Jeff Francis' return to the Rockies rotation after helping stabilize the club in 2012 is a bit of a mixed blessing, as Francis certainly retains more value and is not quite as eligible for senior discounts on road trips as the crafty veteran LHP the Rockies brought in last winter, but he's also in that grey area where the lines between giving veteran respect to a pitcher who's earned his stripes and potentially letting a better, younger option take hold of the job can get bent to the detriment of the team. As long as that better option never materializes, Francis will be a solid enough placeholder, but when that moment inevitably will arrive, I hope the Rockies aren't too nostalgic with one of their few homegrown pitching success stories to stand in the way of progress.

As the above linked Troy Renck article alludes to, the Rockies rotation for 2013 now at least has a somewhat complete five starter set that we can put down in pencil until the team acquires another arm. Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Francis, Juan Nicasio, and the young pitcher du jour. And as the article points out, there are still serious questions about the projected efficacy of all five of those starters heading into next season. Some of that is unavoidable given the nature of the Rockies collapse last season, but beyond health, simple regression to a mean should help the Rockies some next year. Not enough to be serious about playoff contention, but those suggesting that the team may be worse in 2013 than it was in 2012 are being a bit too pessimistic.