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Views from the Top Row

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Ha! So on May 25th I thought that maybe we were aiming a little low with Marcos Carvajal's projection as merely another bullpen arm and that we should consider him a potential front-line starter in the future, and it looks like Rockies management (scroll down to the "Eye Opener" part) has come around to my way of thinking. Anyway, it looks as though I may have to retool my Rockies Dynasty 2008 starting five again to include Carvajal.


Marcos Carvajal could be our second best starter in three years.

Oh, and in my gloating I forgot to mention that the long awaited Dan Micelli call-up finally happened. Micelli's an upgrade over Blaine Neal, and we should be able to stay in close games a little better now. Not that it will do that much good, our offense is so anemic that close games will be hard to come by until we get back home.

USA Today takes their obligatory once a season look at the Rockies, focusing in on Todd Helton's woes at the plate that might have turned around of late. It's an interesting perspective from Todd's POV of his getting out of the good habits that made him who he is. He'll come back around eventually, although maybe he needs the learning of this season as much as our rookies do.

It's interesting how many people are writing off our future -as we're building it now- including apparently, Marc Normandin at BtB. The fact is, there is just no way of knowing right now how succesful this current plan is since we're only seeing phase one. We try to make guesses by analyzing stats and looking for trends (Baseball Prospectus looked at Holliday, Hawpe, Barmes and Sullivan the other day, but neglected Atkins for some weird reason) even stretching our vision deep into the minors and draft to see what exactly will come of this vision. Apparently, many outside are seeing our perpetual despair. I think that's an easier call than predicting success, only one fourth of the teams in the NL make it to the playoffs any given year, and so unless that pinnacle is reached, then the pundits will be proven right. Plus, since year over year change is rarely as dramatic as the 1990 to 1991 Braves, seeing our stay in the basement continue is just a simple matter of playing the better odds.

So why do we here at the Row think differently? Bias. Plain bias that the Rockies are somehow better than that. Really, if you want an analysis though, I will tell you a couple of things that make the doom and gloom forecast problematic:

1. Weakness in the division. San Francisco's window has shut, the Giants know this now and they are in a quandary for 2006 and a few years beyond as they won't have a balanced enough team to compete. San Diego's window will be fairly brief, Jake Peavey will continue to be a stud, but the lineup is mostly in the decline phase already, our jump over the Padres will be pretty quick. Los Angeles and Arizona will be the strongest rivals for our team in the future, the Dodgers simply because they can afford to transition their team while they retain their competitiveness (as is happening now) and the Diamondbacks because they have had some incredible luck with the draft of position players the last three years or so, and getting some decent enough young pitching to back them in Webb and Halsey will make them a tricky team to beat two years from now. Still, this isn't the NL East we're talking about.

2. Nobody who follows the Rockies thinks this is the team we will use to win. We are well aware of the places where we need to upgrade for competitiveness and we have a program in place to get there. Honestly as far as position players go, we seem to be making fine progress. As far as pitchers? Slower progress, but we are making some positive movement. At any rate, stating the obvious about our current cast doesn't shed any sort of new light on anything. Come on people, see the forest, which leads to my next point.

3. Minor League Strength, the system is still feeding the machine. If pundits do look at our minors, they take a cursory glance at this year's performance and write our prospects off. Frankly, I really don't think our minor leagues can be judged by this year's output when the results are so out of sync with historical performance. It's a strange combination of off years for several of our top prospects and while it's true that some of these prospects will probably continue to disappoint us next year and beyond, expecting all of them to is just as foolish as expecting none of them to. Our future, in other words shouldn't be seen as more dim by a couple of months of shaky performance. One thing I can say is that the Rockies need to seriously evaluate their minor league offseason training and conditioning program. When so many players have their seasons started late by hamstring pulls, groin strains, mechanical issues, it's a sign of problems endemic in the system rather than in individual players and its hampering the development and the acceleration to a competitive squad in Denver.

4. Finally, get off the Coors Field kick. Who cares? Does anybody really think that if any of our past thirteen franchises was moved to LA that they would place better in the final standings? This is one of the most ridiculous things I see. Constantly, people look at our team and it's record and they say: "well they need to learn how to win on the road," and then they look at Rockies players' stats and all the sudden are saying "the solution for playing at Coors is...". It drives me batty. Tonight I want the solution for playing at Minute Maid. Yesterday, the solution for playing at Camden against the Orioles would have been nice. Forget psychological mumbo jumbo, when our pitchers throw strikes like Franchise did yesterday, why should we worry when we know that in a year or two we'll have the players to back him up? I don't think we have to. The future's still bright friends, discouragement isn't an option.