Friday, February 8, 2013

2013 Preview: Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies

(2012: 64-98, last place NL West)
(2013: FC Prediction: Last place NL West)

If I asked you who led the National League in batting average last year, would you guess the Colorado Rockies??  Well if you did, then you probably read our 2012 review of the team, but that would not be common knowledge.  The lineup in Colorado is not a question mark, however the pitching staff is a HUGE question mark.

Manager Jim Tracy tried a piggy back 8 man rotation last year which didn't have much success.  For the love of all things holy, every Rockies fan can only hope that new manager Walt Weiss will go back to a traditional 5 man rotation this year.

Injuries killed the Rockies last year, especially the season ending injury to superstar Troy Tulowitzki.  Tulo comes back this year, but I don't know if it will be enough with the relative struggles of the Rockies starting rotation.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2013 Rockies:

The Rockies starting rotation is very young, and there is some talent there, but pitching in Coors Field has turned out to be near impossible in recent years.  All of these thoughts are based on the assumption that the Rockies will go back to the 5 man rotation.  Jhoulys Chacin will be the ace of the staff, and while he has great stuff, he is definitely not an ace.  Jorge De La Rosa will need to bounce back from injury and have success in order for the Rockies to make any noise.

The rest of the rotation (outside of wily veteran left-hander Jeff Francis) is very young and will battle it out for the last 2 spots. Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood, and Christian Friedrich.  I give the early edge to Nicasio and Pomeranz but Chatwood and Friedrich are very intriguing young guy who could step right in at the back of the rotation if needed.

The bullpen should have much more success than the starting rotation. Closer Rafael Betancourt still has one of the best sliders in baseball.  The acquisition of Wilton Lopez from the Astros should give the Rockies a formidable late inning lefty.  Guys like Rex Brothers, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Belisle give the Rockies some reliable inning eaters in the pen.

The prospect pool is pretty thing for the Rockies when it comes to pitching.  Their best pitching prospect is still first round pick Tyler Matzek.  After a rough couple season, Matzek looks to get back on track in 2013.  He has great stuff and if he can improve his command, he should be up in Colorado in late 2013 or 2014.

The returning Rockies lineup is incredibly impressive for the 2013 season.  The Rockies have a lot of depth all the way around.  The stars of the Rockies are shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and left fielder Carlos Gonzalez.  Both are perennial MVP candidates and should anchor the Rockies lineup for 2013.  The rest of the outfield is rounded out by center fielder Dexter Fowler and right fielder Michael Cuddyer.  Fowler provides great defense and speed while Cuddyer is incredibly consistent with the bat.

The infield is rounded out by third baseman Chris Nelson, second baseman Jose Rutledge, and first baseman and Rockies legend Todd Helton.  The best part about the Rockies infield is their depth.  DJ LeMahieu and Jordan Pacheco can back up at either third or second and both can hit for a very high average despite their lack of pop.  Back up first baseman and right fielder Tyler Colvin got the fresh start he needed in Colorado last year.  He had a tremendous year and will get plenty of playing time at both positions.

The Rockies have plenty of talent in the minor leagues.  Shortstop Trevor Story and outfielder David Dahl have tons of promise, but both are a couple years away from the big leagues.  The guy to watch for 2013 is third baseman Nolan Arrenado.  While Nelson and Pacheco are formidable at third for the Rockies, there may be no denying Arrenado a spot in the lineup at some point in 2013.  

There are some nice names on the list including Yorvit Torrealba and ageless wonder Miguel Batista, but to me the most likely to stick is Manny Corpas.  The former Rockies closer spent the 2012 season with the Cubs.  While he didn't have a great level of success, he still showed the awesome slider that has given him success in the past.  After watching him plenty last year, I think Corpas was fooling around too much with arm angles and it caused him to lose command.  If he figures it out, he could be a very successful reliever for the Rockies in 2013.

The Rockies have a very good lineup, but their pitching staff is among the worst in baseball.  While scoring runs is the name of the game at Coors Field, it is unrealistic to expect the Rockies lineup to put up 6 or more runs per game.  This is what they might have to do to compete in 2013.  While the youngsters like Nicasio, Pomeranz, and Friedrich could put together nice seasons, I don't see the Rockies pitching well enough to compete in the tough NL West.  They might be able to pass the Padres, but I don't seem them at the same level as the Giants, Dodgers, or Diamondbacks.

Follow Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler @DexterFowler24 and just not because he is pretty sharply dressed in his avatar.  He also tends to tweet other athletes quite often.