some players like Matt Daley, Juan Rincon, Franklin Morales, Esmil Rogers, and Matt Reynolds that could help out in the ‘pen. Rogers is being used in AAA as a starter. Rincon has an ERA of 7.79. Daley, Morales and Reynolds are options, but Reynolds is not on the MLB 40-man roster so moves would have to be made to add him.

Names that the rumor mill has generated for the Rockies include:

Kevin Gregg , Toronto Blue Jays, 32 years old, Right Hander .382 ERA
Scott Downs , Toronto Blue Jays 34 Right Hander, 2.45 ERA 1.041 WHIP 3rd in the AL with 19 Holds for the Season
Evan Meek , Pittsburgh Pirates 27 Right Hander, 1.34 ERA 0.894 WHIP
Joel Hanrahan , Pittsburgh Pirates 28 Right Hander, .367 ERA 1.056 WHIP

If you’ll notice all of these are right-handed pitchers. Beimel and Flores have done there jobs as situational lefties. However, it’s the inconsistency of Manuel Corpas plus Buchholz looking shaky coming off Tommy John surgery the Rockies would like to upgrade.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post has said that the Bullpen is the Rockies main focus right now at the trade deadline, and their top priority is Kevin Gregg. He would also be the easiest and cheapest to get of those names besides maybe Hanrahan.

My personal choice would be Meek. Meek is a hard thrower with a fastball that averages 95.1 MPH this year. He also has a slider, a cutter and a curve-ball. In the past he’s thrown a Change-up, but according to Fangraphs he’s not thrown that this year. He’s also the youngest and because of that has the best contract.  All that gives him the highest price tag as far as cost of propects the Rockies would have to give up to get him.

But it looks like the Rockies will be going for the player that will have the most experience as a closer and that is Kevin Gregg.

Kevin Gregg came up through Angels system, and went on to the Marlins for 2 years where he was their closer, getting 61 saves over those 2 years. He was with the Cubs for one year, getting 23 saves before signing as a free agent with the Jays where he’s been their closer this season. Gregg has 37.2 innings pitched in 38 games with 22 saves. His ERA in 2010 is 3.82 which is below his career ERA of 4.08. For 2010 Gregg’s WAR is .4 which isn’t bad for a reliever.

Gregg features a fastball, that has averaged 92.5 MPH this year, as well as a slider/cutter that he uses a lot. This year he’s been throwing more of a straight cutter (31.0%) than ever before .

Kevin Gregg has a fairly reasonable contract. He signed for $2.0 million for 2010, with a club option after this year of one year at $4.5 million for 2011 or a club option of 2 years at $8.75 million. There is also a buy out of $750,000 in the 2 year option.

I find it interesting that one of the Rockies main targets is a pitcher with experience as a closer.  Street missed the first two months of the season with injury. He’s been decent since coming back, but he did have his first blown save this week, costing the Rockies a much-needed win. Street’s also not cheap having just signed a new three-year contract that will pay him $22.5 million including this year.

I get the feeling the Rockies are thinking about hedging their bets on Huston Street, if Street becomes an injury risk, a label that many have given Street before he came to the Rockies from Oakland.

What will it take to get Gregg? I never know, but you can expect a couple of prospects at least. The Rockies have several B Type prospects that won’t help the Rockies out much, but could have good careers with other clubs. Assume one pitcher and a position player from the Rockies.

Not So Bold Prediction: Kevin Gregg will be a Colorado Rockie by the end of the week.

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Colorado Rockies New Closer: Committee

Huston Street is back.  Sort of.  Street was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday as Juan Rincon was designated for assignment, making room on the roster.

I assume the Rockies hopes Rincon passes through waivers, but I doubt he will, as several teams, including the Marlins, are struggling with their bullpens. However, Rincon has passed through waivers once, and his latest stint with the Rockies didn’t exactly increase his value, as he only appeared in two big league games.  Additionally, in 24 appearances in AAA Colorado Springs, he had an ERA of 7.25.

So the Rockies finally have their closer back.  Hip hip Jorge! 

Wait…not so fast there.

With Manuel (don’t call him Manny, damn it!) Corpas struggling over this weekend, giving up eight runs in two appearances and only recording two outs, the Rockies now have an opening and a need for a closer.

But the Rockies won’t be throwing Huston Street to the wolves, just yet. His shoulder is still tender, and he hasn’t built up arm strength yet.  In fact in his last outing at the Springs on Saturday, Street gave up three runs in 1.1 innings, and during his rehab stint, Street had an ERA of 10.29. Those stats clearly show that he’s not ready to take over the closing role for the Rockies.

So who will be the Rockies closer?

Eventually it will be Street. 

Even Rockies manager Jim Tracy has said so.  Street is getting paid a lot of money ($7.2 million in 2010), and he’s not going to be a sixth or seventh inning guy with that kind of a salary. 

But that time isn’t now. 

Right now, the game plan has the Rockies using Street in the setup role, as he gets use to the Major League game speed and builds his arm up.  

Jim Tracy said that the closer will be a “mix and match” situation right now.  You will notice that Tracy didn’t use the dreaded “C” word.  But that is what it is. 

Committee…..I said it!  Can you say, “Closer by Committee”?  Yeah, I knew you could, and I know you don’t like it any more then I do.

“Closer by committee” means the Rockies don’t have one closer, and if you don’t have one closer, you don’t have a closer. We’ll see Matt Belisle, Manuel (he really does hate being called Manny!) Corpas, and even Franklin Morales in the ninth.

I can’t think of any team, especially one with playoff hopes and aspirations, that successfully handled a closer by committee situation. Players, including bullpen pitchers, want to know their role.  Mentally they need to know how and when they are going to be used to be at their best.

Until Huston Street is ready, Corpas should be the closer.  He’s not lights out, that’s for sure.  But before this weekend, Corpas had recorded six straight appearances with out giving up a run, recording four saves in that span.  

Jim Tracy though will now go nuts, with another area of the game with which he can tinker and micro-manage with his “mixing and matching”, but he will be wrong. 

Tracy needs to name a closer and  that closer should be Manuel Corpas.

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