SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 14: Fans follow the action on the baseball diamond between the Cincinnati Reds and the Colorodo Rockis during the spring training baseball game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 14, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The Colorado Rockies have a bevy of starting pitchers for the rotation battle during Spring Training, but will the rotation be any better this season? O'Dowd's betting an awful lot on it.
A baseball team can never have enough quality pitchers, but it can certainly have more than its share of quantity of hurlers. As we are roughly one month away from the Colorado Rockies' pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, general manager Dan O'Dowd has continued his pursuit of pitching this offseason with the acquisition of Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman for outfielder Seth Smith.
Reactions to the trade range from Fangraphs panning the move from the Rockies' side of things to Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew nuanced approach to the trade to Purple Row finding plenty of good qualities in the pitchers the Rockies received. It's a mixed bag of reviews, but the Rockies weren't going to have much use for Seth Smith as a backup outfielder set to make $2.4 million this season.
With Michael Cuddyer as the big free agent splash the Rockies made this offseason, right field picked up a new occupant. Carlos Gonzalez shifted over to left field (he played half his games there in 2011, though) while Dexter Fowler retained center field. Smith platooned in previous seasons, but three bonafide starters in the outfield relegated Smith to a reduced role if he had stayed. Charlie Blackmon, Tyler Colvin and Jamie Hoffman will now be able to complete for the fourth outfielder spot.
But back to the pitching. Just a couple hours after the trade was announced, it was revealed that the team has offered a minor-league contract to veteran Jamie Moyer, who is mulling over the offer. Moyer, 49, missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. It's not out of the question that he could make the team, but it seems far more likely that he could be a better mentor to the young pitchers the Rockies will have in camp.
But it's going to be a wild derby for a spot in the rotation, as Dan O'Dowd said (via Troy Renck):
"We will have a raging competition in spring for spots''
There are at least a dozen pitchers with a legitimate fight on their hands for a rotation spot, but only Jhoulys Chacin appears to have a spot locked down entering Spring Training. If he can improve his walk rate (4.0 each of the past two seasons).
From there, we have: Moscoso, Outman, Jason Hammel, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood, Juan Nicasio, Esmil Rogers and Kevin Slowey. We can also add in Chad Bettis, Edwar Cabrera and Christian Friedrich. Jorge De La Rosa is an unquestioned addition to the rotation, an event we'll need to wait for until June. Before this trade, Troy Renck offered a pretty good idea on the shape of the rotation: Chacin, Hammel, Pomeranz, Nicasio and then Slowey.
But with the extra arms the Rockies have now, the rotation has the potential to shape up differently. Nicasio, coming back from a broken neck, could be given more time to work his way back. Pomeranz can pitch at Triple-A (or Double-A if the team doesn't want to expose him to the non-humidor of Security Service Field) for a bit. Slowey can be challenged by Moscoso and Outman for the final spot in the rotation.
Moscoso and Outman also provide the Rockies an opportunity to develop a few more options in the bullpen. Both did pitch out of the bullpen last season and could work as swingmen. While both are flyball pitchers, which doesn't exactly play well in Coors Field, Outman's minor league numbers do show the potential for a groundball pitcher. And after this season, the Rockies will see Matt Belisle become a free agent while Matt Lindstrom has a club option and Rafael Betancourt a mutual one. This could be an early jump on the 2013 bullpen.
Dan O'Dowd isn't re-inventing the wheel. He's trying to find as many pitchers as he can and hoping enough of them can stick to form a stable rotation, which did not happen last season. Greg Reynolds, Alan Johnson, Clayton Mortensen -- just some of the names taking the mound last season. Are we just witnessing the same process but new names making their way through Coors Field? Dan O'Dowd certainly doesn't think so, but will he be correct?