Tuesday, March 21

Colorado Rockies: Still Figuring Out the Winning Formula

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Starting Pitching:

The biggest problem with this staff isn't that they start 81 games in Coors. That's the second-biggest problem. The biggest problem is that these guys aren't that good. Sure, Byung-Hyun Kim had a pretty good WBC, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he's largely sucked as a starter for his entire stint in Coors. Still, though, he's their 4th starter, so it's not like he's expected to be decent; honestly, he'd probably be fine as a 5 in most places.

Aaron Cook and Jason Jennings are the front-end starters for the Rockies, and here's the absolute shocker about that. Aaron Cook's not half bad, really. His biggest problem is he's consistently injury-prone - well, that and from a fantasy baseball perspective, he doesn't strike anyone out. However, his ERA is certainly passable, and quite good given the Coorsian atmosphere. If he can pull 30 starts this season (given his past history, not terribly likely, but work with me), then he should be somewhere in the range of a decent-good 3 starter, and probably slightly below average in the 2 spot (which is where he'll be). As for Jason Jennings, he's closer to what you'd expect - high ERA, bad control, high number of hits, fair number of strikeouts. His home/away performance is relatively consistent, which means that he's probably not ace material. Oh well, not like anyone will notice anyway.

Jeff Francis is the third starter, and ...well, he's a slightly worse version of Jason Jennings who can actually stay healthy. Well, he's close to that - inexplicably, his road ERA is a run and a half above his home ERA, which makes no sense to me. However, it's right there, so there you go. Make of that what you will.

The back end of the rotation is filled with cast-off 4 and 5 starters from other teams. Zach Day (Nats castoff) probably is the best out of the entire lot, which doesn't really mean a whole lot, especially since he can't stay healthy. Steve Kim (Nats castoff... sense a trend?) is more than likely a slightly worse version of Day. Josh Fogg (Pirates castoff) is about what you'd expect from a guy #7 on the depth chart.

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Jason Jennings
2nd: Aaron Cook
3rd: Jeff Francis
4th: Byung-Hyun Kim
5th: Zach Day

Closer / Bullpen:

Ready for a shock? Closer Brian Fuentes wasn't that bad last year - seriously. Now, it looks to me like the Rockies did the right thing with their bullpen: bring in guys who they could get cheap that weren't absolutely horrible last year, and complement them with some high-K guys that they could call on in times of need. Unfortunately, the decent guys give up a lot of hits (this is a bad idea, by the way, for those of you counting at home), and the high-K guys , shockingly, give up even more. David Cortes is probably the best option in middle relief.

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Brian Fuentes
8th: David Cortes
7th: Mike DeJean
Sit. Right: Scott Dohmann
Sit. Lefty: Ray King
Mop-up: Sunny Kim


Remember the days when the Rockies would just bring in whomever they could so long as they knew they could hit 40 HR in a season? Well, those days are pretty much gone at this point. Now they're opting to bring in youngsters and train them in Coors Field that way. This results in some rather nasty home/road splits, so make of that what you will. Todd Helton hopes to bounce back from a dismal first half - he showed signs of recovery in the second half, and actually was quite good. However, age is beginning to finally take its toll on him, and it's going to be interesting to see how he responds this year.

Superdupersub Luis Gonzalez (not the one in Arizona; the one who can play every postition save pitcher and catcher) will actually be starting at second base this season. He'll also be jumping around to give some people days off and what have you, and when that happens, it's more than likely Jamey Carroll (Nats castoff! I hate Jim Bowden) will fill in at second. (He's also backing up Clint "Vension" Barmes.)

Speaking of vension, Clint Barmes should be fully recovered from one of the best accidents ever now. He did pretty well last year up until the unfortunate deer-related incident, and will seem like a better offensive shortstop than what he really is due to the Coors effect. One important thing to keep in mind is that he's 27 (the Golden Age for hitters), so chances are this season might be as good as it gets.

Catcher has always been interesting for the Rockies; there's always some great new catching prospect coming up this year or the next year; last year was J.D. Closser (who bombed), this year it might be Danny Ardoin. Smart money, though, would be on Yorvit Torrealba ending up with the lion's share of starts behind the plate, as he's been the only guy to produce on some level beyond suck at the major league level.

As for Garrett Atkins (the starting 3B), he's another Coors product. Look for good counting numbers and a fair amount of HRs; however, in terms of third basemen, he's probably no more than average.

Projected Infield:
C: Yorvit Torrealba
1B: Todd Helton
2B: Luis Gonzalez
SS: Clint Barmes
3B: Garrett Atkins

More information:
Todd Helton
Clint Barmes


For a while, everyone was convinced that Brad Hawpe was going to be better than Matt Holliday, even though Holliday came up earlier. However, Holliday is a much better defender than Hawpe and has a better bat on top of that. Oops. Anyway, they're both starting this year (Hawpe in right, Holliday in left) so we'll have a chance to judge for ourselves.

As for center field, potential speedster Cory Sullivan will get the everyday job. Don't expect him to go out and steal 40+ bases - he's not that much of a speedster. However, he'll offer a decent power-speed combination if he can get on base enough.

It should be exciting to watch all these guys over the course of a season. They're young enough to where they can still improve noticably, and watching any team in Coors is exciting in its own right. Hopefully their offense will be enough to spell the defense from making any major mistakes (this might only be a problem with Hawpe).

Projected Outfield:
RF: Brad Hawpe
CF: Cory Sullivan
LF: Matt Holliday

More information:
Brad Hawpe
Cory Sullivan
Matt Holliday

Extra Stuff:

They've never quite figured out how to get a winning combination in Colorado - at least not a sustainable one. The park presents its own unique challenge, and it's tough to figure out what kind of mix will work. This year, they don't seem to be worrying as much about finding 1 or 2 big bats, but there are quite a few 15 HR+ threats in the lineup, even if only 1 might crack 30 HR (Helton).

As for the pitching ... well, maybe they've given up. I can't say I can blame them, really - it's shellshock. The biggest problem is if they can pitch at sea level and if the guys can swing the bat down there, then yeah, things could be interesting for this team. Not before then, though. Sadly.