In order for the Colorado Rockies to be a contender in the near future and also in seasons to come, the pitching staff must improve. It is no mystery as to what keeps the offensive heavy Rockies stifled, but very few attempts to improve the pitching leaves Colorado fans scratching their heads.
Just recently, Dan O’dowd and the rest of the Rockies front office agreed on a deal to send a minor league first baseman, Harold Riggins, to the Cincinnati Reds for one time All-Star Jair Jurrjens. Although this is the right mindset that the front office needs to have, trading for a washed up health question mark was not the move a struggling organization needed.
In 2011, Jair Jurrjens had a phenomenal start to the year heading a good Atlanta Braves rotation. Going into the All-Star break, Jurrjens led the National League in wins and ERA and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless in his first All-Star appearance. However, after his hot start in 2011, Jair has not only struggled to stay in a pitching rotation but also has struggled to stay in the big leagues. The Colorado Rockies thought they would take a shot on a guy that has been battling to stay in the major leagues and so far in his stint with the team, he has shown why the minors are a better place for him right now. After his last start, Jair was sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs in order to make room on the roster for Carlos Gonzalez who was finishing up rehab starts in the minors.
Since joining the Rockies, Jurrjens has made a couple starts but has not shown anything in terms of being able to help the team in the long-term. In his firs two outings with the team, Jurrjens threw a combined 9 1/3 innings, surrendering 20 hits and 11 runs against just 9 strikeouts and a staggering 10.61 ERA.
Although Colorado only gave a lowly prospect in order to attain Jurrjens, this is not what team executives were looking for when they thought to bring him aboard. Jair showed minor glimpses of what he could be in his last start vs. the Padres. He went 4 2/3 innings with six strikeouts but was not efficient enough pitch wise (96 pitches) to continue past the 5th. After being taken to the hospital for labored breathing after the start, Jurrjens had this to say about his outing. “I felt better than last time. The fifth inning, I was a little bit tired. I just needed to get used to it.”
Going out and getting a one time All-Star shows a little of what the front office can and will continue to try to do over the next year or so, but in no way is it enough. With two very hot commodities in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez on their team, the Colorado Rockies will continue to make small, insignificant trades until it is finally time to let go of one of the big guns. Until some major changes are made to the culture and attitude of this losing franchise, those names will always be brought up in terms of trade talks and helping the Rockies land a huge name, successful pitcher that just might be able to get them over the hump in the NL.
This past week at the All-Star game, Tulo was asked about stepping in behind Jeter and becoming the next shortstop for arguably the greatest franchise in sports. He simply said it would be a “great story” and that “If they feel like, hey, we need to get younger and feel like they can get some prospects for me, then that’s what it is. I’m not demanding a trade or need out of there. I just said, hey, if it’s something that makes the organization better for the long run then that’s something they’re going to be into.” Dan O’dowd (GM), Dick Monfort (owner) and the rest of the Rockies front office need to make some moves and make them soon or a once in a generation type player will be suiting up for the pinstripes sooner than we all want.