Just when all of us (or at least Clint Hurdle) were gaining at least a feeling of resigned acceptance about the Rockies' slow offseason, two scary bits of news popped up. No, we're not talking about popular cowboy-hatted Tool of the Establishment Tracy Ringolsby being elected to the Hall of Fame. (Although that is alarming.)
First (in the footnotes) we have an ominous ending sentence: "[Brian] Fuentes' representatives said they are not interested in a third-year club option on a multiyear deal, which [Dan] O'Dowd has said is a potential deal-breaker." It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, least of all the Colorado organization, that Brian Fuentes doesn't want to sign a long-term below-market deal. If he can pitch two more seasons, remain healthy, and accumulate even a modest number of saves, he could cash in wildly as a free agent in 2008, when he'll still be a relatively hale 32 years old. O'Dowd should be willing to go down to a two-year deal if that's what it takes, or even spend some of the $25 million or so the club has pared off its payroll since last season. The reasoning behind this is two-pronged: as of right now, who on the current roster could possibly take Fuentes' place, and does it occur to anyone what trade value a "proven closer" might carry in midseason '06 or '07? It's true that they can take Fuentes to arbitration and trade him this year if they care to, but how often do really good major league pitchers express any interest at all in committing to multiple years in Denver? Not often. Let's see this one through, Dan-O.
Also, as reported by our blogging colleagues at Rox Head, Matt Holliday has hired Scott Boras as his agent. This means as soon as Holliday becomes a free agent (which is a ways off, he's entering his third year), he's gone. I don't know if this is a big deal or not. You would hope by the time the organization has to make a decision about Holliday, they would have generated some more options in the corner outfield internally. Colorado really needs a young, inexpensive player who can hit tons of homers behind Todd Helton in the lineup; Holliday isn't likely to become that guy. If he ever does, he won't be inexpensive for very long. I don't think that Holliday was destined to become a lifelong Colorado fixture anyway due to his limitations as a power hitter; the only upshot of the Boras signing is that he is now likely to be traded sooner rather than later. Accordingly one of things that needs to be on O'Dowd's mind next season as he considers deals for the likes of Jason Jennings and Fuentes is finding some slugging minor league talent. Come to think of it, that really should have been on the agenda last year when he traded Shawn Chacon and Preston Wilson.
One more Byung-Hyun Kim thought courtesy of his player card at CBS SportsLine: his 4.50 mark last year was the fourth-lowest home ERA in franchise history for pitchers throwing at least 81 innings. For what it's worth.