Juan Nicasio continues an amazing recovery from a broken neck, but beyond the feel good aspects ---the heart of a lion competitor stories and what have you--- I think it often gets lost about the impact Nicasio brings on the mound, and the importance he'll have for the Rockies chances at a competitive season. For the Rockies to compete, the rotation needs to have four starters capable of keeping the mostly weak NL West lineups in check, and allow the Rockies own solid lineup to do what damage it can against their rotations. I think it often gets assumed that the Rockies need a Tim Lincecum or Clayton Kershaw to compete, when all that's really needed are pitchers that can outpitch the opposition's other four.
Enter Juan Nicasio, who with just over 70 innings could represent the Rockies third most proven MLB starter behind Jhoulys Chacin and Jeremy Guthrie (of course, if Jamie Moyer wins a spot, he'll have enough MLB experience to eclipse Nicasio's lifespan, Moyer debuted with the Cubs two months before Nicasio was born.) Nicasio came out of nowhere last season to post a fine rookie year, a 4.14 ERA, a 3.65 FIP and 7.28 K/9 before Ian Desmond's line drive ended his season.
That's not to say Nicasio is without his flaws. 19 (or about one third of his season total of 58) of Nicasio's K's came in two starts against one team. His K/9 against non-Padres is just under six, which would drop him from a solid mid-rotation level to a bottom of the rotation starter on the fringe of losing his job when other teams start to figure him out. That said, if his development isn't stalled by the injury, and at this point it seems unlikely to be, Nicasio has the stuff to develop into one of the league's more solid sleepers for 2012.
Woody Paige argues against the Rockies handshake agreement with Jim Tracy, saying that instead the club should have locked their skipper into a three year deal in order to.., I don't know.., keep all those Jim Tracy poacher clubs from stealing him away from us or something... You know, all those teams knocking down the Rockies door licking their chops for a chance to hire Tracy... Yep... sure are a lot of Jim Tracy fans out there among general managers... Any minute now that phone's going to be ringing off the hook with three year offers...
Jorge De La Rosa also would help the Rockies a lot to make up at the bottom of the rotation what they lack at the top. In a Spanish report, JDLR continues to say that he wants to be back for a minor league rehab assignment by May, however the Rockies continue to look at a June start date for the left hander.