After going dormant for the latter half of December, Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies have kicked back into action lately, signing catcher Javy Lopez and trading for starter Rodrigo Lopez.
The addition of Javy might seem on the surface to be a pointless move, seeing as the Rockies already have two perfectly capable candidates at catcher heading into the season in Yorvit Torrealba and Chris Iannetta. However, Lopez could bounce back and provide some decent Spring Training competition for the aforementioned two favorites. Unfortunately, at age 36, his chances for a bounce back to his 2004 form (.316/.370/.503, 23 HR) are quite unlikely. A more realistic goal would be for him to replicate his 2005 line of .278/.322/.458, but that would still be a welcome surprise. Any sort of contribution from Javy would be beneficial because Iannetta could be susceptible to the same type of rookie problems that plagued J.D. Closser and Torrealba has been bitten by the injury bug in the past. This seems to be a solid low-risk, moderate-reward signing by O'Dowd, enhanced by the fact that Javy's contract is not guaranteed.
O'Dowd also sent Jim Miller and Jason Burch off to the Orioles in exchange for Rodrigo Lopez. Neither Miller nor Burch had much of a shot to be significant contributors to the Rockies anytime soon, so acquiring an arm like Rodrigo in exchange for two likely non-factors is a plus move. Of course, on the flip side, there had to be a reason for such a low price tag. Baltimore fans were glad to see Rodrigo go due to his struggles in 2006 (5.90 ERA, 18 losses) as well as his controversial attitude in regards to his position on the Orioles pitching staff. Still, Lopez has an outside shot of returning to his 2002 and 2004 form. His K and BB rates have been pretty steady through the past several seasons, which indicates that his ERA has jumped around due to varying degrees of luck. A run of good luck could return Rodrigo to the status of a useful starter in the middle of the Rockies' rotation.
The Rodrigo addition is likely to have more of an impact on the 2007 season than the Javy signing due to the fact that Rodrigo probably has the inside track on the number three starter job, leaving Kim/Fogg/Hirsh/Buchholz to battle for the final two spots. At the very least, this move leaves the starting rotation with more depth throughout the season at the cost of a couple of minor league relievers (a dime a dozen), so it's hard to knock it in my book.