At Home Plate: Trading Fowler key to improve Rockies’ pitching

Pitching in Coors Field is certainly not easy. The mile-high atmosphere causes the ball to carry greatly, turning routine fly balls into home runs.

It’s no surprise the Rockies finished in last in the league with a 5.22 team ERA. Things on the mound got so bad last season that Rockies manager Jim Tracy turned to a four-man rotation in mid-June.

Coors Field (Photo by Richard Saxson, used under Creative Commons License)

Coors Field (Photo by Richard Saxson, used under Creative Commons License)

Still, the Rockies’ pitching woes resulted in a last place finish in NL West, 30 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

New Rockies manager Walt Weiss is committed to putting together a lineup with an “overwhelming offense” in an attempt to offset the team’s lack of pitching. However, that can only last so long, as the team will need some semblance of a pitching staff to compete.

Free-agent pitchers are likely very skeptical about signing a pact that lands them at Coors Field. Therefore, the Rockies have shown interest in pitchers either coming off poor seasons or other teams have non-tendered.

The key for the Rockies could be acquiring talented arms via trade. The Rockies have a valuable trade chip in center fielder Dexter Fowler, and dealing him may net the Rockies a competent starter.

In a free-agent market chock full of outfielders, there has already been much turnover at that position. B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino have signed new contracts, and Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn are still on the market.

If a team pursuing Hamilton or Bourn falls short, Fowler becomes an immediate fallback option that could be acquired via trade. Fowler would be under team control for at least another three years, so the Rockies would look for an impact pitcher in return.

The Cincinnati Reds would make sense, and the two teams have linked thus far this offseason. Fowler would play center field, moving Drew Stubbs to left with Jay Bruce in right. Homer Bailey seems to be the pitcher the Rockies would want in return.

The Phillies and Braves were also linked to Fowler but acquired Ben Revere and Upton, respectively. The Mariners and Rangers seem to be in the race for Hamilton, while a market for Bourn really won’t develop until Hamilton signs.

Expect teams to inquire about Fowler’s availability. If Weiss is content with having a great offense and not much pitching, Fowler may stay put as the table-setter in Colorado.

But the team desperately needs a few fresh arms, and Fowler is one of the team’s only trade chips.

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