Well, folks, it's that time of year where, for teams out of contention, baseball games become less about keeping an eye on the scoreboard and more about developing and evaluating our own young talent and assess options moving forward.
So why even watch the games if wins and losses don't really matter at this point? Here are a few reasons:
Chad Bettis and other potential call-ups
I, personally, am very excited to see how Bettis progresses and was impressed with his ability to lock-in after a rough start in New York and before that Atlanta. The ability to recover from such a tough first inning against the Mets after being knocked around in your professional debut shows a lot of gumption (that right gumption!) and I look forward to seeing if his quality pitches will start matching up more with quality locations.
The rest of this season is a great time to see what kind of piece the Rockies have in Chad Bettis. He could be anything from a vital bullpen arm or a solid 5th starter to a AAAA pitcher who may eventually lose his spot to guys like Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler. But there is nothing in sports quite like watching a young player pitch for his life.
Also, I have zero information on who could be a September call-up this year, but I am excited about them already anyway. The Rockies have already called up half of the Colorado Springs roster, so who knows how eventful this September will be. I doubt it will happen, but seeing a brief flash of Eddie Butler could be one of the coolest things seen on a Rockies field this season. I'd love to get a look at Kyle Parker as well, and you never know which deeper level guy the Rockies might decide to give the proverbial "cup of coffee" in MLB just to test their mettle.
Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario
Both of these players have the potential to be essential parts of the Rockies future, or (less likely) no part of the Rockies future. The single thing I want to happen most in this last part of the season is for Nolan Arenado to find his stroke at the plate. I want to know, but more importantly, I want him to know, that he can hit at this level. He has proven the ability to man the hot corner, seeing him put things together with the bat would mean a huge plus for the Rockies and another name they can cement in to place moving forward.
Rosario has been more difficult to evaluate since his offense seems to come and go. When it goes, he is a major drag on the lineup since he provides few pluses on the defensive side of the ball and often strings together empty at-bats. Still, he is still very young and is a catcher with a lot of power. Is Rosario really a streaky hitter? Or has it just taken him some time in the middle of this season to adjust to the adjustments pitchers have made on him? If Rosario can find a way to turn his slumps into times when he is hitting less HRs but maybe drawing a few walks, hitting the ball the other way, and having generally productive at-bats (as opposed to three-pitch strikeouts) he could end up being one of the most valuable catchers in the NL for the next decade.
It's the second half of the season. Troy hasn't done anything superhuman yet. Maybe he is taking the year off (he ain't the only one) but it just seems unlikely to me that we will go through a whole season where Tulo doesn't hit 15 home runs in a month or something.
Jhoulys de la Chatwood
Currently without the Chatwood, JDLC have the rest of this season to prove that they are who we think they are. And if they are, the Rockies are actually in a great position moving forward. The Rockies can enter next season with zero questions at LF, CF, 3B, SS, C (one of RF or 1B due to Cuddyer) and the top three rotation spots. If Jhoulys de la Chatwood can return to full health and finish the season strong it will give the Rockies a clear indication of what they need to look at during the off-season.
For anyone who enjoys such things, I found this podcast on Grantland with Bill SImmons, Nate Silver, and Malcolm Gladwell fascinating. They talk about numbers and stats, the fall of newspapers, and Silver's new project with ESPN.
Two podcast links! Here is one with Buster Olney and Justin Havens giving a top 10 list of the best pitches in baseball (i.e. Felix Hernandez's change-up)