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12/23/10 7:51 PM EST
Rockies acquire Lindstrom from Astros
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- The Rockies filled a key spot in their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Matt Lindstrom from the Astros on Thursday for two Minor League pitchers -- left-hander Wes Musick, a former University of Houston standout, and right-hander Jonnathan Aristil.
Lindstrom, who turns 31 on Feb. 11, went 2-5 with a 4.39 ERA for the Astros last season. The Rockies attempted to acquire him in November, when they obtained righty Felipe Paulino from the Astros for second baseman Clint Barmes, but the clubs could not find a match.
Lindstrom is 10-13 with a 4.00 ERA in 249 relief appearances with the Marlins (2007-09) and the Astros (2010). According to media reports, the Astros were looking to deal the arbitration-eligible Lindstrom for payroll-management reasons.
"It's pretty exciting," Lindstrom told MLB.com on Thursday. "It's a little bit bittersweet because I enjoyed my time in Houston so much and all my teammates and everyone was really good to me down there. I'm going to miss even [the media]. At times I wasn't as good as I thought I was, but [the media] wasn't too hard on me. I'm really excited to get going to Colorado and help them out and provide late-inning relief, especially because that's where I spend my offseason."
Lindstrom said he had talked to both Astros general manager Ed Wade and Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd on Thursday.
"[O'Dowd] clued me in on what they're going to have me do and that's provide late-inning relief," he said. "Whatever the innings may be, there's a lot of good guys over there already and hopefully I can contribute."
Lindstrom, whom the Astros acquired a year ago in a trade with the Marlins, went 2-5 with a 4.39 ERA and a team-high 23 saves in 58 appearances. Lindstrom lost his closer's job when he struggled in the second half of the year and wound up spending two weeks on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
"There were things I learned through my journey last year," Lindstrom said. "I'm just going to take care of myself and be healthy all year and I know if I can do those things, good things will happen."
When asked how he feels now, Lindstrom said: "Feel awesome."
Lindstrom, who has a home in the Denver area, is a strike-thrower -- 187 career strikeouts to 91 walks in 225 innings. He also has earned 43 career saves, including 23 for the Astros last season. Lindstrom began last season as the Astros' closer, but he went to the disabled list with a back issue and never regained consistency. Lindstrom joins Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle as primary right-handed setup men.
"We were very reluctant to trade Matt," said Wade. "But with Brandon Lyon, Wilton Lopez and some of our younger arms, we think we have good coverage at the back of the bullpen. Matt is a great guy and a great competitor and we wish him well. We've added two young arms to our prospect depth and we think both Aristil and Musick have a chance to help us down the road."
A key reason for acquiring Lindstrom is for protection in case right-hander Huston Street is injured. Street missed the first 69 games of last season with a shoulder injury and suffered some setbacks during his rehab. Left-hander Franklin Morales, who is still with the club, struggled when replacing Street. Manuel Corpas, the Rockies' one-time closer, had some success in the role but was released after the season.
The trade for Lindstrom also pushes the Rockies' Major League roster to the limit of 40, which means they'll need to either make all further signings Minor League contracts, or they'll have to make a move to add someone on a Major League deal. The Rockies have acknowledged that they're trying to re-sign left-handed starter Jeff Francis, their No. 1 pitcher before shoulder injuries marred his last two seasons, and left-handed reliever Joe Beimel.
Musick, who turns 24 on Dec. 30, was the Rockies' ninth-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Musick went 8-7 with a 4.05 ERA in 23 starts, and 122 1/3 innings, at Class A Asheville last season, his first in a full-season league. Musick struck out 109 against 26 walks.
Aristil, 24, played for the Rockies' Dominican Summer League team as an infielder from 2004-06 before converting to the mound. Last season, he went a combined 2-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 33 games (four starts) at three levels. He was 1-4 with a 7.12 ERA while appearing in relief for all but one of his 21 games at Class A Modesto, 1-1 with a 4.39 ERA with three starts in 11 appearances at Double-A Tulsa, and made a scoreless two-inning appearance for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA with a .226 average against in eight appearances in the Dominican Winter League.