Greetings all. Have been hard at work watching the adventure that was the Rockies Spring Training (okay, mostly listening and mostly to the other team’s broadcast which is really a poor way to follow Spring Training) and working on trying to understand how a team that was competitive 3 times in 4 years for the playoffs went off the deep end. I will be posting that later this week.
But the real issue, as we all know, is that the Rox rotation, thanks to De La Rosa’s injury and the sad ending of Jhoulys Chacin’s Rockie career, is in no shape for heading North, or for that matter, anywhere.
We have seen in the past 10 days Jon Grey get bombed, Christian Bergman get bombed twice, and then Eddie Butler get hurt and then bombed. This Rockies team actually has some spots of potential strength and the chance to be entertaining even if not competitive. But does anyone really think the team can even think of taking Butler or Bergman to Milwaukee for the 3rd game of the year?
So what to do? Chad Bettis is the only one of the group who has pitched decently late in the Spring, but the team seems to desire (and good for them) to have Bettis continue to refine his pitches in the low-stress environment of the minors (as is the plan for Grey). Given Butler’s shoulder doesn’t seem strong (and hence the loud cracks coming off the bat when he throws), it doesn’t seem smart for his long-term growth to take him to BrewerLand.
So what is a team to do? I get the idea that if 2015 ends up being a lost year you want your kids learning. But you want them to have the chance to succeed, and right now I don’t see that for Butler or Grey (Bettis maybe moreso thanks to experience and Bergman tops out as a AAAA pitcher anyways). What indeed to do?
At this point I have to assume that Jeff Bridich is doing what I have been doing the past few days – watching the waiver wire for starting pitching (the high stakes expensive form of dumpster diving). You don’t usually find a gem on the waiver wire but you can find a guy who helps you out through the early stages of the season, and right now if this team is hoping to be anywhere near .500 let alone contention they need help in April and May.
So what sort of value is out there that the Rox might go after (or should if we all were GMs):
1) Paul Malholm – Malholm has had real success in the major leagues, winning 10 games for the Braves in 2013 but languishing in the Dodgers pen for most of last year. After having a pretty solid Spring with the Reds with a low 2s ERA over 12 innings the lefty was released. He isn’t going to make anyone forget Ubaldo Jiminez, but he can eat innings and keep his team in games (ERA usually in the low to mid 4s). He seems like the best option out there.
2) Wandy Rodriguez – Wandy was someone the Rockies tried to trade for several times over his career, and has until 2014 been a sub-4 ERA guy. He has been hurt a lot the past few years but came into Spring with Atlanta with a short to make their rotation, but when Trevor Cahill was acquired his spot was gone. In 23 innings this Spring he had a 3.13 ERA. A number of teams are looking at him given his track history and the number of innings he was able to go this Spring.
3) Kevin Slowey – another guy the Rox have tried to sign at several points in his career, a career which at its best has been similar to Kyle Kendrick. Last year in Miami he was primarily used out of the bullpen, but he 105 starts in his career with a 4.62 ERA. The Phils, a team desperate for pitching (they do not have the good young talent the Rox have coming), released him this week after he posted a 6.94 ERA in just 11.2 innings. He does tend to get groundballs, walks few (just 2 this spring), can get the K (9 this Spring) but is prone to the long ball.
4) Mark Rogers – Rogers is the perfect Rockies pitcher – a kid once who had a bright future wrecked by injuries. When he was finally healthy in 2012 he played a big role on the Brewers run to the playoffs, but then was injured in 2013 and 2014. This Spring he barely got any opportunities in the major league camp and was released by the Rangers in late March. There is still talent there if he can stay healthy.
5) Kevin Correia – speaking of guys the Rockies always seem to try and get, Kevin has been on the team’s radar since his mom weaned him. He did have a 4 year period with double-digit wins, but only once with a sub 4 ERA (career 4.59). Last year primarily with the Twins he was close to 5. This Spring he was hit hard and spent little time with the big league camp and was released. Kevin probably has little left in the tank, but at least he won’t have his career ruined by pitching in the bigs before he is ready.
6) Scott Baker – another guy who has been on the team’s radar for a few years, Baker pitched last year in Texas (poorly) and hasn’t been any good since 2011. and was in Yankees camp, where he threw 10.1 innings with a 7.94 ERA before being released. It is not official yet but the Dodgers are said to be signing him, which makes you wonder after Kershaw and Greinke, how weak is the Dodgers staff?
There was talk earlier this week that Juan Nicasio might not make their roster which would have made him available as well, but that hasn’t happened and I think all involved in Colorado have probably decided that ship long sailed.
So there are your options (I didn’t mention poor Alex White, one-time #1 pick who had a good 2011 with the Indians, was traded to Colorado, was scrambled by the Coors Field Bonfire of 2012, traded for Wilton Lopez in 2013, tore his elbow, had TJ surgery and never recovered (a 15 ERA this Spring, and is now gone sadly from the game). I think a Wandy or Malholm would be a far better option to get this team to June 1 than the alternatives and you never know if you might get Shawn Estes in a bottle situation. Yes, it would require some roster moves, but the fact is this team has one former 5th starter pitching opening day, a very talented but still unproven despite a great 2014 24 year-old lefty (Matzek), a former top-prospect who is trying a new pitch (Lyles) and nothing else. Those 3 guys have proven they can pitch and win (occasionally). No one else fits that bill. Even when De La Rosa returns the options for the 5th starter are, until we see healthy and progress from Butler, Bergman, and Bettis, 2013 bad, bad enough to kill this team’s chances before June 1. A trade for a quality arm (not Dillon Gee but someone like that) is possible, but it will cost something to get them.
The injury this offseason to Tyler Anderson, the guy the team saw as their default #5 for 2015 when last year ended continues to hurt the team. At this point, can anyone think of a good reason to not go dumpster diving?
What, it could be worse than Yohan Flande?