07/31/08 7:53 PM ET
Rockies hang on to Fuentes
Colorado feels it can contend in NL West with current roster
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
A few Rockies teammates congratulated him. The joy was somewhat in jest. But there was no doubt the feeling, that the Rockies didn't unload their free-agent-to-be closer, was genuine.
For the second straight year, the Rockies are close enough to believe they can contend but feel good enough about what they have not to make a major deal. There are still questions about the rotation, but the Rockies as constructed will try to make up the seven games between them and the National League West-leading D-backs.
Of course, between the Rockies and the Diamondbacks are the Dodgers, who obtained star outfielder Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox as part of a three-team trade. The Pirates sent outfielder Jason Bay to the Red Sox. The Pirates received four prospects.
"I wasn't really concerned," said Fuentes, who has 18 saves this season and a club-record 103 for his career. "But I expected it not to happen, so I guess I would've been surprised if it did.
"It was nice to see everybody still here. We have a good chance of winning with the guys we have here. We could probably use, maybe, another starter, but I guess they felt we were good where we were at, so we'll go with it. And they could still make moves, but that's not my department."
That department belongs to Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd, who attempted to obtain starting rotation help but found "asking prices were completely ridiculous for the value that was there."
O'Dowd said the Rockies will look at waiver deals. Players who clear waivers can be traded. A player must be on his club's active roster by Aug. 31 to be eligible for postseason play.
For O'Dowd, who has built a team with prospects from the system and doesn't like giving up homegrown talent, he is fine with the result on Thursday.
"I like having Brian Fuentes on our team, and that's why I didn't really try to trade Brian hard," O'Dowd said. "We really like our players, not only as players but we like them as people.
"We're a little short in our rotation and we need to get a little more out of our bullpen. But we've still got a lot of baseball left to play, and we'll work to get better."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said earlier this week that keeping Fuentes, and not becoming a seller of top-level talent, would be signal that management believes in its club. That's what occurred.
"I am happy things have worked out," Hurdle said. "We're not big on sending statements, but I think it shows our fan base and our players that we are continually putting in the forefront making the right decisions at the right time.
"We have confidence in their abilities and we've still got a lot of baseball to be played. But I think this gives us the best opportunity to play this thing out and have a shot to make a run at it again."
How close did the Rockies come to being sellers at the Deadline and dealing not only Fuentes but several other big-name players? No. 1 starter Aaron Cook believes it was pretty close.
The Rockies are 10-3 since the All-Star break, but they might not have been out of the woods until Wednesday night's 7-4 victory over the Pirates, in which Fuentes earned the team's all-time saves record.
"We try not to think about it too much in the clubhouse, but for the organization it might have been big for us to win a game last night, or things might be a little bit different in here," said Cook (14-6), the winning pitcher on Wednesday. "We might have a couple of different numbers or missing some guys."
The Rockies lost a player on Thursday. The Astros claimed right-handed reliever Alberto Arias off waivers, then optioned him to their Triple-A club, Round Rock.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.