Byung Hyun Kim
Aaron Cook (minor league injury rehab)
Jason Young (AAA)
Analysis: Truth be told, this is a tangle the Rockies don't want to be in. Let's look at each of these pitchers individually:
Francis: Solid starter, only lacks experience.
Jennings: Inconsistent, plagued throughout his career with long stretches where he loses control and walks too many batters, but has a devastating sinker that works well in Coors Field or anywhere when he's on.
Kennedy: has had one good year, but has been disappointing otherwise.
Wright: Has had a solid year (last half of 2004, first half of 2005) now where he's been good, too, but this is out of place as far as his career goes. Still, recent performance trumps history, so whereas at the start of the season he was on the outs, he now seems more valuable. Particularly since no other team seems to be aware of what a bargain he is.
Chacon: Great stuff, but he's proving very fragile and also suffers bouts of inconsistency, although not as frequently as JJ.
Kim: Tonight's starter is not a clubhouse favorite anywhere, as this article attests in Clint Hurdle's statements about putting his gut feelings about releasing Kim aside. At any rate, he has proven to be at least serviceable as a sixth starter and he can still prove valuable to the team for a little while longer yet.
Cook: According to that same article, Cook is still at least five rehab starts from returning, meaning the end of July, which happens to coincide nicely with the trade deadline for some reason. Cook and Francis could make the start of a top rotation if they live up to their potential.
Prescription: This is where it gets tricky. In my book, the only for sure keepers are Cook and Franchise. Right now, the Rockies are suffering anytime Joe Kennedy starts, they have pretty good hope when Francis or Wright start, but we have to hold our breath with Jennings and Kim, hoping that the good versions show up and not the bad. Chac was very good until he went down, but he always seems to be going down and what's more, because he lacks efficiency, he doesn't pitch very deep into games either. Apparently at least one, and an outside possibility two of these starters are gone at the deadline, Kennedy almost for sure, and maybe either Chacon or Jennings besides. I doubt Wright is going because nobody seems interested when they should be. Cook will slide back into the rotation at that point and for the rest of the year it will look like: Francis, Cook, Wright, Chacon and Jennings with Acevedo spot starting and Young available in case of disaster. If JJ or Chac are dealt, Kim hangs on for the rest of the year as well.
But what of 2006? How do we integrate U-ball by July? At that point it looks like the rotation will be Francis, Cook, Chac or JJ, Jiminez and if Wright continues to pitch well, I see no reason why he shouldn't be there. Marcos Carvajal will be back in the minors being converted to a starter and might be available also by the end of that season, leaving our rotation looking very nice heading into 2007. So do we really need a top AAA starter in a trade this year? It never hurts, as pitching prospects are as fickle as the weather, and what's more, the Rockies can't rely on a traditional model of a five person staff and having the extra arms in the minors is a major benefit. Also, by starting the turnover practice now, the Rockies will be able to save money on future arbitration and free agency salaries of mid-level pitchers like Jennings (or lower level pitchers like Kennedy) so they can spend it later on top-level pitchers like Francis.