Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rockies stay busy, acquire Marco Scutaro from Boston

Dan O'Dowd was among the most active general managers even before this weekend rolled around, and then he continued his aggressive overhaul of the Rockies major league roster with another pair of deals.

The headliner may go down as one of his best trades in his 12 year run with Colorado. In a deal that was on again, off again for roughly 24 hours, the trigger was finally pulled on a trade bringing Boston Red Sox shortstop Marcus Scutaro to Denver in exchange for... Clayton Mortensen. Yes, the fringe at best major league starter/reliever (who actually pitched well during his stint with Colorado) for a guy who can fill three major roles for Colorado.

We're going to call that a win for O'Dowd.

The Rockies will be on the hook for all $6 million that Scutaro is owed. That obviously played into the inclusion of Mortensen in the deal rather than a prospect, and the dispute over taking on all $6 million likely played into the delay of the deal.

But at the end of the day, Scutaro is coming, and as I said before, he should fill three important roles for Colorado.

1) He will be the unquestioned starter at second base.

The Rockies haven't had one of those since Kaz Matsui in 2007. Before that you have to go back to Eric Young Sr. to find a steady second-sacker in Denver. Needless to say, it's nice to know the position will be filled for at least 2011.

2) He gives Jim Tracy a legit #2 hitter.

In 2011, Jim Tracy cycled through eight hitters in the second spot. If Scutaro stays healthy, that number should be two or three this season. I said it Saturday night on Twitter and I'll say again right now: I don't think Jim Tracy could screw the lineup up now if he tried. But... someone should stand over his shoulder juuuuust in case.

3) He fits Dan O'Dowd's 'veteran movement'.

Out with the young and complacent, in with the old and consistent. Yes, Todd and the Toddlers are long a thing of the past, and it's hard to blame O'Dowd for wanting to go in this direction.

Also brought in to take part in this movement: Michael Cuddyer, Ramon Hernandez, Casey Blake, Jamie Moyer, and he also extended the contract of 38-year-old closer Rafael Betancourt on Friday.

We've read a lot of mixed reviews on the Rockies offseason to date, but you'll be hard pressed to find anything negative about landing Scutaro. If Boston goes out and spends that money on Roy Oswalt, well, then it'll look like a win-win deal benefitting both sides. And with that said, I just felt my first little bit of optimism and became a lot more excited for the upcoming season.

Oh, wait, before I forget. On Friday, the Rockies also dealt Kevin Slowey, whom they acquired on Dec. 6 from Minnesota, to the Cleveland Indians for reliever Zach Putnam. A relatively minor deal on paper, but one Rockies fans reacted to with a bit confusion because Slowey never threw a pitch in Denver.

You're thinking too much. It had nothing to do with his mountain climbing or any other issues. When O'Dowd first acquired Slowey, the Rockies were desperately attempting to stockpile starters. They then satisfied that need the Chris Iannetta and Seth Smith deals, and even had a surplus to trade from that pile to help another team that needed depth. Now, I don't that Putnam will end up making an impact for the Rockies, but I know he's more well thought of than Daniel Turpen (the guy they sent to Minnesota for Slowey), so that works.

Slowey was a poor fit in Colorado anyway, so that's fine, too. Some of the other acquired pitchers are also poor fits, but when you stockpile effectively, you can package some things together and make even more sensible deals. That's what will keep these next few weeks interesting. The Rockies still have some extra arms. They also have a few extra middle infielders with a small bit of value that can be packaged in deals.

Teams are going to need a utility infielder. Teams are going to need a 5th starter/spot starter/long reliever. The Rockies will be able to help those teams, and hopefully help themselves in the process.