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Rockies Overpay at Second Deadline

Due to an injury to Rafael Betancourt as well as other concerns, the Rockies were looking to add a reliever on today’s waiver trade deadline. They did just that today, acquiring Manny Delcarmen from the Boston Red Sox along with cash considerations (not Kevin Cash considerations) in exchange for minor league reliever Chris Balcom-Miller.

Delcarmen satisfies the Rockies needs in the sense that he has been a relief pitcher in the minor leagues before, but he isn’t likely to actually improve the Rockies bullpen. His 4.70 ERA is not MLB quality for a reliever, and his 5.18 xFIP and 5.69 FIP suggest that me may be even worse. Delcarmen walks far too many batters – 5.7 per nine innings – to survive without an elite strikeout rate. He has never struck out more than a batter per inning, and with the introduction of HR issues – a 14% HR/FB rate and a 1.4 HR/9 – Delcarmen has been well below replacement level in 2010. Delcarmen was moderately productive earlier in his career, as he was worth 3.7 WAR from 2005-2009, but ZiPS doesn’t see him returning to that former glory, projecting only a 4.02 FIP, and it’s hard to imagine that Coors Field will help whatever is ailing him with regards to home runs.

The real story here, however, is the guy coming back to Boston. Balcom-Miller has had a fantastic season with Asheville in the Sally League, posting a 3.31 ERA in 108 innings backed up by a fantastic 117:19 K:BB ratio. That’s a 6.2 K/BB for a 21 year old in his second professional season. Baseball America said prior to the season that Balcom-Miller’s ceiling was as a “solid middle-of-the-rotation starter,” and one has to think that this season would only improve his stock.

The Rockies might need warm bodies, but that’s about all they will get out of Delcarmen. He no longer projects as a productive reliever. Meanwhile, the Rockies will send a very promising starting pitching prospect out of the system for what might be at best a minuscule increase in their playoff odds. It’s hard for me to classify this deal as anything less than an overreaction to the Rafael Betancourt injury by Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, and the end result will be a similarly talented (if not worse) team in Colorado and a weakened farm system.