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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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Rockies lack sense of direction going into offseason

It’s amazing how little the Rockies care about winning a World Series. Year after year, it’s the same thing. Injuries and bad luck always seem to be the excuses following another mediocre season. And now, the club can’t wait to bring back manager Walt Weiss.

Weiss did a satisfactory job in his first season as skipper. But results have to come at some point. And 74 wins should not be grounds for a new contract.

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The difference between the Rox and a legitimate baseball organization lies in the front office.

Take the Reds, for example. They’ve been around forever and Cincinnati may be a top five baseball city. But like the Rockies, they’re a “mid-market” team. And yet, they always seem to be vying for a playoff spot, including this year, where they won 90 games.

A 90-win season was good enough for the Reds to play a one-game playoff with the Pirates. Clint Hurdle’s club kept rolling, ousting their division rival with relative ease. For most teams, a season that leads to postseason play can be labeled a success.

Not for the Reds.

Just days after the loss, they fired Dusty Baker, one of the most respected managers in all of baseball. The move doesn’t necessarily mean that Baker was the problem. I see it as being a tactic to make sure the team understands that one and done in the playoffs isn’t being successful.

Instead of overpaying for a power-hitting outfielder, the Rox should use the money to hire Baker. He’s managed several teams in the National League and knows how to win at Coors Field. But more importantly, he’s a winner everywhere he goes, as evidenced by his .526 winning percentage and three Manager of the Year awards.

The more likely scenario is that by next week, Weiss will have a two-year extension. That doesn’t mean the Rox still won’t have issues.

Consider this. The club’s top three starters in the rotation won 38 games. That’s not dominant, but it’s solid. If the number four and five starters combined for 20 wins, the Rox could have been fighting for a playoff spot in September. The bottom of the rotation didn’t even sniff that number.

The number one priority during the offseason should be getting two quality starting pitchers, one via free agency, the other through a trade. Some names that fall in the Rox budget include Bronson Arroyo, Chris Capuano, Gavin Floyd, Jason Vargas and former Rockies Jason Hammel and Ubaldo Jimenez.

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In terms of a trade, the Rockies don’t have many minor league prospects to offer. For once, they have to bite the bullet and part with some of their position players. With the way Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson played in September, Dexter Fowler might be the odd man out next season.

And as athletic and promising as Josh Rutledge may be, DJ Lemahieu is clearly the better second baseman going forward. I’d like to see the Rox package Fowler and Rutledge in an attempt to land a bottom-of-the-rotation starter who could throw 150-170 innings and win 10-12 games.

English: Bronson Arroyo pitching. Cropped vers...
English: Bronson Arroyo pitching. Cropped version of File:Bronson Arroyo 2.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a fixed rotation, the bullpen gets a huge lift. Matt Belisle struggled all year and Wilton Lopez didn’t live up to expectations. Rex Brothers was lights out in the first half of 2013, but hiccupped several times after taking over for Rafael Betancourt in the closer role. I don’t suspect a complete overhaul in the pen, though changes should come.

The starting lineup Opening Day should mash all year if Tulo and Cargo stay healthy. And frankly, after this season, that’s a big “if.”

My projected starting lineup for Opening Day in Miami next April:

  1. Charlie Blackmon, CF
  2. DJ Lemahieu, 2B
  3. Carlos Gonzalez, LF
  4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
  5.  Michael Cuddyer, 1B
  6. Wilin Rosario, C
  7. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  8. Corey Dickerson, RF
  9. Jhoulys Chacin, P
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