2005 Record: 67-95 (5th Place)
2005 Runs Scored: 740
2005 Runs Allowed: 862
Expected 2005 Record: 69-93
The Rockies are in year two of their major rebuilding endeavor, so itís time to see some results. But wait! We already saw some results last year as they went 30-28 after the trading deadline. This was not merely a result of July acquisition Mike DeJean, but rather a clever retooling of the entire organizational philosophy. Letís take a closer look at these young, eyebrow-raising Rockies:
2005 Starters: JD Closser, Danny Ardoin
Projected 2006 Starters: Yorvit Torrealba, Ardoin
Closser was just atroicius last year in every facet of the game. Yorvit Torrealba may not be a household name, but heís committed just 5 errors and allowed only 3 passed balls in nearly 2,000 defensive innings, and cuts down baserunners at a 35% clip. Danny Ardoin has an even better arm than Yorvit (48.9 CS%), and handled the Rockiesí pitching staff much better than Closser did (CERA 34 points lower).
2005 Starters: Todd Helton, Ryan Shealy
Projected 2006 Starters: Mr. Rockie, Shealy
Here we have a rerun of the Thome-Howard situation in Philly last year, with one major difference: Helton and Shealy bat from different sides of the plate. Helton managed just a .677 OPS vs. lefties last year, and once Shealy began showcasing his skills in July, Helton responded with a 1.112 second half OPS. If theyíre platooned, these two could give Colorado the best production out of first base in all of baseball. Unfortunately, Helton has been the face of the franchise for nearly a decade, and commands about one-quarter of the teamís total salary, so they may not be willing to go that route.
2005 Starters: Aaron Miles, Luis Gonzalez
Projected 2006 Starter: Gonzalez
Destined to become known as "The Other Luis Gonzalez" as soon as people start realizing that there is more than one Luis Gonzalez in the league, the 26-year old Luis A Gonzalez is an adaquate player right now. He hit .292 in each of his first two ML seasons, but thereís not a lot behind it for someone who plays half his games at Coors Field. Itís much better to have Luis as a full time second baseman than having him split time with Aaron Miles, but this still isnít a strong position for the team. Random stat: Luis has a career .353 batting average in day games.
2005 Starters: Garrett Atkins
Projected 2006 Starters: Atkins, Jeff Baker
Despite leading the club in RBI last year, putting up solid to excellent numbers at every level heís been at, and performing above average defensively as a converted first baseman, Garrett Atkins is still regarded as merely a temporary solution at third base for Colorado. 2003 first round pick Ian Stewart and Minor League stud Jeff Baker are closing in on Atkins. Right this minute, Atkins is their best option, but the Rockies must clearly make a trade soon to clear this impending logjam.
2005 Starters: Clint Barmes, Desi Relaford
Projected 2006 Starter: Barmes, Omar Quintanilla
I seriously doubt that Barmes is the .329 hitter that he masqueraded as before his injury last year, but I also know that heís a huge upgrade over the days of Royce Clayton and Neifi Perez at shortstop. Quintanilla proved that heís not yet ready for the bigs in his September callup, but remains a promising youngster. Both of these guys have good range but problems turning the double play. One of them will be turning double plays from the other side of second base by 2007.
2005 Starters: Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Preston Wilson, Dustan Mohr, Corey Sullivan
Projected 2006 Starters: Holliday, Hawpe, Sullivan, Eli Marrero, Juan Piedra
Here we have a crop of outfielders of the Jay Payton/Jeffery Hammonds/Todd Hollandsworth ilk: below average offensive players anywhere except Colorado, where they may post great numbers.
Thatís not entirely fair. The only person to hit line drives more frequently than Corey Sullivan last year was Mark Kotsay, meaning that both may have hit into some bad luck last year. Brad Hawpeís home/road OPS over the past two seasons is nearly identical, and his six baserunner kills in limited duty last season makes him valuable even if he doesnít drive in 100 runs. Jorge Piedra slugged .484 on the road last year, but it remains to be seen how heíll do now thatís heís off the juice. Itís very unlikely that any of these guys will struggle as much as Dustan Mohr did last season.
2005 Front Three Starters: Jeff Francis, Jason Jennings, Jamey Wright
Projected 2006 Front Three: Francis, Jennings, Josh Fogg
Rockie pitchers who approach a 2:1 K/BB ratio tend to succeed. Therefore, discount Jeff Francisí poor showing last year due to mostly bad luck (.339 BABIP is bad even for Colorado). He does still have a 10-4 4.61 career mark in Coors. You figure that eventually Clint Hurdle will learn to arrange the rotation to maximize his home games.
I shudder to consider what a flyball pitcher who relies on his curveball (Josh Fogg) might do in Colorado. Jennings can be OK as an innings-eater, but should never be considered the #2 guy on your staff.
Other 2005 Starters: Shawn Chacon, Joe Kennedy, Aaron Cook, Byung-Hyung Kim
Other Possible 2006 Starters: Cook, Zach Day, Byung-Hung/Sun Woo Kim
Fortunately, the back end of the Rockies rotation looks stronger than it has in ages. Aaron Cook managed a 3.67 ERA, though his RA was a more realistic 4.10. Both Kims showed promising K/BB ration, the Sunny flavor with the better ERA, but the Byung-Hung variety inducing more ground balls. The less Zach Day figures into their plans, the better.
2005 Top Relievers: Brian Fuentes, David Cortes, Marcos Carvajal, Jose Acevedo
Projected 2006 Top Relievers: Fuentes, Jose Mesa, Ray King, Mike DeJean
This is obviously the area that Rockie managment addressed most this offseason. Jose Mesa is one of the most overpaid pitchers in baseball right now, and big Ray King isnít likely to pitch 80 games in that thin mountain air, but these setup men still represent a huge improvement over last yearís clowns.
There are currently 16 players at age 26 or 27 on the Rockiesí roster, and about a dozen of those will crack the 25-man squad. This means that many Rockies could improve over last year or even break out. Itís still too early to predict a winning record for these kids, but itís time to stop perrenially picking them to finish last in the NL West. Theyíre one year ahead of Arizona in their youth movement, and poised to overtake the antedelluvian Giants very soon.
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