Overall Assessment: Just when the Rockies thought they had it all figured out with their pitching by putting balls in humidifiers to control the increased flight of the ball, their pitching self destructs. They tried a new system, a four man rotation with the starter not going more than four innings. That didn’t improve things. They traded Jason Hammel for Jeremy Guthrie in the hopes of getting a more experienced pitcher to move into the number one spot in the rotation. Guthrie bombed while Hammel did well with Baltimore. They traded Guthrie to the Royals for Jonathan Sanchez. Guthrie shined for the Royals enough they resigned him. Sanchez only got three starts for the Rockies and became a free agent. Jhoulys Chacin had the best ERA among the starters with a 4.43 ERA and he just recently signed a two year contract. The new strategy is not to worry about pitcher ERAs, as long as they can score more runs than the other team on a consistent basis. The problem with that strategy is it doesn’t work well when they go on the road.
Hot Stove Season: Not a lot happening here. They made a trade with the Astros to acquire Wilton Lopez to strenghten their bullpen. He could even take over the closer role if he does well in spring training. They picked up lefty Daniel Rosenbaum in the Rule V draft from the Nationals. Daniel got off to a great start in the minor leagues but then stumbled as the season progressed. The Rockies could hide him in their bullpen. They made a minor move in acquiring Ryan Wheeler from the Diamondbacks for Matt Reynolds. Reynolds ate a lot of innings in the bullpen for the Rockies, but Wheeler shows some bat if Nolan Arenado does not come around. He could also move to the outfield.
Strength: They have a couple All Stars from the offensive side. Troy Tulowitski is one of the best shortstops in baseball. Last year he only played the first half of the season before getting injured. They need him for a full season if they are to do well. It would be difficult to find a player with more tools than Carlos Gonzalez. He has the potential to hit over .300 with 30 plus homeruns. If Tulowitski is up all year that should be good protection for Carlos in the lineup. Dexter Fowler played with more consistency on the offensive side of the equation last year, increasing his OPS by close to 100 points. Wilin Rosario branded himself one of the best offensive catchers last year, hitting 28 homeruns and throwing out 32 percent of those runners who tried to steal against him.
Weakness: Pitching. Pitching. Pitching. They have none and they can’t use the excuse it is the altitude preventing them from finding pitchers. Their one big challenge is attracting free agent pitchers to come to Colorado. No one wants to set himself up to fail. Todd Helton is no longer the stud he was in his earlier years. Michael Cuddyer may find more time at first base, especially if Tyler Colvin continues to hit.
Top Position Prospect: Myworld thinks number one 2012 pick David Dahl has more overall tools than Nolan Arenado. Dahl has the speed to be a good defensive centerfielder and steal bases. Dahl certainly had an impressive debut season last year hitting .379 with a 1.048 OPS.
Top Pitching Prospect: They need to find some. Chad Bettis did not play last year because of injury. They also selected a couple promising pitchers in the draft the last couple years in Eddie Butler and Tyler Henderson. Injuries have stalled former number one Tyler Matzek and number two Chad Bettis. Myworld will go with Edwar Cabrera. He doesn’t throw hard but he throws lefthanded and in 2011 he struck out more than 200 hitters.
Watch out for: Manny Corpas. He was the Rockies closer a couple years ago. Tommy John surgery led to his release. He bounced around a couple other teams but has retured as a non-roster invitee to the Rockies. They don’t really have a proven closer on the team.
Rookie of the Year Prospect: Nothing is preventing Nolan Arenado from taking the third base job. He only has Chris Nelson standing in front of him. Nolan’s slugging percentage decreased 50 points in 2012 compared to 2011. A good spring and Chris Nelson will be back to his utility role.
Projected on Paper Finish: It all depends on how they can solve their pitching, but no higher than third. We expect them to be the basement of the division as they were last year, even with a healhy Tulow.