At the beginning of last year’s Rockies preview post you were forewarned that there wouldn’t be a surplus of Rockies’ posts on this blog during the season. We told you to enjoy it. We said this for a few reasons. The Rockies have some nice players, but they don’t contain a generational talent on the roster. That’s one way to get us writing about you. We also cover the ‘hot’ teams in baseball more often, the teams that intrigue us are the teams that are going to promote to to click around and read about them. The Rockies in their current state, fail to do that. Unless the Rockies surprisingly springboard into contention in 2014 – it’s going to be another year thin on Rockies posts. But that’s okay, because it’s only March and we’re a third of the way to our total Rockies posts for 2013 with this one.
The Rockies made a couple of trades and quiet signings of some veterans this off-season.
Major Off-season Moves:
Their manager is Walt Weiss, who went 74-88 in his debut season. This was good enough for last place in the NL West. Last year was somewhat of a milestone year for the Rockies, but only because it was their 20th year in baseball. It’s gone by fast. It also marked their 18th season at that gem Coors Field – which we somehow consider to be a shiny new park.
The Rockies struggled in interleague play going just 5-15 last season. They boasted a winning record against divisional foes San Diego (12-7) and division winner Los Angeles (10-9). Last season featured the debuts of Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson. It’s hard to say if either of these guys will be iconic Rockies at this point, but 2014 should hold a slightly better fate for Colorado. One thing is for sure: when your team visits Coors Field at any point in the spring or summer, you know there’s a chance that some crooked numbers are going to get hung on the scoreboard on both sides. That always makes the Rockies a compelling watch and reason enough to leave the game on if you’re cycling through what’s available on MLB.tv.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Anyone here watch WWE wrestling? You know how Vince McMahon can kind of just create a star out of whoever he wants? That’s kind of what Coors Field does for certain offensive players seemingly with it’s imaginary hand.
Any one of these listed guys could be jump off the page good in 2014 (look at Cuddyer’s 2013), with the most likely candidates being Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez as always.
But one of these guys we aren’t talking about will see their numbers jump exponentially. One of these guys is going to be a waiver pick-up in your fantasy league, and they’re going to help a league-mate in a big way.
It’s hard to imagine a guy like Wilin Rosario growing too much from his solid 2013 when he hit .292 with 21 home runs and 79 RBI with an .801 OPS. But it’s not that hard to imagine him growing into an .850 OPS with that home run total closer to 30. We love the Baby Bull 2.0, and man does he remind us of Manny Ramirez with some of his swings.
It’s not hard to see Nolan Arenado hitting 25 home runs and above .280, he’ll certainly make the jump above his .706 OPS from last season.
Maybe DJ LeMahieu’s .280 average becomes a .300 average. Maybe Corey Dickerson’s .775 OPS climbs to .830; but our point is someone in this group is going to breakout just by playing half their games regularly at the launching pad in the Rocky Mountains.
It’s also pretty certain that Tulowitzki and Gonzalez remain elite bats for far longer than they would be anywhere else – look at how long Todd Helton hung around and was pretty damn good. Helton had a .904 OPS at age 35 in 2009. The biggest question with the two Colorado cornerstones is of course health. Tulowitzki played in 126 games and Gonzalez just 110 last year. If these are above 150 each, the Rockies will be improved on that alone.
Justin Morneau comes over at age 33, still in search of his first National League home run. In 77 at-bats as a Pirate, he didn’t hit one out. Morneau is definitely in the twilight, but if anything can revive a guy for a couple weeks at a time, it’s Coors Field. What you might not realize is that Morneau has been in decline for almost five years. He has not had a season in which he had an .800 OPS and over 100 games played since 2009. In his last three seasons, he’s been a .726 bat worth just 6.8 WAR. From a corner infielder, that’s incredibly mediocre.
Projected Pitching Staff:
Not to rub salt in the wound, but when was the last time the Rockies had a dominant, front-line starter? We thought the unthinkable had happened when Ubaldo Jimenez mystified hitters in 2010, and then he seemingly lost it and was made available.
We don’t have to mix words here – it ain’t pretty. It’s surprising how much success Jorge De La Rosa actually had last year. You probably didn’t know he went 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA did you?
The best arms from there were probably Chatwood (3.15 ERA) and Chacin (3.47 ERA) respectively. Juan Nicasio, Jon Garland, and Jeff Francis got absolutely shelled. I mean if I saw Garland scheduled to be on the bump and had a chance to add the Rockies to a parlay bet as a loser I think I did it every time. That’s just asking for trouble.
There was a point in time I was impressed with Jordan Lyles’ stuff. It was around the time he began his career in Houston. That window to show me something is just about closed as he’s 14-29 with a 5.35 ERA in three seasons now. You look at those numbers and wonder if the Rockies HR sent him a bottle of scotch and a hand gun with his welcome package when he showed up for Rockies employee orientation.
No one in that starting rotation came close to striking out over seven hitters per nine innings last season. The Rockies need to find someone who can miss some bats – or more likely draft and develop these guys because no one with great stuff ever wants to come to Coors. It just doesn’t happen. It’s like a foregone conclusion that the Rockies aren’t ever a serious player when these electric arms become available as free agents.
I actually like Rex Brothers a lot and think he should be given a chance to run with the closers job. Matt Belisle, LaTroy Hawkins, and Boone Logan know how to pitch well enough to not completely explode in the thin air of Colorado. Adam Ottavino was really good last year (2.64 ERA).
It’s going to be another long season because of the starting rotation. There just aren’t answers. Pitching coach Bob Apodaca better stock up on antacids this season because he’s got his work cut out for him.
Predicted Record & Finish:
78-84, Fourth in the NL West
Well it’s improvement. Enjoy the Rockies for what they are: a team with a couple superstar bats who should remain so for a few more seasons and a couple of young guys who could soon emerge as new forces.
The pitching staff is once again far too insignificant to allow this team to truly compete. Not that they were anything special when they went to the World Series in 2007, but lets remember they had a manager that year in Clint Hurdle who has now made his name for taking ugly bunches and making them respectable winners. They also had a few more veteran bats at the time and everything just seemed to fall in place with a mediocre NL West. Since the West houses the phenomenal Dodgers, there is little to no chance of any type of Cinderella run for the Rockies in 2014.
We’ll also do a better job at finding a reason to write about the Rockies. Maybe.