ASB Assessment

The Colorado Rockies will not contend in 2012.  The Rockies were not able to assemble a competitive starting pitcher rotation out of training camp.  The off-season strategy of stockpiling no. 5 type starters to supplement the holdovers from 2011 (in various classes of health) and organizational prospects not only failed to produce a competent rotation; when ineffectiveness and injury created opportunities, only Christian Friedrich, of whom little was expected, stepped-up.

31 games ago, at the 1/3 point of the season, Colorado had finally heated-up, along with the weather, winning 6 out of 7 on a homestand against the Astros and Dodgers.  Whatever optimism that run generated heading into the summer portion of the schedule instantly vaporized as a run of nearly unprecedented dismal pitching ensued.  On June 19, after losing 10 of 11 the team announced Jeremy Guthrie was removed from the starting rotation, and that moving forward the Rockies would use an unconventional 4-man rotation, with each starter limited to 75 pitches.  The losing and poor starts continued undeterred until July rolled around, when Drew Pomeranz was recalled from Colorado Springs, Guthrie returned to the rotation, and Friedrich delivered a decent appearance to complement the good work of returned-from-exile Jeff Francis.

Amid the losing there were significant developments of note.  Jordan Pacheco, Chris Nelson, Rex Brothers, and Wilin Rosario established themselves as bonafide major leaguers, age began to get the better of future Hall of Famer Todd Helton, and Tyler Colvin’s exceptional play elevated him to starter status.

With Colvin in right-field the Colorado outfield is formidable.  All-Star Carlos Gonzalez in left and Dexter Fowler in center give the Rockies essentially three center-field-quality defenders, and each sports a batting average of .300 and above.  The infield on the other hand is unsettled.  Pacheco’s defense, while improved, continues to thwart his effort to secure the third-base job, with Manager for Life Jim Tracy preferring Nelson’s glovework.  Nelson meanwhile continues to be nagged by leg injuries, precluding him from securing either the second or third-base jobs.  Incumbent second-baseman Marco Scutaro, who had taken-over at shortstop when Troy Tulowitzski’s groin injury re-surfaced, is now back at second due to an apparent sore arm and the availability of Jonathan Herrera to fill-in for Tulo at short.  And the MFL appears to be experiencing acute angst over relegating Helton to the bench in favor of Michael Cuddyer at first.  Tracy values Helton’s defense, and it can’t be argued that whenever others have filled-in defensive lapses have occurred.

Scutaro, however, who along with Guthrie is signed only through October, is likely to be dealt in the coming days, as is Guthrie, with the Rockies seeking payroll relief and hopefully value in return for two veterans who don’t figure in their long-range plans.  Others who could be dealt include bench players Jason Giambi and Eric Young, who haven’t been particularly effective for a team that’s seldom been close-enough late to need the bench, rehabbing catcher Ramon Hernandez, Pacheco, and Cuddyer.  Pacheco, a decent-enough story, is maddeningly one-dimensional, a singles-doubles hitter who rarely walks, with little power or speed, and a liability defensively.  Cuddyer, if his contract can be moved, has the potential to return significant value, and quality first-basemen are not typically in short-supply on the market, at least for teams that haven’t been spoiled by Todd Helton’s superior defense for a decade.

Hernandez is under-contract through 2013.  The Rockies ought to consider hanging-on to the veteran, who’s been out most of the season with a hand injury.  Rookie Wilin Rosario, who’s enjoyed a break-out year offensively, has caught a lot of hard innings, learning the game’s toughest position on-the-job with Hernandez out.  Rosario has struggled with passed-balls and wild-pitches from Colorado’s erratic pitching, as well as with throwing accurately to second base.  The youngster’s defensive foibles have often given rise to ensuing defensive imprudence by the Rockies infield, and the team could benefit from Hernandez resuming the primary catcher role for the remainder of 2012, solidifying the defense and giving the young pitching staff a veteran presence behind the plate as the team seeks to put together a credible second half of the season.  In 2013 his and Rosario’s roles could reverse, Rosario assuming the primary role with the steady veteran as back-up, a mentor to the “Baby Bull” who brings some pop offensively.

With Scutaro moving-on the obvious infield alignment would feature Nelson at second, Herrera sitting in for Tulo at short, and Pacheco at third.  Might as well play the New Mexican steadily to see if he can master the position defensively.  Should Pacheco be moved, Nelson could slide-over to third, giving prospects DJ LeMaheiu and Josh Rutledge opportunities to showcase their worth as second-basemen.  No. 1 prospect Nolan Arenado should arrive in September to compete for the 2013 job at third-base.

In the end, however, the key to extracting some merit from a lost season falls-back on getting consistent competent performances out of the starting pitchers.  Ironically the hotly debated 4/75 rotation may have resurrected the career of Jeff Francis.  The left-hander embraced the concept without question, and it has seemed to enable him to focus on physically and mentally executing for 75 pitches, giving way before fatigue undermines his ability to hit his “spots.”  Hopefully the strong appearances continue.  Pomeranz is finally on the scene and looks dominating.  His emergence could be indispensible.  Friedrich has acquitted himself reasonably well considering he ought to be winding-up his first AAA season and pointing to a MLB debut in 2013.  Guthrie’s departure ideally should coincide with Jhoulys Chacin’s return to the rotation from the disabled list.  But the talent remains alarmingly thin.

The bullpen in contrast has been steady.  Brothers, Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt comprise effective 7th, 8th, and 9th men.  Matt Reynolds provides the situational lefty role, Adam Ottavino the righty.  The others, including Guillermo Moscoso, currently in Colorado Springs, mix and match depending on the need for and work-load of the starters’ piggy-back men.

The Rockies’ offense is solid if inconsistent.  It’s played frankly like a last-place team, too often pounding the ball but losing 14-10, then wasting the rare well-pitched games by falling 3-1.

So chins-up RWOers!  No 100 loss avoidance policies here.  77 games to go.  Let’s win 48 of them and finish even.

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WyoRox
WyoRox
8 years ago

I am still mystified as to why people on here think Cuddyer was a bad pickup or that we should get rid of him. Sure his contract is hefty, but this is a guy that is 2nd on the team in RBI and 3rd in Runs. His average isn’t spectacular at .264, but in order to win games (ignore the pitching for the sake of this argument) you have to score runs, and he is #2 and #3 on the… Read more »

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago

If you don’t move Cuddyer then you end up carrying a 4th outfielder like Colvin who should really be playing everyday, plus you block Blackmon and Wheerler and any other OF prospect from making any contribution for the next 2 years. Meanwhile, you have gaping holes in the pitching staff. So if you don’t move Cuddyer, IMO you need to move some OF. Having 6 MLB ready OF is a luxury 1st place teams can afford. Not last place teams.… Read more »

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

I guess I’m living in the past when those 2 were considered prospects. Now it seems they are washouts. The hits keep on coming. Even the position that used to scream depth is looking empty. We are truly lucky fans.

TJinPhoenix
TJinPhoenix
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

As much as it pains me to say it, I agree on your Todd comments Jeem. I’d hate to see him go out of the game way past his prime (arguments can begin if that’s a moot point already??). I would rather watch the Rockies contend without Todd than the current status quo–don’t go for looking for solid logic there, that’s just my gut (and emotional) reaction. Jeem–the other thing I wanted to ask-not to criticize, but for knowledge–its a… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

Let’s face facts: Blackmon was a marginal prospect before he got hurt. Now he’s an injury prone marginal prospect. There’s still a chance he’ll emerge as something better, but there’s really no trade value there. Wheeler is still a good prospect but it’s time for him to start turning it on. Most evaluators seem to think he’s certainly not a star in the making, maybe a faster Seth Smith or something like that? There’s a bigger problem here, which is… Read more »

GARY
GARY
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

Why not switch Wilin to first.I know he already has played third,and taken ground balls there.I mean if “any big galoof” can play first,then why not Wilin? I think in the long run it makes more sense as he can continue to grow as an offensive force with less chance of injury,and less chance of the rigors of catching wearing him out by Aug./Sept.If he can play first,it also fills the gapping hole that Todd’s retirement will create.Then we could… Read more »

jeem
jeem
8 years ago

Hey we are right on-topic! Nice story about Rosario by Pat Saunders in today’s Post.

konaman
konaman
8 years ago

Nice thoughtful intrigue all around. With the 11.4% payroll reduction this year Cuddyer’s $$ is no problem, keep him and play him at 1st 80% of the time. In my mind outfield is set at Cargo, Dex, & Colvin. With Baby Bull hitting with power don’t need as much from 3rd so see if Pacheco can kick up his defense a little. Stay with Herrera and Nelson. Get rid of Marco, Guthrie, and Giambi for yes…more pitching but not 5th… Read more »

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago
Reply to  konaman

I’m not going to argue with wanting Monfort to sell…but what exactly has Kroenke done for the Avs and Nuggets? The 2001 Avs weren’t his product. But later renditions were and they’ve been down ever since. The Nuggets success was mostly due to the Carmelo draft, not outstanding free agent signings. Neither the Nuggets nor Avs have been huge payroll teams since his family took over. So honestly, not overly impressed with Kroenkes as owners, yet.

Pooter
Pooter
8 years ago

Hey y’all,

sitting here board on a hot Friday and I got to thinking about some of the predictions I made earlier this year.

1. Rockies will be in 1st place by All Star break. WRONG!!!!
2. EYJ will be starting CF by beginning of July. NOPE!
3. Helton will have a break out season. Wrong again!!

3 strikes, IM OUT!! I don’t know about everyone else but I sure am looking foward to football season!

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
8 years ago
Reply to  Pooter

You weren’t alone in being optimistic…the poll on the site before the season asking how many games the Rockies would win this season: 85 – 89 (37%, 28 Votes) 80 – 84 (28%, 21 Votes) 79 or less (19%, 14 Votes) 90 – 94 (15%, 11 Votes) 95+ (1%, 1 Votes) 81% thought we would be a +.500 club at seasons end… The current poll shows the opposite view: Lose 96 – 100 (32%, 10 Votes) Lose 91 – 95… Read more »

DrRockies
Editor
DrRockies
8 years ago

really good start of a dicussion board Jeem! Lots of interesting breakdown. Some thoughts regarding the posts… While I think Colvin has been the pick up of this season, let’s not start shipping anyone out just yet. But I have felt comfortable in his play at either position and hope he continues to produce. Ag—would tend to disagree that Arenado is in the “lousy year” season. I know we all want to see the mega-star results but when it doesn’t… Read more »

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
8 years ago

To go along with this, there is speculation that Rutledge could be called up tonight…he left during the fourth inning last night with Tulsa and headed to Denver according to reports…he could be called up for tonight, which would be a big indication on Scutaro/Nelson/Johnny or even Pacheco…

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago

Nelson is supposed to be healthy now.

Here’s a proposal. Scutaro for Jair Jurrjens straight up.

GARY
GARY
8 years ago
Reply to  ProgMatinee

Doubt the Braves are smokin’what you are Prog!

jeem
jeem
8 years ago

Hmm. Looks like something is up w/ ATL anyway. Not sure they’d give up Jurrjens. They’re supposedly looking for pitching too, perhaps even “renting” Greinke.

How would Jurrjens be at altitude? I think I remember him pitching at Coors. Wonder how he did. I think maybe he has a fragile psyche. Might not be a good fit.

But something is definitely up.

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
8 years ago
Reply to  jeem

He is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in his career pitching here.

Bill
Bill
8 years ago

According to the Post, Ruteledge has been called up and will start at SS tonight. Todd on DL. Chatwood sent down and Eckstrom (?) or somebody was called up to be a piggyback pitcher.

jeem
jeem
8 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Mike Ekstrom. 29 year old RH reliever out of Portland OR. 2-1/2.64 in 37 games. Been up 4 times prior to today.

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
8 years ago
Reply to  jeem

I’ve posted all of the moves made today in the game day post (http://jaredb17.sg-host.com/2012/07/13/hernandez-activated-rutledge-called-up/)

There were a lot of them!

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago

I presume based on performance they would move Cuddyer or Colvin into 1B so EY is your 4th OF. Does Nelson play 3rd while Scutaro plays 2B or does Nelson sit in favor of Pacheco. Either way both those guys should be playing more than sitting.

Kind of overstacking the IF if they don’t move Scutaro or someone else.

IggyRox
IggyRox
8 years ago

Just my 2 (or 4) euros here… Cuddy shouldn’t go anywhere this year. If you are doing a youth movement (which looks to be the plan in the 2nd half), you want a ‘good guy’ veteran in the room. Helton is wrestling with his MLB mortality (and his hip), Tulo is out until late August/Sept., plus he really isn’t the right guy to guide the young (too tightly wrapped). I have loved following the career of Todd Helton and respect… Read more »

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