Sunday Rockpile: The pitching stinks...

CDC agents place Coors Field under quarantine lockdown to investigate reports of a plague emanating from the mound.

...you know, just in case you didn't notice.

The 2012 Rockies pitching problem, well documented. Pretty glaringly obvious.

Possible causes:

Trading Ubaldo Jimenez? Clearly no. If anything, Drew Pomeranz and Alex White are two of the team's best hopes for curing the issue. Jimenez would not be.

Trading Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom? Quite likely a contributing factor, yes. The Rockies sold low on Hammel, and brought in a pitcher that hasn't used his supposed veteraniness advantage or professional innings eating abilities to calm this rotation at all, and Lindstrom is certainly missed in the bullpen.

Not spending enough on arms during free agency? Yes and no, but mostly no. This is still a lot more complicated for Colorado than a lot of fans realize. The pitchers that would be the most clear helps to the staff weren't going to come here, and those pitchers that would have been legitimately open to a Rockies gig are a lot less predictable. Having Kevin Millwood, who has a 5.34 ERA in pitcher friendly Seattle, for instance, wouldn't be much if any of an upgrade on the current lot.

Not trading enough young prospects to get better pitchers? No. The Rockies didn't have the depth of prospects that Arizona, Washington or Cincinnati did to afford such a move. Let's hope they do next winter.

Not drafting well enough to have better pitchers/prospects in the pipeline? Yes, this is definitely a contributing factor. The last legitimate MLB starting pitcher (more than 30 career starts, or one season's worth) the Rockies drafted was Jeff Francis, and that happened 10 years ago. They've had very limited success with bullpen development from draftees as well.

Too many injuries? No. The Rockies haven't had more than their fair share in this department.

Take note that if the biggest two factors to the 2012 team's current pitching problems are the Jeremy Guthrie trade and a failure to draft MLB quality starters, that puts the blame squarely in the GM's office, albeit in the case of the Hammel trade, one I don't think many saw coming. That seemed like a loser of a trade at the time, but not the disaster for the team that it has become. Still, so far 2012 has highlighted Dan O'Dowd's weaknesses as a GM more than his strengths.

Possible prescriptions:

With a couple of pitchers, wait it out with what we have. A few pitchers, including Guthrie, are clearly under-performing to a degree that there's a good chance it will get at least a bit better going forward. Drew Pomeranz clearly has immense potential he needs to grow into.

Get healthy. Jorge De La Rosa, we need you. And actually Josh Outman, we need you too.

Fix Jhoulys Chacin.

Tyler Chatwood and/or Alex White. You can probably put in Edwar Cabrera's name into this hat too, or if you're into NPL lottery tickets, even maybe Carlos Torres as the Rockies version of 2011 Ryan Vogelsong. But more than counting on Jamie Moyer to save the rotation as some would suggest, any significant change for the Rockies pitching will have to come from the minor league ranks where the Rockies actually have pitchers with stuff to be successful in the MLB. This doesn't mean we have to call up these guys right now (Torres already is) or that they're ready for the majors, I'm just saying that the Rockies best hope for salvaging 2012 and making a run at the end remains in having one young starter besides Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio develop into an MLB asset.

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