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Rockies hoping De La Rosa avoids the Morales morass

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Somewhere between his last start in 2007 and his first start in 2008, something went horribly awry for Franklin Morales and in turn helped push the Rockies season in the same disastrous direction. Similar in consequence if not in origin, Jeff Francis' struggles early this season after a break through performance last year also derailed the Rockies hopes of reclaiming the NL title. Now the team faces that same wide offseason gulf with another lefty starter that has emerged as a strong spot in the rotation. As a fan, I lack confidence that the team will be any more successful this time than they were last year. Why should they be? The Rockies employ the same navigators that led Francis and Morales aground; there has been no discernible shift in coaching philosophy or the offseason conditioning regimen.

The result of the Rockies game last night made the following point emphatic: De La Rosa has been the team's best, most consistent starter over the second half of the season. His second half has been so good that by most measures it's been better than Aaron Cook's All-Star worthy first half was. Here are the four starters that we're likely going to carry into next season by second half ERA:

  • De La Rosa 3.08
  • Francis 3.50
  • Jimenez 4.00
  • Cook 4.71

If the Rockies want to retain any hope of competing next season, they must do a better job as an organization of bridging the four and a half months between Sunday afternoon and when pitchers and catchers report in the middle of February. Having the De La Rosa we have right now next April would put us right back in the middle of the division chase without having to make a major financial commitment to a free agent starter, especially if Cook can rebound and Jimenez continues to mature. Of course, I advocate getting some decent FA starter anyway to account for a few more of the what-ifs, but if you're talking about making a financial investment in better coaching and conditioning of the young, talented and generally healthy starters like the Rockies have over the winter break versus committing to $17 million plus a year for five or six seasons to some gifted but fragile starter like Ben Sheets or A.J. Burnett, I think the wise fiscal choice becomes obvious. That said, it does involve making as serious a commitment to insure its success. Anyway, look at this as a plea to the front office to be a little more proactive this offseason with the rotation.