The second month of the season has come to a close and, thanks to a recent hot streak, the Rockies closed out May at 21-29. This week’s highlights included Dex’s incredible 7 for 9 performance on Monday and CarGo’s 3 bombs on Wednesday. Also, Jamie Moyer’s time with the Rockies came to a close, which opens up the door for a new face in the rotation. This week, we discuss who we expect to take over Moyer’s spot, where the playing time goes while Tulo is on the DL, and what to do with Helton.
With Jamie Moyer gone (and Josh Outman scheduled to take his spot today), who is the best candidate(s) to join the starting rotation going forward?
Brendan: Jorge De La Rosa is the easy answer, but the Rockies will probably take it slow with DLR and he won’t be an option for another month or two. If not DLR, does it even matter? Outman? Pomeranz? Chatwood? Moscoso? Torres? Take your pick, they all have their own problems and I expect to see them all get a shot sooner or later. I want it to be Pomeranz, but he is still struggling to get deep into games and is not ready to be recalled. Even though Outman is being given the first chance, but I think that Torres will settle into that starting role. In 7 starts for the Sky Sox, Torres is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a tidy 1.18 WHIP. The key for the entire staff, not just the replacement, is to consistently produce quality starts (6+ innings pitched and no more than 3 runs), something the Rockies have only done 15 times all year (which is dead last: MLB average is 27).
Kevin: The level of incompetence in the Rockies’ pitching staff is staggering. Now that the Moyer Joke has run its course, it’s time to find another jester. Outman looks like “the best candidate” to replace the Crafty Lefty, which should make Rockies fans cringe. Pomeranz needs to stay in AAA while he works on his mechanics and comes to grips with the fact that his peak will be no higher than a number 3 starter. Chacin needs to continue resting his ailing shoulder and hopefully avoid going the way of Manny Corpas by not repeating Manny’s mistake of polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every afternoon. Maybe the Rockies should kick the tires on Brent Mayne to see if he has anything left in the tank.
Ned: The choice of 26 year old leftie Josh Outman to take Jamie Moyer’s spot in the rotation is telling—it tells us that Outman is the best the Rockies have available today; it tells us that Pomeranz and Chacin are not ready; it tells us the Rockies don’t like either Rogers or Torres as a starter; and it tells us that Chatwood is still getting blasted by AAA hitters. The Rockies already tried Moscoso twice this year as an emergency starter with disastrous results. Outman had 9 starts and 4 relief appearances for Oakland last year where his results were mediocre—58.1 innings pitched, 3.70 era, 35 strike outs,23 walks, and a WHIP of 1.46. An oblique strain put Outman on the 15 day DL in April after he made the Colorado roster out of spring training. Tracy said late Wednesday that the Rox will need to piggy-back Outman (he has a 50 pitch limit), and he will not last more than 3-4 innings with Torres getting the long-relief duty. While he is clearly not the savior of the rotation, the best news for Rockies’ fans is that Outman got the call–not Moscoso.
Who deserves to receive more playing time at second base while Marco Scutaro fills in at shortstop for the injured Troy Tulowitzki?
Brendan: DJ LeMahieu. Or EY2. Or even Herrera (when he is off the DL). Just not Chris Nelson. Of course, Nelson was activated off the DL yesterday to replace Tulo and now the playing time is sure to get yanked around with Nelson being given every chance to fail. Again. The Rockies are convinced that EY2 cannot play in the infield, and at this point he is not worth the added liability for the embarrassing defense. LeMahieu is just 24 and is a big body (6’4”, 205lbs) who makes solid contact, but seems to be a gap to gap hitter without the pop I expect from someone his size. Regardless, he is an intriguing prospect and getting a look at him for a couple of weeks sounds like a much better option than watching Nelson flail away at the plate with the occasional single.
Kevin: Anybody but Herrera, who everyone (except the omniscient Jim Tracy) knows is no better than a AAAA player. Fortunately, Herrera is on the DL so Tracy’s hand is forced away from him. This club desperately needs a long-term solution at second base, and this is an opportunity to give time to either LeMahieu, Chris Nelson, or EY. LeMahieu and Nelson have already logged some pretty mediocre MLB time, but both have shown promise in the minors. Ideally someone would force himself into the lineup, but until then, I’d prefer to see EY get the majority of the time. EY might be a butcher at 2B, and if he is, then move on to the next candidate. Whatever happens, stop playing Herrera.
Ned: We are all assuming that Scutaro will move to short in Tulo’s absence, leaving a vacancy at second base. The Rockies have put Chris Nelson and Jonathan Herrera at second several times this year to spell Scutaro, but Herrera is on the DL. Nelson was activated yesterday from the DL. Chris has done a fine job defensively at second, and has done a little hitting for the club. I would like to see DJ LeMahieu receive quality time at second since we already know what Nelson can do. LeMahieu came with Colvin in the Stewart/Weathers heist (a great example of how to get something for nothing). DJ was having an exceptional year in Colorado Springs prior to his call-up. Based on his limited time with the Rockies, LeMahieu looks to be a solid defensive player at second. I expect LeMahieu to share time with Nelson, with Tracy going with whoever has the hotter bat.
What is the best role for Todd Helton for the remainder of the year?
Brendan: Helton has started almost 40 games for the Rockies this year and is on pace to start about 125 games total. That is too many for a plodding corner infielder hitting .231 with 5 homeruns and a history of back problems. His role in the coming years is similar to Jason Giambi’s: veteran bench player to mentor the young guys and provide some pop off the bench in late game situations/spot starts. The transition to a supporting role needs to begin now. He should start about half the remaining games with Colvin and Cuddyer taking most of the available starts and an occasional appearance by Giambi. Todd is the best Rockie ever and he has had a career worthy of hall of fame consideration, but he is no longer able to positively impact the club as an everyday player.
Kevin: Todd needs to start taking the Toddfather nickname more seriously. He needs to take more days off to give time for Pacheco and/or Colvin to fill in at first. He needs to embrace his role as the patriarch of first base and help groom his heir, whether he accomplishes that by simply giving young guys playing time or actually instructing them on the finer nuances of first base. More time off for Todd would be good for everyone: Todd can get the rest he needs to ride (rather than stumble) off into the sunset, and young guys can get the experience they need to help fill the void once Todd is gone for good.
Ned: I really, really hope I am wrong in my belief that Todd Helton is reaching the end of his career as a baseball player. Todd seems to have lost his eye, and perhaps his bat speed as well. We have never seen Todd Helton take so many called third strikes right down the middle. This truly great player is today not the Todd Helton of even last year. When Mike Schmidt decided he couldn’t perform up to his standards, he abruptly hung-up his cleats. I fear that Helton may soon do the same. But, let’s hope that Todd is only in a slump from which he will soon emerge. Very recently, he has shown signs of life. His role for the remainder of the year will depend on whether he recovers at the plate. If he does not improve, look for Todd to receive an inordinate number of “rest” days and be spelled by the combination of Colvin, Cuddyer and Giambi.
Have a different take? Let us know in the comments below.
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