The Rockies made some personnel moves this week including optioning Jordan Pacheco to AAA to make room for the inauspicious debut of Drew Pomeranz. And in case you didn’t hear, Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league baseball game. Here are three questions that came up during the week:
Was sending Pacheco down to Colorado Springs to work on his defense a better choice than optioning Jonathan Herrera to AAA?
Brendan: Yes. The Rockies defense as a team has been atrocious so far and sending the defensive specialist Herrera down to Colorado Springs just was not an option right now. Pacheco was too hesitant in the field and needs to develop his instincts at third in addition to improving his mechanics. Losing Pacheco right now hurts because of the flexibility he provided off the bench, but he needs the chance to play every day and we will see him again soon enough.
Kevin: Yes. Pacheco is still a young developing player, and the best way for him to develop offensively and defensively is to play every day. With Chris Nelson’s early success at third, Pacheco would only see time with the Rockies as a pinch hitter and as a utility man. Although I would rather have Pacheco on the 25-man roster than Herrera, the difference between the two is marginal and putting Pacheco in AAA will enhance his development offensively and defensively. In the end, this will make the Rockies a better ball club–one step back, two steps forward.
Ned: At first no, now yes. Initially, I was highly critical of what I viewed as a demotion for Jordan Pacheco. But after thinking about it for several days, I now agree with the Rockies that it makes good sense to get Pacheco his reps at third in Colorado Springs. Errors (including mental errors that aren’t charged as errors in the scorebook) are often devastating for the pitcher. It is much better for Pacheco to refine his third base defense in Triple A. While Chris Nelson doesn’t add nearly as much to the offense as Pacheco does, Nelson is a reliable defender who can hit a little. As for Jonathan Herrera, he is a typical good-D, no hit utility man that can fill any infield slot. Consequently, he is a very good guy to have around for spot duty. Bottom line, I am fine with keeping Herrara with the major league club for now, and sending Pacheco to AAA for more defensive work. After Pacheco returns, I do not envision a bright future for Herrara with the Rockies.
Is Drew Pomeranz’ first start (4.1 IP, 9H, 5R, 2BB, 3K) a cause for concern?
Brendan: No, but it is troubling. Pomeranz is expected to be one of the bright spots of the rotation this year and giving up 5 runs through 4 and a third is not going to get it done. It was only one start so the sample size is way too small to make any conclusions, but if the Rockies are to have any chance of being a good team then Pomeranz is going to have to live up to the expectations of being the main piece the Rockies received in the Ubaldo trade.
Kevin: Somewhat. When the Rockies traded for Pomeranz, the scouting reports said that Pomeranz had a dominant fastball that sat in the low-to-mid nineties. Pomeranz’s fastball averaged 89.5 mph both last fall and in his first 2012 start, which means he is sitting around 88-91. Although this isn’t too far from the 91-94 range we were promised, dominant fastballs typically don’t clock in at 88 or 89 mph. Pomeranz can still be effective throwing his fastball 88-91, but if he is to become the front-of-the-rotation starter the Rockies need, his velocity is going to have to get back up to the 91-94 range.
Ned: Don’t lose sleep over Pomerantz’ first start of 2012. I agree that his performance was poor—not what you expect from the power leftie who mowed down batters in the minors and in two of his major league appearances last September. If the kid repeats this poor performance two or more times, we may have a problem. But for now, let him mature.
Is it time to end the Jamie Moyer experience and give a rotation spot to the younger pitchers?
Brendan: No, at least not yet. What Moyer accomplished was truly incredible and was definitely fun to watch. Surprisingly, Moyer has been one of the best pitchers for the Rockies and deserves to hold onto his spot based solely on performance. It is up to the young guys to perform and start banging the door down. Esmil Rogers has been impressive out of the bullpen, but no one has really set themselves apart in AAA. Until the younger players force the issue, Moyer will still be the best option.
Kevin: Absolutely not. Jamie Moyer has been the Rockies’ most effective starting pitcher so far, and there is no one who is prepared to take his spot. Guillermo Moscoso, who sports a 6.43 ERA, has not shown that he would be an upgrade. Alex White, with a 4.32 ERA, looks like he still needs time in Colorado Springs before he is ready to start for the Rockies. Christian Friedrich, while off to a very strong and encouraging start for the Sky Sox, needs to continue pitching well in order to show that he is major league ready. Friedrich spent the last two seasons in AA Tulsa, where his ERA was 5.05 in 2010 and 5.00 in 2011.
Ned: Moyer earned his rotation spot with a consistently solid spring. He wasn’t handed the job because he is the freak at the carnival show. This very good, soft tossing pitcher, who happens to be 49 years old, is arguably the best starter on the club today. His pitching on April 17, when he got his first win as a Rockie, was excellent. His pitches were on the edge of the zone, with good movement, and nearly everything was hit softly. He is in the rotation because his stuff is very good, and the Rockies are fortunate to have him. Only when the Rockies have five starters who can pitch consistently better than Jamie Moyer should he be gone.
How would you answer these questions? Let us know in the comments below.
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