Starting pitcher Jeff Francis, to whom multiple Rox Pile writers already took the time to say farewell, will instead remain with the Colorado Rockies organization. After being designated for assignment, Francis chose to accept a minor league assignment and he will report to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
This is not terribly surprising. Francis was not exactly in a position to be picky with his 6.58 ERA and 5.19 FIP in 11 games started in 2013. Before rejoining the Rockies he went 6-16 for the Royals in 2011 and then washed out of the Reds minor league system the following year before returning to Colorado. What is interesting is that his 2012 campaign, in which he posted a 5.58 ERA and 4.27 FIP, was largely considered a success because the Rockies were so starved for starting pitching. That earned him a $1.5 million contract, and so it probably makes sense for the Rockies to stash the lefty in AAA as depth since he is willing to take the demotion.
Francis displaces Chris Volstad with his decision to remain with the Rockies. The team waived the large right-hander, whom they added as a free agent this past off-season, to clear the way for Roy Oswalt. In six games with the Rockies Volstad had a 10.80 ERA; in 10 games with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox he posted a 4.79 ERA. Perhaps more concerning was the fact that Volstad struck out 17 while walking 16 in the 47 innings that made up those appearances.
When the Rockies added Volstad it was a classic “low risk, high reward” move. The high reward part did not pan out, but that’s the beauty of the low risk part. Now the Rockies cut ties and move on, and it’s really no skin off their nose.
To me there are two types of pitching depth in Major League Baseball. There’s the kind like the Arizona Diamondbacks have, where they can lose a starter and go: “Oh, OK. Now we’ll just trot out our next blue chip stud like Patrick Corbin or Tyler Skaggs.” Then there is a situation like the Rockies have. “Well, we need to tap into our starting pitching depth. I’m looking at you, Jeff Francis!” I think it’s safe to say that when teams seek “pitching depth” they are talking about the former and not the latter.