Rumors and Rumblings: Rockies rewarded for Holland gamble

Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

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The Colorado Rockies’ signing of closer Greg Holland to a one-year, $7 million contract as a free agent has already proven to be one of the best moves of the past offseason.

Holland has converted all 16 save chances to lead the major leagues, and he has a 1.06 ERA in 17 games. That’s impressive stuff for a pitcher who missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.

Holland has played a large part in lifting the Rockies to first place in the National League West six weeks into the season. Colorado has never won a division title since the franchise’s inception in 1993, qualifying for the postseason three times as a wild card.

Granted, Holland had 47 saves in 2013 and 46 in 2014 for the Kansas City Royals, earning an All-Star Game selection each year. Nevertheless, it was a gamble on the Rockies’ part to guarantee that much money to a pitcher coming off an injury.

Holland held a showcase for scouts last November in Phoenix while the general managers’ meetings were going on in nearby Scottsdale, Ariz. Many of those who watched Holland throw were not impressed.

“He didn’t look good at all and we had no interest,” said an executive from an American League team. “In fact, I remember thinking he wouldn’t even be ready to pitch at the start of the season. So, give credit to (Rockies general manager) Jeff Bridich, his staff and their scouts for seeing something that a lot of other teams didn’t.

“He’s been great, just as good as he ever was in Kansas City.”

The Rockies also have a vesting option for the 31-year-old for 2018. The $15 million option triggers if Holland either pitches in 50 games or finishes 30 games.

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While the Pittsburgh Pirates’ primary concern with right-hander Jameson Taillon is that he has a speedy recovery from the testicular cancer surgery he underwent May 8, his absence has left a large hole in their rotation. Taillon was the №3 starter behind righties Gerrit Cole and Ivan Nova.

Rookie right-hander Trevor Williams was moved into the rotation from the bullpen to take Taillon’s spot and had an encouraging start last Saturday, allowing only one run in five innings in a road victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That was quite a contrast from his first start, when he was hammered for eight runs in three innings in a loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

“He’s a decent pitcher, a №4 or №5 with a sinker and slider,” a scout from an N.L. team said. “He keeps the ball on the ground and the Pirates have had success with those types of pitchers.”

Williams was acquired by the Pirates in an interesting manner.

The Miami Marlins, who drafted Williams in the second round in 2013 from Arizona State, traded him following the 2015 season for minor league pitcher Richard Mitchell. However, Williams was really compensation for vice president of pitching Jim Benedict going to the Marlins from the Pirates. Major League Baseball rules do not allow executives to be traded.

“It’s my place in baseball history,” Williams said with a smile.

Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire

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The talk out of New York is that no one’s job is safe with the Mets, including general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins. It apparently doesn’t matter that they led the franchise to the World Series in 2015, then the N.L. wild card game last season despite a slew of late-season injuries.

It seems the Mets’ chances of making it to the postseason for a third straight trip are diminishing, especially with ace right-hander Noah Syndergaard and closer Jeurys Familia out until likely after the All-Star break.

However, an executive from one N.L. team believes the Mets would be making a mistake if they fired Alderson and Collins now.

“They are two veteran baseball men who are extremely resourceful,” the executive said. “That’s why I’m not counting the Mets out. If anyone can figure something out, it’s Sandy and Terry. There is nobody out there that you are going to bring in right now and get things fixed better than those two.”

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Now that the New York Yankees retired Derek Jeter’s №2 on Sunday night, there is only one honor remaining for the legendary shortstop.

Jeter figures to be a surefire first-ballot pick for the Hall of Fame in 2020. When Jeter does get inducted at Cooperstown, perhaps he will let us all in on a secret.

Early in the 2011 season, I asked Jeter how he had been able to steer clear of controversy for so many years despite playing in the nation’s largest media market and dating a string of high-profile women.

He just smiled.

“Buddy, there’s a secret to it,” Jeter said. “Maybe I’ll let you know after I’m retired.”

We’re all waiting.