08/01/06 12:10 AM ET
Rox add lefty Affeldt, righty Bautista
In exchange, Colorado sends Shealy and Dohmann to Royals
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Affeldt, 27, a hard thrower who has blossomed since becoming a full-time reliever, gives the Rockies four left-handers in the bullpen. Affeldt, expected to join the team for Monday night's game against the Brewers, joins veterans Ray King and Tom Martin, and two-time All-Star closer Brian Fuentes.
The Rockies, 4 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading Padres, will continue to rely on a strong starting rotation and a bullpen that should be able to match up with hitters late in games. Pitching has to be the emphasis, since the Rockies did not add to an offense that sometimes struggles.
But the Rockies got useful players for power-hitting first baseman Ryan Shealy, who was stuck behind veteran Todd Helton. They received Affeldt and right-hander Denny Bautista, who joins the Triple-A Colorado Springs starting rotation, for Shealy and right-handed reliever Scott Dohmann, who was at Colorado Springs.
Overall, Affeldt was 4-6 with a 5.91 ERA in 27 games, including nine starts. But since moving to the bullpen in early June, Affeldt has held opponents to a .174 batting average and posted a 2.96 ERA in 18 appearances.
"I think he can fill in a role where he can face some left-handed hitters," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "Obviously, his average against left-handed hitters [.181 for the season] has been eye-opening this season since he's been moved to the bullpen."
The Rockies trust that Affeldt is ready for consistent performance. He has thrown from 92 to 97 mph, with delivery issues determining his velocity. He also has walked 42 against 28 strikeouts this season, with 13 walks against 10 strikeouts since moving to the bullpen.
Walks had not been an issue in the past. He entered this season with 459 strikeouts and 251 walks.
|"I think [Jeremy Affeldt] can fill in a role where he can face some left-handed hitters. Obviously, his average against left-handed hitters [.181 for the season] has been eye-opening this season since he's been moved to the bullpen."|
|-- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle|
"He's just a different guy," general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "He's shown more confidence in that role."
Affeldt said he went to a lower arm slot as a starter to no avail. In relief, he went back to the higher slot and developed a nasty attitude to go with his fastball, a new cutter taught to him by Royals pitching coach Bob McClure (who formerly worked in the Rockies' system), his changeup and his curveball.
"It just kind of clicked for me," said Affeldt, whose expereince as a starter could come into play if the Rockies need someone to pitch multiple innings. "I just really was patient with it, found my niche and I'm trying to carry it over here."
Bautista, 25, went 0-2 with a 5.66 ERA in eight games, seven starts, for the Royals, before being sent to Triple-A Omaha, where he went 2-5 with a 7.36 ERA in 10 starts. O'Dowd said Bautista has a lively enough arm to be a front-line starter or a closer, but he has developing to do.
Martin said he sees a strategic advantage. Affeldt could face a dangerous left-hander early in the game, and the Rockies would still have Martin and King if they want to match up later.
"You know as well as I do how managers stack their lineups," Martin said. "Typically, they don't put two or three lefties together. They like to split them up with a righty for protection. This could be a really good thing."
The Rockies can afford to give more appearances per pitcher if Hurdle chooses to send guys out for one-batter appearances. But bullpen coach Rick Matthews said he'll guard against wear by monitoring not only the pitches thrown in the game, but those thrown in warmups in the 'pen and on the mound.
For several days, it looked as if the Rockies would have one fewer left-hander, with King being dealt. King most likely could have been used for offensive help, probably to acquire speed, since impact bats are hard to find. Plus, King has retired nine of the last 10 batters he has faced to reclaim a late-game role.
Center field, where left-handed-hitting Cory Sullivan and right-handed-hitting Choo Freeman have had their moments, was a spot the Rockies were considering upgrading.
"We didn't find a match, and felt [King] was a better fit for us than anybody else," O'Dowd said.
"Personally, I think it was handled very poorly, but it is what it is, [the deadline] passed and I'm still here," King said. "I still pitch for this organization. Hopefully, we can get some things resolved, get some things up front. Now I have an option. Let's start discussing which way it's going to go."
Teams can continue to make deals, but a player must pass through waivers before being traded, and must be with a new team by Sept. 1 to be eligible for the playoffs.
Even with the slight friction over King's situation, the Rockies are in a better place than at past deadlines.
Affeldt, who has a base salary of $1 million this season, is in his fifth year of service time and therefore is an arbitration-eligible player controlled by the club.
Yet, the Rockies didn't make a salary dump to get him. They dealt for strategic purposes, without a flurry of guys going in and out the door. Other than the deal with the Royals, all the Rockies did was trade Minor League catcher Miguel Ojeda to the Rangers for cash considerations on Sunday.
"I think we had a good team to begin with, and I think that is a good reason we didn't make many trades," Fuentes said. "I think that's a sign that the front office is confident in the guys we have. I feel the same way."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.