Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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This is the beginning of the stretch run and the Colorado Rockies have done everything the team can to not look like a playoff team.
They don’t hit well in key situations, they strike out way too much and they can’t seem to settle on a lineup. The starting pitching, outside of Ubaldo Jimenez’s first two months, has been sporadic.
They’re still in it, but teetering close to the edge of Rocktoberless baseball.
No doubt, there is talent and injuries have made it increasingly tough. Once Troy Tulowitzki comes back, the lineup should be better.
But there’s one move the Rockies could make that could not only change the landscape of the National League West, but also could be the prelude to a pennant run.
Trade for Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.
It’s not as unrealistic as you think. Any trade with Fielder would require multiple top prospects.
Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd has consistently said they won’t mortgage the farm system and that Colorado will build from within. It’s worked well getting the team to the postseason.
Colorado fans have heard this since 2007.
The build-from-within approach certainly is catching on. Minnesota has done it for years but has recently showed the team is willing to spend by locking up Joe Mauer long-term.
Common thought was this Rockies group had a chance — before the season and prior to the All-Star break — to represent the National League in the World Series.
Unfortunately, because of inconsistency and injuries, Colorado hasn’t turned it on. Another big reason is that no hitter in the lineup strikes fear in the opponents.
Tulowitzki can, at points. So can Carlos Gonzalez. But adding Fielder — and the price is steep — would instantly push the Rockies back into contention.
And what better way to let your fans know you’re serious about competing than making waves at the deadline and tightening up the weakest spot on your team?
Fielder wouldn’t be a rental, either. He’s signed through next season, and if the Rockies are out of it at this time next year, they could trade Fielder and recuperate some of the prospects they’d lose to get him. If they don’t, they’d get two high draft picks from the team that signs him after the 2011 season.
It’s similar to what Atlanta did with Mark Teixeira a couple of seasons ago.
The bottom line is that right now, the Rockies aren’t a playoff team. There are too many holes to fill, including a gaping one at first base.
But by being bold and taking a chance, O’Dowd and the Rockies could prove they think they have a team to win it.
Fielder is there for the taking.
His presence would show the Rockies are serious about this year — serious about making it another Rocktober.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org