Rockies Make Small Waves This Off-Season

In this edition of Rockies Inside Pitch, the Rockies take a small market approach to the off-season, Jayson Nix figures to get a long look at second base, the team invites Josh Towers to camp, and much more.

The Rockies have ignored the temptation to make a big splash in the offseason.

"The last time we had one of those winters, you know the result," manager Clint Hurdle said, referring to the December 2000 signings of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. "One thing we have done well the last four years is honestly evaluated our organization and stay focused on what we feel we need to do to get better."

So while Arizona dealt five of its top 12 prospects to Oakland for Dan Haren, the Rockies resumed looking for bargains, signing promising but disappointing Kip Wells and Josh Towers to battle Franklin Morales and Mark Redman for the fifth spot in the rotation.

While the Dodgers signed free agent center fielder Andruw Jones and Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, the Rockies looked for a late-rising left-hander with the signings of Chris George, John Koronoka and Micah Bowie as possible middle relievers.

While the Giants gave free agent outfielder Aaron Rowand a five-year, $60 million deal, the Rockies looked to make up for the loss of right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins by signing Luis Vizcaino, who will be with his fifth team in five years.

And while the Padres took oft-injured center fielder Jim Edmonds off St. Louis' hands and signed second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, the Rockies brought in fading veteran Marcus Giles as protection for Jayson Nix in his bid to replace Kazuo Matsui at second base.

"We feel the additions we made from outside our organization are guys that will fit in well," said Hurdle. "We feel we addressed the needs we prioritized after the season was over. We feel we are ready to move forward."

The Rockies took a major step last year, advancing to the World Series only to be swept by Boston. They feel it is something to build on, but it will be done with tinkering, not rebuilding again.


  • Rookie LHP Franklin Morales will be challenged by LHP Mark Redman and RHP Kip Wells. The losers in that battle figure to wind up in relief roles, although Morales could return to Class AAA Colorado Springs so he could pitch regularly in the rotation. Morales was with Colorado Springs for only three starts last year before being promoted to the big leagues in August.
  • RHP Manny Corpas has taken over as the closer. LHP Brian Fuentes and RHP Luis Vizcaino will provide the left-right setup men for manager Clint Hurdle. RHP Matt Herges will fill a long relief role.
  • Right-handed candidates for open spots in the bullpen are Taylor Buchholz, Ryan Speier, Ramon Ramirez, Kip Wells (if he doesn't win role as a starter) and Juan Morillo.
  • Left-handed candidates for open spots in the bullpen are John Koronka, Chris George, Micah Bowie, Mark Redman (if he doesn't win role as a starter), Franklin Morales (if he doesn't win a role as a starter) and Josh Newman.
  • LF Matt Holliday figures to double his $4.4 million salary through arbitration this season. Other Rockies who are arbitration-eligible are 3B Garrett Atkins, LHP Brian Fuentes, RF Brad Hapwe and CF Willy Taveras.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Players added this offseason: free agent RHP Luis Vizcaino, RHP Jose Capellan from Detroit in a trade for RHP Denny Bautista, and minor league deals with invites to camp for RHP Josh Towers, LHPs Chris George, Micah Bowie and John Koronka, INF Matt Kata and C Mike Rose.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "The road is paved for him." -- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle on rookie Jayson Nix's opportunity at second base this spring.

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