Pretend you’re the Rockies’ GM: What three offseason moves would you make to improve the team? |

Pretend you’re the Rockies’ GM: What three offseason moves would you make to improve the team?

Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Often times it is not the major offseason moves that make a team better.

Sometimes it’s the moves that not many people notice along with development of young players within the system.

This past season was a perfect example for the Rockies. When they picked up Willy Tavares and two other pitchers from the Astros for Jason Jennings, the Rockies significantly improved their team, especially with Tavares’ speed in the outfield. They also saw the development from within with Tulowitzki.

I think the best decision would be to stick with the team they have and try to re-sign most of the players who have become free agents for the Rockies this year. If they can’t re-sign all of them, then going out and getting an affordable starting pitcher and perhaps a reliever wouldn’t hurt. I would suggest someone like Octavio Dotel, Eric Gagne, Matt Clement, or Kris Benson.

I can’t believe I’m not mentioning pitching: How far the Rockies have come when every offseason isn’t a desperate search for arms? They could still use a true “ace,” but history shows they have to grow (not trade for or pay exorbitant free agents) their own, and maybe Morales or Jimenez is that guy.

1. Sign Aaron Rowand to play center field ” he’d fit right in and has won a World Series with the ChiSox (however, being a Dodger fan, I’d prefer LA sign him).

2. Find a defensive-oriented second basemen to pair with Tulow for the next half-dozen years (explore the farm system first) because they have plenty of young bats and defense never slumps.

3. Re-signing Yorvit was a good stop-gap, but again, search everywhere for a DEFENSIVE catcher ” forget offense (everyone hits better in Coors, anyway) and get someone who works well with pitchers and can throw out some runners.

1. Sign a decent catcher. They’ve already done this by reining in Torrealba. Sure, he’s not a bona fide All-Star, but catching’s so thin, there are only two (McCann, Martin) currently worth a long-term investment. Torrealba’s good enough.

2. Finding another team to take on Helton’s salary, perhaps getting a middle reliever or a Triple-A starting pitcher in return. Pretty unlikely, as Helton’s value has diminished. But this *is* fantasy GM. Doing this would open up first base for Atkins and allow Ian Stewart to take over at third base, a possible long-term configuration, and frees up salary for …

3. The Future. The Rockies should put a bunch of money in a three- or six-month CD ” to save for a mid-year deal or long-term signing TBD ” because they’re actually in pretty good shape this off-season, but an injury/slump will likely open up some need in June or July. Sit tight, make only good deals (if offered by desperate teams), and prepare for your free agents’ salaries to escalate in the years to come!

I feel the Rockies still need to work on getting some stronger pitching. I know hitting was important during their run, but look at what the pitching did for them after the All-Star break.

Pitching is also what hurt them in the World Series as well. I know that they are still young yet, but if they can get another good veteran starter, as well as one or two more bullpen pitchers, I would like their chances on a run at the NL West, and as league champions once again.

Here are the three offseason moves that Rockies management should make:

*Absolutely need to get a replacement at second base for Kazuo Matsui. A logical possibility seems to be Mark Loretta.

*With Manny Corpas as the proven “closer” absolutely need to trade Brian Fuentes and get another lefty reliever.

And, for sure …

*Absolutely need to obtain another “veteran starting pitcher” ” maybe Brett Tomko or Kip Wells.

In addition, the Rockies need to get rid of an annoying distraction by sending Clint Hurdle into a rehab treatment center for bubble gum chewers to shake him of this juvenile addiction

The first move I make is to trade Todd Helton. His salary is approximately 25-30 percent of the team’s payroll, and we need to open up first base for Garret Atkins so that Ian Stewart can play third base. Although unpopular, this would free up cash to sign existing young players and provide resources to make my next move.

2. The next move would be to go after a veteran pitcher, a.k.a. Dan Haren of the Oakland A’s. The Hampton moves proved to be devastating and expensive mistakes, but the Humidor and Haren’s pitching style should help the team and make everybody forget about the bad pitcher deals. This would make a solid one-two punch in the starting rotation with Jeff Francis.

3. My third move would be to unload Brian Fuentes and try to get some young prospects in return. His release would solidify Matt Herges and Franklin Morales as setup men for Manny Corpas.

Having made the World Series in ’07 and raising the ticket prices by 25 percent for ’08, the Rockies have to be fairly aggressive in their offseason approach to signing free agents to add to their great nucleus of young players.

To be competitive and stay on top, we will have to spend substantially more money on payroll in the coming years.

The Rockies are running with as complete a roster as they have in years. For the most part, they should hold their ground. But, there are a few moves that could ensure a stable baseball future in the Mile High City.

1. Dole out contract extensions. Lock up Troy Tulowitzki long term. Make him feel appreciated. Do whatever it takes to cement him as the shortstop of the present and future. He has two more years left on his current deal, but show him the money now while he’s still a bargain. Matt Holliday, too, is deserving of big money. He’s signed through 2009, but, again, do whatever it takes to keep him in a Rox uni long term.

2. Give the Astros a call to see if they’re willing to give away any more young talent for nothing. Former GM Tim Purpura and the Astros deserve a big-time assist in Colorado’s 2007 rise, taking Jason Jennings for Willy Taveras, Jason Hirsh and Taylor Buchholz prior to the season. Taveras gave the Rox a bona fide leadoff hitter for the first time, well, ever. The jury’s still out on hurlers Hirsh and Buccholz. Jennings, though, was atrocious for the ‘Stros in ’07, going 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA. Heck, if the Rockies wanted, they could float a one-year deal Jennings’ way just to see if last year was an aberration. Imagine if he returned to 2006 form.

3. Dump Todd Helton. He’s beloved in Denver, but he’s on the downside of his career and eats up too much money that could be used for contract extensions. See what you can get for him on the open market ” a prospect or two certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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