The Rockies are showing some interest in Kevin Youkilis, since they are weak at 3b [C. Nelson, J. Herrera, J. Pacheco] and aging at 1b [Helton and Giambi] and desperately in need of a jolt to improve their record of 13-21, already 10 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
In return for Youk, and Lars Anderson, the Sox might get three LHPs; two rotation starters and a former #1 Draft pick.
Middlebrooks, the Sox 3b future star has resolved any question about his readiness to take over at the Hot Corner; he has hit .304 since his call-up from Triple A Pawtucket May 2, got a hit in nine of his first 10 Major League starts and is tied for the AL rookie lead with 5 doubles and third with 4 homers and 13 RBI.
His success presents a dilemma for the Sox; GM Cherington has stated that Youkilis will resume his place at 3b, when he returns from rehabbing his back in a few days, but Middlebrooks has made a clear case that the future is now for him. Valentine could use Youk as a backup for 3b and 1b and put him in to DH against LHPs, but that takes red hot DH David Ortiz out of the lineup.
The timing seems right for a Youth Movement to start at 3b with a Youk movement to Colorado and for the Rockies to make room for their rotation starter returning to the roster.
With Jeremy Guthrie coming off the DL, the Rocks would be able to deal LHP Christian Friedrich and LHP Drew Pomeranz, former Cleveland pitcher in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and LHP Tyler Matzek [#1 Draft pick, 2009] could also be part of the 3 for 2 deal.
Colorado will likely offer RHP Alex White, but the Sox should insist on LHP, 24 year-old Christian Friedrich, the Rockies’ 1st round (25th) of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft. White has major mechanical flaws and has been serving up a homer per game. His tendency to drop his elbow below his shoulder could be a long-term injury concern and he has control issues as well.
LHP Friedrich is 6’4” and threw in the low-90s in college, but his velocity sagged into the 80s in ’10 and ’11, concurrent with the elbow problems and weight gain.
“With better health, he’s back up into the 90s now, topping out at 94 MPH on Wednesday and averaging 92. He has two breaking pitches, a curve and a slider, and both offerings appear sharper this year. Better velocity separation with the revived fastball helps, but his secondary pitches just look better in general. He also has a solid changeup. His command and control improved this spring…”
In a 3-2 loss against the Giants last night the lefty was impressive: 37 of his first 50 pitches were strikes. He finished with 10 strikeouts, reaching 94 mph on his four-seamer and 74-mph on his effective curveball. He worked seven innings, allowing six hits, one walk, and 93 pitches/69 strikes. In his first start against the Padres last Wednesday in a 6-2 win and hurled six solid innings, one earned run, and five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.
“This kid has worked really hard and gotten himself into a really good place,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “He did exactly what I thought he was going to do from what I thought in Spring Training — establish his fastball, pitch with his fastball and mix in his breaking stuff.”
Lefty Drew Pomeranz, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 1st round (5th) of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft.
On May 13, 2012, he tossed six scoreless innings Sunday afternoon at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Pomeranz struck out five and walked none while touching 93 mph with his fastball. The 23-year-old left-hander was optioned to the Triple-A level last week after going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA and 1.74 in five starts for the Rockies, but he should be back up in the bigs soon. [Denver Post]
“Strongly-built at 6-5, 230, Pomeranz works consistently at 92-94 MPH and hits 95 on his best days. His velocity was down late last year, as low as 87-88 at times, but he wasn’t at full strength after the appendix incident and has his stuff back this spring. Even at lower velocity, his heater has good movement. He combines it with a knee-buckling breaking ball. His changeup is still a work in progress, but has improved enough to the point that the Rockies don’t think he needs additional minor league seasoning. Tuesday’s start was just a tune-up to keep him in shape until his spot in the rotation comes around on the 15th. He did have a minor glute injury this spring but hasn’t shown significant ill-effects.
Pomeranz has made substantial improvements with his control over the last year. He has just 28 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, which from an analytical standpoint is the only real caution flag here. Although some inconsistency seems plausible (he is a young pitcher, after all), Pomeranz has the stuff and command to be an anchor at the top of the rotation once he settles in.” [http://www.minorleagueball.com/2012/4/12/2941311/prospect-of-the-day-drew-pomeranz-lhp-colorado-rockies]
“Pomeranz has a deceptive wraparound delivery that hides the ball extraordinarily well. He features an average fastball with some sink and a plus curveball, and his delivery and curveball help him maintain effectiveness against righties as well as lefties.
Thanks to the sink on his pitches, Pomeranz does a nice job getting ground balls, and he did a nice job keeping the ball in the park, just allowing three homers in the minors and none in the majors.” [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/]
“Pomeranz certainly has some good things going for him, and he could break camp in a big league rotation in 2012, never to look back. However, his arsenal isn’t deep and he lacks premium velocity, so I’m finding it quite difficult to envision him as a front-of-the-rotation starter.”
The Sox may also be able to get the Rockies’ #1 pick in 2009, LHP, Tyler Matzek, who has struggled making the leap from HS ace to professional pitcher.
“There may not have been a prospect in baseball who saw the wheels fall off more than Matzek in 2011. Credit goes to the Rockies for allowing the lefty to go home to work with his old pitching coach, and Matzek deserves credit for coming back and throwing better upon his return. He still has the makings of three plus pitches in his fastball, curve and changeup, but to say he struggled with command would be a vast understatement. If he can find the strike zone consistently, he’s still more than young enough to get back on the right track toward the Rockies’ rotation.” [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2012/]
Christian Friedrich [LHP], Drew Pomeranz [LHP], Tyler Matzek [LHP]
Kevin Youkilis [1b/3b] and Lars Anderson [1b]
The Sox would be giving up a top tier batter on the downside of his career and has had nagging injuries and a 1b prospect with a high-ceiling, who is blocked by Adrian Gonzalez, and getting three LHP prospects with good odds that at least one will crack the 2012 Sox rotation.
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