What the Rockies Should Do

by Warren Menzer

With the signing of Denny Neagle, the Rockies now have a pretty solid rotation of Neagle, Pedro Astacio, Masato Yoshii, Ron Villone, Brian Bohanon - not award-winning, but solid. They've got some good young talent with flame-throwing Craig House and former Red Sox hurler Brian Rose, but these two can be gradually worked into the rotation if their pitching warrants it - if not, the Rockies are not in immediate danger of having a hole in their starting staff. With an eight-year offer on the table to Mike Hampton, the Rockies are in position to have one of the best starting staffs in the league. Last year's bullpen was possibly the best in baseball - don't let the Coors-inflated ERA fool you.

The problem, as it often is with Colorado, is the offense - the Rockies simply cannot have a playoff contending team unless they lead the league in runs by a very large margin. While the Rockies did in fact score the most runs of any NL team, they did so by a rather slim margin. Given the approximately 60% boost in run scoring in half their games, the Rockies need to do a bit better than that. So after signing Hampton, the Rockies should address these concerns:

  • Catcher: Allow 24-year-old Ben Petrick to get more playing time this season. Petrick hit very well - .322/.401/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in limited playing time last season, and is capable of being one of the best offensive catchers in the league. If the Rockies insist on playing Brent Mayne, then they can have him pitch.
  • Left field: Butch Huskey, while an acceptable temporary solution, is not a good long-term fix for left field. With the offensive hole that is Todd Hollandsworth in center, they need some big production out of a primarily offensive position. The Rockies will obviously be unwilling to spend any more money if they sign Hampton, but a player such as Rich Becker could be had for almost nothing, gets on base very welland would provide a good platoon partner for Huskey. Prospect Juan Pierre could get some playing time this season, especially given Larry Walker's injury-proneness, if there is such a word. Pierre has good on-base skills and is a good runner, though he is a bit short in the power department. Still, getting on base is the key to any offensive, and Colorado could use more of it.
I expected to find more holes, but the Rockies are pretty well-balanced, which could be their downfall. They have a similar problem the Red Sox have - they don't have many obvious holes to fill, and upgrading each position becomes all the more expensive. Well, their second base situation isn't too great, but it's not a complete void like the Mets' right field or the entire Phillies bullpen. Signing Todd Hollandsworth might not have been the best idea in the world, but we'll have to live with that. With Hampton and Neagle, this could be enough to win the division - strong pitching, and a lineup with improved on-base skills.

Plan B:

Grab Manny Ramirez (as is always our Plan B) to play left field. The starting rotation, given a couple of good seasons and some big steps forward by the youngsters, could make it without Hampton.

2001 Suggested 25-man roster:

LF - Rich Becker
3B - Jeff Cirillo
RF - Larry Walker
1B - Todd Helton
C - Ben Petrick
CF - Todd Hollandsworth
2B - Todd Walker
SS - Neifi Perez

C - Brent Mayne
IN - Terry Shumpert
IN - Elvis Pena
OF - Butch Huskey
OF - Juan Pierre

Mike Hampton
Denny Neagle
Pedro Astacio
Masato Yoshii
Brian Bohanon

Craig House
Brian Rose
Mike Myers
Jose Jimenez
Gabe White
Jerry Dipoto
Mike DeJean

Send Warren your opinions, comments or verbal abuse at warren@JBaseball.

© 2000 JBaseball

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