This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in baseball. 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, a franchise that hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2010. New General Manager Jeff Bridich was instated last fall in the hopes of righting the ship, but something tells me that won’t be enough.
Projected Lineup: CF Charlie Blackmon, RF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Troy Tulowitzki, 1B Justin Morneau, 3B Nolan Arenado, LF Corey Dickerson, C Wilin Rosario, 2B DJ LeMahieu
Projected Rotation: LHP Jorge De La Rosa, RHP Jordan Lyles, RHP Kyle Kendrick*, RHP David Hale*, RHP Eddie Butler
* new additions
The Rockies are an impossible team to project. On paper, they begin every season with a decent-looking team on paper, with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez at the center of their foreseeable success. But then injuries, slumps and strange finger ailments involving tentacles happen. Who knows whether it’s something in the thin air up there, but it seems to be a near certainty that this team won’t finish the season with the same guys with which it starts.
Here’s a trivia question to help illustrate the point. Guess how many Rockies’ position players have played 150 games in a season in any of the past five years.
The answer: just one. Charlie Blackmon last year.
For comparison’s sake, the Royals had four players rack up 150 games just in 2014 (regular season only), and not a single member of their starting nine finished with less than 130 games played. They were a shining example of what good health can do for a ball club.
The Rockies really aren’t a bad team. They’ve just struggled with endurance. It puts you at a severe disadvantage when your best players can only appear in 100 games a year, while your opponents’ best players are playing in 150-160. And imagine how their fan base must feel—they get to watch their team do well in April when everyone’s healthy, and hopes are high that “this could be the year”—but then the injuries happen, and the season invariably ends up in the crapper by midsummer.
Is there any reason to believe the coming season will be any different? Probably not.
Wilin Rosario is still entrenched as the starting catcher. He is more trouble to the club than he’s worth—he barely hits his weight, and the little power he provides is not enough to make up for his lack of defense. How bad is his fielding? Rosario has either led or tied for the league lead in passed balls for three straight seasons. At a position where it’s sort of required that you can catch the ball, the Rockies continue to field a guy who is among the worst in the game in that regard.
The starting pitching looks to be ineffective at best. On a recent podcast, our regular guest Travis pointed out Jorge De La Rosa’s absurd home-road splits. Last season, he pitched to a 3.08 ERA at Coors Field, with a ridiculous .256 BABIP. My mother doesn’t know what BABIP is, but even she would tell you those numbers are unsustainable.
After De La Rosa, the rotation is thinner than the air in Denver. Any money the Rockies could have spent on a decent #2 starter is going to Kyle Kendrick, who says he’s “not scared” to pitch at Coors Field. A curious sentiment, but one glance at his career stats helps explain it—because how much worse could his numbers really get?
The Rockies’ closer, LaTroy Hawkins, is 42 years old. Now, I’m not one to ever argue that a guy should be relieved of duty just because of his age, and Hawkins was the Rockies’ best reliever last year. But if ever there’s a guy about whom you might worry that this could be the season he loses his edge, it’s Hawkins.
There are a few bright spots. Adam Ottavino is a dependable setup man, and provides some insurance in case Hawkins struggles. Potential fifth starter David Hale, whom the Rockies acquired from Atlanta, should have some success in Colorado. His ground ball-inducing stuff is a perfect fit for Coors Field.
The Rockies simply don’t have the depth to be able to recover from whatever unfortunate circumstances befall them this year. Any finish higher than last place seems like a long shot.
Projected finish: 69-93, Fifth place in NL West