Mar 21, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Colorado Rockies.
The Big Question: Can the Rockies dig themselves out of last place?
The Rockies went 64-98 last season, posting their worst record in franchise history. There were no shortage of contributing factors, as their best player, Troy Tulowitzki, was limited to 47 games due to groin surgery and the starting rotation was a complete and utter disaster.
Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio each missed time due to injury and were largely non-factors. Jeremy Guthrie struggled after coming over from the Orioles and was eventually traded to the Royals. Jamie Moyer resembled a batting practice pitcher before being released. With the season circling the drain, the Rockies moved to an unconventional four-man rotation, complete with 75-pitch limits and piggyback relievers. Whether you want to blame the talent, the process, or some combination of the two, the experiment just didn’t work. The Rockies finished with the highest ERA in the majors at 5.22. They will return to a more conventional five-man rotation this season, though the piggyback relievers are expected to stick around.
This offseason brought a significant change in the dugout, as Jim Tracy resigned amid reports that he wasn’t comfortable with the dynamic of director of major league operations Bill Geivett having an office in the clubhouse. Following a lengthy manager search in which the likes of Jason Giambi and Matt Williams were considered, the Rockies settled on first-time manager Walt Weiss and gave him a one-year deal. It was a pretty surprising choice, as Weiss has no pro experience as a manager or coach. He was the head varsity baseball coach at a Denver-area high school last year. Quite a change of pace.
While there is a new manager in Colorado, the roster is pretty close to what we saw going into last year. And so, the Rockies are hoping that improved health will lead to better results. And they should, at least on paper. Getting full seasons out of Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer could make a major impact for the middle of the lineup. I’m just not convinced that they’ll stay healthy. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that they won’t. Chacin, De La Rosa and Nicasio should all be upgrades for the rotation, but there’s not an ace in that bunch. Jeff Francis hardly inspires much confidence at this point and 24-year-old Drew Pomeranz is a wild card. Oh, and pitching in Coors Field remains one of the toughest tasks in the sport. In short, digging out of last place will be a challenge.
What else is going on?
- There were some silver linings in an otherwise miserable year, as Dexter Fowler posted career-highs across the board while Wilin Rosario and Josh Rutledge emerged as potential impact players. While Rosario still needs a lot of work behind the plate, the 24-year-old batted .270 with 28 home runs, 71 RBI and an .843 OPS in 117 games. Rutledge helped fill in for Tulowitzki during the second half and batted .274 with eight home runs, seven stolen bases and a .775 OPS. Plate discipline is a weakness for the 23-year-old, but he’s expected to start at second base this season.
- The Rockies could soon have another exciting young player to add to the mix, as prospect Nolan Arenado is currently pushing Chris Nelson for the starting third base job. The soon-to-be 22-year-old saw his stock drop a bit after he produced an underwhelming .285/.337/.428 batting line with Double-A Tulsa last year, but he’s capable of better and has enjoyed an excellent spring. While the Rockies haven’t made a final decision yet, the smart money is that he’ll begin the season in the minors and make his major league debut in mid-June.
- Todd Helton is entering what will likely be his final season in the big leagues. The 39-year-old has a history of back issues and is coming off hip and knee surgeries, so he figures to get plenty of regular rest in his 17th season. It will be interesting to see how he’ll be viewed by Hall of Fame voters down the road, as he owns a superb .320/.419/.545 lifetime batting line. Only 19 players have a higher career on-base percentage. However, he owes a lot of his success to playing in Coors Field, so it will be tough for him to get much respect. Larry Walker has had a hard enough time, even though he didn’t spend his entire career in Colorado.
- The biggest move the Rockies made this offseason was acquiring right-hander Wilton Lopez from the Astros. This was only after the Phillies nearly acquired Lopez, but reportedly backed out over concerns about his elbow. Still, with elite command and a 2.64 ERA over the past three seasons, he has a chance to be a solid set-up man in front of veteran right-hander Rafael Betancourt. But he may be a luxury for a team with a questionable rotation.
Prediction: Fifth place, NL West.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
The expectation is that Castillo will get some major league experience in September.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT
Gomes suffered the concussion last Thursday when he was hit in the catcher’s mask by a deflected ball.
Aug 28, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
The struggling Wright hasn’t played since leaving Sunday’s game with neck spasms.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:47 PM EDT
Nolan Reimold has been claimed off waivers for the second time in a month, going from the Orioles to the Blue Jays and now to the Diamondbacks.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
This is just sad.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
It’s five o’clock. Let’s end the work day with a big bunch of arguing, ok?
Aug 28, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
There was no perfect game involved and in fact the 46 batters stretched over the course of eight appearances. Mark Buehrle held the previous record of 45 back in 2009.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT
It’s not been a good week for Phillies brass.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Soria made just six appearances for the Tigers after being acquired from the Rangers in July.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Not many rookies in recent MLB history have done as much running as The Fastest Man In Baseball.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Umpire to Perez: “You smell good, Salvy!” I am not making that up.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
With a load of great hitting prospects and the dough to go get pitching, things may soon be looking up on the north side of Chicago
Aug 28, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Sorry. There’s no joke there. Just a cool picture. Including Vedder with a sweet 70s-80s Tigers road uni.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:52 PM EDT
Last night after the Brewers lost to the Padres in extra innings manager Ron Roenicke tore into home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, who ejected Roenicke from the game in the ninth inning.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT
Four players (Cole Hamels, Domonic Brown, David Buchanan, and Kyle Kendrick) have publicly criticized and/or disrespected Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg this month, but the rookie skipper insists it’s “not a big deal.”
Aug 28, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
MLB.com strung together video of all nine hits, which is weirdly mesmerizing to watch.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT
And his reaction to it was even better.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke get most of the attention in the Dodgers’ rotation–and rightfully so–but Ryu has also been fantastic with a 3.12 ERA in 53 starts since signing a six-year, $36 million contract with Los Angeles last offseason.
Aug 28, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
The Yankees are two and a half games back in the wild card and could use a shot in the arm.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
“Jay Z welcomed him to the States.”
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- And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights 63
- David Price surrenders nine consecutive hits to the Yankees in the worst start of his career 29
- Video: Jorge Soler homers in his first major league at-bat 30
- Adam Wainwright has a “dead arm” 40
- HBT Daily: Alex Gordon and the Royals keep on rolling 12
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 43
- Mariners extend general manager Jack Zduriencik’s contract 14
- The Cubs grounds crew was short staffed because the Cubs were trying to avoid Obamacare (247)
- Forgiveness for Pete Rose? Not in this lifetime (145)
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- Great Moments in Drug Testing and Punishment: The NFL Edition (101)
- Albert Pujols plays the “you never played the game!” card (101)