Also close to completing deal for free agent catcher Ramon Hernandez
The Colorado Rockies have proven this if nothing else: they like to build from within. So you know when they finally let go a hometown prospect, they’ve given up on the development and are looking for a change. Year in, year out, Chris Iannetta is the proclaimed “catcher in waiting”. O’Dowd and the Rockies have finally tired of waiting. We’ve watched Iannetta lose his job to Yorvit Torrealba, then to Miguel Olivo. Then as the Rockies faded into obscurity at the end of the 2011 season, minor league phenom Wilin Rosario stepped in and proved that for all intents and purposes, the Iannetta experiment is over in Denver, made official by the trade yesterday that sent Iannetta to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California in exchange for Tyler Chatwood, a young hard throwing lefty that projects to compete for the back end of the rotation.
It’s not like the Rockies didn’t try with Chris. After Torrealba did the bulk of the catching leading up to the World Series run in 2007, and was willing to stay, the Rockies made the choice that the potential in Iannetta was greater than the exhibited skill of anyone else on the roster, and told Chris the job was his to lose. This happened in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Five straight years, with a hefty contract in the middle of it all, and while he showed flashes of brilliance, he never solidified himself as THE catcher in Colorado. Even Dan O’Dowd and the Rockies management, with their almost blinding loyalty to homegrown talent, had to concede the move that needed to be made. Of all the Kid Rocks that graced the field in LoDo, now Holliday is gone, Hawpe is gone, Jimenez is gone, and Iannetta is gone. And for all the criticism, each of these moves could turn out for the best. Holliday brought us Gonzales, Jimenez brought us White and Pomeranz (effect remaining to be seen), and now Iannetta brings us Chatwood, and opens a spot to bring in a new veteran catcher to hold down the fort while Rosario gets ready for the big show.
Chatwood is a young, hard-throwing lefty. While he doesn’t remind anyone of Pomeranz, he can hit 95 on his fastball, and as long as Apodaca doesn’t screw him up, has lots of years left on his arm. He’ll struggle with control, and as such will either compete for the 5th spot in the rotation, or find himself throwing setup relief, perhaps to fill the 8th inning spot left by Betancourt’s move to closer. We won’t even get into the whole Huston Street thing today.
All in all — probably a good move for the Rockies. We hate to see the good guys go. We all loved Atkins, and Hawpe, and Iannetta. Colorado is the home of the true character guys in baseball… but even the character guys have to produce, and the Rockies are slipping ever further from the glory of 2007 into the mediocrity of their past, and management would do well to continue to make moves to avoid such an ungraceful fall. Speaking of moves, any takers for Ian Stewart? Eh, didn’t think so.