This is Not a Joke


That is what I had to tell myself when I saw Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck’s tweet in which he projected the Colorado Rockies starting rotation in 2012. The five pitchers he listed were: Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Kevin Millwood, Jason Hammel and Drew Pomeranz. Two names in particular stuck out: Kevin Millwood and Jason Hammel. Panicked, I closed my internet browser. I hoped that I misread Renck’s prediction. I went for a walk to cool off. I took a deep breath and looked again. There it still was. He had to be kidding around or something, right? Once it really hit me, I repeated these five words to myself.

This is not a joke.

I keep trying to convince myself that the Rockies can contend in 2012, but if this type of projection is accurate that simply will not happen.

There are a number of recently acquired pitchers (Tyler Chatwood, Alex White, Kevin Slowey) who we can hope emerge as pleasant surprises for the team. And of course this is just one writer’s guess in December and might not resemble the actual rotation come April. The situation is fluid and a lot can change. But seeing those two names still serves as an unhappy reminder that the Rockies might be a long, long way from contending.

Kevin Millwood was out of work near the end of last season and told people that he was pondering his retirement. I appreciate the stability he brought to an otherwise tattered rotation near the end of last season. But if you told me he might actually break camp as part of the rotation in 2012, I would say: You’re kidding right?

This is not a joke. Although I think Kevin Millwood might be the punchline of an “old washed up pitcher” joke soon. Right now I might make a joke like this: “Hey, at least it’s not Paul Byrd!” Kevin Millwood surely could take his place in that one-liner soon.

How many times over the last two disappointing seasons have we heard that Jason Hammel is auditioning for a future role with the team? That he is “pitching for his job?” He failed those auditions…did he not? He had to have failed. There is no way he would sneak into the Rockies rotation again. If you told me that, I would hope you were kidding.

This is not a joke. Dead arm and all. Ineffectiveness and all. Jason Hammel will be back again.

Why do I hope it is not serious when I hear those names mentioned for the rotation? Because they are pitchers who are only good enough to get you by, to fill space on teams who don’t have better options. They are underwhelming names on teams that don’t matter, players who are not far from being the punchline of a joke at which only baseball nerds will laugh (but laugh they will).

More importantly, they are not starting pitchers on teams with realistic playoff aspirations.

This is not a joke…but I sure wish it was.