03/26/08 8:04 PM ET
Rockies trade Ramirez to Royals
Bowie, Speier remain as likely candidates for last 'pen spot
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
The deal could open a spot on the Opening Day roster for one of two pitchers. Non-roster left-hander Micah Bowie has pitched well this spring (2.38 ERA, eight strikeouts and four walks in 10 appearances). Right-hander Ryan Speier, who performed well in late 2007, has a 3.60 ERA and seven strikeouts and two walks in 10 appearances.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said two right-handers will not be part of the mix. Jose Capellan, who has made just two apperances after suffering an ankle injury early in camp, and Josh Towers, who competed for a back-of-the-rotation spot, will be placed on waivers and will begin the season in Triple-A Colorado Springs' starting rotation if they're not claimed by another club.
Ramirez, 26, put up good numbers in Spring Training, going 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in nine appearances. After struggling through elbow problems last season, Ramirez showed an improved slider throughout camp. During a one-inning appearance against the White Sox on Tuesday, Ramirez displayed his best fastball command of the exhibition season.
Ramirez earned Rockies Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 by going 4-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 61 appearances. Last season, Ramirez went 2-2 with an 8.31 ERA in 22 appearances.
The bullpen is expected to consist of seven. It's close to set, with closer Manny Corpas, setup men Brian Fuentes and Luis Vizcaino, and multi-inning relievers Taylor Buchholz, Matt Herges and Kip Wells. Among the locks, Fuentes is the only left-hander.
Bowie would give the Rockies a southpaw to face left-handed hitters, although they've given him trouble throughout his career with the Braves, Cubs, Athletics and Nationals (.309 average, but .250 last year).
Capellan is a hard thrower coming off a bad season with the Brewers and Tigers (0-3, 5.54 ERA), but he went 4-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 61 appearances for the Brewers in 2007. Capellan missed much of camp with an ankle injury, but he has thrown well in three innings over the last two games.
Speier led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 33 saves last year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and he went 3-1 with a 4.00 ERA with the Rockies. His best work came during the Rockies' stretch run, and he threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings during the postseason.
However, Speier has a Minor League option and can be sent down without being exposed to waivers. The Rockies didn't have that option with Ramirez and don't with Capellan. Bowie is under a Triple-A contract, but he can ask for his release if he doesn't make the bigs.
Towers was signed to a $1.8 million contract during the winter, but it called for him to make $400,000 in Triple-A. Towers had a 7.23 ERA in five games, three starts, in Cactus League play and has been throwing Minor League games recently.
Left-handers Mark Redman, a veteran who will start the home openeer on April 4 against the Diamondbacks, and Franklin Morales, the organization's top pitching prospect, fill the final rotation spots behind Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Rockies have 38 players on their 40-man roster, which means there would be room to add Bowie and possibly one other player. The other non-roster invitee with a shot to make the team is outfielder Scott Podsednik, who is competing with Cory Sullivan for a spot.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.