Saturday, January 19, 2008

Holliday Signed, Tulo in Talks

Finally, some Rockies news, and naturally I'm a few days off on it, but that's better than I've been recently. Matt Holliday signed a 2-year, $23-million contract that buys out his last two years of arbitration eligibility -- I'm sure Scott Boras wouldn't let him sign anything that covers any of his free-agent years. Said Dan O'Dowd, "We hope the deal is a bridge to a longer-term agreement." Perhaps there's hope yet, since Holliday will be just 30 when this contract expires after the 2009 season, but if he continues to perform at this level, the Rockies will be hard-pressed to cough up the kind of mongo-bucks that Holliday will want (and deserve). Still, I'm satisfied with this deal if only so we don't have to go through the whole process next winter with him, and I'm trying not to imagine how much it'll hurt if we don't re-sign him. The contract is for $9.5 million this year, upgrading to $13.5 mil next year. Hopefully Holliday's mammoth offensive performance will duplicate itself; if it does, $23 million for the close runner-up (and in my mind, the actual) NL MVP isn't much to pay.

There is one other long-term contract in the works right now, and that's the pact being discussed with rookie sensation Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo, who has proven himself so well that the front office is bandying the idea of a six-year contract with an option about a player entering his second season, was the chief reason for the Rockies' newfound winning mentality and is a natural talent; I love watching him play. Whether turning slick double plays or ripping the timely hit, Tulo's natural skills are prodigious enough that the proposed contract would lock him up for the six years of club control, plus an option to cover his first year of free agency. Basically, the Rockies would be insane to ever let him go at all, since he can only go further up from here, but that's the way the management goes.

Tulo doesn't yet know who his double-play partner will be, however. The Rockies have a whole flock of candidates in the mix -- Jayson Nix, Marcus Giles, Clint Barmes (oy) Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Baker, and Ian Stewart, with Nix appearing to be the front-runner. Giles hit only .229 for the Padres last year, but a mammoth .526 at Coors Field. A solid performance for Team USA helped raise his stock after an average minor-league career, and Barmes and Q are solid glove-men but their hitting can charitably be rated as very bad to nonexistent. Ian Stewart is a third-base prospect who could be converted. Baker is a corner infielder and utility outfielder who hit .368 in September 2006, leading everyone to hope that he could duplicate this performance in '07; he did not. My personal preferences would be Stewart or Nix, maybe Giles if he can keep hitting the way he did earlier, and don't really think Baker, Barmes, or Quintanilla can cut it full-time. They may be AAAA players (too good for the minors, not good enough for the majors). Nix has been inconsistent aside from one good performance, so his hitting skills are also in question. If Stewart can make the transition, we'd have a power-hitting second baseman, which would be nice.

Still not spring, but I've been writing a lot of football at Gang Gridiron. If that's your bag, check it out; otherwise, the Around the Horn position-by-position previews will come just as soon as the Super Bowl is over and spring training starts. In other words, not just yet, sadly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How I Spend The Time Until Spring

... aka, this is my latest bloggery project. Yes, after spending an entire offseason watching football fanatically, I now feel (naturally) as if I want to start writing about it, and I don't want to mix my audience (haha.... like I have an audience) up too much. The last post dipped only briefly into football waters (and yes, I realize it has been a month since then, but with an extremely slow offseason for the Rockies coupled with my fervent desire to avoid reading about the Mitchell Report, there is little to say about the great old game). So, if you feel the desire to extend my special brand of sports-related insanity to your football passions as well, please check out:

Gang Gridiron

(tanta ta ta tan-ta-tah!)

If you are still out there, bless you. Baseball will start soon, and then I'll be back to work. I think I'm going to start writing "Around the Horn" featurettes such as they do on the main Rockies site, one for each player, but with that particular brand of wit and inaccurate predictions that make me so endearing. Ho ho.