Next on Bridich’s to-do list: improving bullpen
national harbor, md» The winter meetings ended Thursday morning as general managers and their entourages scrambled to catch flights home, but that doesn’t mean the business of baseball is done.
Especially not for the Rockies. General manager Jeff Bridich said he expects the hot stove to stay hot the next two weeks.
“We can be active; I hope we are,” Bridich said. “There are still things we can do to improve our team.”
Topping the to-do list is improving the bullpen, which was the worst in the major leagues this year with a 5.13 ERA. Bridich said he and his staff have “looked at just about every free-agent reliever.”
Among candidates the Rockies are known to have targeted are left-hander Mike Dunn and right-handed sidearmer Brad Ziegler.
“There is a still a lot of work left, but we definitely have leads and we have ideas,” Bridich said. “We certainly made contacts with teams and with agents. For the most part, we were running on parallel courses at these meetings in terms of meeting our needs as far as first base and the bullpen.”
The Rockies met their first need, agreeing in principle Wednesday with free agent Ian Desmond on a five-year, $70 million deal to play first base. The contract isn’t official yet, but Desmond is expected to be signed early next week.
Dunn is in the bullpen mix in part because he was the eighth-inning setup man for former Miami manager Mike Redmond, who recently was hired as the Rockies’ bench coach under new manager Bud Black.
“With (Dunn) being in the National League, we’ve seen him a number of times and there’s some level of familiarity there,” Bridich said. “And he’s still available. He’s somebody, to a certain degree, we’re paying attention to.”
Ziegler, 37, pitched six seasons with Arizona, so the Rockies are familiar with him too. He is 3-1 with a 4.15 ERA and two saves in 20 games at Coors Field.
“He’s certainly a good pitcher, and with how many times we’ve seen him and faced him, we feel like we know him real well,” Bridich said. “The way he operates, the unconventional can really work for him, and it doesn’t matter where he pitches. I understand why his name keeps popping up.”
The winter meetings closed after the Rule 5 draft, with the Rockies losing one player and gaining one.
Infielder Josh Rutledge, recently signed by the Rockies to a minor-league contract, was selected by Boston in the major-league phase of the draft.
In the minor-league phase of the draft, Colorado selected catcher Anthony Bemboom from Double-A Arkansas, a Los Angeles Angels affiliate.
Rockies assistant general manager Jon Weil said Bemboom can help develop pitchers at the Triple-A level. Bemboom, 26, played in 72 games with Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Salt Lake City this year, batting .222 overall with 11 doubles, three triples, one home run and 14 RBIs.
Praise for Black.
Colorado’s new managed received a glowing endorsement from Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whom Black served under as pitching coach when the Angels won the 2002 World Series.
“His baseball intelligence is off the charts,” Scioscia said. “He’s really a bright guy, but he’s got people skills that just are very rare to see in, not only a manager, but in people that you meet. He genuinely cares about people. He understands people.”
But, Scioscia continued, Black is tough and will be a good fit with the Rockies.
“All those attributes I talked about are dwarfed by Buddy’s competitive nature,” Scioscia said. “He wants to win. He wants to achieve. He wants to succeed.
“You’ll notice a difference. You’ll notice a difference throughout spring training. You’ll notice a difference around the clubhouse. These players will feed off that and will play at the level they should.”
Mike Dunn, the eighth-inning setup man for Miami last season, is one free agent the Rockies have shown interest in. Mitchell Leff, Getty Images