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Sunday Rockpile: When what you got will have to be good enough

Maybe not everything we wanted...
Maybe not everything we wanted...

The other day in the Rockpile, we got into a bit of a debate about how much the Rockies had to improve this winter to be a competitive team. Some feel that the Rockies needed to acquire at least one impact talent to be competitive. I disagreed. We're not as strong as the Phillies, but the talent on the roster as currently constructed is good enough to be playoff competitive. At the same time, though, I understand where my fellow fans are coming from. Here's how the Rockies addressed their weaknesses this winter:

2010 Weakness: Offense on the road

  • Rockies fans' suggested solution: Acquire Dan Uggla and/or Josh Willingham
  • Rockies front office solution: Acquired Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton

2010 Weakness: Offense from the right side of the field

  • Rockies fans' suggested solution: Acquire Dan Uggla and/or Josh Willingham
  • Rockies front office solution: Acquired Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton

2010 Weakness: Power from the right side of the plate:

  • Rockies fans' suggested solution: Acquire Dan Uggla and/or Josh Willingham
  • Rockies front office solution: Acquired Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton

There's a difference between taking an educated, low cost gamble on a high risk player and hoping he proves an upgrade, and paying a premium for the high cost, more certain upgrade. You see the difference above in what Rockies fans wished for, and what the team was actually able to deliver during the off season. Then, of course, there's always what the Angels did in trading for Vernon Wells, taking on both high cost and high risk. At least we didn't see the Rockies do that.

Lopez and Wigginton aren't above average players. They could conceivably have above average seasons if the move to Colorado proves particularly beneficial, if Lopez is motivated in a contract year to stay conditioned and live up to his potential, but overall they are far from certain bets to provide the kind of production the fans and front office alike think the team needs to rebound from a disappointing 2010. They are relatively cheap, however, costing the Rockies little in minor league players or salary. That aspect remains important, as with the extensions to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies over the coming few seasons have again locked themselves into a bargain hunting course for filling out the roster. 

If you squint your eyes a little, Lopez and Wigginton fit the team's needs pretty well. Both hit right handed, Lopez with some decent pop and very good contact skills, he's likely to strike out less than 10% of the time and could provide 20 HR's or more, Wigginton with some decent OBP (.351 in his career vs. LHP's). Lopez can fit at second, Wigginton at first or in left field (pushing Cargo to right). Like the spoiled child that wants a pony for Christmas but ends up getting merely a new barbie doll, we probably shouldn't be crying too much. We already have a Pony, not to mention a Tulo, which was the "it" toy this winter that everybody's jealous of and nobody could find on the shelves.

Will the newly acquired pair be enough to fix the team's 2010 offensive weaknesses? Probably not by themselves, but the Rockies were needing steps forward or rebounds from players already on the team to begin with anyway. Keep in mind that while this is the same roster that disappointed in 2010, it's also a couple of steps improved from the roster that went to the playoffs in 2009. 

Just for the reminder, our 2009 Opening Day lineup looked like this:

  1. Spilborghs - CF
  2. Smith - LF
  3. Helton - 1B
  4. Atkins - 3B
  5. Hawpe - RF
  6. Stewart - 2B
  7. Tulowitzki - SS
  8. Iannetta - C
  9. Cook - P

Production from talent isn't constant, it has highs and lows and periods in the middle. Despite standout years from Carlos Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez, last season as a team, the Rockies talent was at a low in their production while the Giants were at a high. This is why the one team disappointed and the one won a World Series. In projecting 2011, you can't assume the same conditions will apply. Average production from both teams' talent makes them more or less equals.

Troy Renck writes that GM Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies are particularly motivated to beat the Giants. One key for 2011 is that our starting pitching more or less keeps pace with San Fran, and a key to that is the performance Jhoulys Chacin. Renck's notes also include important updates on Ian Stewart and Dexter Fowler, so be sure to read.

Jack Etkin points out that the Rockies should be able to benefit from a weaker than normal April schedule. The problem of course, is that the Rockies are notoriously slow starters. It's a chicken and egg argument, though, as they might be slow starting because the competition has been high in the past.

Etkin also has an update on Wilin Rosariowho's catching, just not blocking pitches yet.