After your Colorado Rockies traded closer Huston Street to the San Diego Padres yesterday for a player to be named later, General Manager Dan O'Dowd made sure to tell MLB.com that the organization didn't just dump money in the deal, but created opportunities for players inside the organization. That is true, and as much promise as Mr. Player-to-be-named-later shows, the main attraction of trading Street was paying only the .5 of the $7.5 million he is due next year. That's money that can now be put toward signing a veteran starting pitcher, which is the team's biggest need.
The bullpen was the most dependable part of the team in last year's disappointing season and Rafael Betancourt took over the closer role in August when Street was injured, converting eight of nine saves and allowing only one run in the final two months of the season. This made Street expendable, as he was reportedly not comfortable competing for the closer job.
The Rockies now need to figure out who to lavish with the money they saved by shipping Street to the West Coast. The Rockies were reportedly on the verge of trading Street to the Cincinnati Reds for starter Edinson Volquez, but the deal fell through. The Rockies are still talking to the Reds about trading for Volquez, who has regressed and suffered several injuries since a stellar 2008 season.
The Rockies have also reportedly shown interest in Atlanta Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens, a better pitcher than Volquez, who would cost more in a trade. Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers is another name commonly placed on the Rockies' potential wish list. He piled up over 200 innings last year while posting a better-than three-to-one strikeout to walk ratio, but will reportedly be asking for a one-year deal worth $13 million and has many suitors across the league.
The Rockies need to find a reliable pitcher to bridge the gap between dependable starters Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin and the young guns they received in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade -- Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. And the recently acquired Kevin Slowey, who has given up home runs at the second highest rate since 2007, probably isn't the answer.
Colorado could also use the money saved by dealing Street to pursue another bat. Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer is the most frequently mentioned name and he is currently mulling a three-year, $25 million offer from the Twins. The Rockies have also been in discussions with the Braves about infielder Martin Prado.
While the Anaheim Angels are out signing the top hitter and pitcher on the free agent market, the Rockies are considering adding guys who make you say, 'I've heard of him, but I can't remember if he's that good."
That's the strategy for a team that believes it is a few tweaks away from contending rather than undergoing a rebuilding.
The Rockies dealt Street because they feel they still have a strong bullpen without him, and they very well could be right. Rookie Rex Brothers showed several sparks last year and profiles as a future closer. Matt Belisle has been very reliable and Matt Lindstrom can throw a baseball really fast.
But relievers are very volatile and a player that was an asset last year could become a liability this year. Trading Street was a smart move and it could look even better if it helps the team land a solid starting pitcher or a bat to take some pressure off Tulo and Cargo. But some people will question getting rid of a solid bullpen arm if the relievers fall apart or get overworked bailing out a suspect starting staff.
Wait, Tebow could probably throw the eighth, right?
More from our Baseball archive: "Colorado Rockies 2011 review: Five keys to the season, and how they led to suckage."
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