And just like that, all the rest of the Rockies moves this off-season make sense. In adding their final veteran piece on Saturday, Marco Scutaro, the Rockies filled the last hole in their lineup and on their infield and crafted a dynamo of an offense that should easily be the best in the NL West division in 2012. They only gave up a depth starting pitcher acquired a year ago but made redundant by depth starting pitching acquired last week. Heck, even Keith Law couldn't find anything bad to say about this for the Rockies, other than the implied assertion that any idiot could have made this same move.
It seemed pretty obvious when Seth Smith was traded last week for Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso that another trade would have to be in the works for the Rockies to better allocate talent on hand to areas of need, and after the Monforts wisely signed off on adding Scutaro's salary to the payroll, we see the culmination of the team's winter re-loading efforts. Pitching is a currency in baseball, it always has been, and the Rockies used their savings in this arms money to buy themselves a quality starting 2B. Says the GM:
"We know we are not a perfect club, but we have room to do some more things as the season goes and we will see how this shakes itself out."
Dan O'Dowd would have liked one better veteran starting pitcher in all these moves, I think most Rockies fans would agree with that as well, but when that pitcher wasn't available at the price in either salary or prospects the GM was looking for, he improvised on the original plan and came up with the best possible alternative solution. Load the lineup, build rotational depth in young quantity, while you lack in veteran impact quality, and keep all the prospects on the farm in tact.
What makes me particularly giddy over the past few hours since learning of the trade is looking at the following:
- CF Dexter Fowler .266/.363/.432
- 2B Marco Scutaro .299/.358/.423
- RF Carlos Gonzalez .295/.363/.526
- SS Troy Tulowitzki .302/.372/.544
- LF Michael Cuddyer .284/.346.459
- 1B Todd Helton .302/.385/.466
- C Ramon Hernandez .282/.341.446
- 3B Casey Blake .252/.342/.371
A few fans and pundits had complained about the Rockies moving out higher OBP players like Chris Iannetta and Seth Smith, but note that the above lineup doesn't have a single OBP hole. Every single piece of that projected 2012 starting lineup had an above MLB average on base percentage in 2011 and for their careers. What's more, however, is that the Rockies also added contact that they lacked in 2011 and the past few seasons, with no starter projected to hit below .250, either. So not only will this team be able to get on base, it will be better equipped to clear ducks from the pond and score runs. It's a lineup that will make the Kershaw's, Lincecum's, Cain's, Hudson's and Kennedy's of the division work for everything they get from Colorado, and push weaker starting pitching out of games early. Taxing divisional rival bullpens at Coors Field early will pay huge dividends later in the season.
The rotation, meanwhile, could be sneakily effective in the same way that the Diamondbacks rotation emerged almost from nowhere last season with the maturation of Ian Kennedy and Josh Collmenter. All it would take for the Rockies is one of Juan Nicasio or Drew Pomeranz or Alex White to step up to be a solid #2, and another young pitcher to play the part of the surprisingly tough back of the rotation pitcher that Collmenter played for Arizona. A healthy Josh Outman seems well suited to play the Joe Saunders innings eating role and Jorge De La Rosa's midseason return should provide another boost. Plus, as O'Dowd mentions, the team can still make another move later if the young pitching developments prove not to be in the cards. In the meantime, the offense and fielding are now good enough to keep the division lead close and give the Rockies a chance to find out about the rest.