Pick up Nolan Arenado now, be happy when he's called up

Christian Petersen

If the Rockies want to capitalize on this hot start, they'll need to put their best foot forward. Nolan Arenado is a better foot than Chris Nelson.

The Rockies aren't for real. They are, as I write this, 14-8, leading the NL West, tied for the second-best record in baseball. It's...well, it's smoke, mirrors, and Dexter Fowler magic-ing his way around the league.

It's a nice first-few-weeks story, but, just to choose a stat, they are eighth in earned runs allowed while 26th in strikeouts. That's the unsustainablest unsustainable that ever unsustainabled.

That said, they've banked 14 wins in 22 games already. Even if they were really a 70-75-win team before the season, about a .462 winning percentage, they don't have to give these back. A team that was .462-winning-percentage quality over a full season is still .462-quality with 140 games left. That means the Rockies, if they're feeling particularly optimistic, can look at 79-81 wins. If they can improve a few things here and there, if the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks fall, it's not completely inconceivable that they could contend down the stretch.

I mean, it's kind of inconceivable. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect it. But the right sense of delusion bred of being inside the system, combined with just enough rose-colored glasses about replacements, can see a way for the Rockies to be relevant in September.

Only...that is predicated on improving, yeah? This roster is that 75-ish-win team. Even those rose-colored glasses will recognize they have to step up. The Rockies don't have much pitching on the farm ready to come up and help. You might make an argument that Edwar Cabrera could do it, but that's about it on the pitching side. So you look to offense.

You look to Nolan Arenado.

Surely you're familiar with Arenado's pedigree by now, but if not, he's likely to be a stud. He was 92nd in Keith Law's top 100 prospects in 2011, 26th last year. A rough 2012 - both statistically and, according to reports, outside the lines - knocked him off Law's top 100 for this year, but even he said Arenado was young for his level. He's likely to hit anywhere, hit all the more playing a mile high.

Better yet, while Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, et al, are major-league hitters, current third baseman Chris Nelson is Chris Nelson. He's hitting a lot of nothingness in the bigs. Arenado, meanwhile, has been crushing the ball in AAA so far. He's quite likely an offensive upgrade to Nelson right now, and becomes more of one every day he's not in Denver. Heck, with Todd Helton hurting and Ryan Wheeler not exactly the next Mark McGwire, Arenado could even come up as a first baseman.

Here's where the fantasy advice really starts. If you have a roster spot for Arenado, great. If you wait until he's called up to pick him up, too effing bad, someone else jumped on him. If you can at all justify it, you pick up Arenado right now. Dollars to doughnuts, he hits the bigs within the next couple weeks and you reap the benefits.

Follow me on Twitter @danieltkelley

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