2008 has pretty much lost meaning to Rockies fans, as last night's anemic game thread would indicate, so increasingly our focus is going to be on 2009. This offseason is shaping up to be an interesting battle as all five teams will enter with big holes to fill, and whoever does the best job at that might well head into April as the favorite. While it's easy to get caught up in the Rockies big rotation question marks heading into the offseason, it's important to note that our rivals aren't much better off:
AZ 2009 Lineup with their ages and 2007 OPS+ figures:
C: Snyder 28, 111
1B: Jackson 27, 121
SS: Drew 26, 104
3B: Reynolds 25, 108
LF: Byrnes? 33, 63
CF: Young 25, 85
RF: Upton 21, 101
Arizona's rotation looks a lot better on paper than it does in real life. Driveline Mechanics (whose bloggers are apparently going to be joining SBN soon, woot!) outlined the risk that is Scherzer, a risk that became reality earlier this year when he was shut down for "shoulder fatigue". He's in a sort of Mark Prior/Joel Zumaya class of pitcher that will be great until the seemingly inevitable crash against that injury wall, a wall he may well have already hit. Petit is that rare breed of a finesse righty, something that almost never works very long at the MLB level without some sort of ball scuffing or slopping technique. Davis and Randy Johnson are both showing age related slides to mediocrity or worse, a condition that could be expected to continue next season. As troubling for the D-backs might be the lack of development with the lineup, as it's looking more likely that they will have just one superstar player in Justin Upton, a pretty good one in CoJack, but merely solid regulars at four other positions, and outright holes in left and second base. Adding in several bullpen departures, the situation for the D-backs in 2009 shows a team that will have troubles maintaining contention, even with the pair of aces at the top of the rotation. Without help from the farm, the only recourse left to the Diamondbacks to make fixes is to spend a boatload of money. As a Rockies fan, I don't want them to get those funds, it's one big reason to hope the Dodgers keep them home this year.
Speaking of LA and having to spend a boatload of money:
LF: Kemp 24, 111
CF: Jones? 32, 35; Pierre? 31, 69
RF: Ethier 27, 103
Brad Penny's back issues are making it more iffy that the Dodgers pick up his option, and at any rate they're going to have to dip into the free agency pool to shore things up or rely on a tremendously young but talented group of pitchers. The Rockies of this year can tell them the perils of doing that. But LA's going to be having to also fill several position player holes, and there might already be a tight supply of decent available players to do that via free agency. While Los Angeles has the money anyway, the short supply of FA talent makes it more likely they'll have to dip into their farm system to make trades.
Now let's look at the Rox:
C: Iannetta 26, 128
1B: Helton 35, 102
2B: Baker? 28, 93
3B: Atkins 29, 105; Stewart 24, 125
LF: Holliday 29, 159; Spilborghs 29, 134
CF: Fowler?; Taveras 27, 59
RF: Hawpe 30, 129
I think I'm changing my position from a few days ago and am right now in the camp that we keep Holliday unless we get a quality starting pitcher. After looking at the other teams, I'm just starting to see too much opportunity for next season to let him go right now. Atkins is another story, as there's no way we're going to be able to deal Helton, Garrett's looking like a good player who will have greater value to the team in trade and a better opportunity for long term security on some other club. I think the Rockies need to give Hawpe some first base time, in fact, I'd like him to be pencilled in as the starter for 2009 as I think that layout with him at first, Spilly in right, Holliday in left and Stewart at third gives us our best offensive and defensive look not to mention one of the NL's most potent lineups so long as Fowler adjusts well and Tulo hits like he did last night. The next question would be to how to go about telling Todd (barring a miracle cure) that he'd have greater value to the team as a potent bat off the bench than a starter, but that's where Clint Hurdle can really earn his keep. If he's successful at that, it makes up for a multitude of in game strategy decisions.
I'll try and look into the two teams below us in the standings tomorrow, the Giants are a lot closer than I thought they'd be and the Padres seemingly might be destined to be at the bottom in 2009 again the way things are looking right now. The point is that there's a big opportunity for the Rockies this offseason to become divisional heavyweights with relatively minor fixes.
Jorge De La Rosa's outing last night was his fourth quality start out of his last five. When we got him, he was more of a one good start, two or three bad ones type of pitcher, so I'm hopeful that this trend continues for the rest of the season, as he'd be a surprisingly decent asset to carry into next season if it does.