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Tuesday Rockpile: Rockies should stand pat regardless of contention status

Rockies fans don't want to hear it, but the team needs to avoid any significant roster overhaul from now on this season -- one which the team might have established itself as a false contender.

Dustin Bradford

A significant chunk of the Colorado Rockies' fanbase isn't going to like the following statement. However, I don't get paid to write things people like (or don't like, for that matter). So, here's the truth. The brutal, but simple, truth:

The Rockies need to stick with what they've got.

As crazy as it seems, there is a negative side to the Rockies' 39-38 start, which has them tied for second in the National League West and three games back of the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks. This team wasn't, and still isn't, built to contend this year. Their farm system is getting better and there are several players on the active roster who are nearing the point of breaking out. But they're not there yet.

Who knows if the pitching staff will hold up, but even if it doesn't, it's still a bad time to go flinging around prospects for pitching help such as Ricky Nolasco, whom the Rockies have inquired about. Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse are also reportedly up for grabs, but the Rockies should stay away from both of those guys too. Not because they're not accomplished pitchers, but because the team has too many other holes to fill to remain a viable contender through the rest of the season.

The bullpen is overworked and has shown some serious cracks in its armor in recent weeks. The rotation still includes Juan Nicasio, a question mark every time he takes the hill, and it's not like any of the other pitchers scream "consistency," although Jorge De La Rosa is nearing that point as he continues to battle back toward 100 percent.

First base is a concern because the almost-40-year-old who started there on opening day is no longer an every day player, although he can offer considerable value as a late-game option both at the plate and on defense. And that's just fine; there's no shame in putting Todd Helton in a position to contribute to his team more than he is right now.

The team isn't getting much offensive production from second base, third base and catcher, although at least two -- and maybe all three -- of those should improve as the season progresses.

Still, all of this isn't a reason to panic and make moves that could hurt the future of the team. And, there is a future for this team. Drafts have been better in recent years. There's a plethora of depth in the organization, although it lacks true star potential, and the farm is no longer thin on pitching, as you'll see below. It's not so bad at or near the big-league level, either, with Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood still in their early-to-mid-20s and seemingly improving on a daily basis.

The Rockies made a good move by bringing Roy Oswalt into the fold, as long as he doesn't become a distraction in the clubhouse if the team experiences a bit of a tailspin in the coming weeks. Oswalt's presence -- assuming everyone else in the rotation stays healthy -- allows the Rockies to keep Drew Pomeranz in Triple-A, where he needs to continue honing his command and consistency, probably for the remainder of the season.

However, making any sort of bigger splash could upset the direction in which the organization is headed. And, if the headway being made through the draft and development of pitchers and other prospects is any indication, the direction is up.



Baseball Prospectus has a pair of Rockies minor-league hurlers ranked in its mid-season top 50 ($). Jonathan Gray, at No. 33 overall, is the second-ranked 2013 draftee on the list behind Mark Appel. Here's what BP's Jason Parks has to say about Gray, who has yet to make his pro debut:

"Prospect Trajectory: Up; difficult task to rank players without any professional experience; 1:1 candidate with the stuff to take a huge leap in the rankings if the production matches the pre-draft reports; low starting point on list because of questions about future role."

Eddie Butler, who has had a strong showing at High-A Modesto, checks in just inside the rankings at No. 48 overall. Butler, who is 8-2 with a 2.24 ERA in two minor-league stops this season, is also trending upward:

"Butler's first half pushed him into the Top 50 mix, and a strong second half will push him even further heading into 2014. The stuff is very legit, and the 22-year-old could find himself in Double-A before the end of the season."

Twins minor-league outfielder Byron Buxton tops the list, in case you were wondering.