Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blessing in Disguise?

I don't know what's going on with the Rockies pitchers and their sore shoulders and armpits. I mean seriously... a sore armpit? Late April Fools joke? Did he sleep wrong? Allergic reaction to deoderant? You have to admit Francis looks like the kid at your high school that was allergic to everything.

I do know I feel awful for Jeff. He traveled a long, long road of rehab and recovery to get this close to that next MLB start that seemed like it was never coming. I'm fairly certain this won't prove to be anything too serious, but you have to figure a little doubt creeps into the back of his mind when this pops up now of all times.

Okay, so being down two pitchers (in addition to Buchholz) before you even play game #1 of 162 isn't what you're hoping for. However, I do believe this latest thing to Francis gives the Rockies their best possible starting rotation on Opening Day. Maybe not in the correct order -- thanks to Tracy oddly naming Francis #2 -- but definitely the right five guys.

I've been quietly touting Smith all spring long on my previously under-the-radar Rockies blog. He's not spectacular in any way, but he manages to get zeros. That's not unlike Francis if you think about it. He's left-handed, which is also quite similar to Francis. The one big advantage though is his younger, fresher arm. That could end up saving the bullpen innings early in the season that a not yet 100% Francis would have cost them.

Another plus? Smith doesn't have to worry about switching his routine to that of a reliever. He can hit the season running full speed ahead without any different thought processes running through his mind. Anything you can do to keep a less experienced major leaguer (not necessarily a young guy) from thinking too much is good. Especially one that ran into bad luck last season. You know his mind is racing enough just wanting to prove he belongs.

How this truly plays out for the Rockies is anybody's guess. My best guess is the team won't miss a beat from a starting rotation standpoint and will have a relatively big decision to make once Francis is healthy. The BEST problem any team can have is too much starting pitching, and I think that's what we'll be looking at sometime in May.