People who read this blog regularly know I'm a pretty big homer when it comes to all things Rockies related and I'd argue vociferously on their behalf. I love our chances for next season and I'm an eternal optimist. However, I think I need to address a misperception among my fellow Rockies fans in regards to the starting rotation. Often I've heard it mentioned that our rotation has the best first three starters. This is not true. At least it hasn't yet been true -not in 2006, not ever- but I guess that there's always next year. Anyway, back to this past season: I'm going to just do a simple tabulation of each NL West team's front three using The Hardball Times pitching runs created metric:
- San Diego (Peavy, Young, Hensley) 281
- San Francisco (Schmidt, Cain, Morris) 257
- Los Angeles (Penny, Lowe, Maddux) 255
- Colorado (Jennings, Cook, Francis) 253
- Arizona (Webb, Batista, Vargas) 253
So, there you see it, we wound up the season actually tied with Arizona for the least effective top of the rotation (albeit Los Angeles only had Maddux for 12 starts and the hodgepodge they had before he arrived probably would have sunk them lower) in the division. Does this mean we need to panic and go out dumping tons of money Mike Mussina or Barry Zito's way? Well, if we have the cash... no, just kidding, obviously we don't and I doubt this approach would be a wise move anyway. Let's hope Francis continues his progression next year and that Cook regains some of his lost swagger which should make us alright here, but in the interest of frugality look to elevating the performance from the last two slots:
- Arizona (Cruz, Gonzalez, dos Hernandez's) 120
- San Diego (Williams, Park) 106
- San Francisco (Lowry, Wright) 104
- Los Angeles (Billingsley, Seo, Hendrickson) 100
- Colorado (Kim, Fogg) 98
Whoever in the preseason pegged San Diego's rotation as the most solid front to back deserves a Nobel Prize, I think. The one they give out for predicting NL West stuff. Anyway, both Kim and Fogg wound up the season with 49 PRC, and their ranking goes right along with where other stats that try and measure total contribution seem to place them. The aggregate effect seems to have our rotation a good eight games behind the Padres, a few back of Arizona, and only one to two behind Los Angeles or San Francisco, but the bottom line is that we had the worst rotation in the division in 2006, and without changes to our personnel I don't see us making up all the ground we need to, particularly in regards to the Padres.
I'm hoping Ubaldo Jimenez steps up and proves himself ready next season, because that would be the best, easiest and cheapest option. It doesn't even have to be at the start of the season, as long as we can stay close until he's ready. I'm not getting a lot of confidence from the second tier free agent class, which makes a trade the second best option in my book.
Oops, almost forgot, in order to support Purple Row and keep it running, I'm going to ask for a favor and ask all my readers to fill in a survey so the people who are selling the ads that will appear on the site can know how to manipulate my readership (that would be you guys, I know, but at least I'm warning you) a little better.