Buyers or Sellers
The Rockies are sitting just below .500, but they are actually closer to the NL West lead than a Wild Card berth. They haven't made the playoffs since 2009 and their best offensive players are approaching 30. Their farm system is not impressive either, so the future might be now. After finishing with the third worst record in all Major League Baseball in 2012, hovering just below .500 is a large improvement and might make it worth seeing what they can buy with savvy trades. Although, mortgaging the farm system they do have does not seem to be in the cards.
A recent report
from Danny Knobler indicates that they may use this weekend's series against Los Angeles to determine if they are buyers or sellers. Seems like a good idea to hinge that decision on one series.
What They Need
The Rockies were linked to Ricky Nolasco until he was dealt to their division rival Dodgers, so you know they want starting pitching. Their rotation is surprisingly solid, as they have three starters with an ERA+ above 124. However, Roy Oswalt went on the disabled list this week; he had been pretty awful prior.
The Rockies bullpen isn't filled with big names, but they are getting big performances from their closer Rafael Betancourt and their left-handed set-up man Rex Brothers. The rest of the bullpen is less impressive, although they did recently acquire Mitchell Boggs from the Cardinals. Boggs has been atrocious this season, but has had success in previous seasons.
Surprisingly, the Rockies may have their greatest need on offense. They are using Todd Helton at first base. That's right, the same Todd Helton who shook Thomas Edison's hand when Edison invented the phonograph. He has been with the Rockies since the Hoover administration, so they might be hesitant to replace him.
What Might Work
The Rockies haven't been linked to any offensive players via trade rumors, so unless the Rockies are tired of eating dinner at 4:30, they may not be a Morneau match. Morneau is nearly 100 years younger than Helton (actually 7) and has been much more productive this season, with an OPS+ of 101 compared to Helton's 83.
The Rockies aren't in the market for a closer, but could use a bullpen arm, most likely from the right side. Casey Fien might seem like a good fit, but his fly ball rate in Colorado could lead to sadness. Of course, that's the Rockies' problem, right? Brian Duensing would become their third best lefty reliever, behind Brothers and Josh Outman. He's probably out.
The Rockies could still be in the market for a fifth starter, to replace the ineffective and injured Oswalt. Kevin Correia's a fifth starter and he has NL experience. Win win!
Short of a fifth starter or a replacement for Zombie Todd Helton, the Twins and Rockies don't seem like a great match on paper.
Earlier, I mentioned the Rockies poor farm system. That doesn't mean there aren't a few intriguing names to consider. Here are a few that caught my fancy.
Eddie Butler - RHP - High A - 22 years old
Butler is rapidly rising through the Rockies' system and rapidly elevating his profile as a prospect along the way. He breezed through low A Asheville posting a sub-2 ERA and sub-1 WHIP before earning a promotion to High A Modesto. At Modesto, he has struck out 55 batters in 52.2 innings pitched, while issuing only 17 walks. Butler has lovely stuff and might top out as a number 3 starter, but he's far from there right now.
Jayson Aquino - LHP - Low A - 20 years old
20 years old? Left-handed? Already moved a level this season? Sounds good to me! Aquino is a guile lefty, with a low 90s fastball, projectable changeup and developing curve. In 28 innings this season, he has struck out 21 batters and issued only 6 walks. He just moved up to Low A Asheville and made his debut last Sunday. I don't see any reports of added velocity, so he might be who he is, but a guile lefty can easily slot as a 4th or 5th starter.
Juan Nicasio - RHP - MLB - 26 years old
You may remember Nicasio from the time he tried to catch a ball with his face. After suffering that extremely scary injury, Nicasio has been far from impressive. However, there's always a chance that getting a pitcher out of Colorado can help turn a career around. Nicasio has really struggled in 2013, but prior to this season he had posted solid strikeout numbers and decent walk rates. As a minor leaguer, he appeared to be capable of even better than that. He's a low risk, high reward target and likely could be had as a reclamation project.
Trevor Story - SS - High A - 20 years old
A top 100 prospect prior to the season, Story is having a dreadful time at the plate. His .212/.285/.358 triple slash hardly screams "dream target." However, a little perspective is in order. He's 20 and playing in High A. He's coming off a 2012 season when he slugged over .500 in full season ball. He's a pure shortstop with a strong arm and good range. He doesn't have a loud tool, but each of the five is average or better. He's going through an adjustment period and now might be the time to pounce. If the Twins traded Glen Perkins for Trevor Story, I would be elated. He could be the Twins' shortstop for a lot of years.