Patrick Saunders puts the quality of the Rockies starting pitchers into context and suggests that the rotation could be the best the team has ever had. The touchstone, rightly, is the 2009 staff. That group featured peak Ubaldo Jiménez, still the best pitcher the Rockies have ever had, along with a steady group that included Jason Marquis, Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel, and Aaron Cook.
Saunders is right to speculate that the Rockies could put together a better staff as soon as next season. However, much of that relies on prospects fulfilling their potential. Prospects—especially pitching prospects—have a tendency to bust. Jon Gray's major-league successes suggest that he'll be the 2017 stalwart to start the season. Notably, Jeff Hoffman matching or exceeding Gray. Tylers Chatwood and Anderson have demonstrated that they can be reliable 3-4 rotation mates. The fifth spot could be filled by either Chad Bettis or, eventually, German Marquez. Even if the success lies only with those with major-league experience and success, it is easy to imagine them becoming the best rotation in team history.
Walt Weiss spoke with MLB.com's Owen Perkins about the recent promotions of right-handed pitcher German Marquez and outfielder Raimel Tapia. "When you're in Triple-A," Weiss said, "you're literally a phone call away." Tapia is on the 40 man roster, so if he handles the transition to Triple-A pitching well, he's a virtual lock to debut for the Rockies when rosters expand in September. Marquez is more likely to remain in the minors for the remainder of 2016, but he's now poised to compete for a rotation spot out of spring training in 2017.
Rockies pitching prospect, No. 18 PuRP, and oft-traded reliever Yency Almonte is featured in this edition of Carson Cistulli's regular column, the Fringe Five. The Rockies acquired Almonte for Tommy Kahnle, and it looks like a brilliant deal. Purple Row's Bobby DeMuro has been documenting Almonte's progress this year, and Cistulli points to Bobby's velocity readings as evidence justifying his inclusion on this most illustrious list.
Yankees shortstop Álex Rodríguez announced in a press conference yesterday that Friday will be his final major-league game. By most accounts, Rodríguez was a superlative teammate. Rockies reliever Boone Logan was a former teammate of Rodríguez's in New York, and he spoke to reporters yesterday about his experience. Kevin Henry of Rox Pile writes that Logan remembers discussions with Rodríguez about preparation, especially when Logan was struggling. It might appear odd that a shortstop would approach a relief pitcher about such things, but it sounds like they spoke in the language of baseball, not pitching or hitting.
The first time I saw A-Rod play was in 1994. He was an 18-year-old recently drafted first overall by the Seattle Mariners. He was playing for the Calgary Cannons, then the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. I was young, but I knew seeing him was a big deal. At the time, he was eight years younger than Triple-A competition. He ended up being one of the best players of his generation—and, indeed, one of the best ever (yes yes I know about the steroids).
Rodríguez played a little bit in the majors at ages 18 and 19, but he made his mark at age 20. For comparison, before his injury, Trevor Story was having an incredible rookie season. He hit 27 home runs as a shortstop. After A-Rod's age-23 season, he had already hit 148 home and played in three All-Star Games.
Now, he's four away from 700 homers. It's unlikely that he'll get there before Friday, but I hope he does.