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Monday Rockpile: Two big decisions loom as the season nears its end

The Rockies are going to have to part with one of the expensive players they want in their clubhouse next season. After last week we know it's not going to be Jorge De La Rosa, but that only raises the stakes when it comes to a few other players.

Justin Edmonds

Patrick Saunders talks about the decision the Rockies have to make at the end of the season involving Brett Anderson's $12 million option. There's not too much new information here, but the suggestion of a two year contract with less money per season is interesting.

This is a very tough spot for the Rockies because they probably have a guy here who can pitch well at both Coors Field and on the road, but his injury history makes guys like Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Michael Cuddyer look like iron men. Without a trade, the team has already committed $49 million to Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, and Jorge De La Rosa, and I'm not sure they can add $12 million of Anderson to that list. Colorado can't afford a bloated payroll of over $150 million like the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, and Giants, and therefore can't take risks like this without compromising their ability to make moves elsewhere on the roster.

Speaking of injury prone players the Rockies are thinking about bringing back next season, Walt Weiss was getting all gushy in the clubhouse yesterday about the thought of Micheal Cuddyer being back in a Rockies uniform in 2015. I already find myself preparing for this off season travesty. The one where the Rockies need significant help in their rotation, their bullpen, as well as an upgrade behind the plate and the team instead goes out and overpays for Mr. Personality. This "he means so much to our club beyond a stat sheet" fawning the Rockies consistently project with this guy is meaningless when your club is  buried in the standings by August every year because you didn't acquire enough pitching.

Michael Cuddyer is the type of player who can help an 85 or 86 win team turn into an 88 win team with his intangibles in a close race in August and September. When your club hasn't won more than 74 games since 2010, all that other stuff he brings to the clubhouse goes right out the window in terms of it making any sort of meaningful difference.

Then there's also the fact that this player has been on the disabled list more times in his three years here than Troy Tulowitzki has been in the last five seasons combined. For a fan base that seems obsessed with how often their short stop ends up on the DL, this guy's struggles to stay on the field seem almost completely ignored.

The bottom line here is that the Rockies just can't afford Michael Cuddyer with the resources they have committed to other players right now. The only way it makes sense is if Carlos Gonzalez is shipped out of town, which the club is probably going to have to remain open to as much as they love the sunshine and lollipops Cuddyer apparently brings to the clubhouse behind closed doors.

Then there's also this piece to the puzzle. Our friend Eric Garcia McKinley suggests that the Rockies sign Russell Martin this off season. I love the idea as he fills a position of need and should be good for our young pitching staff, but he won't come cheap since other clubs with cash probably have the same idea. This is another scenario where dangling Carlos Gonzalez into the trade market might make sense.

Meanwhile, on the field the Rockies are playing some of the best baseball they have in a long, long time.  Not surprisingly, it starts with pitching, as yesterday the club shut out the Padres for the second time in three days behind six scoreless innings from Franklin Morales. The win marks the fourth straight for the club and vaults them into a tie with Arizona for fourth place  It will be interesting to see if the Rockies can finish ahead of them now as 12 of the team's final 19 games are on the road.

The tipping point could very well come later this month (September 18th through 21st) when the D'Backs come to Coors Field for four games. If the Rockies can take three out of four and pick up two games on the snakes there, I think they have a decent shot of pulling ahead of them for good. However, if they can't do better than a split here, it's going to be much harder for this group to pick up ground while playing 12 road games and three at home against the Dodgers who are battling for a division.

For those wondering, a tie between these two clubs would result in a higher draft pick for the Rockies because they had a worse record in 2013.