Team-wide hitting slumps, boneheaded baserunning errors, quirky lineup choices and injuries are to blame for their current sad state of affairs, sitting in third place in the NL West at seven games under .500 (61-68).
And despite all their troubles, Colorado is still “only” 8.5 games back of first in the division with 33 games left to play.
Could Colorado make a last-minute playoff push?
Well, the additions of Wandy Rodriguez and Kevin Kouzmanoff should help their case.
Rodriguez, a starting pitcher for the Houston Astros, was claimed off waivers by the Rockies this afternoon and he should be a huge help in the hurting rotation.
Rodriguez, in his seventh year as a professional, sports a 4.07 lifetime ERA with a record of 71-73. The lefty has been even better this season, going 9-9 in 23 starts, with a 3.31 ERA and 125 Ks compared to only 49 BB.
Possibly the most interesting stat about Rodriguez, as pointed out by my colleague Travis Lay via twitter, is that the pitcher’s home ERA (3.43) is much better than it is on the road (4.78) and Minute Maid Park is a hitter-friendly ballpark, just like Colorado’s home.
Additionally, his FIP has averaged 3.64 over the last four seasons, truly legit numbers.
But Rodriguez isn’t necessarily all wrapped up for the Rockies according to Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck.
Renck explained via twitter that Rodriguez’s high $36 million salary means Colorado will likely have to send away prospects for the Astros to eat some of his contract. The bigger the prospects, the more money Houston will eat. And if the Rockies’ prospects aren’t good enough in the Astros’ eyes, Houston can keep Rodriguez and opt to trade him in the offseason.
There’s no guarantee at this point that Rodriguez will be a Rockie, and what makes it even more convoluted is the fact that he could pitch against Colorado Wednesday night if he isn’t dealt by then. (The deadline is 11 a.m. Thursday.)
If Colorado does indeed land Rodriguez, he’d be a help now and in the future, giving the Rockies two left-handed starters when Jorge De La Rosa returns, helping form what could be a formidable front line of pitchers. ( A mix of Jhoulys Chacin, Aaron Cook, Jason Hammel, Esmil Rogers, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio would fill the other three spots.)
In Kevin Kouzmanoff, the Rockies picked up a capable third baseman that will provide depth and may even be able to start for Colorado next season, giving them the ability to move Ty Wigginton to his natural utility role.
Rockies fans may remember him from his three-year stint with San Diego (2007-2009) when Kouzmanoff was the everyday starter for the Padres, just as he was last year with the Oakland Athletics.
While Kouzmanoff’s .255 batting average leaves something to be desired, he did average 19 HR, 79 RBI and 59 runs during the four years he’s started every day. His bat has some pop for a third baseman, more even than Wigginton’s, while Kouzmanoff’s .963 fielding percentage is 8th best among active 3B and includes an NL-best .990 in 2009.
For now, Kouzmanoff will report to Colorado Springs and AAA, but he could be called up before this season is over and will almost certainly get some playing time at third in 2012.
In all, these are quality moves by the Rockies, who seldom search out and get players late in the season. As long as Colorado doesn’t have to sell the farm to acquire Rodriguez, he’ll be a big boost as a starter, while Kouzmanoff will at least provide much-needed depth at third base, while his upside could be as high as being a cornerstone of the Rockies’ infield.
Nice work, Dan. Good to see you doing all you can to help the team with what little you have to work with.
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