The Rockies closed the month by taking two of three from the new-look Dodgers and ensured that August would be the first winning month of the season. Surprisingly, the Rockies have played well without any real contribution from Carlos Gonzalez who has a triple slash line of .107/.242/.214 over the last 14 days. The relatively unknown “bunch of minor leaguers” (thanks, Mike Francesa), have performed well and could be a source of optimism in the midst of the 2012 disaster.This week, we discuss ifwe are buying what the Rockies are selling, if Dexter Fowler should be given a contract extension, and what September call-ups we are looking forward to seeing.
If the Rockies were a stock, would you currently buy or sell?
Brendan:Definitely not buy. The improved play of late has been fun to watch, but this team is not a worthy investment. The two stars (Tulo and CarGo) both have big warning signs: Tulo is an injury waiting to happen, and CarGo does not have the mental makeup to be the team leader. The stars set the tone for the team and it is hard to lead from the DL. The pitching has improved from “possibly the worst ever in MLB” to “bad” which has been nice, but it is still a subpar, albeit young, staff. The supposedly best part of the team is the young core, but their ceiling is a .500 ball club. Although consistent mediocrity would be a big step in the right direction for this franchise, striving to be average is not something that I would consider a strong buy.
Kevin: Absolutely buy. Everyone is down on the Rockies, and rightfully so. They have been an embarrassment this season, and the stock is about as low as it has ever been. But this team is much closer to being competitive than most people realize. First, the offense is very good. A healthy lineup next year will be one of the most productive in the league, and not just because of Coors Field; ballpark adjusted stats show that this team can hit. Second, the pitching is closer to being good than the stats show. If the Rockies can get a healthy Chacin and De La Rosa at the top of the rotation next year, which is well within the realm of possibility, then they only need two of the other pitchers to improve. Among Friedrich, Pomeranz, White, Nicasio, Sanchez, and Chatwood, it’s reasonable to hope that two will turn into decent starters for next year’s four-man rotation. Third, the four-man rotation is working and might even be a good idea. Reasons to not buy: (1) Tracy is still managing; (2) Helton and Cuddyer will play a lot; (3) the defense will probably still be terrible; and (4) there’s a good chance the pitching will still be terrible.
Ned:There is a third category: Hold. The young Rockies’ position players like Rutledge, Colvin and LeMahieu all are very promising. Blending the promising young players with the proven but still young talents of Tulo, Cargo and Dex is an exciting prospect. Pitching is an ongoing problem for the team, but has recently shown some improvement. However, unless and until ownership completes what we have speculated is the soft termination of Dan O’Dowd, the team still has its Captain Ahab at the helm of the ship steering the franchise erratically but relentlessly toward disaster. If DOD is gone, the Rockies are a buy. If O’Dowd remains at the helm, the team is more than a sell—in fact, we should short the stock. By the way, Mike Francesa exemplifies all that is wrong with talk radio with his shameless, extreme-voiced pandering to the ineducable, angry east coast fan.
Should the Rockies try to sign Dexter Fowler (no longer a Scott Boras client) to a multi-year contract?
Brendan:Yes, but not this offseason. Going back to the second half of 2011, Dex has looked like the player the Rockies thought that they had all along. However, he is arbitration eligible through 2015, so the Rockies have some time. Dex is on pace for career highs in nearly every single offensive category and his .308 average is currently 8th in the NL. Although I have been very happy to see Dex fulfill his potential, I do not think that it is a good idea to enter contract negotiations during what very well could turn out to be the high water mark of his career. There is nothing wrong with going to arbitration this year and then revisiting the contract extension next July. Waiting another half season would enable the Rockies to ensure that Dex can maintain his high level of play over multiple seasons and also provide more time to see how other players (namely, EY2 and Colvin) continue to develop.
Kevin:Look, he’s a top 10 offensive outfielder. He is an on-base machine. He has great speed. He has decent pop. His defense needs to improve (according to somewhat reliable defense metrics). Sure, he might be in the middle of a career year. But, he’s 26 and he only started hitting left-handed when he started playing minor league baseball. Dexter is a big part of this team going forward.If you want to see if he’s the real deal by waiting to lock him up until next year, fine. Just understand that the price will be higher after he has a successful 2013.
Ned:The answer depends on whether you consider Dex to be an important part of the Rockies nucleus for the next five to seven years. Dex has had a very nice year, but he still isn’t in the offensive league of either Tulo or Cargo. Nevertheless, Dex seems to have permanently corrected the holes in his swing, especially from the left side. Doesn’t Dex make you feel confident when he is at bat with men in scoring position? He has become a solid hitter who consistently takes very professional at bats. While EY and Colvin are both excellent Coors Field centerfielders, Dex is the best of the three. Therefore, the Rox should definitely try to lock-up Dex for the long term, especially now that he is no longer represented by Scott Boras.
Which potential September call-up do you want to see the most?
Brendan:Troy Tulowitzki. He may not “count” as a traditional September call-up, but we have already been watching a team full of traditional September guys all year. I am ready to finally see Tulo again and I am looking forward to watching a Tulo-Rutledge middle infield. Much has been made of how good these young hitters are, but I want to see how everyone responds (especially CarGo) to Tulo being in the lineup every day. The Rockies are a much better team when Tulo and CarGo are anchoring the lineup and I am excited to see how dynamic the offense can be. Sure, I am interested in seeing guys like Nolan Arenado (who is not even on the 40 man roster) and Tim Wheeler, but I will be tuning in to watch Tulo, not the kids.
Kevin:After winning MVP of last year’s Arizona Fall League MVP over Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado has had a decent season at AA Tulsa and has been called out as a bum. He is by far the most important minor league call-up, and hopefully he can turn it on in the majors. That being said, the guy I’m excited to see is Corey Dickerson. He started the year in Modesto and raked there. He was promoted to Tulsa, and he has hit better than Arenado there (granted, Dickerson is two years older than Arenado). Also, an important quasi-call-up is Jorge De La Rosa. It would be great for him to get a few starts under his belt this season in order to prepare him for leading this team to its first division title next season. Dare to dream.
Ned: Everyone wants to see the highly touted Nolan Arenado. Although the Tulsa third baseman has posted a mediocre .281 BA this season, he has a respectable .758 OPS. It would be good to see his defense in person, and also try to gauge his attitude which has been the subject of some negative whispers. In addition to Arenado, let’s take a good look at Tulsa catcher Lars Davis who has hit for average (.288) with some power (.390 SLG and .723 OPS). We could evaluate whether the Rockies have a young catcher in the system who can actually catch cleanly, frame pitches, block balls in the dirt, and still hit the ball. Rockies fans could then see first-hand that it is possible to be both a decent hitter and a good catcher. If Davis works out, the Rockies could send Rosario to Tulsa or Modesto until he learns how to be a baseball catcher.
Have a different take? Let us know in the comments below.
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