The Rockies wound up not making a move before Thursday's non-waiver deadline, but the players are smiling and laughing about it.
They entered Thursday night's game against the Marlins three games out of first place in the crowded National League West. It's not as if their self-stated needs -- bullpen help, a No. 2 starter, a bat off the bench and possibly a serviceable catcher -- melted away.
But this imperfect club has played well enough out of the All-Star break to consider itself in contention for its first playoff berth since its only one, in 1995. As for the lack of moves, well, it's not as if general manager Dan O'Dowd didn't try.
"We had a lot of things working over the last few days, but in the end there was nothing that came together that we felt would make our club better," O'Dowd said in a statement. "We are constantly trying to improve our club, and will continue to monitor and try to do that over the next two months."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who participated in trade deliberations with O'Dowd, said, "It just seemed like we were offered coal and they wanted gold nuggets."
Deals can still be made, as long as the players involved clear waivers. If players are acquired before Sept. 1, they are eligible for the playoff roster. But Rockies players are confident that if no parts are added, what they have is good enough.
"I'm pretty confident in this group of guys that we have in here," said Holliday, who leads the Rockies with 20 home runs. "Obviously, it's the club's responsibility to judge whether we've got what it takes or to go and make a move."
Unless a waiver deal arises -- Hurdle noted that he and O'Dowd have daily discussions about players placed on waivers -- the Rockies will bet on the depth in their Minor League system.
That situation is being challenged by Tuesday's news that an MRI on Monday revealed that right-hander Rodrigo Lopez has a torn flexor tendon in his right arm and will be placed on the disabled list for the second time this season. Hurdle refused to speculate when or if Lopez (5-4, 4.42 ERA) will return this season.
Righty Jason Hirsh (4-7, 4.90 ERA) will come off the DL to take Lopez's place starting Thursday against the Marlins. With erstwhile spot-starting righty Taylor Buchholz (5-3, 5.00) having shown greater acumen as a reliever, the Rockies might have to dip into the Minors if another one of the starting pitchers is injured.
Double-A Tulsa lefty Franklin Morales (3-4, 3.48 ERA) is considered the organization's best pitcher not in the Majors, and he is on a hot streak -- he threw a complete-game shutout on Sunday, and has yielded two or fewer earned runs in seven of his last nine starts. Also, Triple-A Colorado Springs lefty Kevin Walker (4-4, 5.40 ERA) could be an option in the rotation or the bullpen.
Going to the system has worked well all season.
Outfielders Spilborghs and Cory Sullivan have given the bench a lift after veterans John Mabry and Steve Finley produced little and were let go. The biggest boost has come from right-handed starter Ubaldo Jimenez, 23, who has gone 1-0 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts since being called up on July 17.
"It's big that the organization thought I could help, rather than them making a trade," Jimenez said. "I like it because I'm just not here to see what I can do. I'm here to compete and win games."
Rockies who have been around for a few years have experience with trade deadlines, but usually deadline deals that were made in the past were done so because the Rockies were out of contention and needed to pare payroll.
So even if fans may be inclined to criticize the Rockies for not making a deal, if for no other reason than to show their willingness to do so, players didn't feel the lack of a trade is a sign that the front office isn't trying to field its best team.
"Dan O'Dowd has the knowledge of what he's been doing; it's his job and it's my job to play and his job to be the GM," Holliday said. "I'm not going to tell him how to do his job. He's doing what he thinks is best for the team.
"What's going on here is a lot more fun. To be in the race when the trading deadline is here makes me excited about the next two months."
Veteran first baseman Todd Helton, who has been through a number of fire sales at the deadline, said the Rockies are "in a position to contend, but we still have a lot of work to do." What makes Helton confident is the team's demeanor.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Rockies had an important 10-game homestand, and although they faltered at the end, they finished a respectable 5-5. They just went 4-2 against the Padres and the Dodgers, two of the three teams ahead of them in the West.
"As long as we keep winning, you may not need to add something," Helton said. "I don't think anybody here is worried about it or concerned with [trades]. The biggest thing we do is we put the game, even if we win, behind us and go on to the next day. As long as we keep doing that, we'll be all right."
The only trade the Rockies have made this season occurred in early May, when they sent right-handed pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim to the Marlins for reliever Jorge Julio, who has been solid. Kim is slated to start against the Rockies on Wednesday night.
The biggest deal of the season might have occurred in December 2006, when the Rockies acquired Hirsh, Buchholz and starting center fielder Willy Taveras from the Astros essentially for right-hander Jason Jennings, who has struggled with Houston.