If the Rockies had just made the trade their division mates Arizona just did last night, a 9 player 3 team deal, I would be very upset. In other words, I believe that Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks did us a solid by trading away one of the best pitching prospects in baseball (and two relievers!) for a defense-only shortstop, a LOOGY, and a failed first base prospect.
If you put any stock in the opinion of prospect guru Jon Sickels, the Diamondbacks will receive a 22 year-old grade C+ prospect in Didi Gregorius (ranked 7th in Cincy's system entering 2012) and give up a 21 year-old grade A pitching prospect already at the big league level in Trevor Bauer, the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft and their top prospect entering 2012. For some perspective, the player the Rockies got in exchange for Matt Reynolds, Ryan Wheeler, was a C+ prospect too. Gregorius is a better version of Cristhian Adames. Here's some more about Gregorius if you want to know your foe a little better.
What makes this even more confusing for our neighbors to the Southwest is that the Diamondbacks already acquired a defense-only shortstop this offseason in Cliff Pennington in a trade where Arizona gave up the more talented player in CF Chris Young. And Pennington is pretty much Gregorius' upside!
Meanwhile AZ Snakepit has a nice series of articles on the trade...their initial analysis, take on what they gave up, and finally who they got in return. Keith Law of ESPN Insider doesn't like the deal for Arizona.
As far as this affects the Rockies -- the Diamondbacks gave up a high-ceiling pitching prospect already at the big league level in a move that leaves them less talented than they were before. I don't believe that the Rockies will be contenders because of this move, but any weakening of division foes will help over the next few seasons.
Wilin Rosario's Defense
If you only read one Rockies link today, make it Thomas Harding's article on Wilin Rosario's defense. Here's the money quote:
Many issues arose. Rosario was stiff, and pitches he blocked ricocheted away. Teams noticed that he would narrow his feet when setting up for a fastball and widen dramatically for a breaking pitch.
That's a BIG deal, a tell that would render the offerings of any pitcher less effective...but particularly a young pitching staff that struggled with command. Simply knowing if heat or a breaking ball was coming makes a hitter's job much easier. If Rosario can improve on that this offseason, it could be a large driver of increased pitcher effectiveness in 2013. I certainly hope so.
CAIRO projections are out for the 2013 season and have the Rockies projected last in the NL West with a 71-91 record. Colorado has both the highest runs scored and runs allowed projection in the NL. At least they project better than the Marlins (69 wins), Twins (65), and Astros (60).
Finally, here's two follow-up articles on the Rays-Royals trade, one of which (by Jon Sickels) compares Dayton Moore to Civil War general George McClellan and the other from Baseball Prospectus is about the Royals' impatience -- trying to force open a window of contention where none exists.