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July 7, 2009

Transaction Action

Shuffling Cards and Morales' Return

by Christina Kahrl

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COLORADO ROCKIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Traded UT-R Jeff Baker to the Cubs for RHP Al Alburquerque. [7/2]
Optioned LHP Randy Flores to Colorado Springs (Triple-A); recalled LHP Franklin Morales from Colorado Springs. [7/7]

In bringing Morales back, the plan is to place him in the bullpen, not have him bump any of the starters. This might seem especially strange since Jorge De La Rosa hasn't been all that effective, posting a FRA of 5.37 as a starter, higher than Jason Hammel's 4.75, and of course higher than Jason Marquis and Ubaldo Jimenez (both at 3.82) or Aaron Cook (4.08); the Rockies' front three are all in the top 50 starters in baseball by FRA. Obviously, this qualifies as a good problem to have to some extent, but we'll see how well Morales settles in working out of the pen. De La Rosa has struggled with his command even more as a reliever than as a starter during his career while not doing all that well in general, so it wouldn't be an easy, automatic choice to bump De La Rosa to the pen and put Morales in the rotation. Complicating matters is Alan Embree's failure to contribute as a situational lefty (.350/.409/.550 isn't going to earn you a Tony Fossas statuette at season's end for LOOG-errificness), leaving the Rockies in a difficult position as far as figuring out roles for an employable group of southpaws. It might be nice to have Morales set up as a tandem'd long reliever for Hammel and De La Rosa, but until the break, those two are back to back in the rotation; we'll see if Jim Tracy splits them.

As for the Baker deal, with a name like Al Alburquerque, you might think that the Rockies were participating in some sort of gag, but he's actually a worthwhile something to have picked up, a short-ish, slight Dominican right-hander with a decent sinker/slider mix that might get him to the majors someday. Pitching in middle relief at Daytona, he'd managed 44 strikeouts in 34 2/3 IP, walked 14, and generated twice as many ground-ball outs than glove-finding flies. He is already 23, so it isn't like he's a wee kiddo, but he's a case of getting something for something in a minor exchange, and worthwhile from the Rockies' perspective for that very reason. Add in that they simplified their lot as far as the 40-man roster, and it's all good as far as they're concerned.


ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Optioned RHP Clayton Mortensen to Memphis (Triple-A); recalled 2B-R Jarrett Hoffpauir from Memphis (Triple-A). [7/1]
Optioned SS-R Tyler Greene to Memphis; recalled INF-R Brian Barden from Memphis. [7/6]
Placed INF-R Mark DeRosa on the 15-day DL (wrist), retroactive to 7/1; recalled OF-R Nick Stavinoha from Memphis. [7/7]

Well, that's sort of a buzzkiller of sorts, in that losing DeRosa now costs the Cards the opportunity to employ him first against the second-place Brewers, and then against his former team, the Cubs, in their upcoming half-ending big series in Wrigley this coming weekend. Having only just seen him come back to Wrigleyville as an Indian (and get a standing ovation), that would have been somewhat strange, but now it'll have to wait until later in the year. Assuming DeRosa's back in action around the minimum, that puts him on a timetable to be re-activated right after the All-Star break. In the interim, that means more work for that combination of Barden and Sloppy Joe Thurston at third base, which isn't all that yummy in terms of productivity, but as long as Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan keep hitting, it's not a major matter. You can wonder about whether or not they might try Hoffpauir at the hot corner, if only because he'd been hitting well in Memphis (.276/.349/.463) while also making a few appearances at shortstop, but most of the damage was against lefties, and Barden's a natural third baseman. Since they do get to face the craptastic Brewers rotation before that trip to Wrigley, it's not a huge deal, but it's clearly not what they thought they were signing up for when they acquired DeRosa in the first place.


Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

Related Content:  Jorge De La Rosa

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