What the Colorado Rockies Should Do


As they head into play against the Padres tonight, the Rockies are currently in fourth place in the NL West, five games behind the division leaders. With Troy Tulowitzki on the disabled list, the team has gone into something of a holding pattern to see if they can stay in the race until he returns, but I think that may be a mistake.

Buy Or Sell

The Rockies are very much contenders. They’re a high quality team with some good players, and while they’re five games out of first place, the Padres are almost certainly going to perform worse in the second half than they have so far. The Rockies should absolutely be buyers, and they should be buying sooner than later in order to maximize the amount of wins that a new acquisition can add to their roster.

There are essentially two glaring problems with the team, filling in for their star shortstop notwithstanding – both spots on the right side of the infield. Todd Helton‘s power has vanished, and he’s posting a .307 wOBA, simply not good enough for a first baseman who spends half his time in Coors Field. The man playing next to him, meanwhile, Clint Barmes, has been even worse at the plate, posting a .289 wOBA. The lack of offense from these two spots have created problems for the Rockies.

One of those problems is fixable internally. The Rockies have too many outfielders, except one of them isn’t defensively capable and could be a more valuable player at first base – Brad Hawpe. He was primarily a first baseman in the minors, but was shifted to the outfield because Helton had the position locked down. By moving Hawpe to first base, they could drastically improve their outfield defense and get a better bat in the line-up than what Helton is giving them on a regular basis.

The second base issue can probably only be solved by going outside the organization. Barmes is a decent utility player, but he shouldn’t be starting on a team that has World Series aspirations. The team should be shopping heavily for a middle infielder who can handle second base full time and provide an offensive lift, especially if they can find that in a right-handed bat.

The obvious fit, if they can convince the Marlins that they’re out of the race, is Dan Uggla. He’s a consistent +3 to +4 win player with power and patience who would thrive in Colorado, and at $8 million this year and due for another arbitration raise in the winter, he’s too pricey by Florida’s standards.

There are lesser second base options available as well, but Uggla is the natural fit, and you have to imagine that Dan O’Dowd and Larry Beinfest will have a conversation or two during July.

On The Farm

The Rockies have some quality pitching prospects, always useful chips when trying to make a deal, especially with Florida. From Jhoulys Chacin to Esmil Rogers and Christian Friedrich, there are several good arms making their way towards the majors. Given their rotation depth, the Rockies could afford to part with one of these guys in pursuit of an impact player.

Things are not quite as rosy on the position player front, but the team has so much young talent on the major league roster that it’s not a huge problem.


Colorado isn’t rolling in cash, but they do have some financial flexibility going forward. They have just over $50 million in committed contracts for 2010, and their only significant arbitration cases will be with Barmes and Jason Hammel. Barmes is a non-tender candidate, so assuming the Rockies decline Hawpe’s option, they should have enough room in the budget to be able to fit another impact guy on the roster, such as Uggla.

By locking up Ubaldo Jimenez and Tulowitzki early for bargain rates, the team has given themselves a good foundation of which to build off. Even though they’re in fourth place, I’d like to see the Rockies take advantage of that and make a bold move to win both this year and next.

Print This Post

Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

34 Responses to “What the Colorado Rockies Should Do”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Josh says:

    “the Padres are almost certainly going to perform worse in the second half than they have so far”

    Why? Because you said so?

    -20 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jackweiland says:

      Oh no you didn’t!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • I’m not a fan of the phrase “almost certainly” either, but the point is that they’re gritting and scrapping out wins, and while that “works”, it’s the kind of thing that flies in the face of better teams that perform better. Their bats haven’t matched their pitching, and that’s ok, sort of, but come August, do you think all of those young arms are going to still be as sharp? The youth thing does help them physically, I guess, but I wonder how long a staff that young can stay mentally sharp in a chase.

      I mentioned on the Rowbot Radio podcast that I feel as if they’re walking the razor’s edge (based on nothing whatsoever, I’ll admit it) and are one bad home series away from breaking down mentally.

      Try introducing conversation next time rather than just being a snarky commenter.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Josh says:

        Good post.

        I can see how my response came off as snarky. I was just curious if Dave had any evidence/reasons for why he made the statement, or if it was simply because he doesn’t think they’re as good as the Rockies.

        It will be interesting to see how many wins it takes to win the NL west, and what the wild card winner will need.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • marcello says:

      You really think they’re a 96 win team?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Reuben says:

      because they’re outperforming their true talent and latos has an IP cap.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Cidron says:

    are you tellin us that they (padres) arent playing over their heads ? OK I will give you that they got great pitching, in a great pitchers park. But, I am not even sure if they know how to spell “hitting” let alone do it for the season.

    MLB they are 5th worst team avg. .245
    MLB they are 9th worst team RBI 300
    MLB they are 7th worst in HR 57 (thru 2923 PA for 1 hr for every 51 pa)
    MLB they are 7th worst in hits 634 (4.6 PA per hit)

    Not good signs of a hitting team. Not sure you can say it will improve either. Its not like they have battled slumps, had big bats injured. Nope, this is your Padres team Josh. Dodgers, and Rockies do know how to pitch.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Travis L says:

      1. Please don’t cite team average, RBI, or hits as proof. We’re past that.
      2. Considering their home park suppresses runs by 15-25%, those numbers aren’t that bad.

      I’m not suggesting the team is full of great hitters. I’m not suggesting that they’re this good. I am just stating that you only added noise to the conversation, rather than proving your point (which isn’t a controversial or unprovable hypothesis).

      FWIW, I’m a huge Padres fan and grew up playing with Gonzalez and Gwynn, so let’s hold of the assumption that I just hate the Pads.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mr. Sanchez says:

        Actually, I’d think a team RBI stat is much more valuable than it would be for an individual.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Travis L says:

        @Mr. Sanchez you are definitely correct. However, we could just use runs scored as an even better one, if you want to stay within the “only measure what happens on the field” mentality (i.e. you don’t like derivative stats). Are there reasons you can think of to use RBI over RS?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Mr. Sanchez says:

        No, that is pretty much where the value lies imo Travis. Comparing Player X to Player Y in terms of RBI gets muddled with all sorts of outside stuff, such as batting order spot, teammates in front, etc that wouldn’t be there when comparing teams as a whole on who scores more, so in that sense, runs scored would be as valuable or more so than RBI. About the only reason I could come up with for using RBI instead of simple runs scored would be eliminating runs produced through defensive errors, etc and focusing more on what offense alone produces.

        And yes, I do still value counting stats, while recognizing the benefit of baseball algebra. I think all of have their inherent strengths and weaknesses and are of little worth standing alone without context or other stats in the analysis.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Travis L says:

        @Mr. Sanchez you’re starting to restore my faith in FG commenters. Ever since they got added to “TMI” on ESPN, I feel like the general level of discussion has deteriorated.

        And you are absolutely correct. Thank you for that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Pat says:

    Getting Jorge De La Rosa back for them will be huge as well, and with Street back in the bullpen, I’d look for this team to get on a pretty good run as soon as Tulo gets back. They have always been a very solid team with a lot of depth, but I always wish they’d make that one big move to put them over the top. Cliff Lee would be great, but I think they need one more hitter more importantly. Ian Stewart has been very ordinary as well, Uggla would be a great fit for them.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Reuben says:

      If they had aging players and this was their one shot at a WS or they were a big market team with a high payroll and a had a chance at singing Lee, he would be the guy, but that seems pretty counter intuitive to me. Their rotation is pretty dang good with Ubaldo, De La Rosa, Hammel, Cook, and Francis and could get better with Chacin, Friedrich, etc in the future. They’d almost surely have to give up one or more of those guys to get Lee and for one run? They’re poised for several if they stay healthy and can keep their core in tact.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. ProgMatinee says:

    I’d love to see Uggla in a Rox uniform, but whats the price? I kinda figure to take in Uggla’s salary the Rox would look to move a similar salary…the most like candidate happens to be Brad Hawpe.

    Basically a third team is likely required to get the deal done. Lets say Hawpe to Boston, Uggla to Colorado and Sox prospects to the Fish.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Virgil Pryor says:

    What about Ryan Theriot? He isn’t the “offensive lift” you suggest, but he’s a decent enough player. Any possibility he ends up in Colorado?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ProgMatinee says:

      The Rockies have “decent enough players” like Herrera and Nelson and eventually Eric Young Jr (when healthy) to play 2nd base. They aren’t looking to make a move just to make a move. The upgrade offensively would need to be substantial, Uggla is pretty much the only guy on the market that fits.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Virgil Pryor says:

        You’re probably right… just throwing it out there.

        Not too familiar with the names Herrera and Nelson, but are they really as sure a thing to fill in for Tulo as capably as you could count on a guy like Theriot to? I just mean that with Theriot, he’s a what-you-see is what-you-get guy. He isn’t a risky proposition. I might be wrong, but I’d be inclined to believe those other names you mentioned are.

        I see what your argument with Uggla is though. He’s obviously the better player.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • @VP Herrera is essentially a AAAA all-glove no power singles hitter. He is on a 10-game hit streak now playing second base and leading off, but if he is starting regularly in September, the Rockies are in trouble. Nelson is a rookie who may have been sent back down today in place of Dexter Fowler. He was a 10 ten pick in the draft for the Rockies out of high school and has been slow to develop. He is FAR from a sure thing, though he could develop into an asset. Either way, neither of them can be counted on to be the answer at second base. Neither can Clint Barmes it seems.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Kenneth Weber says:

    Uggla would be a nice piece, but I don’t believe he’d be the best fit. Colorado and Florida operate under very similar payrolls and the Rockies won’t be in a much better situation to handle his upcoming arbitration then the Marlins are. The best fit would be Theriot or Aaron Hill, with Hill being my preference.
    Considering Hill is not having a spectacular year, Toronto has a prospect behind him (Luis Figueroa) that they think pretty highly of and the fact that the AL East is just too beastly to win with 85-90 wins like the Jays will top out around, Hill could almost certainly be had for a lesser price then Uggla. He’s a top notch defender, has good pop for a 2B and could fit in either in the 2 hole or 5-6-7.
    As for Theriot, now that Starlin Castro is top on the SS depth chart he can certainly be moved easier and with how shaky the Cubs are in the first place, he could just be one of the many pieces moved in a roster blow-up.
    The moral of this story though, is Clint Barmes sucks balls and every Rockies fan who knows baseball is sick of seeing him start at second. He’s arguably one of the best utility infielders in baseball, certainly better then Melvin Mora, but as a starter he’s more of a problem in the lineup then he is a solution. Everytime Barmes throws away an at bat chasing pitches out of the zone with two outs and the pitcher on deck, an angel loses their wings and thats been making for a lot of dead angels.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • “Everytime Barmes throws away an at bat chasing pitches out of the zone with two outs and the pitcher on deck, an angel loses their wings”

      And every time a non-Barmes defender can’t get to a ball and convert it into an out, another opposing baserunner reaches.

      Barmes has posted a 96 June wRC+. We can’t spare his glove at SS.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kenneth Weber says:

        Im not at all speaking of taking him out from SS, he’s needed there with Tulo out. But when Tulo is back and we have Theriot, Hill, or Uggla, Barmes should be riding pine.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • @Kenneth

        Assuming we have actually gathered our nuts up and made a manly trade, yes, I concur, Barmes should be riding pine.

        You know as well as I do that the team is built around groundballs and defense, and that’s really been the only reason Barmes stays in the lineup.

        Also, funny note: Johnny Herrera may just have the emptiest .292 average I’ve ever seen.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. MJ in PDX says:

    I am not sure you can trust Tracy to make the moves necessary…i.e. Seth Smith in the OF everday, No more Spilbourghs starting 3-4 days a week, Stewart starting everday at 3B, no more Mora, Ianneta getting more than 3 weeks to prove himself. Olivo used as a back-up.

    Tracy confounds me, and I am not a Rockies fan, persay. If I remember right, tracy started Mora in LF and Spilbourghs in CF. Scary.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Spilly June: 145 wRC+ – why not start him as much as possible? strike while the iron is hot, etc? Tracy started Spilborghs in CF because he was the ONLY OPTION. Fowler was in AAA and Gonzalez was nursing his knee for a series. Mora in LF is inexcusable though. I honestly don’t know what goes through the man’s head.

      Ian Stewart wRC+ by month: 134, 87, 66. He doesn’t really inspire a lot of trust from a manager with that line. In his last 7 games, he’s batting .273/.385/.545/.930, and it looks like he’s slowly pulling out of his nose dive. Point is I can’t really fault Tracy for benching Stewart’s 66 wRC+ for Mora’s 99 wRC+ in June.

      As for Mora, provided that he stays as a utility player only, 86 wRC+ isn’t awful, and it’s not as if he’s underperforming some sort of unappreciated stud…except maybe Chris Nelson..hm…

      Miguel Olivo is the most valuable catcher in baseball, per WAR, and 2nd most per Rally WAR. Kind of hard to take that out of the lineup. Recent beat articles have pointed to Tracy recognizing Olivo cooling down and Iannetta starting to do things right again, so the balance of playing time is going to shift, provided Iannetta stays on that performance edge and doesn’t press himself into another 33 wRC+.

      Seff Smiff is cooling off a bit, but he’s still pretty studly, and is still above a 100 wRC+, and is the best defensive LF we have (well, assuming we’re not going all Carl Crawford on Carlos Gonzalez).

      Tracy confounds us too, but when the offense is like “oh hai .320 wOBA in June lol” I can’t really get TOO mad at the guy for trying to shake things up a bit. It’s pretty lose lose. He sticks with his slumping starters, he gets crucified for leaving bums on the field. He mixes it up with bench bats, he gets crucified for playing little-league ball. And now Ubaldo is looking human again. I don’t like Jim Tracy, but I also don’t envy his position right now.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jlebeck66 says:

      Jim Tracy makes me sad. I have four Rockies’ batters on my APBA roster: Seth Smith, Chris Iannetta, Dexter Fowler & Ian Stewart, yet there are days that not a single one plays. I did NOT see that coming before the year started.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Rox Fan from day 1 says:

    This is what I’ve been ranting about for weeks. The Rockies need to make a move to improve their team. Sitting idle in 4th place in the division is not going to cut it. Especially when the 3 teams ahead of them are going to make the moves they need to pull away.

    I like the idea of getting Kelly Johnson or Dan Uggla to play at 2nd and possibly renting Cliff Lee for the 2nd half. I also like the idea of a 3 team deal with Boston and Florida. I could see the Rockies dealing Iannetta and possibly a prospect or 2 to Boston, and Boston dealing prospects to Florida, for the Rockies to get Uggla. Maybe the marlins would send Maybin, Ross, or Gabby Sanchez to Boston..since they are in need of an outfielder in which case the Marlins could receive prospects from both teams. This unfortunately reminds me that with Pedroia out, Boston may try to get Uggla themselves.

    As for Cliff Lee, I’ve seen that Seattle is also in the market for a catcher..again, Iannetta may be an option as well as possibly Giambi since interleague play is done for the Rockies this year unless they make the world series. Prospects are also an option as well.

    The thought of Hawpe at 1st takes a great arm out of the outfield but helps the power in the line up and I wouldn’t be opposed to that since the Rox are deep in the outfield.

    I suspect that major no deal will be made and predict that not making a move will hurt any chance of contending for a playoff spot this year. I only come to this conclusion based upon how well other teams are playing in the NL. I figure that only 1 NL West team will make the playoffs this year due to the resurgence of the Reds, Braves, and Mets….So please Rockies Front office…make a move or two that will significantly improve the chances of winning your 1st ever division title.. a 2nd NL Pennant…then stomp the AL team in the world series!

    I’m sure this will fall on deaf ears…but a fan can dream…can’t he?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kenneth Weber says:

      The Rockies have always been notorious with standing pat with what they have, which is why they are always a step below the Twins when it comes to building a franchise. They can develope their own players as well as anyone, but theyre too reluctant to move some of those home grown pieces when times are right. There was once a time when the Rockies were losing games with Atkins just fine, and decided to pass on a Ben Zobrist for Shatkins deal. That happens and there is no discussion today of the Rockies needing a 2B.

      Im not a big fan of the idea of renting Cliff Lee. DLR coming back is about as good of an as addition any team can make. Dexter Fowler and Ianetta would be demanded in return by Seattle and if the Rockies still cant consistently score runs, it won’t matter how good Lee pitches.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • And do What with Cliff Lee? Pitching is not our problem, as we are 2nd in pitching WAR this season, 2 entire wins above the the Cubs.

      The Marlins trading Maybin doesn’t make much sense. Or Sanchez. $$$ talks.

      “The thought of Hawpe at 1st takes a great arm out of the outfield but helps the power in the line up and I wouldn’t be opposed to that since the Rox are deep in the outfield.”

      This drives me nuts. To utilize a strong arm, you need to GET TO THE BASEBALL, and Hawpe is arguably the worst defensive RF in baseball right now.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Rockies Love says:

    I completely agree with everyone here that thinks the Rockies need to make a move. The front office & owners need to show they are serious about making a move and serious about winning a world series. Currently, Helton is just an anchor to our team and as much as we love him, and have loved him for the past few years he just isn’t cutting it at all this year. The idea of moving Hawpe is intriguing but I also feel Hawpe hasn’t really been producing either. WIth the amount of depth we have in the outfield I feel Hawpe or Smith could be great bargaining chips for some other teams. But After the recent performances from Corpas and our bullpen I think we might need to be looking for a package deal with a reliever and a batter with some pop who won’t swing at terrible pitches once every other AB.
    With the starting pitching we have this year and the production we have been getting from Gonzalez and Tulo and some others, we really have a chance to make it to the series, but thats only gonna be if our front office shows we are serious but we have failed to make that big move every year in the past. What needs to be done to motivate the front office to make a move? Signs at the games? more articles like this? or are they just gonna show us again they want to be cheap and aren’t serious about winning it all?

    Go Rockies they will make a move

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Rox Fan from day 1 says:

    In response to Rockies Magic Number:

    “The Marlins trading Maybin doesn’t make much sense. Or Sanchez. $$$ talks.”
    -rockies magic number

    – I suggested this as part of a 3 way deal with Boston in order to acquire Uggla for the Rockies and a quality/useful OF for Boston..I’m pretty sure Maybin is back in the minors now and Sanchez has been productive and may be someone that Boston would be interested in.

    “The thought of Hawpe at 1st takes a great arm out of the outfield but helps the power in the line up and I wouldn’t be opposed to that since the Rox are deep in the outfield.” – me

    This drives me nuts. To utilize a strong arm, you need to GET TO THE BASEBALL, and Hawpe is arguably the worst defensive RF in baseball right now.
    - rockies magic number

    – In no way do I disagree with what you’re saying here. Hawpe is not the fastest guy out there. Nowhere in any statement that I made mentioned or even implied Hawpe’s speed or fielding ability..I was referring to his cannon of an arm that would make players think twice about trying to stretch a single into a double or a double into a triple when he’s able to make a play on the ball.. I actually like the idea of him taking over at 1B if Helton can’t produce like he has in the past…

    Oh and what would we do with Cliff Lee?…Uhhh….first and foremost, win alot more games when Ubaldo isn’t pitching…I agree that the rotation has been good..number wise..but that doesn’t mean jack in the W/ L stat column..What Lee would do is take some of the pressure off of Ubaldo and the bullpen.

    I understand De La Rosa is coming back..he had a great year last year and looked to continue the same this year before the injury..we all expect him to perform well…. Francis has been pretty good but I don’t expect more than 12 wins from him this season… Hammel & Chacin have been pleasant surprises, but I’m also not counting on each of them to do much more than Francis…and the biggest disappointment in the rotation this year has to be Aaron Cook..I was so excited to see him come into spring training much more fit but his production has been horrible in comparison to the past 2 years… So yeah, I along with many others, would love to see a proven winner to compliment Jimenez..especially one that has recent successful playoff experience…

    One last point, you can never have too much quality pitching..great pitching & good defense will always beat out great hitting…if you don’t believe that, ask yourself how 2 of the 3 teams ahead of the Rockies in the division can be where they are with horrible run producing line-ups.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bluecaboose says:

      “In no way do I disagree with what you’re saying here. Hawpe is not the fastest guy out there. Nowhere in any statement that I made mentioned or even implied Hawpe’s speed or fielding ability..I was referring to his cannon of an arm that would make players think twice about trying to stretch a single into a double or a double into a triple when he’s able to make a play on the ball.. I actually like the idea of him taking over at 1B if Helton can’t produce like he has in the past…”

      Brad Hawpe is literally the worst defensive outfielder in the major leagues, now that Dunn has moved to first.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Carligula says:

        He’s not worse than Jack Cust. Hawpe’s at -19.6 UZR/150 in right (only 2 games in left), Cust is at -21.1 in left and -23.6 in right. Unless Cust gets extra credit for “versatility”, since he can be disgustingly bad at two positions…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Rox Fan from day 1 says:

    I have said nothing positive about his defensive fielding ability..only that he has a strong throwing arm…I’m all for moving him to 1B as the article suggests.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>