Talking NL West With The Colorado Rockies Rox Pile

Credit: Kyle Terada - US PRESSWIRE

A few weeks back, I sat down with Michelle Hoag and Hayden Kane of FanSided’s Colorado Rockies blog, Rox Pile to talk Rockies and Giants baseball. We e-mailed questions back and forth pertaining to each club’s ’12 and beyond, so I hope you enjoy the insight and it gives you a bit of perspective from outside fans in addition to getting some feelings on how the 2012 season will play out. Enjoy!

1) Let’s hear about the Rockies offseason. Their front office has been pretty active so far. Are you happy with the moves? Disappointed?

Hayden:
 I’m disappointed with the offseason because the team has parted with so many of its previous top prospects like Ian Stewart, Greg Reynolds and Casey Weathers. It’s not that I think the team should have kept those players; it’s the fact that these mistakes in the first round of the draft have surely set the team back. It feels like a short time ago that we were all excited about the excellent scouting and depth of the organization, but I have to believe that no longer holds true since the team whiffed on these players. This sudden lack of depth makes this offseason difficult to peg down because it is a mix of immediate impact moves like the Michael Cuddyer signing and rebuilding moves like yesterday’s Seth Smith trade. So while we find ourselves partly in “wait and see” mode, I think we have to call it a disappointment for now.

Michelle:
I am actually quite happy with how this offseason has gone, if only because Dan O’Dowd has shown an uncharacteristic willingness to make serious changes. We have had to cut loose several first-round draft picks, which is unfortunate, but I think it had to be done. It’s been a long time since the Rockies have been overhauled like this. I think it bodes well for the future because it shows that the organization is serious about demanding the best effort from its players. And they say don’t fix it if it’s not broken – but the 2011 Rockies were the most broken in team history. So some fixing had to be done. That said, it could take several years for the pieces to come together now that these moves have been made. My biggest hope for 2012 is that some kind of consistent rotation emerges. That could set us up for great things in 2013.

2) What are you expecting out of your 2012 Rockies? Can they compete in the NL West?

Hayden: 
I have no idea. But maybe that’s a good thing; like you say, that’s when the Rockies seem to emerge out of nowhere and actually find some success. For now I do not think they can compete in the 2012 NL West because of the instability of the starting rotation.

Michelle:
In my opinion, the Rockies are rebuilding and will not be competitive in the NL West. Perhaps if the division was as wide open now as it was in 2011, they would have a chance, but the Diamondbacks have tasted success and built the juggernaut they need to maintain it. I also think that the characterization of the Rockies as a “second-half team” has been overused. They had two late-season runs of success down the stretch, and because those two happened very close together, people started to think that was the norm. I can understand the general public thinking that, but it was very frustrating to hear Jim Tracy and the players talk about the team that way last year. In some ways, the team’s second-half success in previous years became an excuse for their first-half failures in 2011. But relying on that kind of magical thinking leads to exactly what it led to: laziness, whining, and terrible playing. They can’t rest on their laurels in 2012 if they want to have a prayer. They have to suck it up, stop talking about how good they are in the second half, and prove that they are good enough to compete in the first half. If they do that, they might surprise some people.

 

Giant related questions (answered by myself – keep in mind they’re a few weeks stale, for instance things we learned at Fan Fest that weren’t known at the time):

1) What are the lingering effects of the trade last season for Carlos Beltran? Do you judge the trade differently since he did not sign with the Giants this offseason? Where does his decision to sign with the Cardinals leave the Giants in terms of their lineup?

Outside of the stinging in my ass? haha. In all seriousness, I’m over it, but, I’d really like to know what the Giants brass had in mind (outside of an iffy hopeful late season run) when they acquired Beltran. I never really had any issues with the talent they gave up in Wheeler, mostly because I think he’s a bit overrated (reminds me a lot of a Jonathan Sanchez, great stuff, inability to understand or command it) but my assumption was that they’d bring Carlos back. Now, granted, I understand the financial crunch they’re currently in – but, they do have a TON of money coming off the books at season end (Jeremy Affeldt, $5 million, Brian Wilson, $8.5 mill, Aubrey Huff, $10 mill and Aaron Rowand, $12 mill, so I was in the group hoping they would recoup their financial losses this season with the influx of cash they’d be shedding at the end of the upcoming season in effort to retain Carlos. I understand their concerns about his inability to play right field at AT&T (which are very valid) and the fact that he needs to play inside of a bubble to avoid injury, but, it’s a tough loss from a lineup protection standpoint. However, the good news for the Giants is that they did acquire a much needed leadoff man in Angel Pagan, who, on his worst day is better than Andres Torres offensively. Torres’ ability to get on base and create mild havoc on the basepaths during the Giants’ ‘10 run was instrumental in their winning, so, I’m hoping the offensive upgrade counteracts the defensive downgrade in center. I’d honestly say that the Giants needed a true leadoff bat just as much, if not more than a middle of the lineup hitter. With the return of a hopefully healthy Posey and Freddy Sanchez, a fit Pablo Sandoval (he was pretty void of anything good in ‘10) and an apparently fit Aubrey Huff (who’s been texting half naked pictures to Bruce Bochy weekly to show off his new ‘sexy bod’ (his words), they’ll be enough to counter act the loss of Beltran. The top of the Giants lineup (outside of health) is where the Giants 2012 season is going to sink or swim, in my opinion.

2) The Giants’ primary offseason priority has seemed to be keeping their starting rotation intact. Where do you rate their rotation compared to the others in the NL West, and do you think it’s enough to compensate for their run-scoring struggles?

My worry with the rotation is simply the overuse, which eventually will show itself – even Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti thinks so. It’s only a matter of time, we just don’t know when or for how long. It might not be this year – heck, it might not be 2013 but eventually they’re going to run into some speed bumps. Hopefully for the Giants, it’s nothing too devastating like an injury or a total loss of mechanics, but I’m nervously waiting for it. But assuming their health is okay, the Giants rotation is still the best in the NL west to me, no offense to D’Back fans. I think they’ve built a very solid rotation, and Kevin Towers is a genius at building bullpens but I don’t see any current NL West foe matching their rotation, starter to starter. As for the staff, I’m really excited to see what Madison Bumgarner will bring into 2012 as I think he’s really going to challenge both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum in terms of being a staff ace. Granted, he’ll still be the “#3 starter” but I could easily see Bumgarner putting up stats equal to Cain or Lincecum this year.

For the Giants, their biggest enemy is health. Assuming they have it, as they did in ‘10, they’re going to have a solid season and compete in the NL West. If they don’t? Well, I’ve already purchase all the razors on aisle 8 of the local Wal-Mart – so I’m ready either way.

Topics: Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey, Colorado Rockies, Freddy Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum

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