This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in the National League. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Rockies, who have spent the last few years out of contention, but they’ve been biding their time by grooming their young talent. And you know they can put together a late-season hot streak and coast into the playoffs quicker than you can say “Rocktober”.
Projected Lineup: CF Corey Dickerson, RF Michael Cuddyer, LF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Troy Tulowitzki, 1B Justin Morneau, C Wilin Rosario, 3B Nolan Arenado, 2B D.J. LeMahieu
The Rockies made as minor of a splash this offseason as you would’ve expected, making a few low-risk acquisitions and calling it a day.
For a team coming off two straight last-place finishes, “minor” moves don’t quite cut it. I mean, let’s face it—if you just lost 88 games, you can’t say, “Brandon Barnes, that’s the guy that’ll put us over the top!”
The perennial story with the Rockies is the lack of pitching, and last year’s 4.44 staff ERA was no exception, the worst in the National League. They made no real changes to their pitching staff, save for losing Jeff Francis, which is addition by subtraction.
Jhoulys Chacin is entering his prime. His walks are way down and he’s starting to really look like an effective pitcher. After him, though, the rotation contains nothing but question marks. Will Jorge De La Rosa ever find consistency? Is Tyler Chatwood ever going to pan out as a prospect? Will Brett Anderson once again be a sweet, sneaky source of saves in my fantasy league?
The Rockies have always been anchored by CarGo and Tulo at the heart of the lineup, and I don’t think anyone disputes that they’re one of the best offensive duos in the game. The problem is that no one gets on base ahead of them. The Rockies’ 1-2 hitters managed just a .258 average last year, with an OBP of just .316. For a team supposedly boosted by the confines of Coors Field, that’s downright awful. The Rockies cleaned house this winter by dealing Dexter Fowler, whose many strikeouts from the leadoff spot were certainly part of the problem.
Manager Walt Weiss is reportedly considering a minor batting order shake-up: moving Michael Cuddyer to the 2-hole. The reigning batting champ certainly deserves the opportunity to give the top of the Rockies’ order the punch it’s been missing.
But don’t think that Cuddyer will even come close to repeating last year’s performance. I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying that a 12-year veteran who hadn’t ever hit above .284 in a season suddenly put it all together without a good amount of luck. Expect his BABIP (a career-high .382 in 2013) to drop closer to his career rate (.312), and for his average to drop accordingly.
Personally, what I’d like to see is Carlos Gonzalez—one of the game’s most dynamic hitters—batting in the 2-hole. That could give the lineup the jump it needs for the Rockies to turn things around.
Because let’s face it—if it hasn’t been working the same old way, it’s time to switch things up.
Projected Finish: 74-88, Fourth place in NL West