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Friday Rockpile: Has Huston Got His Groove Back?

I apologize in advance: I wrote this while severely sleep deprived. If it doesn't make any sense, stay awake for the next two days and read it again. Grazie.

As the Rockies continue to show that Troy Tulowitzki did not have the team's fate resting solely on his shoulders, the season approaches its midway point, and therefore, the All Star Game is just around the corner. While the injured Tulowizki was the only Rockie doing well by any stretch in the public voting (a process so flawed that a permanent stain is wiped upon the very concept of representative democracy as we know it), the Rockies have three candidates that may be considered by the Powers That Be (may they live long and prosper) to be worthy of a selection to the game. Ubaldo Jimenez is a guarantee, and a likely option to start the game for the doomed National League. Surprise triple machine and catching superstar Miguel Olivo has as good a chance as any of being selected for the position, and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has an outside shot at being selected amongst a far more crowded playing outfield.

The All Star voting results and team selection picks are revealed this Sunday.

The Rockies are 3-1 over their past few games against the division, and with the loss in extra innings against the Astros last night, the division leading Dodgers Giants Diamondbacks Padres have gone 1-3 over the same period; obviously a positive trend.

Dexter Fowler as a big part of our win last night, contributing solid hits, stolen bases, smooth defense in center field, a killer smile, and other toolsy contributions that Dex can bring to the table. Unlike Chris Iannetta's stint in the minors, Fowler was brought straight back up into regular playing time. While he struggled the first two games back, today was a positive indicator of what we hopefully get from him from this point out. Dex, in the right mode, can be a spark plug that further propels the team forward from the top of the lineup. With Smith and Spilborghs seeing more utility duty, Gonzalez, Fowler, and Hawpe may be able to provide the outfield production together that we expected early on. If only we could find a way to do that at first and third base.

Fowler isn't the only player we'll be relying on heavily down the stretch. Recently activated Huston Street found himself back in the closer role quicker than expected, timed conveniently with the overworking of Manuel Corpas, and instability from Joe Beimel and particularly Franklin Morales. Thanks to whoever invented the options system by pulling rules out of a crimson fedora with a feather for giving us the opportunity to bounce him around for an extra year. It just wouldn't a Colorado Rockies season if Franklin Morales wasn't doing something new. Players like Street and Fowler need to be ready to step up after injury or lack of early production and take this team to the next level. We've kept ourselves on the forward path even without our presumed team hero. It's more than a good start.

Links abound after the jump.

Professional rumor peddler Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has linked the Rockies to free agent Jermaine Dye. Future September golden boy Jason Giambi part deux or nonsensical concept and a waste of time to even consider? You decide, Rowbots. Hint: the answer is Jonathan Herrera. I honestly prefer Herrera on the roster to Dye. Don't tell Orlando Hudson I said that.

Three notes from Joey Kowak at today:
- Jim Tracy wants Olivo in the All Star Game.
- Two of the three Sky Sox Matts (messrs. Matt Reynolds and Matt Miller) have been selected to participate in the AAA All Star game, along with slugging leviathan Brad Eldred.
- Clint Barmes and Jonathan Herrera are teaming up to provide us with as few Tulowitzki abandonment issues as possible.

"He's been a big part of the success we've had lately." - Clint Barmes on Jonathan Herrera

No reaction from Herrera could be attained, as he was too busy practicing hitting singles, turning double plays and doing yoga.

Our friend Troy Renck at the Denver Post explains a likely change to the rotation when Jorge De La Rosa is ready for action. Jim Tracy plans to pitch Ubaldo Jimenez on his regular five day schedule from Saturday onward, regardless of the off day on the fifth, setting him up to be on a full four day's rest for the All Star Game. This would also allow De La Rosa to be activated on Friday the 9th against the Padres. These moves are very clearly hinting at a demotion for Jhoulys Chacin, but a lot of changes of this sort happen again after the All Star game, so who knows what order they'll be pitching after that. At the beginning of the season, Tracy wanted a Jimenez/Jeff Francis/Aaron Cook/De La Rosa/Jason Hammel rotation. We may be seeing something similar unless Tracy wants to pitch his hard throwers back to back.

Important divisional news for those who missed last night's game thread: Arizona has ditched General Manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch, replacing them tentatively with former Rockie pitcher Jerry DiPoto and long time Diamondbacks bench coach Kirk Gibson respectively. While Arizona has fallen out of contention, a new regime in Phoenix will no doubt have an effect on the future of their organization, including whom they are willing to trade, and when. I would definitely not mind taking a look at what they want for Kelly Johnson. While our tandem of Barmes and Herrera is satisfactory in the here and now, I'd feel a lot more comfortable with Tulowitzki and Johnson in there come the seasonal stretch. I hope Barmes keeps up what he has been doing, but I don't expect as such, based upon his streaky career history and commonplace midseason success followed by late season apocalypse.

Speaking of player interest, according to Gordon Edes at ESPNBoston, the Red Sox have now lost Jason Varitek to the disabled list, right on the heels of losing primary catcher Victor Martinez to injury as well. The Red Sox had acquired former Boston backup Kevin Cash from the Astros yesterday, presumably to back up Varitek, but this will now not be enough for the team to continue with for several weeks. The Red Sox have had interest in Chris Iannetta all season, and now with their desperation to acquire someone new, we have some leverage if the call from Theo comes. There is a legitimate chance that Iannetta quickly becomes a primary target over the next couple days, so let's keep an eye on that.