Here’s a thought: the Rockies might be forced to resign Aaron Cook in the upcoming offseason.
Before the season started I thought the Rockies had a very deep rotation. Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa were the 1-2 punch and now one is no longer with the team and the second might not be back until July of 2012. Jhoulys Chacin and Jason Hammel were the other two pitchers who were a virtual lock to be part of the rotation in 2011 and 2012. How comfortable are you with Hammel in 2012 right now? The fifth spot in the rotation was supposed to be an open competition between Cook, Esmil Rogers and Felipe Paulino. Young guys like Christian Friedrich, Greg Reynolds and even early only Tyler Matzek were rumored to have a shot at joining the rotation entering the 2011 season. Friedrich hasn’t progressed as expected this year, Matzek took a hiatus because it got so bad for him and Reynolds has been forced into the rotation due to injuries and hasn’t left anyone asking for more.
That was at least seven viable options for the Rockies rotation in February of this year and 10 if you count the young guys. Now who do the Rockies have for 2012?
Ubaldo Jimenez: Gone.
Jorge De La Rosa: When DLR initially went under the knife for Tommy John surgery he was not expected back until the All-Star break of 2012. Now the Rockies are getting a bit more optimistic as Dan O’Dowd says DLR has a chance to return by Opening Day 2012. I don’t think this is very likely as not many pitchers make it back in less than 15 or 16 months, much less 12. If DLR is ready for Opening Day that means he is throwing off of a mound no later than mid-March next year which means he is throwing about eight months after having surgery and throwing to big league hitters within nine months. That just isn’t likely, I don’t care how bad O’Dowd is trying to throw something positive at Rockies fans.
Jhoulys Chacin: In and possibly the Rockies Opening Day starter next year.
Jason Hammel: In despite his recent struggles. He is signed with the Rockies next year and he will at least be in the back of their rotation next spring.
That leaves the Rockies with two pitchers from their 2011 Opening Day roster in the rotation for 2012. Going to need three more and if they can somehow have six or seven guys to choose from that might be some sort of minor miracle.
Aaron Cook: As much as Rockies fans would hate to think about it right now I am starting to think the Rockies ink Cook to a one year deal to at least provide an arm that they can count on every fifth day to throw the ball. He might now throw it well but at least he can throw it and right now that is a rare commodity in the Rockies organization. Cook does have trouble making 30 or more starts in a year (only twice in his 10 year career) but he should be OK for 20-25.
Esmil Rogers: At this point the Rockies need someone and unless one of the kids does something tremendous in the last month or two of this season the only guy on the Rockies 40-man roster with any experience starting in the major leagues is Rogers (besides the guys above, obviously). He is almost a sure thing to be part of the rotation right now. Maybe the Rockies chase some pitching this offseason or someone steps up from the minor leagues to push Rogers back to the bullpen but at this point that doesn’t seem likely.
Juan Nicasio (notes from Keith Dugger’s pregame presser today): I just don’t see how he starts 2012 with the Rockies. He might be pitching but with his relative inexperience (no time spent in AAA) and coming off this brutal injury if he is pitching next year I am betting it is in the minor leagues to at least start the season.
Now we are at five starting pitchers for the Rockies if – and there are a lot of “ifs” – Cook is resigned and Nicasio is OK to pitch.
I will bet on the Rockies having four starters with Cook and Rogers in the rotation; they still need one more.
Greg Reynolds: He would have to be the Vegas favorite, right? He has 16 starts with the Rockies and that is 16 more than the next three guys.
Alex White: Of the trio of pitchers the Rockies received in return for Ubaldo from Cleveland White has the best shot of starting the 2012 season with the Rockies. There are many reports that he will join the Rockies in a few weeks and at least come out of the bullpen for the team to finish the year. At this point the Rockies need arms and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t get at least a few starts to prove his mettle to the Rockies front office and coaching staff. White has already made his first appearance in the big leagues with the Indians.
Drew Pomeranz: Pomeranz is the key player in the Ubaldo trade and has the highest ceiling of the three pitchers the Rockies got from Cleveland. 2011 is his first year of pro baseball (91 innings pitched). He was drafted out of college and is 22 years old so he will not need to spend as much time in the minor leagues (was already in AA with the Indians) but I don’t see him starting 2012 with the Rockies. I am sure he will make an appearance with the team in 2012, but not to start the season and maybe not even in the rotation.
Christian Friedrich: The Rockies first pick in 2008 has made a fairly slow ascent in the organization. He didn’t reach AA until 2009 and has not pitched at AAA yet. In his second year in AA Friedrich carries an ERA over 5.00 and has given up 128 hits in 111 1/3 innings of work. Add in his 29 walks and he has put 157 batters on base in only 111 innings which is not a good ratio especially for a guy who has only struck out 81. He is not overpowering anyone at the AA level and there is no reason to think he would fair better in AAA much less in Denver.
I think we are looking at a starting rotation of Chacin, Cook, Hammel, Rogers and Reynolds or White in 2012. O’Dowd HAS to get one veteran arm before next year and that might mean bringing back a guy who has pitched in Colorado before like Jason Marquis.
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