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Monday Morning Rockpile:

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Winning series against the Dodgers and Padres this last week has nudged the Rockies a little closer in the standings to the NL West leaders. Close enough, in fact, to get manager Clint Hurdle and Todd Helton scoreboard watching and bandying about phrases like "pennant race" in the clubhouse. There are still too many teams in front of us for me to feel really comfortable with that characterization, but at least we're over .500 and we moved the right direction in a week when the Padres and Dodgers could have (and in years past would have) put us away for keeps.

The schedule doesn't let up for the next couple of weeks in terms of the quality of our opponents, however, so the team can't get too smug with its current position. We go on the road with a traditionally Rockies impairing Southeast swing to Florida and Atlanta this week, and then get the NL Central frontrunners Milwaukee and Chicago at home before heading West for payback from the Padres and Dodgers. We can't afford a sub .500 record in those nineteen games or this heady moment of competing in August will be short-lived.

On the trade front, the rumor involving the Rox that seems to have the most legs still comes from Detroit, with the Tigers interested in bringing in Clint Barmes to be Dave Dombrowski's version of Craig Counsell circa 1997. The Rockies traded Counsell to Dombrowski's Florida team for Mark Hutton that summer, and Craig would go on to be a key role player for the Marlins in their World Series run of that year. Hutton would pitch in eight games with the Rockies before being traded in the offseason to Cincinnati for Curtis Goodwin. So, needless to say, I'm a bit skeptical of this given our history with trading middle infielders.

The Tigers aren't going to give a primary chip for Barmes, so the Rockies would probably be looking to pick up one of their collection of solid AA-AAA level pitching prospects that aren't going to get much opportunity with Detroit's already stacked rotation and yet could potentially help the Rockies staff this season. Eulogio de la Cruz or Dallas Trahern seem to fit the Rockies' prototype for pitching prospects, Trahern with a low-nineties, heavy sinker that he uses effectively despite not K'ing a lot of guys, and de la Cruz would be another Dominican fireballer that has a lot of potential but also control issues. Jair Jurrgens is another name that could be brought up if this deal were to come to pass.