The easy thing to say when considering “what the Rockies need” is to make a snarky faith joke. But readers, I won’t do that to you or our site. Because we all know that you’ve come to expect much more high-browed, intellectually stimulating commentary from us UmpBump writers. And by jove, that’s what you’re going to get.
Anyhow, when writing Colorado’s “Hot Offseason Action” post back in February, I wondered to myself if I was being too rough on these guys. Turns out, they’ve been worse that I thought they’d be. The Rockies have a mediocre offense to go along with sub-par pitching. Put those together and the results are rarely pretty.
Consequently, the Rockies are currently 6 games out in the NL West (which I’m thinking is pretty difficult to do) and 13 games under .500. And something tells me that their incredible run to close out the 2007 regular season is not going to repeat itself this year. Why? Because you can only beat “improbable” so many times.
So unless the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers tank big time between now and the trade deadline, the Rockies should be dealing some pieces. And no, I am not going to advocate dealing Matt Holliday. Not this year, anyway. Holliday is still under contract in 2009, albeit at a higher price. If the Rockies have no shot in hell of winning the division next year, then by all means, please do trade him away. But that’s not the case here. With some maneuvering, they could still compete in 2009. And here’s my suggestion.
This of course is not a novel idea. It’s been said and argued ad nauseum for over a year. It just hasn’t happened yet. And just because it’s been said but ignored, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. At this juncture, there are a couple of teams vying for the playoffs (Milwaukee and Minnesota) who could use offensive help at third. It’s clear that Stewart has earned a shot to be a big league regular. It just makes perfect sense. As a result of the injury to Todd Helton, Stewart was recalled from AAA this past week with Atkins moving to first for the time being, which is all well and good. But what happens when Helton returns? Move Ian Stewart to second base permanently? This seems like an odd thing to do to a young player. And so far this year, Jeff Baker is doing a better job of hitting righties so he might be their solution at second.
The Rockies do, however, need another starting pitcher if they are to compete in 2009. Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook are solid, and Jeff Francis has been better than his ERA suggests. But Jorge de la Rosa, Greg Reynolds, and Mark Redman have been disasters. Sure, it’s possible that Franklin Morales becomes a solution, but it’s not like the guy’s dominating AAA. How about something like Atkins for Boof Bonser and a B-Prospect? Or Atkins for Carlos Villanueva and a B? Teams like the Rockies really need to maximize the value of each dollar they spend. Continually blocking your best prospect just doesn’t make much sense at this point.