Now that the Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Clint Hurdle, expect a lot of connections to the Colorado Rockies, both with potential free agent acquisitions, and with potential additions to the coaching staff. Troy Renck, the beat writer for the Denver Post, has some speculation today on both fronts.
Renck mentioned that it would be interesting to see whether Hurdle called on Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca. Apodaca has been the pitching coach in Colorado since 2003, which was the first full season Hurdle served as the manager. He also worked as the pitching coach under Hurdle with the St. Lucie Mets (Class-A) in 1988, the Jackson Mets (Class-AA) in 1990, and the Tideater/Norfolk Tides (Class-AAA) from 2002-2003.
Apodaca is under contract with the Colorado Rockies, and as Renck points out, the Pirates would have to ask permission from the Rockies to talk to him, and might require compensation to pry him away. However, Renck later updated that the Pirates haven’t asked for permission to talk to Apodaca, and that they have an internal option in mind. That would probably be Ray Searage, although it’s possible that the Pirates could pursue Apodaca when his contract is up.
Renck also passes along a Fox Sports report that Stu Cole, the Rockies’ AAA manager, could be a possibility for Hurdle’s staff. Cole has been a manager in the Rockies’ organization since 2001. He served as the hitting coach from 1996-1999 in various levels of the Rockies’ farm system. Hurdle was the minor league hitting instructor for the Rockies during two of those years, overseeing Cole in his first two years. Renck thinks that Cole, a former infielder, would make a good infield coach for the Pirates.
On the player side, Renck had this to say:
Gotta believe with Hurdle in Pittsburgh that the Pirates will make a play for Jorge De La Rosa and Jeff Francis. Pittsburgh has already expressed interest in De La Rosa. It’s unknown if they have called about Francis.
We learned today that De La Rosa is the top target for the Pirates this off-season. De La Rosa came to the Rockies under Hurdle, and it was Hurdle who gave him his shot in the rotation. Troy Renck mentions that teams are stepping up their pursuit of De La Rosa, although I don’t see him signing before Cliff Lee signs a deal.
Rob Biertempfel reports that Francis is on the radar of the Pirates. Francis pitched under Hurdle from 2004-2008, and wouldn’t be a bad gamble for the Pirates to take. Francis returned in 2010 from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the 2009 season, and while his 5.00 ERA in 20 starts wasn’t impressive, his 3.94 xFIP was. Francis wouldn’t have as big of an impact as De La Rosa would. He could be another Paul Maholm, which would still be a boost for the Pirates’ rotation.