Thursday Rockpile: Atkins on a clock.

"He is one of the better corner bats in the major leagues," O'Dowd said. "He is still young and hasn't reached his ceiling. We see him getting better."

 From a November 2007 Tracy Ringolsby article

Garrett Atkins is running out of time to show a turn around. He's 37 at bats short of the 150 mark, a "key threshold" according to Clint Hurdle in the linked Troy Renck article, but there's not much indication given about what happens when that threshold is crossed without significant change taking place. With Ian Stewart breaking out of his own batting slumber, the Rockies do appear to have a semi-productive alternative path to take once again.

The major issue now becomes one of capitalization. Without a rebound from Garrett, it's hard to fathom how the Rockies will receive much of value in a return trade, and that situation doesn't get better when he's on the bench. By holding onto Atkins for too long, the Rockies front office has seemingly put itself in a lose-lose situation.

Of course, in the winter, what Rockies fan would have accepted an Atkins trade for yet another fifth starter caliber pitcher and nothing else, particularly in the wake of the disappointment many felt in the return for Matt Holliday? Much as we like to assume that the grass is always greener in the Metrodome, we also don't realize that it's not really grass. If the Rockies were able to trade Atkins to the Twins or another team for another #5, and said #5 doesn't outperform Jason Hammel/Franklin Morales, only does what a #5 does and matches them, than the gamble to hold Atkins makes more sense.

The Rockies didn't see the same fire sale backlash in their early season ticket sales and they have only lost the value Atkins has subtracted with his play on the field thus far. Was avoiding the box office backlash worth the one extra "L" Atkins has provided the team so far? It might be that it actually was. It's an interesting question, though. It's turning out that he best time to deal Atkins would have been just after Rocktober, a period in which the front office sat on its hands. Since that time he's batted .271/.319/.431 with an OPS+ of 89.

***

The Astros 24 hits last night were the most by an NL team this season and also the most given up by the Rockies in the post-humidor era. More tidbits on the game are given by Tracy Ringolsby, including the continuing saga of Ian Stewart's reverse platoon split, with his seventh HR off of an LHP last night. Stewart could have a tough test of that today if he's in the lineup against a very left-handed effective Wandy Rodriguez. Glendon Rusch's innings eating swing work in the blowout last night was what he's employed by the team to do, now the question will be whether it pays off over the next two weeks, Jack Etkin writes.

Todd Helton confirms what I suspected, his early regular season struggles probably had a lot more to do with the cold, wet weather than an age related slide. The Denver Post's notes column has quotes from Todd and Dan O'Dowd on the first baseman, O'Dowd also says that there has been no trade interest in Manny Corpas and the article also has some injury updates already touched on in an Etkin story linked in yesterday's Rockpile.

Jim Armstrong writes about how the game is drifting back toward a speed and defense era, but not too quickly. Big mashing second basemen like Stewart show that we aren't going to see a return of Whiteyball just yet.

 

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