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Sunday Rockpile: Even if 2012 is toast, the Rockies could really use a turnaround

Wil Nieves and Esmil Rogers for David Price might not be happening.
Wil Nieves and Esmil Rogers for David Price might not be happening.

With the Rockies reeling through May, it's become next to impossible that a playoff run is in the cards for later this season. That said, there are several reasons why a rebound or improvement from players on the team are critical for the future success of the franchise.

Talent worth trading is talent worth keeping.

In all likelihood, there isn't going to be a separate category of players on the roster that aren't helping the Rockies with their play this year that would be desirable enough to other teams to return much of value. If the Rockies do decide to part ways with players like Jeremy Guthrie or Marco Scutaro, the return will mostly come in savings for the 2012 budget and likely not in players that help in the future. So if we're looking at a vision of 2013, the Rockies could really use turnarounds from these players over the next month and a half to enhance their value at the trade deadline if nothing else.

Troy Renck mentions that both Guthrie and Scutaro should expect to be on the block, a natural and obvious conclusion to the combination of their expiring contracts and the Rockies season to date.

We've seen promise, now we need to see growth

The players that would have real trade value right now are the players we probably don't want to give up, like Juan Nicasio, Wilin Rosario, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Christian Friedrich or Nolan Arenado. In terms of the three currently in the rotation, Nicasio, Friedrich and White, we've seen enough bright outings to have some encouragement that all is not bleak for the future of this team, but the rest of the season needs to see at least one, and likely two of these pitchers (or perhaps Pomeranz) take the next steps forward in efficiency and consistency to make quality 200 IP seasons in 2013 more likely. This is something Dan O'Dowd is keenly aware of, according to an article by Patrick Saunders, as well as in the aforelinked (this seriously needs to be a word for bloggers) article by Renck.

Shagging flies

Outfield defense has been a significant issue for this team. I usually don't give much stock to UZR for Colorado outfielders, but outside Dexter Fowler's late April, early May work, I honestly can't say that the Rockies are any better than the numbers suggest they are this year. I expected Michael Cuddyer to be, at best, a slight negative in the OF, at worst, a significant one ---he's been closer to "at worst"--- but I also expected center field and left field to be decent enough to make the negative in right a bit easier to bear. While I might be naive in expecting the defense at third base to improve organically with Nolan Arenado's arrival, the outfield is a trickier issue, as the team's not going to be replacing Carlos Gonzalez. He has to perform better in the field, yet avoid the sacrificial wall crashes and dives that have taken him out of the lineup for weeks in years past. It's a tricky balance that the team hasn't figured out yet. Right field could improve with Tyler Colvin playing his natural position more, and Cuddyer taking more AB's from Todd Helton and Jason Giambi at 1B in 2013.

Colvin, for his part, is still a bit of an enigma to me, as much of his 2012 success at the plate is unsustainable (his BABIP and reverse platoon splits suggest this,) but he's also a solid power source and decent OF defender in right field (not so much center.) He's not striking out as frequently as he did at the start of the season and walking more, while maintaining a fairly high BABIP. The maintenance of the BABIP is an encouraging sign, as he's doing it despite getting behind in most counts and despite having a relatively abysmal performance with two strikes on him. This is largely because he's been a very good 0-1 hitter (.304/.333/.435) this season. As pitchers adjust to him, he'll also need to improve that two strike performance, my hunch is that he may actually already be adjusting too much in these spots and getting away from his natural strengths as a hitter.