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Monday Rockpile: Special Announcement, Jason Hammel, Matt Anderson, Odds and Ends

Before we dive in to today's Rockpile, I have an announcement to make - the Purple Row staff is expanding again.

I'd like to welcome on deacs to the staff. deacs will be taking on the Counting Rocks column that I've been neglecting the past, oh, 3 months-ish. I'm excited to see a fresh perspective on the nerd-number-crunchery, as I'm sure all of you are, and I'm confident that deacs will bring that to the Purple Row staff. Oh, and if deacs' parents/friends/anyone who he wants to impress are reading this, be impressed. He's taking a column from the editor.

As in the past, Counting Rocks will continue to be published on Wednesdays.


Still slow news as of the last time I checked the feeds, but I figure we can talk about the Rockies rotation a little bit more. Because seriously, what else are we going to talk about?

Right now, as it stands, the rotation looks as follows:

1. Ubaldo Jimenez (19-8, 221.2 IP, 2.88 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 3.73 xFIP)

2. Jorge De La Rosa (8-7, 121.2 IP, 4.22 ERA, 4.30 FIP, 3.77 xFIP)

3. Aaron Cook (6-8, 127.2 IP, 5.08 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 4.63 xFIP)

4. Jhoulys Chacin (9-10, 137.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 3.74 xFIP)

5. Jason Hammel (10-9, 177.2 IP, 4.81 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 3.81 xFIP)

Now, despite how ugly some of those ERA numbers look, the xFIPs are somewhat pleasing to the eye. The aggregate xFIP of Rockies' starters sits at a solid 3.96, good for 4th overall in the majors. Seeing how we're discussing pitchers within the same team, there's really not much need to normalize HR components for park (and much as I want to get into a larger discussion about the merits of FIP v xFIP, I'll leave that for the comments or just another time altogether)

More past the jump.

Off Topic

So the rotation, yeah. If we re-rank the rotation based on FIP alone, it looks more like this:

1. Ubaldo Jimenez (3.10 FIP)

2. Jhoulys Chacin (3.50 FIP)

3. Jason Hammel (3.70 FIP)

4. Jorge De La Rosa (4.30 FIP)

5. Aaron Cook (4.54 FIP)

Obviously, this doesn't tell the whole story. We know that Chacin has top-of-the-rotation potential, but there's no way that the Rockies slot him as the #2. There's that whole seniority, sophomore pitcher thing to worry about. Similarly, the #3 slot doesn't really seem to belong to Aaron Cook, but again, seniority, veteran, etc. If his control doesn't return or another random injury pops up, he'll be dropped faster than a hot cast iron skillet on bare hands.

De La Rosa's a bit of an enigma, given the fact that he's also shown some injury troubles, propensity to explode, things like that. But we also saw major steps forward in the area of explosion and fewer walks. The fact is that DLR has the highest potential for a lockdown start, as far as strikeouts go, and better defense around the ballpark will aid in reducing his ERA in general. I hope.

So that leaves Hammel for discussion. We demonstrated last season that Hammel is a top-notch #4/#5 pitcher (if that isn't a complete oxymoron), and keeping him in that role is likely the most beneficial to the team in general. While Hammel is still the team leader in K/BB (3+ in the past 2 seasons), he's also been one of the higher WHIP guys on the team (1.39 WHIP over the past 2 seasons; Aaron Cook 1.47 WHIP over the past 2 seasons).

So if we ignore issues of veteraniness and such, Hammel and Cook are in the most danger of losing rotation spots.

The next question is really how clear and present is that danger of losing a rotation spot? The biggest threats to that rotation slot are Felipe Paulino, Esmil Rogers, and...what the hey, Franklin Morales (never thought I'd say THAT, but that possibility is there).

Paulino's splits are the most confusing. As a starter, he made 14 starts, pitched 86 innings (averaging over 6 IP/GS), posted a 4.40 ERA, and a FIP roughly around 3.25 - I was surprised, too. Paulino's ugliest numbers came out of the bullpen (SSS FIP of about 7). If those rotation number shave any possibility of being repeated, faltering from Cook or Hammel could give Paulino another shot at being a starter.

Rogers, I won't touch on really, but take a look at Andrew Fisher's review of Rogers from last week.

Finally, Morales. In his career, his ERA was best as a starter (4.46, 4.56 FIP), but somewhat underwhelming peripherals. He only managed about 4 2/3 innings per start (awful), and he was under 6 K/9. As a reliever, his strikeout numbers were at their best (8.8 K/9) but his walks were at their worst (6.87 BB/9). His ERA (5.49, 4.81 FIP). I have to wonder if he got another shot at the rotation if he'd maintain that punchout potential but retain some of that control he "had". Then again, maybe I'll win the lottery. Consider Morales a dark horse based on injuries and complete performance collapse from the other 4 pitchers in question here (Cook, Hammel, Paulino, Rogers).

As it stands, it looks like Cook and Hammel are going to both have to bring their A games to the 2011 season. Paulino might still have promise as a RHP version of Jorge De La Rosa, and Rogers shows a lot of potential as some sort of effective pitcher somewhere in the organization.

* * *

One link for this morning, because I found it personally interesting. Matt Anderson, former 1st round pick by the Detroit Tigers, has found himself some sort of work with Philadelphia. Colorado gave him a shot in 2005 as a setup man, hoping to create a good 7th inning bridge to Mike DeJean and then Brian Fuentes. Yeah, Mike DeJean. That long ago. The article cites Anderson's commitment to staying in shape and that he can still hit low 90s - a far cry from his former 100mph gas, but hey, hitting low 90s when he hasn't pitched professionally since 2008, that's pretty impressive. Other cool thing about Matt Anderson: he rocked the super high stirrups. I can't seem to find a single picture of him and his stirrup socks, but trust me, they were awesome.