LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rockies vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett said Monday that the team's reported pursuit of veteran catchers did not create hard feelings with incumbent catcher Wilin Rosario.
It was widely reported that the Rockies approached Carlos Ruiz before he re-signed with the Phillies, and they made a bid for Brian McCann before watching him sign with the Yankees. But Geivett said any pursuit of catching was not to push Rosario down on the depth chart or change his primary position, but to create ways to keep his bat in the lineup. The team is going a different route: The signing of left-handed-hitting Justin Morneau to a two-year contract to play first base should become official this week. Rosario would have the opportunity to play first base, with Jordan Pacheco catching, against left-handed pitching.
"We've told Wilin he's our catcher," Geivett said. "Although there were a lot of reports of Ruiz or whatever, it was never a situation where we were actually moving his position."
Manager Walt Weiss said it's possible that Rosario could play some outfield, but the priority is making him competent at first base when not catching. Rosario has played five games at first base the last two seasons.
"We're not ruling out that he can run around in the outfield, either, but you can't just fire a guy out there," Weiss said. "But first base he's done before. He's got to get better there, too. But I think he can be serviceable over there to get his bat in the lineup on certain days."
Rockies focused on pitching at Winter Meetings
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Pursuing starting pitching is the Rockies' top priority of the Winter Meetings, vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett said Monday.
The Rockies also are pursuing bullpen help and a corner bat and are willing to look at free agents or pursue trades. Dealing center fielder Dexter Fowler to the Astros last week also created a hole at the leadoff position, but Geivett said there are in-house candidates so it's not as high a priority.
"I'd say we're always looking to improve the offense but where we're at, the pitching is probably the most pressing need for us, always," Geivett said. "In this industry, the way things are going, it's definitely a higher priority for us right now to look at our pitching."
Sources have acknowledged that the Rockies talked to the Athletics late last week about left-handed starter Brett Anderson, who is due $8 million next season. It isn't clear if the teams will revisit talks because the health of Anderson's right foot, which cost him time last season, is a question. However, the interest in Anderson at his salary is an indication the Rockies are willing to spend.
The Rockies also have been interested in free agents Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel and have been linked to Bartolo Colon. Geivett didn't address any specific target but said the team could spend big for the right pitcher.
"That all plays out to the individual guys," Geivett said. "As we look to investments maybe beyond what it appears we can do, that's a subject that we'll certainly have [owner, chairman and CEO] Dick Monfort involved, and other people. Any time you have financial considerations involved, that's taken into consideration."
The Rockies' first four spots are set with Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio, from whom Geivett expects a breakout year. While the club has every intention of bringing in an experienced starter through a trade or free agency, younger pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Jordan Lyles -- obtained in the trade with the Astros last week -- are competitors. All three have Minor League options.
Geivett said despite the high salaries some late-game relievers are receiving, he believes the Rockies will be able to add to the bullpen beyond their other investment -- closer LaTroy Hawkins for one year at $2.5 million.
"I think there's still a chance," Geivett said. "What truly is attainable, we'll see as these days develop here. We're open to trade as well as far as improving the bullpen."
Colorado has been linked to free-agent right-handers Jesse Crain and Jose Veras. They've also been linked with right-handed-hitting free agents Michael Morse, Corey Hart and Michael Young and left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez.
Weiss lauds new Hall of Famers La Russa, Cox
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he felt fortunate to have played for Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox -- two of the three former managers announced Monday as new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Weiss broke into the Majors as a shortstop under La Russa with the Athletics in 1988 and played for La Russa through 1992. Weiss also spent his final three seasons playing with the Braves for Cox from 1998-2000. La Russa and Cox were joined by longtime former manager Joe Torre on the list of new Hall of Famers.
"Both guys, I try to take what I learned from them when I manage the game -- Tony a lot more strategically and how you try to run a game, and Bobby more on the side of how he dealt with his players and how he created loyalty," Weiss said. "They're two of the best that have ever done it. I'm fortunate."
Weiss has become close with La Russa over the years and said he sent a text after hearing the news.
"I was looking at the ticker, watching TV earlier, and I guess I just didn't really think of it in these terms, but it said La Russa managed for 33 [consecutive] years," Weiss said. "I guess I can relate more, because I have one.
"Thirty-three years, that's incredible."
Rockies group takes in Packers game at Lambeau
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- About 25 members of the Rockies' traveling party didn't arrive at their hotel rooms for the Winter Meetings until 3 a.m. ET Monday, but had an experience to remember Sunday.
Rockies owner and CEO Dick Monfort, a longtime Green Bay Packers fan and Green Bay restaurant owner, took the group, which included manager Walt Weiss and senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett, to the Packers' 22-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at frigid Lambeau Field. The group then ran into a weather delay in Chicago, which accounted for the late arrival in the Orlando area.
Weiss said he became one with Packers fans by wearing a Cheesehead hat. He sat in a suite, but acknowledged that what little time he spent outdoors was not comfortable.
"It's a different cold -- their 5 [degrees] isn't Denver's 5," Weiss said. "It was a good game, too. They were down 21-10 at the half and won 22-21. It was my first time seeing Lambeau. It was good to experience."
Geivett said, "I haven't seen a lot of football games. It was different. Even people who live there said it was cold. But that's a bucket list item."