Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Nationals 9, Rockies 2
2005-08-14 20:57
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The ESPN recap is here. I don't really feel like saying anything about this one. The Rockies got swept -- obliterated, actually -- by the Expos at home. There's no excuse for that. This whole thing with the Bears is throwing my outlook on the Rockies into sharp relief. The Bears are going to be horrible, again, in 2005, for the exact same reason they were bad last year. (In their case, management that's too cheap and/or dense to provide for a capable second option at quarterback despite a first-string guy who's unproven and fragile). The Rockies are going to uncompetitive again in 2006 for the same reasons as this year, a complete lack of anything resembling a major league starting rotation (with apologies to Jeff Francis and "Jeremy" Jennings) and a power vacuum on offense.

Maybe since I was out of town when Jason Jennings and Joe Kennedy did their best work for the Rockies, I have always looked upon them as a guy who hasn't progressed since a freaky rookie year and a guy the Devil Rays had no use for. I had a slightly better impression of Shawn Chacon going into this year, but, well, he's gone now, and there's no use crying about it. So our rotation next year:

  1. TBA
  2. Jason Jennings
  3. Jeff Francis
  4. TBA
  5. Byung-Hyun Kim (pending lowball free-agent offer)

You could say they've got some work to do there. Aaron Cook hasn't shown much yet, and I guess it's not fair to expect him to be great right away. But the Rockies counting on him to be a difference-maker is dumber than the Bears assuming that Grossman would stay healthy all season. Zach Day is going to get whaled on next year. Jose Acevedo is miscast as a Coors starter. Ditto Sunny Kim, assuming they even keep him around. Jamey Wright should have been put out of his misery ages ago, yet for lack of better options he's the one guy besides Francis who's been a constant in the rotation all year. The Marcos Carvajal starter experiment seems intriguing, but he's at least a year away. I'm not a Mike Esposito believer, but his minor league record has earned him a place in the discussion come spring training.

The Rockies can help their starter situation for next year by managing the bullpen as smartly as they have this season. They'd be wise to again load up on as many bargain-bin veteran "names" as they have 40-man space for, as one or two is bound to have a decent year and bring something cool in trade a la Jay Witasick. Indeed, the Rockies have the budget and the playing conditions to do something the Pirates have been doing for a while now. Grab a few unwanted veteran hitters on one-year deals, then flip 'em as soon as their Coors-inflated stats draw interest. I'm sure that was the intention with Dustan Mohr and Desi Relaford this season, but it somewhat backfired due to neither of those guys being any good. As teams like Detroit and Milwaukee have demonstrated, you can take a few steps towards being better next year without compromising your real future three or four seasons down the line.

What the Rockies don't want to do is hand out any huge multiyear contract offers. They have so many needs right now that getting involved in a dramatically poor talent market this offseason could be crippling sooner rather than later. Wait until they have one identifiable huge hole (and players like Brad Hawpe, Garrett Atkins, Cory Sullivan, and J.D. Closser have had more of a chance to show their true performance level) before making that deal. Obviously if there was someone like a Pedro Martinez available who could change the general impression of the franchise quite above and beyond his effect on their win-loss record, that would be a situation in which overspending would be justified. But, there isn't.

I think that it would be helpful to have a more regular starting lineup and defensive alignment, although I will grant Clint Hurdle that he has been presented with precious few players who deserve to play every day. More creative thinking (like hitting Larry Bigbie leadoff, perhaps not a bad idea) would be welcome. The Rockies' goal next year, when it comes to not repeating the mistakes of this one, should be to avoid committing huge numbers of innings and at-bats to players with no trade value and no future role with this (or any major league) franchise. Danny Ardoin, this means you. You too, Jamey Wright.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.