Remember when the Red Sox were 2-10 and the Rockies were the best team in baseball? It seems like a distant memory, but for about a month the Rox looked like a sure bet to make the playoffs and the Red Sox struggled. Now, Boston seems close to invincible and the Rox are shopping 90% of their roster. The continued rumors that swirl around Ubaldo are particularly surreal. I never thought they would reach this point. However, I still maintain that this team, with its current core, is close to contending. Though they aren’t going to make the playoffs, there is still much to be gained from this season. The organization just needs to avoid being reactionary.
Coming into this season, the Rox made a commitment to go with Dexter Fowler in center. He started off well enough, but as soon as he hit a slump, Tracy and company abandoned their commitment to the young centerfielder. At the time he was adding value to the roster by playing sound defense and performing surprisingly well in high leverage situations. But, he was also struggling from the left side of the plate and striking out on a frequent basis. They should have let him work through his struggles.
Since his return, Dexter has been hot and it’s beginning to look like he’ll have a solid second half, earning him the starting centerfielder job next season. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s pretty much exactly what happened last year with Dexter. It’s important that the Rox look for reasons why Fowler is having his current success and help him find a way to emulate whatever he is doing right next season. He’s incredibly frustrating, but he’s only twenty-five years old and truly gifted. Even with his flaws, he is still an above replacement level ballplayer and the club needs to keep that in mind.
As Travis wrote the other day, Ian Stewart has not been given a fair shake with this club. Perhaps Ian has been on the bench a lot lately because they want to showcase Wiggy for a potential trade or maybe it’s because they have simply given up on Stewart. Either way it’s a mistake. At the very least they should let him get some time so his numbers can regress to the norm. That way he’ll at least have some trade value. Like Dexter, Ian drives us crazy because he has such potential, but, despite the unmet expectations, Stewart will still probably be an decent Major League third baseman. It would be fun to see him figure it out over the last fifty some odd games. That would be a real boost heading into 2012.
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding Chris Iannetta. Speculation is that Wilin Rosario will be brought up in September and receive the bulk of the playing time. The Rockies are thinking of parting ways with Iannetta either now or in the off-season and they want to get Rosario some big league experience. At least, that’s the theory. It would be a mistake to abandon Iannetta. We’ve been over this all season, but he is so much more than a low batting average. He is, without a doubt, one of the ten most valuable catchers in baseball.
Understandably, the Rockies think Wilin Rosario is the catcher of the future and they’re eager to get him in the bigs. However, why not ease him into the role? Handing him the starting catcher job from the get go is probably not a great move. Certainly, they could sign a veteran catcher to help ease Rosario’s burden, but what are the chances of them contributing as much as Iannetta has this year? Again, this all comes back to how close this organization thinks they are to being contenders. If they want the catcher who will give them the best chance to win next season, that’s probably Iannetta. Nobody around here should be interested in a rebuilding effort next season.
The Rockies motto from the rest of this year and throughout next season should be patience. Rumors are swirling. There is a major New York news outlet that is trying to create a fracture between Ubaldo and Dac – seems to be completely made up by the way. Hell, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in Ryan Spilborghs. In other words, it’s pure insanity. They need to remain calm during a frustrating time and avoid doing anything dumb.
As far as trading Ubaldo, I’m still very much against it. However, if trading Edwin Jackson can bring in a player like Colby Rasmus, then there is no telling what they might get for Ubaldo. Still, my expectation is that at this time next year, we will reflect back and be grateful that they didn’t trade Jimenez.