Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
What the Blood Clot
2008-05-05 16:07
by Mark T.R. Donohue

In sports standing still is equal to falling backwards, and that's what the Rockies elected to do this offseason. With a payroll around $45 million, what was stopping them from dealing some of their surplus of young offensive prospects for pitching? What was keeping them from finding a two-way second baseman somewhere, or failing that, re-signing the defensively expert Kaz Matsui? Cheap owners who are pocketing the money from your playoff tickets and 2008 season-ticket deposits while the revenue-sharing money flows in. If you're not in it to win, sell the team.

I realize this might be a ludicrous example, but what was keeping the Rockies from trading for Johan Santana this offseason? They certainly could have offered a better package of prospects than the Mets, and maybe even an established major league star in Garrett Atkins. Sure, Colorado would have had to sign Santana to a $20 million/year deal, but... so what? Their payroll would still be less than one-third of the Yankees'. And they'd have a real pitching rotation instead of the Festival of Crap (with apologies to Aaron Cook) they have now.

One of the few guys who has pitched well for Colorado this season, Kip Wells, is now lost for some time because of a blood clot in his pitching hand. That hurts because Wells would have been an at least somewhat acceptable choice as a fill-in starter -- certainly better than Jorge De La Rosa, who got lit up like a forest fire in his start Saturday. It may be a coincidence, but Aaron Cook lost a year and a half of his career to a more serious blood clot. I wonder if there's some sort of deleterious effect pitching at altitude has to one's circulation.

You can only read Rob Neyer's recent column on the Rockies if you have ESPN Insider, but the title really sums it all up: Rockies simply not good. I could have told you that, Rob. Colorado isn't crazy to want to keep as their core a group of homegrown players, but the mess of a roster they have now shows the harm of overvaluing your own talent. The Rockies have too many third basemen and too many outfielders and not enough starting pitching.

The day after Jeff Baker (a third baseman playing out of position) and Clint Barmes had so much difficulty fielding at second and short, Clint Hurdle started Jonathan Herrera and Omar Quintanilla at those spots. That duo can't even threaten Willy Taveras's skills offensively, but they sure can flash the leather. Herrera was given the honor of "Baseball Tonight"'s #1 Web Gem on Sunday night. With the Rockies in full-on bullpen meltdown mode, the batphone to Colorado Springs is going to be ringing off the hook all summer, so who knows what the roster will look like in two weeks, let alone two months. But it will be a telling challenge of Hurdle's managerial acuity if he can manage to juggle his hitting middle infielders with his glove guys and settle both the lineup and the defense down. Would that the Rockies had some more guys who could play defense and hit a little. Maybe they'll pick one up when the fire sale trades begin in earnest in July.

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