Ownership and the front office believe it has put together a team that should be competitive, should contend. That's debatable, particularly when one closely examines the pitching.
I'm focusing on this part, though Renck's article is mostly about the decisions Clint Hurdle has to make in the lineup and bullpen to win and thereby keep his job, but I do want to closely examine the pitching and see where the Rockies really are right now.
I'm just going to use two numbers, the innings pitched by each starter and the value in runs over a replacement each starter has given as a starter. All of this is from FanGraphs. Rather than hashing out the true pitching heirarchies of each team, I'm just going to order these pitchers chronologically.
Aaron Cook 25.1 IP, -2.6 RAR
Hiroki Kuroda 5.2 IP, 1.5 RAR
Brandon Webb 4 IP, -2.1 RAR
Jake Peavy 39.1 IP, 6.9 RAR
Tim Lincecum 31.1 IP, 12.0 RAR
The Giants and Padres are getting the most out of their opening day starters, the Rockies are trailing the pack thanks to Cook's underperformance. Injuries to Kuroda and Webb will give Aaron the opportunity to redeem himself somewhat if he turns it around.
Ubaldo Jimenez 26 IP, 5.3 RAR
Randy Wolf 36.2 IP, 7.5 RAR
Dan Haren 43 IP, 14.7 RAR
Chris Young 33.2 IP, 6.4 RAR
Randy Johnson 26 IP, 2.0 RAR
Jimenez ranks fourth in the division in value given to the team, but has been showing some positives lately. The Rockies have no chance if he and Cook don't rebound.
Franklin Morales 8 IP, -0.1 RAR
Chad Billingsley 33.2 IP, 10.6 RAR
Doug Davis 34 IP, 4.6 RAR
Walter Silva 9.2 IP, -2.6 RAR
Matt Cain 32 IP, 1.4 RAR
I didn't get the impression that Morales was that bad in his brief appearances, but apparently he was merely replacement level. That's probably to be expected when you put your #5 guy in the #3 slot, though. The Dodgers, in the meantime, put their #1 in the #3 slot and Billingsley has thrived. Cain's been a relative disappointment thus far.
Jason Marquis 35.1 IP, 6.0 RAR
Clayton Kershaw 28 IP, 3.3 RAR
Jon Garland 35 IP, 3.5 RAR
Kevin Correia 21 IP, 0.3 RAR
Barry Zito 22.1 IP, 2.0 RAR
Tracy Ringolsby writes more about Marquis here, it's probably come as a surprise to many that the Rockies have the best in the division in this slot.
Jorge De La Rosa 22.2 IP, 5.2 RAR
James McDonald 13.1 IP, -3.5 RAR
Yusmeiro Petit 13.2 IP, 0.3 RAR
Shawn Hill 12 IP, 1.3 RAR
Jonathan Sanchez 16.1 IP, 1.0 RAR
Another slot where the Rockies lead the rest of the division, JDLR's only issue is lack of depth to his starts, but as you can tell, he's got the most IP of any fifth starter in the division.
Jason Hammel 3 IP, -0.9 RAR
Eric Stults 18 IP, 2.5 RAR
Max Scherzer 20.2 IP, 5.5 RAR
Josh Geer 13 IP, 0.2 RAR
Scherzer was/is meant to be Arizona's fifth starter, but Webb's injury pushed Petit into service before Max. A truer comparison would have us evaluate Scherzer with JDLR and Petit with Hammel and this group.
The total value of the NL West teams' starters in reverse order:
Rockies 13.0 RAR
Padres 13.4 RAR
Giants 18.5 RAR
Dodgers 21.8 RAR
Diamondbacks 26.6 RAR
If there is any positive to take from this, it's actually somewhat good news that almost all of the Rockies starting pitching production to date has come from the bottom of the rotation. Jimenez and Cook are likely to turn around and provide value unless they're hiding injuries.
I'll look at the bullpen later in the week, but the assertion that the Rockies pitching is not contention worthy seems true for now (being worse than the Padres? Eww) but with that caveat that it appears we haven't seen what it's capable of when the top of the rotation is clicking.
What's most surprising to me is how much Joe Torre has been able to squeeze out of his starters to date. Randy Wolf needs to come back down to earth for the rest of the division to have a shot, I think.
Ryan Spilborghs credits a more aggressive approach for his big day at the plate yesterday.
Patrick Saunders has a nice write-up about the above the board approach Rolando Fernandez and the Rockies take in their Latin scouting and development.