Rockies Pick Up Lopez For Rotation




The Deal
The Orioles didn't want to go to arbitration with Rodrigo Lopez and the Rockies sought another veteran starting pitcher. So the teams turned a trade on Friday, with Colorado picking up Lopez in exchange for Double-A righthanded relievers Jim Miller and Jason Burch.
The Big Leaguers
Lopez, a 31-year-old righthander, is coming off his worst season in the big leagues. He led the majors in losses, going 9-18, 5.90 with a 136-59 K-BB ratio in 189 innings. Opponents hit .302 with 32 homers against him. He won 60 games in five seasons as a starter with the Orioles, and may get a raise via arbitration after making $3.75 million in 2006. He can become a free agent after the season. He has average stuff, including an 88-93 mph fastball, and relies on keeping hitters off balance by mixing his pitches.
The Prospects
Miller, 24, was an eighth-round pick out of Louisiana-Monroe in 2004. He breezed through the minors in his first two pro seasons, posting a 2.26 ERA and reaching Double-A, but hit the wall when he returned to Tulsa last year. He went 0-3, 3.86 with 12 saves in 45 games. He had a 41-14 K-BB ratio, while opponents touched him for a .275 average and 10 homers. Miller owns a 93-95 mph fastball, but his slider and changeup still need considerable refinement.

Burch, 24, signed with the Cardinals as a 21st-rounder out of Nebraska in 2003 and joined the Rockies as part of August 2004 Larry Walker trade. Burch went 3-4, 4.95 in 45 games at Tulsa in 2006. In 65 innings, he had a 52-28 K-BB ratio, .254 opponent average and five homers allowed. He's a sinker-slider pitcher who delivers his stuff from angles that can be tough for righthanders to pick up.

Quick Take
The trade makes sense for both teams. The Orioles didn't need or want to pay Lopez after dealing for Jaret Wright, while the Rockies wanted another established big leaguer to join Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis in their rotation. Miller is a decent relief prospect, while Burch has a chance to reach the majors.

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