The Colorado Rockies Must Trade for a Setup Man to Bolster Playoff Hopes

Nic HalliseyCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

BALTIMORE - APRIL 8:  George Sherrill #52 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards April 8, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

With an improbable June and a stellar July so far, the Colorado Rockies are showing naysayers they are here to contend.

 

With Monday’s 10-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, along with the San Francisco Giants being pounded by the Atlanta Braves, the Rockies can say that if the regular season ended today, they would become the National League Wild Card winners for the second time in the past three years.

 

The problem is that there are still 68 games to play.

 

But with a record of 33-15 since May 29, when manager Jim Tracy took over, the Rockies look like they can compete to the end.

 

With the trade deadline approaching in just nine days, what the Rockies desperately need is a strong middle reliever.

 

The club’s bullpen looks nothing like its opening day roster. With the exception of Huston Street, who also lost his role as closer once, the bullpen has been shuffled around and mix and matched in its entirety.

 

Matt Daley, Josh Fogg, Juan Rincon, and Ryan Speier were not on the club’s Opening Day roster. Franklin Morales was, but not as a reliever. The club traded Jason Grilli while sending down players like Joel Peralta and Matt Belisle.

 

The team also lost a quality arm in Taylor Buchholz to Tommy John surgery and a veteran leader in Alan Embree to a broken leg. The Rockies recently added veteran Matt Herges to a minor-league deal and is reporting interest in free agent Mike Timlin.

 

Sure, signing a guy with the name Roy Halladay would bring excitement to Blake Street, but for what, two months? And Matt Holliday had a great stay in purple pinstripes, but a reunion tour is not what needs to be done to make an October push.

 

What the Rockies need is a reliable setup man.

 

Not some has-been or could-be. Not multiple washed up pitchers like in years past.

 

The organization has minor league depth at nearly every position. I’m not suggesting throwing away the farm, but package a couple prospects for a guy that can bridge the gap between the starting rotation and closer Huston Street.

 

Or even better, if O’Dowd can find a club that will unload Garrett Atkins or Yorvit Torrealba, take it.

 

Chad Qualls is, perhaps, the biggest availability.

 

With 18 saves for a dismal Diamondback team, Qualls is paving his best year in the majors. He sports a lifetime 3.31 ERA, but one of his more impressive stats is just three home runs allowed this season. This would help in the thin air of Colorado.

 

Other possible names on the market are Boston’s Takashi Saito, Baltimore’s left-hander George Sherrill, and Cleveland’s Rafael Bentancourt.

 

Colorado has a good team, no doubt. But with its bullpen ranked 14th out of the 16-team National League, it is apparent that a strong setup man is needed.

 

Perhaps the biggest evidence, however, is the last two nights. On Monday night, the Rockies held a 10-1 lead leading up to the seventh inning. But then the relievers surrendered five runs, causing the closer to get warmed up in the ninth inning.

 

In Tuesday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, the Rockies blew a 4-0 lead, with the relievers allowing the final runs for the loss.

 

In less than two months, the Rockies have jumped from 10 under .500 to eight over. I believe it’s time the Rockies become buyers at the deadline and purchase a durable arm.

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