Sorry for the long delay in the series- as the season concluded there were other things that I wanted to touch on. There are more of those coming soon, but for now let's get another Bring Him Back out of the way. Today we're going to look at the Rockies, who finished the season with a 83-79 record and contended for much of the second half. They lost 13 of their final 14 games (including 8 consecutive losses to end the season), though, so a strong mid-season push, the breakout of Carlos Gonzalez and the epic September performance of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will remain the highlights of a somewhat successful season.
For those of you who missed earlier installments or simply need a refresher, here are some quick explanations of the arbitration system, non-tenders, service time, and "Super Twos" for those who aren't totally familiar, courtesy of MLBTR.
And as always, we're doing these in order of each player's respective 2010 salary like I did in the previous posts, and any references to a raise are based on those salaries as well. Let's go!
2B Clint Barmes - 3rd season of arbitration - Non-tender
For me, this is about the quality alternative options as much as it's about Barmes not being that good. Between Chris Nelson, Jonathan Herrera and Eric Young Jr., the Rockies might actually be able to show some solid improvement upon Barmes in 2011. Once you consider that Barmes will be 32 in March, has a .241/.299/.403 line in his past 1036 PA, and was due to get a raise upon his $3.325 million salary, it's easy to see why the Rockies would let the former shortstop go. His power is impressive for a good defensive second baseman, but he's a low-BABIP hitter given his tendency to pop the ball up, and his OBP has always been dependent on having a decent batting average. He should latch on somewhere, but I don't know if he'll get another starting job again.
RHP Jason Hammel - 2nd season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $1.9M
Another easy one, as Hammel's proven to be one of the club's best pitchers over the past two seasons. The Rockies landed the right-hander before last season from Tampa Bay after he failed to make their starting rotation, and it's ended up being one of the team's better moves in recent memory. Armed with a fastball that averages 93 MPH, Hammel has a decent ability to miss bats but he thrives because of a low walk rate and an above-average groundball rate. He's been remarkably consistent over the past two seasons, showing little difference in his FIP or xFIP marks: 3.71 and 3.81 in 2009, respectively, and 3.70 and 3.81 in 2010, respectively. His declining whiff rate didn't match up with his improved K rate this year, so he's likely to see a slight decrease in that area next season, but even so he's a lock to join Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook and Jhoulys Chacin in Colorado's 2011 rotation.
RHP Manny Delcarmen - 2nd season of arbitration - Non-tender
I think we can put Colorado's decision to trade pitching prospect Chris Balcom-Miller to Boston for Delcarmen in the "not-a-great-idea" category of late-season trades. Management clearly hoped that the right-hander could help the bullpen during the club's postseason push, but his struggles in Boston continued in Colorado. His ability to miss bats has deteriorated along with his velocity, and his command has become a legitimate issue as he's walked 66 guys in his past 112 innings. Between the decline in performance and the loss of velocity (he averaged 95.5 MPH in 2008, but only 91.3 MPH in his stint with the Rockies), it's tough to see the Rockies going to arbitration with the soon-to-be 29-year-old.
RHP Matt Belisle - 3rd season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.85M
It kind of came out of nowhere, but as R.J. Anderson noted in late July, Matt Belisle has actually developed into a really good reliever. After spending 2007 as a starter for the Reds, Belisle struggled with Cincinnati in 2008 before shifting to relief with the Rockies in 2009. He didn't pitch well in the majors, but showed some signs of potential with a 2.81 FIP in 58 Triple-A innings. This season, though, he's been nothing short of fantastic. Thanks to some absolutely excellent command, Belisle has been arguably the best reliever on the team in 2010. With a superb 91/16 K/BB ratio and a 46% groundball rate, Belisle has actually been one of the most effective relievers in all of baseball, too.
But if you were looking for a one-sentence blurb of why Colorado should tender Belisle, here it is: Matt Belisle has the lowest xFIP in baseball among pitchers with 90 or more innings pitched (!!!!!!). How's that for ya?
3B Ian Stewart - 1st season of arbitration (Super Two) - Tender, raise from $0.408M
It wasn't the breakout year some were hoping for, but Stewart is still regarded as the team's regular third baseman for the near-future. He improved his contact rate some this season, his biggest issue in the past, but declines in his walk rate and isolated power marks mostly offset that improvement. He's got some nice consistency now, though: his 2009 wOBA was .337, his 2010 wOBA was .337, and his career wOBA is .337. Luckily for the Rockies, there's reason to believe that he can improve upon that. Between the power and patience there's obviously a ton of upside, but at this point it seems like the contact issues will always hold the third baseman back from stardom. Even so, he should be a valuable guy while he's cost-controlled.