The New York Times takes a look at the Rockies "Four-Man Rotation by Committee" and by extension the unhealthy state of the franchise in 2012. The results after 22 games of the set-up are obviously still mixed, but there does seem to be a little traction of late. Meanwhile, back at home, the Rockies, after nearly 20 years in existence, seem to be realizing that maybe it's a good idea to have players train at altitude during the off season to prepare for the slow recovery times they'll encounter during the season. Well, by players, they've maybe figured it out for the pitchers, as they still haven't applied this to their reverse Coors effect suffering position players.
That last link has all the latest trade gossip from Troy Renck, which is still mostly the same as it's been the last couple of weeks with just a minor tweak or two. Jeremy Guthrie, Marco Scutaro and Ramon Hernandez are all readily available, with Hernandez still being the closest to having an actual deal in place. The possibility of Rafael Betancourt becoming available is also brought up as Renck suggests the Rockies recent promotions of Coty Woods, Will Harris and Cory Riordan to the Sky Sox indicate that the organization may be prepping for some major league bullpen shuffling. Given that Matt Reynolds' name has also been involved with the Hernandez to the Mets rumors, it could just be his eventual replacement that's going to come from that group.
Speaking of the bullpen, Mike Ekstrom made his Rockies debut last night and pitched well. Players like Ekstrom are going to tend to get overlooked by blogs like this one as a pitcher of limited value that didn't come through the system. We'll tend to look at original Rockies drafted or signed players of the exact same quality in more positive terms than journeymen like Ekstrom, and it sometimes leads us to missing answers that may be right in front of our faces. If Ekstrom does reinforce a bullpen that's showing signs of fatigue, it will be a good thing.
I rarely link Woody Paige columns, just because they're inane and often misleading in the smarmy politician sense, and this one does have its share of that, particularly his challenging the validity of the Rockies current four-man rotation on the basis of pitcher wins is sort of like evaluating a cat on its ability to do dog tricks. The system as it's set up will clearly and obviously lead to fewer W's for starting pitchers, even if it was working perfectly according to plan (more relievers would get the wins.) That said, the first three points of this following paragraph are somewhat salient if true:
The problems with this invention: (a) the Rockies' starting pitchers don't like it; (b) the manager and the dual pitching coaches don't like it; (c) pitchers on other teams don't like it and will never agree to join the Rockies; (d) most everybody else in or out of baseball laughs at it.
The last point is more or less meaningless, as if I knew the Rockies would win more games by wearing silly hats, I would gladly support the silly hat wearing over the losing we've grown accustomed to. The first three points, and particularly the first two, however, are an issue. The third one not so much because the Rockies weren't attracting non-desperate free agent pitchers to begin with, so nothing really has changed there except for giving their agents another out without making their clients sound like altitude chickens. However, the coaches and manager need to be on board to sell the four-man vision to the pitchers already in the system, and in the sense that everybody in a job has to have confidence in the work they do, the pitchers already in the system need to believe it's going to work, and ultimately work out for them professionally before it actually will.
The rest of Paige's argument drifts back into armchair punditry and doesn't actually present any evidence that the four man rotation will fail outside of "I'm dumb, but threw some correct opinions that stuck on a wall once," but you can go ahead and read it to see for yourself, if you want to.
One positive aspect of O'Dowd's pitch limit plan is that it will almost certainly retain young pitcher trade value for the Rockies to an extent we haven't seen, as opposing GM's will see the lack of wear and tear on the arms here as a desirable thing and not be so quick to question the health of available pitchers on the Rockies trade block.