If you are a baseball fan in Utah, you’re likely cheering on King Felix and the Mariners or Carlos Gonzalez and the Rockies.
Both teams started off the season poorly, shuffled their lineups after the all-star game, and have gone on a winning tear since that time (obviously). Why? Are the managers really that poor of judges of talent that they failed to see a cohesive unit in Triple AAA that would succeed at the next level?
The Rockies are an excellent example of inept management – I don’t know much about the Mariners. After signing “good team players” over the offseason, the Rockies lineup day one was as the following: Scutaro 4, Fowler 8, Gonzalez 7, Tulowitzki 6, Helton 3, Cuddyer 9, Hernandez 2, Nelson 5, Guthrie 1.
Compare that lineup to the one that the Rockies have been trotting out during their winning streak: Fowler 8, Rutledge 6, Gonzalez 7, Rosario 2, Colvin 9, Pacheco 3, Nelson 5, LeMahieu 4, Chacin 1.
The only similarities? Chris Nelson at third base, Dexter Fowler in center field, and Carlos Gonzalez in left field. That’s it!
Can the front office be so bad that they didn’t recognize their young talent and chose to play older, better paid, more experienced players? Probably, although the coaching staff may also need to be assigned some blame.
Does this mean that the Rockies need to trade away their older players? While Cuddyer is a difficult sell, the easier option would be to sell his outfielders glove and force him to play first base next season.
The largest indicator that the recent victories have brought is this: The lineup for next year should be, at the least, a .500 team. Troy Tulowitzki If He Can Stay Healthy is a superstar that can anchor the offense and set the tone on defense. Carlos Gonzalez still hasn’t quite reached his potential, which is frightening.
Dexter Fowler is beginning to set expectations for his performance. He’ll probably continue to struggle with plate discipline for years, but he makes playing defense in center field look like a breeze. Wilin Rosario, while also struggling to hold back on pitches outside the strike zone, brings a power bat to the lineup and continues to develop on defense.
Every one else? Why not reward the young players, the boys of summer, that have been playing so well as of late.
I think that giving Rutledge the second base job, at the minimum in a rotation with DJ LeMahieu, would be an excellent move. I think that giving Colvin the right field job, at the minimum in a rotation with Cuddyer or another outfielder, would be an excellent move.
I think that giving Arenado, the Rockies top prospect in the farm system, the third base job, would be an excellent move. While Arenado would have growing pains, Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco are utility players that can man the corner spot – Nelson can play short and second, while Pacheco can catch and play first base.
I think that giving Cuddyer the first base job is the best decision for the team. While Todd Helton has been the face of the Rockies franchise for over a decade, it is time for him to transition into a bench role with the team. Stellar defense can only offset injuries and slumps for so long, and Father Time has been calling Helton’s number for the last few years.
With the return of a healthy Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, and Juan Nicasio, the Rockies will be able to switch back into a five man rotation again. A little healthy competition in spring training for the fourth and fifth spot can’t hurt the young arms – especially when having to decide between Christian Friedrich, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz and Tyler Chatwood.
The Rockies could also explore resigning Jonathan Sanchez, who will be a free agent that could be signed to a one-year deal to reestablish himself in the league. The Rockies would also be well served pursuing Brandon McCarthy and Kyle Lohse in free agency. Both pitchers are younger, established arms who get players to ground out, a recipe for success at Coors Field. While McCarthy and Lohse may likely be overpaid, they are the best options available.
It’s disappointing that Rockies fans are already having to look towards next season at the beginning on September, but with the disappointment that 2012 has been, there really isn’t much else to do. The 2013 roster has already taken the field.