I'm going to respond to Tracy Ringolsby's column in the Rocky Mountain News as a sign of respect because really I like Ringolsby and Etkin the most out of the Denver baseball media, they remind me of the cattle trail cook characters in old Western movies who are both filled with hokey wisdom that's valuable and hokey wisdom that's not so valuable. Most of Ringolsby's quarterly report falls into the valuable category, but I'd take exception to two things.
First he doesn't put enough of the onus of the Rockies poor start on the poor performance of our "veteran" outfielders. Wilson we've covered, Holliday is touched on frequently but our "big" free agent signing of the off-season, Dustan Mohr, also needs to shoulder some of the responsibility. Granted, Mohr wasn't the Rockies' first choice, as they tried half heartedly to lure David Dellucci from the Rangers but wouldn't go to two plus seasons with the contract we offered. Dellucci ended up signing with the Rangers for two years at $1.8 million or the exact same per year value of what we wound up giving Mohr for one year. Would we rather have a Dellucci/Holliday split in left and Hawpe manning right field alone right now? You bet.
Second, as far as Jason Jennings, I kind of touched on this in my Saturday pregame, but let's just look at things from a straight up gut level as they stand at the moment.
First, let's look at the rotation as it stands right now:
In a month it will look a little different:
About the only thing certain is the first initial, although it's assumed that the odd man out will either be Jamey Wright or Joe Kennedy (probably Wright). Now, look at that rotation and tell me that it could be the rotation of a team that makes it to the playoffs. Maybe if we had a Boston or St. Louis lineup backing it up, it's conceivable, but we don't so forget about it. I leave Aaron Cook floating in the middle because to be truthful, we just don't know how he'll come back. We want to assume he'll return quickly to the form he left in but that's just because we're a fangirl (apparently a royal fangirl with the first person plural pronouns) and not based on any real knowledge of the stuff. What if he doesn't?
Now, for our rotation in some future place of contention, based solely on what we have now in the system:
- Ubaldo Jiminez? Juan Morillo?
- Jennings? Kennedy? Player X?
Anyway you slice it therefore, our rotation depth is extremely thin, our future isn't as secure as we would like it to be, and the only way to make it more secure is to build enough quality depth in the system so that when the inevitable something goes wrong, we always have a next best option waiting. If we stack our staff with enough young number twos or threes, we won't need a number one. How do we get those twos or threes if they're not already waiting in the system? The short answer is we trade with contending teams that have them to spare. Pitching rich systems like Atlanta, the Cubs or Dodgers for instance that have needs that maybe we can meet, does a Jason Jennings trade meet those team's needs? Maybe not, but if it does, I'm just suggesting we take a long hard look at what they have to offer before dismissing it out of hand.
Which brings me to my last point, what exactly is it that we're still waiting for Jason Jennings to become that he hasn't already shown he is? We know he's a consistent twelve plus game winner that has slow starts and heats up as the season goes on. We know that as other pitchers start wearing down he gets stronger and we know that his sinker can be devastating at times or his lack of it can render us devastated. Ringolsby takes a gloomy approach to the trade, lamenting that if Jennings becomes good we'll be sorry, but the only reason that will be true is if we fail to get anything valuable offered in return (everybody blasted the Marlins trade that sent Derrek Lee to Chicago as a fire sale, but Dontrelle Willis turned out all right [editor's note, Willis was actually part of the Matt Clement to the Cubs deal as pointed out in the comments- thnx to Mark D] and all it took was Victor Zambrano to pry Scott Kazmir from the Mets last year) in which case, the answer is simple: don't trade him. Just don't turn down getting a brighter hope for the future because we're still waiting for the lesser hope we have to materialize.