I keep seeing that so-and-so from the 2007 Rockies team was signed to a minor league deal and in recent years some of the big names from that 2007 team batted their way out of baseball. So where are they now?
Out of baseball:
- Garrett Atkins: Atkins decline with the Rockies following the 2007 season was well documented and quite the opposite of his baseball exit. In 2010 Atkins was signed by the Baltimore Orioles and after only 44 games was out of the league altogether. His OPS+ of 55 was more than enough to scare every franchise in baseball away. At the age of 30 he was done.
- Kaz Matsui: Matsui’s incredibly-off-the-charts-ugly OPS+ of -2 (YES; negative two!) in 27 games with the Houston Astros in 2010 ended his MLB career.
- Josh Fogg: Many Rockies fans think Fogg was some sort of dragon slayer in 2007 but with an ERA just under 5.00 he wasn’t that good. By 2009 and another stint with the Rockies he was out of baseball. He did pitch in AA at the age of 33 in 2010 with the Phillies but a pitcher who was below average for his entire career isn’t going to get another shot in his mid-30’s.
- Matt Herges: Herges last played in 2009 with the Rockies after starting the ’09 season in Cleveland. He is now over 40 years old and retired.
- Ryan Speier: All of Speier’s big league time was with the Rockies and every year he has been in the minor leagues, including ’09. Last year he was in Japan trying to make a living. Not likely he will ever be back in MLB.
Trying to get back to the majors in the minors:
- Brad Hawpe: in 2011 Hawpe slugged more like a weak hitting second basemen than a power hitting corner outfielder. He had Tommy John surgery in August and that was the end of his stint in San Diego. The Texas Rangers did sign Hawpe to a minor league deal last week but I can’t see him cracking that lineup in the outfield and probably not at first base either.
- Ryan Spilborghs: Spilborghs will get an opportunity to revive his career in Cleveland. He signed a minor league deal in Cleveland and with injury history in guys like Grady Sizemore it is likely he will see time with the parent club in 2012. Whether or not he performs well enough to stay employed is yet to be seen.
- Cory Sullivan: Along with Matsui, Sullivan’s career ended in Houston in 2010. Sullivan did play for the Philadelphia Phillies AAA team in 2011 but an OPS of .586 will not get you promoted.
- Willy Taveras: Taveras last saw time in the big leagues in 2010 with the Washington Nationals and was with the Rockies in Colorado Springs last season. His .786 OPS in AAA last year would be OK but at that ballpark one has to hit a lot better. At the age of 30 I am sure Taveras will try again to make The Show and with his speed someone might take a flyer on him.
- Aaron Cook: After a two brutal seasons with the Rockies Cook is not a Rockie. For the first time in his 10 year career he will wear something other than purple. Signed to a minor league deal with the Red Sox Cook has his work cut out for him. The Sox are a tough rotation to break and pitching in the AL East might just be the end to his career.
- Manny Corpas: One of the late season hero’s out of the bullpen for the Rockies Corpas lost anything he had in 2007 and hasn’t thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2010. He did have elbow surgery last year and signed with the Cubs in December where he will try to resurrect his career at the age of 28.
- Jeff Francis: Once the prize possession of the Rockies minor league system Francis’ velocity dropped and it’s very difficult to pitch in the big leagues if you can’t top 90 mph. After a shaky season with the Kansas City Royals in 2011 Francis signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds.
With other big league teams:
- Jeff Baker: Still making a living as a platoon player Baker did OK as a Cub last year with an OPS+ of 87. With an OPS nearly 250 points higher against left hand pitching Baker figures to stick a while longer in the major’s as a middle field platoon option. He is on the Cubs 40 man roster headed into Spring Training.
- Jamey Carroll: At the age of 38 Carroll is still playing because he has be glossed with the “winner” label. While the numbers suggest he is essentially the very definition of average at the plate he will still more than likely see the field 125 times or more in Minnesota in 2012.
- Matt Holliday: Many people outside of Colorado figured that when Holliday left Denver’s light air his numbers would plummet. Not the case. In the past three seasons in St. Louis his OPS+ was 169, 149 and 153 – all very good. He still has five guaranteed years on his contract with St. Louis and an option for a sixth in 2017.
- Seth Smith: A key pinch hitter for the Rockies in 2007 Smith was traded to Oakland this month I have a feeling Smith will be eaten alive in the spacious Athletics’ ballpark and might find his way out of baseball in a few years.
- Yorvit Torrealba: Torrealba was relegated to the bench in Texas in 2011 thanks to Mike Napoli finally getting the playing time he deserved. The big news of the offseason for Torrealba was when he got into an altercation with an ump in a winter league in the Venezuela and was suspended for 66 games. He still has one year left on his contract with the Rangers and will be a bench player for them next year behind Napoli.
- Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt has been a key part of the San Francisco Giants bullpen the past few seasons and a lefty reliever can almost always find a spot on a team if he can hit the strike zone even half of the time. He hit the zone a lot last year.
- Brian Fuentes: Even though Fuentes’ strikeout rate continues to drop his ERA+ has been above average each season he has spent in the AL since leaving Colorado after the 2008 season. He is signed through 2012 with the Oakland Athletics’ with an option for 2013.
- LaTroy Hawkins: With 17 seasons under his belt Hawkins will return in 2012 with the Angels for his 18th season in the major leagues. Very impressive. His performance ranges from very good to average and clubs continue to employ him hoping for very good.
- Ubaldo Jimenez: Traded last year to Cleveland and will try to put 2011 behind him.
- Franklin Morales: A once promising flame throwing lefty who was supposed to make the Rockies rotation is now in Boston and signed for the 2012 season and is just trying his best to find the plate when he pitches. Going into his age 26 season Morales still has plenty of time to make something of his career, but he must learn control.
Still with the Rockies:
- Todd Helton: Anyone seen Helton lately? Is he still playing baseball?
- Troy Tulowitzki: Many experts would still take Tulo as their first pick in a fantasy draft to start a franchise. Maybe the best player in baseball who plays an extremely important defensive position and plays it extremely well.
Quite a bit of turnover in four seasons, but that can be expected of a team with a few seasons in which the perception was that they underachieved. But for 12 of the players who saw the field in the 2007 World Series to be out of baseball (or darn close to it) seems a bit extreme. Take it for what it means: maybe nothing?