Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cummings-Sturgis Trade Follow-Up

Now that I'm back from my holiday travels time to get into this trade that happened at the oddest time I can remember, Sunday morning two days before Christmas.  The Rapids gave up the other half of the C+C Goal Factory, Omar Cummings, in return for allocation money and Nathan Sturgis.

My first instinct is much like the Kimura trade from last year (oddly, Cummings and Kimura were roommates and were considered the Odd Couple of the team).  I understand why we moved Omar but if we got value for him will be dependent on the next moves the team makes.  How much allocation money we got is the real question that will never be answered.  Sturgis is a journeyman MLS player, on his 6th team in 8 years despite being only 25.  He has also played for the U.S. at the U 17, 18, 20, and 23 levels.  Listed as a defensive midfielder he's also played center back on a somewhat regular basis.  Sturgis is a depth player, nothing more at this point.

There has been some talk about how this is a salary cap move as Omar was set to make $250K next year after his new contract.  I'm not saying that's wrong, but his updated salary from the Players Union didn't reflect that after his contract last year.  There could be a significant escalation clause in his contract for next season, but if so the Rapids did a lousy job of handling Cummings.

The updated roster is below.  We currently have 20 signed players plus Avila and reportedly Calderon.  Out of those 20 players only 10 of them predate Pareja's hiring of just under a year ago.  Assuming we get up to 30 players, 2/3rds of the roster will have less than 1 year of experience in Colorado.  Omar Cummings was the last player on the roster brought in under Fernando Clavijo, Pablo Mastroeni is the only player from the Tim Hankinson era, the other 9 were brought in by Smith (they all have rings, so nobody Smith brought in in 2011 stuck).

* = pre-Pareja acquisition
Steward Ceus*
Matt Pickens*

Chris Klute (on loan from Atlanta through late-Sept)
Drew Moor*
Anthony Wallace*
Marvell Wynne*

Davy Armstrong*
Eric Avila - Unsigned
Tony Cascio
Jaime Castrillon
Jeff Larentowicz*
Pablo Mastroeni*
Brian Mullan*
Shane O'Neill
Martin Rivero (on loan from Rosario Central through 2013)
Nathan Sturgis
Hendry Thomas

Andre Akpan*
Edson Buddle
Atiba Harris
Kamani Hill

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rapids Trade Cummings For Sturgis

More after the holidays but today the Rapids traded Omar Cummings to Houston for Nathan Sturgis and allocation money.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rapids Reportedly Close To Signing Diego Calderon

So much for the quiet holiday period. ;)  Multiple reports out of Ecuador are stating that Ecuadorian National Team member and LDU Quito defender Diego Calderon is coming to MLS, and one report links him with the Rapids.  Tim Hinchey tweeted last night they he expects to announce the signing of a left-footed CB/LB by the end of the week.  Calderon is a left-footed CB/LB and his season ended on Sunday, so it seems to pair with Hinchey's tweet.  Mile High Sports is also reporting the move but its unclear if they are basing that report on the Ecuadorian reports or if they have a source at this end.

Calderon is 26 years old and has played with LDU Quito since he became a pro in 2005 (he made 11 appearances on loan to Deportivo Azogues in 2006).  He was part of their 2008 Club World Cup team where he played against Pachuca (winning 2-0) and Man U. (losing the final 1-0).  He's also been capped 5 times for Ecuador since 2011 and was on the bench during Ecuador's most recent two World Cup Qualifiers in October.

The Rapids were also linked with Isidro Metapan striker Nicolas Munoz today (as was Houston) but they issued a pretty quick denial of that rumor.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Season Openers Announced

Williams and the Union are back on March 9th!

MLS announced the home openers today.  The Rapids will be the visiting team for two of them as well as hosting their own (of course).
  • March 2nd - @Dallas
  • March 9th - Home opener against Philly (and my birthday!)
  • March 16th - @FSL
We only visit Dallas and FSL once next year, so we'll get those trips out of the way ASAP.  Obviously the Rocky Mountain Cup match looms large, a good result there would set us up well but with two home games this year we'll have a path to win the Cup even if we lose that game.

The rest of the schedule is expected in January. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Roster Analysis - 12-17-12

OK, I lied.  I didn't get back to the news this weekend.  However that means I have time tonight to post my first roster analysis of the offseason.  But first the roster news from Friday.

Eric Avila picked in the Re-Entry Draft:  He was in Dallas while Pareja was a coach there, so there's some familiarity.  Based on his play he appears to be a backup for Rivero, but I thought that's what we had Hill for.  Maybe some competition in camp if Avila signs?

Marvell Wynne re-signed: No brainer.  As soon as it was announced we weren't picking up his option it became the biggest thing to get done this offseason.

Edson Buddle acquired in trade: The Supplemental draft pick is meaningless, so no loss there.  I think we can assume we gave up a chunk of allocation money that could have been used to sign a different player, so that's the real loss.  That and the $225K in salary cap.  If its the Buddle of 2010, its a steal, if its the Buddle of 2012 we overpaid greatly.  High risk, high reward.

So here's the roster as we hit the holidays, traditionally a quiet time in MLS until the week leading up to the Superdraft in mid-January.

Steward Ceus
Matt Pickens

Chris Klute (on loan from Atlanta through late-Sept)
Drew Moor
Anthony Wallace
Marvell Wynne

Davy Armstrong
Eric Avila - Unsigned
Tony Cascio
Jaime Castrillon
Jeff Larentowicz
Pablo Mastroeni
Brian Mullan
Shane O'Neill
Martin Rivero (on loan form Rosario Central through 2013)
Hendry Thomas

Andre Akpan
Edson Buddle
Omar Cummings
Atiba Harris
Kamani Hill

So assuming we sign Avila that's 21 of 30 slots filled so far.  We have 10 midfielders so we're pretty much set there.  5 forwards is light but Castrillon and Cascio are listed as midfielders, so its more like 8 and 7, which is still have the roster.  There's been talk of an attacking Designated Player, but with Buddle, Castrillon, Cummings, Rivero, Thomas, and Larentowicz I don't see where that type of player fits.  The only way I see that working is if somebody is moved, and the likely player to be moved in that scenario is Cummings.

We need a 3rd young GK, I assume we'll draft one.  That leaves defense.  Only 4 defenders on the roster, and 2 of them played a combined 1 game in 2012.  That's obviously the big issue.  We need at least one experienced fullback, probably two, and a good backup center back.  That's the minimum.  We probably need at least 4 more defenders, even with Armstrong and O'Neill both having spent time in the back on reserve and U.S. youth teams.

Nothing to panic about yet.  We still have about 1.6 million in cap room (minus what Pablo, Thomas, and Wynne re-signed for) to work with after the Buddle acquisition, so there's room to play with.  If 2 months from now we're still this light on defenders its time to start wondering what the hell is going on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

3 quick player moves

Rapids re-sign Marvell Wynne.  Yay!

Rapids select Eric Avila in the Re-Entry Draft.  Rivero backup?

Rapids trade allocation money and supplemental draft pick to LA for Edson Buddle.  Um, interesting.

More later tonight or tomorrow (depending on how I feel after seeing The Hobbit.)

Oh, Casey was selected by Philly and Freeman by New England in the Re-Entry Draft.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

News & Notes - 12/13/12

Just a couple of notes on the eve of Phase 2 of the Re-entry Draft.

  • Hunter Freeman tweeted that its been good to be back for a year, but there's a new challenge ahead.  I think its safe to say he and the Rapids did not come to an agreement on a new contract and he won't be back next year.
  • Tim Hinchey tweeted that if the paperwork gets done there will be a re-signing and a trade to announce tomorrow.  My guess is that Wynne is the re-signing but the trade is a bigger question mark.  There was a rumor earlier in the week, not even well sourced, that Cummings could be traded to an Eastern team.
  • Shane O'Neill was picked for the U.S. U-20 squad announced today.
With only one player taken in last week's Phase 1 (Santos, by the Fire) I expect to see a number of picks tomorrow.  The Rapids have the most players in the draft (8) and I expect at least a couple to be chosen.  Casey, Freeman, and Smith seem the obvious candidates.  I'm not sure how active the team will be in making choices, I could see somebody like Califf or Keel being chosen.

A couple of good articles on this week.  First a Year in Review, which has links to 3 other good review articles.  Second, a link to a discussion of Mastroeni's role next year, which seems to match how I expected him to be used if he came back.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh Captain My Captain

Today the Rapids and Pablo made it official, Mastroeni will be back for 2013!  He signed a new contract with only 2013 guaranteed, and the assumption is that its for a reduced number.

This is good news.  The team will most likely expect Larentowicz and Thomas to start with Pablo coming off the bench and serving as a spot-starter with those two aren't available.  He'll also be able to mentor O'Neill, provide veteran leadership, and eventually (my guess is at the end of the year) retire on his own terms.

There's a rumor going around that Smith is also close to a new contract, but he and Freeman have left their names on the list for tomorrow's Re-Entry Draft, and we are now in a period where teams can no longer negotiate with those players until after the draft.  Marvell Wynne removed his name form the draft however, which is a good indicator that he and the team are close to a new contract and they can keep negotiating with him through tomorrow.

I would be very surprised if we lose Smith or Freeman tomorrow, or if we pick anyone up.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thomas Re-Signed, Smith Green Card, Rivero Back, Pablo Returning?

Some interesting tweets from team President Tim Hinchey today.
Jamie has a green card now.
Looks like our new deal for Hendry Thomas will go through shortly – happy to have signed him long-term. Official announcement soon!
Rivero is already back as part of his initial 2 yr loan.
got it. Fair. Not all three will be high cost.
So we know that Jamie Smith now has his green card and Rivero's loan is for 2 seasons as originally thought.  Its not official yet but Hendry Thomas has been re-signed.  The last tweet is the most interesting as the "three" Hinchey is referring to are Thomas, Larentowicz, and Mastroeni.  So it sounds like all 3 will be back but not at high cost.

Thomas was making almost $200K last season and you have to figure he didn't go down from that.  Larentowicz was given a new contract early last season that has him at $200K.  So if any of them are going to be at lower cost its almost certainly Pablo.  My guess is that he's been offered a new deal at under $150K with the understanding that he's now a veteran leader and depth player, not a starter.  It may even be as a player/coach where part of the salary (for coaching) won't count against the cap.

With Rivero, Larentowicz, and Thomas coming back, all expecting to start, that could be a pretty solid midfield for the 4-3-3.  Of course the question then becomes, where does Mullan play?

Monday, December 3, 2012

MLS Silly Season Starts

Well the MLS trading season opened today, and it opened with a bang.  Kimura ends up in NY, FSL guts their team, and apparently everyone wants Portland players.  Colorado got in on some action as well.

  • The Rapids extended the international spot they traded Vancouver last offseason from 2014 through 2016 in return for Atiba Harris.
Ugh.  Harris is a 27 year old St. Kitts and Nevis striker who's bounced around the league for 7 seasons and 4 teams.  He has a green card so he doesn't take up an international spot.  In 138 appearances (107 starts) he has 17 goals, 19 assists, 40 yellow cards, and 2 red cards.  You read that right, he has more cards than he has goals and assists.  To compare, Casey had 121 appearances, 101 starts, 50 goals, 16 assists, 29 yellow cards, and 2 red.

He made $160K last year and you have to assume he'll get a similar number in 2013.  To me, this was a bad move.  Harris is nothing more than a backup you bring in when you need to get physical.  He's overpaid at $160K, and burning an international slot, even one in 3 years, is a waste.
  • Colorado declines options on defenders Hunter Freeman and Marvell Wynne and midfielder Jamie Smith, they are re-negotiating with all 3.
Big roll of the dice here.  Players have until Thursday night to remove their names from Friday's Re-Entry Draft.  If they don't any team can pick them up for the amount of their current option.  I can't imagine somebody wouldn't jump all over Wynne is he's available so the Rapids must be pretty confident that they'll be close enough to a deal in the next 72 hours that Wynne won't be exposed.  I don't see Smith or Freeman being picked at their current number, so they have an extra week to get deals done with them before the 2nd half of the Re-Entry Draft, where teams can claim players and offer them new lower deals.

At the moment the Rapids only have 3 defenders under contract for next season.  Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace (who's played a total of 10 games in the last two seasons), and Chris Klute (who's on loan from Atlanta until late September).  That's not good.