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Hurdle knows challenge of D-backs

Hurdle knows challenge of D-backs

PHOENIX -- The Rockies entered their final game of the season 13 games under .500. They were 3-14 against the D-backs, their opponent in the finale.

The Rockies were 28-26 against the rest of the National League West.

Then go back to last season, when the Rockies won two September series against the D-backs, then swept them in the NL Championship Series.

So the logical conclusion is good things come when Colorado beats Arizona.

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle would not go as far as to say the Rockies will obsess over the D-backs, but that is a team that stands smack in the middle of the road back to success.

"That will not be No. 1 on the list. I think that would be somewhat misguided," Hurdle said. "No. 1 on our list needs to be our overall execution, and that basically falls into play with what's happened against this team. We had our way with them last season, to a degree, especially in the finish. They've turned the tables on us.

"We're going to have to wear this season, on what they've put on us. I think through better execution, we'll be in a better position to beat them."

But the Rockies' No. 1 offseason priority -- adding an impact pitcher, most likely through a trade -- is a clear way they can keep up with the D-backs, whose acquisition of Dan Haren to go along with Brandon Webb stacked the matchup with the Rockies in their favor.

Not only did Webb and Haren go a combined 38-15, but each had four starts against the Rockies and each was 3-0. Webb had a 3.07 ERA and Haren a 3.33 mark against the Rox.

Colorado's top two pitchers, Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis, have competed well against top pitchers at various times in their careers. Ubaldo Jimenez has been solid since a rough first half, and Jorge De La Rosa has had a strong second half. But Hurdle acknowledged that the Rockies need to bring in a pitcher of some pedigree.

The need for an impact pitcher and the Rockies' general reluctance to spend big on free agents are the biggest reasons offensive mainstays Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday will be subjects of much trade speculation this offseason.

"That's part of the internal discussions we've had -- the possibility of doing that," Hurdle said. "We've talked about our rotation. Let's be frank -- you've got Francis, you've got Cook, you've got Jimenez, you've got De La Rosa.

"I'd like to see De La Rosa as a [No.] 5. You'd like to see somebody that comes in, whether it's a 1, 2, 3 or 4. The better you can get, you can push your guys back, which might be more honestly evaluating them, who they are and what they are."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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