Colorado Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt will undergo Tommy John surgery for what was revealed to be a completely torn UCL in his throwing elbow. Betancourt, who is 38 years old, is obviously shut down for the remainder of the season and most likely all of 2014. The eleven year veteran is owed $4.25 million if the Rockies were to pick up his option for 2014. That brings up multiple questions in regards to the team’s future as well as Betancourt’s.
The last notable Rockies pitcher to have the infamous elbow surgery was Jorge De La Rosa in 2011. Now over two years after going under the knife De La Rosa is 14-6 with a very respectable Rockies ERA of 3.28. De La Rosa’s surgery took place on June 3, 2011; he did not pitch again until September 20, 2012. The now 32-year-old veteran did have two setbacks during rehabilitation, but Tommy John rehab is no small task.
So let’s say it is 15 months before Betancourt is able to pitch in a Major League game again. That would mean he could be ready for Spring Training 2015, at the ripe old age of 40 years, 9 months, and about 20 days when pitchers and catchers would be required to report. To make it easier, if he was in a closing role somewhere, he would be 41 before his 10th save opportunity of the 2015 season.
It doesn’t matter what your name is, you will not be paid if you cannot do the job. Unless your name is Tim Tebow, then you receive a bundles of money just in jersey sales. When I say the Rockies will not pick up Betancourt’s 2014 $4.25 million option, I’m not reaching. A reach would be mentioning Tim Tebow in a totally unrelated way to snag more readers, no big deal.
The Rockies, like every other sports team in the world, are going to do what they need to in order to win. Now it looks like that means Rockies 2009 1st round draft choice, Rex Brothers, could get the opportunity to become the Mile High version of Mariano Rivera. Which is like a Mariano Rivera dollar store knock off, not nearly as fancy but hopefully consistent. That is not to say that Brothers is not good; he is 2-0 with an ERA of 1.43 and in his career has only allowed one-in-every-four inherited runners to score. The Tennessee product has also saved 14 games in 15 chances during Betancourt’s various DL stints this season.
Colorado will need to decide how they will solidify the bullpen this off-season, because any way you look at it there is a hole somewhere in the 7th, 8th, or 9th inning of relief. Now that the Rockies young rotation has a significant amount of promise in 2014, it would be a Rockies fan’s luck that the team would neglect a different area of the roster.