All quiet on the trade front | AspenTimes.com

All quiet on the trade front

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Im all for a commitment to your players, but what about a commitment to winning? As I watched trading deadline deals flood the sports wires in recent days, I couldnt help but notice that the local team sat on its hands. While teams from coast to coast made big splashes and future Hall of Famers switched jerseys, the Rockies made little more than a ripple. General manager Dan ODowd purported to be seeking deals, but ultimately couldnt find the one that felt right.I cant say Im surprised. ODowd waffles more than Eggo. This was the time to make a deal.The Rockies have overcome their fair share of adversity and injuries this season. Troy Tulowitzki did his best Brandon Marshall impersonation when he severed his hand with a broken bat and landed on the DL for a second time. In limited action in the seasons first three months, Tulo had 19 hits. He was having a worse year than Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Jeff Francis went from top-of-the-rotation lock to non-factor, leading me to wonder if his 17 wins in 2007 were a fluke. He is 3-7, has an ERA north of 5.6 and currently is on the disabled list with an inflamed shoulder.Todd Helton, also toiling on the DL of late, is a shell of his former self (see: Seven home runs and 29 RBIs). If he continues to struggle, the only way hell get on television is in an episode of The Surreal Life. Still, despite treading water as key players from last years World Series run played sparingly, the Rockies went 16-9 in July the third-best tally in the National League. Earlier this week, they were six games out of first and had both Arizona and L.A. squarely in their sights. A couple of deadline moves and this team was primed for a late run. After all, no one is really out of the hunt in the NL Worst. (Even the Times rec softball team could finish ahead of San Diego.)The players held up their end of the bargain. Management has not. They stood pat, so expect Colorado to stay put.ODowd and the Montforts didnt make a concerted effort to improve this team. Maybe they were busy watching the latest Batman movie instead. Honestly, do you really think a team with 49 wins entering Friday needs no restructuring? After experiencing the spoils of last years postseason success, I figured team management would do whatever it took to secure a return trip.ODowd and Co. seem content with their decision, a sentiment Clint Hurdle echoed. Instead of addressing a glaring need for starting pitching, Colorado decided that Glendon Rusch and Jorge De La Rosa are acceptable alternatives at the back end of the rotation.On the day the Dodgers landed a future Hall of Famer with plenty of pop left in his bat (and for little more than two groundskeepers at that), the Rockies Achilles heel was exposed in Miami. How fitting. De La Rosa retired just five Marlins before being lifted in the second inning. He threw 65 pitches and surrendered six runs two came on bases-loaded walks in a 12-2 loss that dropped Colorado to eight games behind the Diamondbacks.Since their sweep in Cincinnati, the Rockies lost three of four.Consider this: Despite the fact that Aaron Cook is making a compelling case for the Cy Young and Ubaldo Jimenez is a budding star, Colorado starters have a 5.08 ERA 25th best in baseball. Theyve surrendered 375 runs (the leagues fourth-highest total) and their 43 losses are the fifth most in the Majors. Sure, Francis will return soon, but hes one setback away from being shelved for the season. And dont expect him to be the panacea; Colorado lost four of Francis last five starts before he went on the DL in June. The Rockies are eighth in the league in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage and wracked up 45 hits in three games against the Reds. Offense clearly is not the problem.Despite their glaring deficiencies, ODowd decided he couldnt part with prospects or closer Brian Fuentes. I find that stance suspect, considering Fuentes can and likely will walk when his contract expires in two months.[Keeping Fuentes] is our best opportunity to play out and have a shot at making a run at it again, Hurdle recently told the Rocky Mountain News.Really? What good is a closer, one whos pitched only 42 innings all year, if the rotation squanders leads? Why the sudden faith in a player the team was quick to demote last year? Couldnt Taylor Buchholz, who has a 1.64 ERA and has surrendered 29 hits in 49 innings, admirably fill the closers role if Fuentes was shipped out? Let the second-guessing begin.Its hardly a new stance. After all, this is the brain trust that acquired Denny Bautista and Jeremy Affeldt before last years deadline both are now with other teams. This is the team whose major acquisitions before this season were Kip Wells and Marcus Giles. At least they took a chance.Ill be at Coors Field on Sept. 12 when Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers come to town. I wonder how many fans will join me. I wonder how many games the Rockies will trail in the standings. I wonder if ODowd will regret his decision to do nothing. Im baffled. If youre not a buyer or a seller, what are you?Free come October.jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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