January 15 2010, 8:49 AM
There was a time when the Colorado Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa was among the team's most maddening pitchers. His raw ability was never in doubt, but when he'd get rattled by a hit or two, he'd break down, blowing the game and making most baseball fans wonder how long it would take for him to get a one-way ticket back to the minor leagues. Then, last year it all seemed to come together for the 28-year-old, who hails from Monterrey, Mexico. He started off as his normal, erratic self, but something clicked, and he ended up going 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA in 2009. The Denver Post points out that he became the National League's winningest pitcher after June 1, 2009. Now, De La Rosa (pictured) is being rewarded for his fantastic season, reaching a one-year, $5.6 million contract deal for 2010, nearly tripling what he earned in 2009. The Rockies also reached one-year deals with reliever Taylor Buchholz and second baseman Clint Barmes. Buchholz, who missed all of last year with an elbow injury and subsequent surgery, will make $1.055 million, the same salary he earned in 2009. Barmes more than doubled his salary to about $3.325 million, after posting a career-high 23 home runs and 76 RBIs in 2009. One reliever who may not return is Jose Contreras, a strong pitcher acquired mid-2009 to help out in the bullpen. ESPN Chicago reports that Contreras will likely sign a deal with the Chicago Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals, although he's drawing interest from the Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, and Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as the Rockies.