Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/17/12

In our Hope for the Hopeless series, we take a look at all of the teams in the league that finished under .500, and examine what their fans can be optimistic about after a disappointing 2012 season.

Ah yes, the Colorado Rockies. I have bad news for Rockies fans out there: it's not getting better next year. This team only has three impending free agents: bench player Jason Giambi (who looks just about cooked), and starters Jonathan Sanchez (who has been awful) and Jeff Francis (a sentimental favorite who is thoroughly mediocre in every way).

However, there are some bright spots. Jorge de la Rosa could actually return in the final two and a half weeks of this season after Tommy John surgery last summer in preparation of a return in 2013. De la Rosa has an option that he'll likely exercise for 2013, and his inclusion in Colorado's rotation would be a huge boon for them after some of the disasters they rolled out this year.

Troy Tulowitzki, probably the best all-around shortstop in the league when healthy, should be back next year from groin surgery. While Josh Rutledge has been solid lately, he's no Tulo, and could probably do a better job at second than DJ LeMahieu. The Rockies will also hopefully get more than NOTHING out of first place this year due to injuries and ineffectiveness from all of the starters there this year.

The key (as it always is in Denver) is the pitching staff. The Rockies starting rotation has an ERA a hair shy of 6.00 this year, and a piggyback system isn't going to help that at all. If the pitcher who starts the game goes just three innings, you're throwing an awful lot on the bullpen (including his piggyback partner) for the rest of the game. Colorado needs to find out which of its pitchers are the talented ones that can actually help out in 2013 and beyond, and which are organizational arms. Some (Drew Pomeranz, Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich, Jhoulys Chacin) have shown more promise over their careers than others (Josh Outman, Tyler Chatwood, Alex White), but are they long-term potential franchise guys in Denver, or are they players who won't hit their potential until they leave the thin air?

Forget all of the young hitting talent in the organization. The Rockies need pitching they can count on. This team is going absolutely nowhere unless someone blossoms under the piggyback philosophy (doubtful), or a player steps up in a big way this year to outgrow the organizational way of thinking and forces a necessary change.

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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