|86-62 (1st place, NL Central)||69-77 (4th place, NL West)|
|Game 1||)||vs.||Esmil Rogers (6-5, 6.26)|
|vs. Rockies||(0-0, 3.00)||vs.||(0-0, ---)|
|Game 2||Shaun Marcum (12-6, 3.25)||vs.||Kevin Millwood (2-2, 3.79)|
|vs. Rockies||(2-0, 2.08)||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)|
I spoke to Andrew Martin of Purple Row in May when the season series between these two teams started and it seemed appropriate to check back in now that the season is winding down. I also answered some questions for them, so make sure you check over there this afternoon for the other half of the interview.
NH: I asked in May about the situation at 3B and it seems that it never really straightened itself out over the season. For the year, Rockies 3B's hit .222/.280/.354. What's the answer for next season? Will they stay in house or will the Rockies be hitting the FA market to sign someone? Who are the most likely candidates for the job in 2012?
AM: 3B has been an ugly, ugly story this season. Ty Wigginton got the lion’s share of the playing time because Ian Stewart couldn’t bat himself out of a wet paper sack and Jose Lopez tripped over the foul line as the season started and just now picked himself up en route to a .800+ OPS. The Rockies have thrown all sorts of players at that 3B wall and not a single one has stuck. The team has been somewhat unabashed about their interest in David Wright of the Mets, but his cost would be very, very high, and his decline over the past few years leads many to wonder if it’s the wisest idea. Another potential candidate is Chase Headley of the Padres, but intradivisional trading might be something that shoots that trade down before it even happens. I personally want to make a push for Aramis Ramirez, but given the scarcity of 3B this season and the likely overpaying/bidding war sure to happen, I can’t imagine the Rockies being a major part of that. Whoever the team gets will likely be a stopgap for Nolan Arenado, who could be hitting the majors as early as late 2012.
Follow the jump for more on newcomers and the loss of Ubaldo Jimenez
NH: One of the bright sides of September for a team with no post-season hopes is getting to see some of the future starts through September call-ups. Anyone we should look out for this series? Which player are you all most excited to see wearing a Rockies uniform permanently in the near future?
AM: Well, you’re kind of asking 2 different questions here. Everyone not named Pomeranz or Rosario are backup-type players. Willin Rosario is probably the callup that’s most exciting that you’ll see over the series. He looks to be the Catcher of the Future, a long-fabled character among Rockies fans. He has some serious thump to his bat, but his plate discipline needs a lot of work. He has a cannon of an arm, and similar to criticisms of Pudge Rodriguez, he’s been guilty of calling a fastball-heavy diet with runners on so he can get the chance to throw the runner out on the basepaths. Past Rosario, you might see Jordan Pacheco get some reps as well. He had a miserable season in AAA this year, but he looks to be a strong contact hitter with decent zone awareness and discipline. Not an inordinate amount of power, but he looks to be a decent corners sub. As for excitement? Drew Pomeranz, but I’ll get to that in the next question.
NH: Received from the Indians in the trade for Ubaldo Jimenez, Alex White joined your rotation in late August and Drew Pomeranz recently debuted. Are these guys we'll be seeing in your rotation next season? Are there concerns that they aren't major league ready or have been rushed onto the field?
AM: Yes, assuredly. White was already in the majors with Cleveland, and he dominated AA in his rehab starts. There’s not much left for him to learn in AA, and there are a lot of questions regarding the developmental benefits of AAA Colorado Springs. White’s learning curve might be steep, but he’ll be in the MLB rotation in 2012, no doubt. Pomeranz, on the other hand, has a mere 101 minor league innings under his belt. He also looks major league ready. Watching his debut in Colorado was pretty exciting. He didn’t have the flashiest of starts - well, as un-flashy as 5 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball can be - but he had hitters off balance all game, and the Reds are not a lineup to take lightly. As for calling up Pomeranz too early, it’s September, and the AA season is over. If he looked overmatched in AA, he’d just be getting a break before the AFL. As it stands, they’re just adding a few innings to his load and giving him an audition before he heads to the AFL. He’ll be fighting for a MLB rotation slot in 2012.
NH: Speaking of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade - now that it's not a raw wound, what's your take on the trade? Rockies fans were pretty attached to their homegrown ace, but did get a lot in return for Jimenez's move to Cleveland. Since we in Milwaukee are about to lose our homegrown star in Prince Fielder, do you have any advice for getting over it?
AM: With Ubaldo, there was legit reason to think that his numbers were indicating a decline. Lowered velocity, higher Line Drive rates, inflated ERA, things of that nature. Disturbingly, xFIP suggests he hasn’t changed at all since 2009, but just looking at his peripheral profile, something’s up. His HR rate is way up, which could just be a blip/outlier, which is in turn inflating his ERA. We always thought xFIP undervalued Ubaldo, but now it seems to be overvaluing him. It’s tough to say. We are all pulling for him, as we still love him, but personally, if he fell apart, I’d be sad, and then put on a Pomeranz jersey and root for the Rockies.
NH: Most fans found this finish to be surprising, having expected the Rockies to compete for the division. What changes need to be made for this team to be a competitor next season?
They need a 2B, 3B. They need to decide if Chris Iannetta or Wilin Rosario is the Guy moving forward, and if it’s Rosario, do you move Iannetta in trade or do you make him the Backup C/Backup 1B/RHB platoon guy? Do you bring in another platoon partner for Seth Smith, or does Ty Wigginton fill that role? Who fills out the rotation? Chacin, Hammel, Rogers, and White isn’t an intimidating rotation. There’ll be help coming later in the season in the form of Jorge De La Rosa and Drew Pomeranz, but there’s no guarantees with either of them (and there’s also the Juan Nicasio wild card) as to their effectiveness (esp DLR, coming off of TJS).
The needs appear similar to last season: Rotation depth, big RHB. Next year could surprise people, but I’m seeing it being yet another growing year for guys like Pacheco, Rosario, White, Pomeranz, and Rex Brothers.
Thanks to Andrew for answering our questions.