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Thursday Rockpile: Futures, flips and Francis are the Rockies best selling points right now

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The Rockies stopped trying to sell their 2012 season in itself as something of interest and value to fans a couple of months ago, and have instead done what they've had to for business purposes and built their branding around individual player stories: Jamie Moyer as an old man marvel, Wilin Rosario, Drew Pomeranz and Josh Rutledge as important pieces for the future, the return of Jeff Francis as a link to the past, Carlos Gonzalez's first All-Star Game, etc...

It's of course an attempt to make the best out of a bad situation* and there's no fault in that. Maximized revenue for the team means a better overall quality of player on average that it can attract and/or retain and that the general manager (Dan O'Dowd or a replacement) can afford to make more mistakes. The obvious hypothetical that a better GM wouldn't find him or herself in this lemonade stand position so often as O'Dowd does is duly noted. that thAt any rate, Troy Renck writes about Francis, Rutledge and Rosario in a "hey, it could be worse" article, but the headline writer's depiction of that trio as "players who aren't lost causes" opens the question about players on the Rockies that are.

The team doesn't get to this point without a significant amount of negative baggage dragging down the players that are worth watching, and while a few of those may simply be in the "undeveloped" boat (Pomeranz) there are bound to be a few in the "unworthy" boat as well, even among the young players. There's also the "Todd Helton" boat of a player that's no longer really adding to the team on the field, but has tenure and needs to be given emeritus status somehow. The question for the team on a macro level is if the sum of the parts mean its underdeveloped and unready or if it's really unworthy on the whole.

Thursday Off Topic -

If the team just needs a year or two of maturity to let the young players develop and learn and be led by Tulo and Cargo, the front office merely needs to wait it out and won't have much to do in the offseason. If it's more in the latter category, major revisions will need to take place. My own guess is that the Rockies are more unready than unworthy or more or less in a similar spot to the Washington Nationals of a year ago, where two key starting pitchers (for them it was Stephen Strasborg returning and a trade for Gio Gonzalez) and improved defense are really all that's required to become relatively competitive once maturity and health gains elsewhere are factored in. In other words, I think the Rockies can turn this dismal ship around quickly, but I would like to see a trade made for a high quality SP during the coming winter.

Marco Scutaro is the most likely player to get traded by the deadline, with Ramon Hernandez continuing to fall back with the Mets fortunes. There's seemingly no further indication the Rockies will break up their bullpen, which as a combined group would be a bit more likely than Hernandez to see an actual transaction take place rather than just rumors. Dexter Fowler keeps getting mentioned but remains a longshot to get traded, and I don't know if there's anybody else worth exploring. I do have to say that it is curious to me that for the last three years Jason Giambi gets on the rumor lists a month or so before the deadline, but put on the DL by the deadline.

The Padres are expected to retain Huston Street, and with Nick Schmidt's combined performance in Tulsa and the Springs indicating a career turnaround and MLB future, it's a trade that's so far working out for both teams.

* - Footnote link, woot! Anyway, Matthew Callan at Amazing Avenue brings up the disparity between the Rockies ability to build a fanbase and that of the sister expansion Marlins, who are the focus of his piece as well as the Rays and D-backs. A lot of which disparity boils down to the Rockies sacrificing chances for higher quality on field returns in order to be more consistent with their product (meaning they keep the same players). The D-backs had been a bit less successful in this at first, and it shows in the difference between the two teams' attendance/wins over the last decade, but as their product has become more consistent, they've been catching up. The Rays, meanwhile, are an interesting case that in the past I haven't given enough credit to. Grossly unfair deals to players like Evan Longoria and Matt Moore do insure some year to year consistency, even if the overall model is much like the Marlins.

I think most Rockies fans would love for the team to move a bit the other direction, to focus a bit more on winning than product consistency, but the team's branding strategy in this has paid off.