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:: Thursday, April 21, 2005 ::

Sorry for the somewhat doubled post if you were reading this morning, I think I lose posts and then mysteriously they appear later after I post a rehash. I deleted one and am counting the days to when I move to my fancier new digs. I will keep you informed on that as well. Now for a little mailbag action (very little, my mailbag is quite small usually)

Hello!

Google searches have uncovered numerous hits telling me that the Rockies were going to a 4-man rotation last year. How did that turn out? I would be very interested to know. Is there an archived post addressing this on your blog?

Thanks!

Hmm... no I don't mention it in May, no, not June either... no, that's odd, I don't see one mention of a four man rotation in my blog. you would think if the Rockies had really been serious about experimenting with one of the sacred cows of baseball that I'd have mentioned it. Yet you're right, googling the word four man rotation shows that the Rockies seemed to make a big PR move shouting out "Hey look at us we're, trying the four man rotation!"

Sadly, mystery caller, the Rockies were pulling your leg. Though some team should try to do this soon, as Baseball Prospectus' Rany Jazayerli points out the Rockies are probably the worst choice to start the experiment with. What brought on the move? Last year out of the gate in April they were confronted with the sad reality that they only had three somewhat decent starting pitchers in Jason Jennings. Joe Kennedy and Shawn Estes, a number five starter who was suffering a Coors meltdown in Scott Elarton, an over the hill situational guy in Jeff Fassero, and a Denny Stark, who was awful and getting worse. Nobody wanted to trade for Stark, and there were no ready starters available. The Rockies had Jason Young and Aaron Cook in the minors, but weren't sure if either of those two could hack it any better than Stark did. So they made the decision, release Stark, and announce a four man rotation. And they tried it, once through with decent results before mother nature stepped in and bad performances by Jennings and Elarton threw a wrench in things.

A rain out forced a double header one day during a stretch of thirteen straight in early May meaning that if they stuck with the four man, somebody would have to pitch on two days rest. meanwhile Elarton continued to get hammered, and needed to get out fast, so they let him and made the call to the Springs where both Young and Cook were pitching well. Now the Rockies had to unexpectedly coddle young arms, plus they wanted Jennings to get over his struggles so by extending his schedule they figured to give him more time to fix things. Cook worked out very well, Young did not, but a month later the Rox picked up Jamey Wright to fill that last slot in what was in fact a five-man rotation for the remainder of the year (later when Cook went down with blood clots in the lungs, Jeff Francis took his spot and Fassero filled in every so often)

The question brings up an interesting philosophical point. I actually think the Rockies have had the most success when they have gone the other way, six or even seven starters - three or four regular 30 start pitchers and three to four swing guys who can work in both the rotation and long relief (their lone playoff appearance had Kevin Ritz starting 28 and no other starter reaching 20, but eight pitchers with at least nine starts). The Rockies wanted Darren Oliver to work in this role but he declined and bolted for Arizona. The problem obviously becomes one of ego, starting pitchers seem to have this feeling of entitlement. Hopefully Jose Acevedo doesn't have the same chip on his shoulder, last night's trouble notwithstanding, he seems to be an ideal candidate for that role as well as Jamey Wright. When Aaron Cook returns later this year it will be interesting to see what direction the Rockies decide to take.


:: Bran 9:47 AM [+] ::
...
Comments:
Hey, thanks for answering my question about the supposed (and much advertised) 4-man rotation. I was going to send you the link to the baseball prospectus stuff on the subject, but you are on top of things! I really wish my Angels would go to a 4 man, but I bet there is no team who has the guts to try it. It is much safer to keep doing the same thing than to try something new and risk criticism and failure. Again, thanks for the email and the answers to my questions.

PS. If you are really feeling bored, you might check into how other teams fared who supposedly tried a 4-man in recent times. I think the Reds were one of them.

-Dodger Hater
 
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