2010 Colorado Rockies: At The NL West Summit
BaseballEvolution.com Spring Preview
by Keith Glab, BaseballEvolution.com
April 6, 2010
The Colorado Rockies enter the 2010 season without having made any significant
acquisitions during the winter. That doesn't necessarily mean they won't
improve on their 92-win Wild Card campaign from a year ago, though.
| Key Transactions |
| Acquired || Pos. |
| Miguel Olivo|| C|
| Melvin Mora|| 3B/1B|
| || |
| Departed || Pos. |
| Jason Marquis|| SP |
| Garrett Atkins|| 3B/1B |
| Yorvit Torrealba|| C |
| Josh Fogg|| RP |
| Joel Peralta|| RP|
| Juan Rincon|| RP|
| Joe Beimel|| RP|
| Alan Embree|| RP|
The 2009 Rockies went a remarkable 72-41 (.637) after the month of May.
Every key player on the team not named Todd Helton enters the 2010 season 31 or
younger. Although the team had a quiet winter, they subtracted offensive
liability Garrett Atkins and a handful of detrimental relief pitchers.
Moreover, they can expect a full six months from Rafeael Betancourt (261 ERA+)
and Jason Giambi (130 OPS+), players acquired mid-summer last year. Their
primary competition for the NL West, the LA Dodgers, might just be the major
league team that falls the furthest in 2010. Finally, their three
highest-level minor league affiliates combined to go 22 games over .500,
underscoring the young talent still available to give the big league squad a
Some people cited the return of Jeff Francis from shoulder surgery as the
biggest reason for optimism in Colorado this year before it became clear that
Francis would begin the season on the disabled list. Not only should
pitchers coming off shoulder issues never be counted on the season following
their injury, but Francis has a 4.74 career ERA after going 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA
in 2008. Even if Francis were to miss the entire 2010 season, the Rockies would have
little difficulty replacing those kinds of numbers.
||de la Rosa
||de la Rosa
Southpaw Greg Smith will get the first crack at the fifth spot in the
rotation with Francis out. It has been largely forgotten that Smith posted a
4.16 ERA in more than 190 innings two seasons ago. His minor league record
is 33-18 with a 3.66 ERA even after his 11 injury-plagued starts last season.
While no threat to become the ace of the ballclub, the 26-year-old Smith would
be a welcome addition to the back of any big league rotation. In contrast,
Jhoulys Chacin could be a future ace in the making, based on his 38-17, 2.44
minor league record and five-pitch repertoire. The 22-year-old Chacin may
or may not be ready to contribute this season, however.
The front four of the Rockies rotation return from last year. Ubaldo Jimenez, 26, has the best-velocity fastball among starting pitchers in
Major League Baseball. That fastball also has terrific downward movement,
and after last April, Jimenez was able to command both it and his slider to
great success. He should be one of the best pitchers in baseball for the
next decade or so, barring injury. Aaron Cook has never struck out more
than 100 batters in a season, but induces even more ground balls than Jimenez does.
That is enough to give Cook an ERA in the low-4s every year despite his starting
half his games in Denver.
Jorge de la Rosa has stuff that is nearly as exciting as what Jimenez brings
to the table: a fastball that averaged 93.4 mph last year accompanied bay a
great changeup that came in at 84.5. His lack of command makes him
extremely inconsistent, though. Meanwhile, Jason Hammel boasts a
four-pitch repertoire that allowed him to manage a K/BB ratio of better than 3:1
While the Colorado rotation has the depth to survive Francis' delayed return,
the bullpen may not be so fortunate in regards to the continued absence of
Huston Street. While Franklin Morales proved serviceable replacing Street
as the closer last September, the rest of the bullpen now looks very thin. This
group ranked 24th among the 30 teams in bullpen ERA last year, and Street was
basically the best of the bunch with a 3.06 ERA. I say basically because
Rafael Betancourt joined the team midseason and provided n ERA of 1.78 in 32
Between Street, Betancourt, Morales, and Manny Corpas, the Rockies have four
relievers on their roster with closing experience. Despite that, each of
them has proven themselves inconsistent at one time or another.
Fortunately for the Rockies, bullpen help is relatively easy to acquire
midseason should more of their own relievers falter than flourish.
This pitching staff will be working with the catching duo of Chris Iannetta
and Miguel Olivo. This is a good-hit, good-glove platoon behind the dish.
Ianneta should have a breakout season, as he is 27 this year and had a bad luck BABIP of .245
last year. Olivo banged 23 homers in 114 games with the Royals last year.
Even though his career OBP is under .280, the power he could hit for in Coors
combined with his having one of the best arms in baseball makes him a competent
platoon-mate at the very least.
.332/.410/.630 from June 7 onwards
|Cy Young Candidate|
14-8, 3.05 ERA after his first 5 starts
A less conventional platoon can be found at first base, where two veteran
left-handed hitters will take turns. Todd Helton can still hit for a high
average at this point in his career and Jason Giambi can still hit for power,
but neither is quite the all-around threat with the stick that they once were.
Giambi, of course, has no business playing in the field, while Helton remains a
solid defender, although no longer the Gold Glove caliber first-sacker he was in
The Rockies do boast one of the best middle infield defenses in the majors
with Clint Barmes and Troy Tulowitzki on the job. While Barmes' career
.613 OPS away from Coors tells you all you need to know about his offensive
value, Tulowitzki has developed into the best all-around shortstop in the game
today. The fact that he is only 25 years old makes you think that he could
have multiple MVP Awards in his future. Fellow 25-year old Ian Stewart
rounds out the infield as a solid-but-unspectacular third baseman. I'd say
that his playing every day would be an upgrade over the Stewart/Garrett Atkins
platoon of 2009, but 800-year old Melvin Mora replaces Atkins on the club as one
of the worst position players in the majors.
The Rockies return basically the same outfield as last year, with the
footnote that Carlos Gonzalez will be with the team the whole year. Just
24-years old, Gonzalez might already be the best pure hitter on the Rockies.
Should he learn to take a walk here or there, he could easily develop into the
best offensive player in the game. He's already among the top defensive
left fielders around, which is important, since Brad Hawpe is unquestionably the
worst defensive right fielder around. Why the two do not switch places, I
do not know.
Dexter Fowler is also well below average in centerfield. Fowler just
turned 24, so he figures to improve on both sides of the ball. His career
minor league RSL is .301/.396/.453, and that comes without the stat padding of
Colorado Springs play. Seth Smith batted .472 as a pinch-hitter last year,
also drawing 10 walks and driving in 12 runs. He is actually a pretty
solid corner outfielder to boot, and might just be the best all-around fourth
outfielder in the game right now.
Rockies Team Capsule|
7/19/2010: Ubaldo Redman? - After Jonathan Herrera's first major league home run capped a four-run comeback in the 8th for Colorado Monday night, Donnie Murphy's pinch-hit 2-run shot won it for the Marlins in the bottom of the ninth. Florida topped the Rockies 9-8 as Ubaldo Jimenez allowed six runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings to see his season ERA rise to 2.38. While that mark would lead the American League, it is only good for fourth-best in the senior circuit. Ubaldo's ERA over his last seven starts is 5.20, and he suddenly seems as good of a candidate for the Mark Redman Award as he does the Cy Young. The Colorado comeback did preserve his 15-1 record, however.
This team has an incredible nucleus of young talent and really should cruise
to the NL West Division Title. The only thing that could possibly stop
them are injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez. Unfortunately,
Tulowitzki already has an injury history in his young career and Jimenez is a
skinny, high-effort flamethrower who increased his workload significantly from
2008 to 2009 when you factor in the playoffs. It would not be out of the
question for this team to suffer a rash of injuries and not have the depth to
overcome them, as we saw in 2008.
But the safe bet is for the Rockies to win the West by 10 games or more over
their nearest competitor.
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