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Sunday Rockpile: Even after the Ubaldo trade, starting pitching remains in focus

One of the symptoms of this disease we as Rockies fans have nicknamed "2011 Baseball Season Syndrome," is the absence of any sort of value from the fastballs of the team's starting pitching.  According to FanGraphs, the Rockies rank 28 out of 30 in fastball value from the starting rotation this season, losing over 50 runs from average on the pitch, ahead only of the Royals and Orioles among major league teams. The Rockies most promising starter in this category in 2011 was Juan Nicasio, but unfortunately, his sudden neck injury, as well as the long expected rehab time of Jorge De La Rosa make it look like the club could still be needing starting help in 2012, even after trading one starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, for two potential rotation arms in Alex White and Drew Pomeranz

So, while other needs exist around the diamond, Troy Renck states that improving the starting pitching must remain a priority for Dan O'Dowd and company in the offseason, and apparently, as this week's waiver claim of and attempt at a trade for Wandy Rodriguez indicates, the Rockies front office feels the same way. Not that Rodriguez would add much FB value to the team, the Astros rank just ahead of the Rockies at 27th in fastball value from starters, and Wandy's -7.2 value to the pitch is a big reason why. That said, Wandy's curve is his calling card, it ranks third among MLB starters this season behind only Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay, and third overall since 2008, behind Halladay and Adam Wainwright among the league's top benders.

Renck suggests that the Rockies will go after a starting pitcher through trade rather than free agency. He mentions the White Sox' John Danks as a possibility, but other starters that may be available this winter may include the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie or any of a handful of Tampa Bay pitchers, as that club always seems to be dealing off a surplus. Should the Rockies wish to re-visit the Wandy Rodriguez talks, the Astros starter should also still be on the block.

As for the free agent crop, Renck reiterates Michael Cuddyer as the most promising target for the Rockies, and also writes highly of my second choice player to go after in the winter, the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez. Getting either Cuddyer or Ramirez would go a long way in solving a lot of the offensive issues this club has, getting both should come close to being a complete cure for them.