04/01/08 9:11 PM ET
Bullpen depth a Rockies strength
Speier, Newman sent down despite strong showings
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Right-hander Ryan Speier won three games last season during the late run to the playoffs and earned a save in the postseason, and he was pitching nearly as well at the end of Spring Training. Left-handed prospect Josh Newman finished with a 0.00 ERA. But the Rockies went with the experience of left-hander Micah Bowie to push Newman out, and righty Kip Wells' inclusion in the bullpen (even though he made a spot start Tuesday night) cost Speier.
"I feel like we had a good problem in spring, considering we had to send down guys who had tremendous springs just because of the numbers factor," said left-hander Brian Fuentes, the elder bullpen statesman, having first appeared for the club in 2002. "That goes to show we have a really strong bullpen."
Manager Clint Hurdle said he feels better about the relief staff now than at the start of last year, when on-his-way-out right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim was part of it, and the club put left-hander Tom Martin on the disabled list after an iffy spring performance (he was later released).
The Rockies gave a two-year, $7.5 million contract to righty setup man Luis Vizcaino. He and Fuentes will set up closer Manny Corpas, who was strong during the second half of last season. Also, right-handers Taylor Buchholz, Matt Herges and Wells give the club a trio of pitchers that can pitch multiple innings.
Bowie, who was a starter and reliever for the Nationals last year, won't be limited to left-handed specialist duty -- he's had more success in his career against right-handed hitters than lefties.
"When you had the options we had to look at in Spring Training, our inventory's better, our personnel's better," Hurdle said. "We've got more depth and versatility.
"So the guys we chose to break with, it's not an end-all matter. They're going to get the opportunities for a first shot and roll with it. We have people we can go to if need be, whether it be injuries or lack of performance, or what have you. I like our bullpen a lot."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.