Sunday Rockpile: Jorge De La Rosa may be real key to Rockies season?

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa #29 of the Colorado Rockies poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 28, 2012 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In three separate articles in the Denver Post today, one on the Rockies collection of graybeards, one more particularly on old-timer Jamie Moyer, and finally one on young gun Drew Pomeranz winning 15 games, the possible impact of a healthy De La Rosa is brought up as a specter that might haunt what looks to be a .500-ish team to the playoffs. If you read national baseball preview articles, the place pundits always draw pause in predicting more misery for Colorado is the starting rotation. So call JDLR the hoped for friendly ghost for the Rockies of 2012.

The underlying theme in all of the criticism is that there needs to be some sort of stable pitching performance from Rockies starters for the team to be competitive. The underlying implication of looking for the return of JDLR or hoping for big things from Pomeranz is that there is little to zero faith by the mainstream in Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Jeremy Guthrie, and of course, Moyer, providing the Rockies enough value to win a division. Personally, I think this means that Nicasio and Chacin are getting severely underrated in their skill level by the media. There's no top of the rotation stud to rival Clayton Kershaw or Tim Lincecum, and so the quality of a bunch of guys that are at the level Chacin, Nicasio, or Pomeranz (currently) gets lost. So while the Rockies may struggle in long series against NL East opponents, against virtually every other team in the league, they should match up fairly well. Opposing rotations will have to be very deep to keep up in the middle and back end with the Rockies in 2012.

I think this team can get to the expanded playoffs this year with only a couple of decent breaks, but I don't think it's built to go very deep in the playoffs. The Rockies may have the obscure distinction of being the league's first wildcard (and first wildcard playoff loser) and being the first second wildcard (and first second wildcard loser.)

Stan Kasten all but says that the new Dodgers ownership group will be big players in the free agent market, this on top of the massive outlays needed to make the $2 billion team, revenue worthy of its sale price. Kasten acknowledges the team is only mediocre right now, but says that they will spend the season figuring out what needs to be done to change that.

Rockiesroster.com keeps all of the affiliate rosters up to date. Infielder and 15th rounder Tim Smalling was the only 2011 draftee to crack Modesto's roster. 2011 breakouts Josh Rutledge and Chad Bettis were the two 2010 drafted players promoted that far a year ago, so precedence suggests that we should keep a bit of an eye on Smalling, although frankly I'm more excited about Asheville's Story/Mendes/Featherston infield. The Rockies really seemed to get a lot of quality middle help in last season's draft. Meanwhile, Delta Cleary Jr.'s backward step to Asheville can't be considered a positive at all for that once hyped sleeper prospect.

For as long as Jamie Moyer's with the Rockies, you can expect various age related MLB records to fall. One that probably won't would be the largest age gap between opposing starting pitchers, as wondered by 22 year old Madison Bumgarner, who figures to square off against Moyer April 9. The 27 year difference between the two is big, but still not quite as large as Satchel Paige vs. Bill Monbouquette.

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