Colorado has two of the best young players in baseball: Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Both are franchise players with all five tools. Both are also under the age of 28. On the flip side, Jaime Moyer and Todd Helton are two of the oldest players in the league. Yet, they are no scrubs. After getting swept by the Red Sox in the 2007 World Series it has been an odd experience for the Rockies. Without much of a starting rotation to compliment their hitting, how will Colorado fare in 2012?
Projected Position Players
Catcher – Ramon Hernandez (Wilsin Rosario)
First Base – Todd Helton (Jason Giambi)
Second Base – Marco Scutaro (Jonathan Herrera)
Third Base – Chris Nelson (Jordan Pacheco)
Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki
Left Field – Carlos Gonzalez
Center Field – Dexter Fowler (Eric Young)
Right Field – Michael Cuddyer (Tyler Colvin)
It really doesn’t get much better than Tulo & CarGo. Tulo is arguably the best shortstop in all of baseball. Not only does he pull in Web Gems regularly, but he is a monster with the bat. In September of 2010, Tulo smacked 15 homeruns which is second all time for said month behind George Herman Ruth who cracked 17. Under his belt, Tulo is a two time All Star, two time Gold Glove winner, and two time silver slugger. All of those awards and acknowledgments came over the past two seasons. Not only that, Tulo also has hit for the cycle as well as turned an unassisted triple play.
After being acquired for Matt Holliday, CarGo has done nothing but impress since he joined the Rockies starting lineup. In 2010, he finished third behind Joey Votto and Albert Pujols for National League MVP after finishing with a league leading .336 average to go along with 34 homers and 117 RBI. While he did not win the MVP as voted on by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America, CarGo did win Player of the Year in 2010 as voted on by his peers. He followed up his 2010 campaign with an injury plagued but still solid 2011 (.295/26/92/92). These two can and will carry this roster offensively and in the field.
Outside of Tulo and CarGo, this lineup is one big question mark. Yes, Dexter Fowler is one of the fastest players in the league and an excellent defensive center fielder, but can he hit for average? Yes, Michael Cuddyer enjoyed middling success during his years in Minnesota but will that translate to a positive experience in Colorado? Yes, Marco Scutaro had an excellent month of September in Boston last season, but he is still 36 and shifting to a new position. Yes, Todd Helton has 347 career homers and a career .323 batting average over 15 seasons BUT he will be turning 39 in August.
While they have two of the most explosive offensive players in the league, they aren’t surrounded by much pop. Cuddyer could fit well in this lineup, but as a third option is that really a lineup you fear as an opposing pitcher?
Projected Rotation & Bullpen
SP – Jhoulys Chacin, Jamie Moyer, Juan Nicasio, Jeremy Guthrie
RP – Tyler Chatwood, Rex Brothers, Esmil Rodgers, Josh Roenicke, Matt Reynolds, Matt Belisle
CL – Rafael Betancourt
Jhoulys Chacin is an emerging front line starter in the majors. The 24 year old has a career 3.52 ERA over 53 starts for the Rockies during his short career. Despite his 20-26 record, Chacin only allows opponents to hit .228 with a nearly 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. While he has yet to finish a season above .500, his 20 wins over the past two seasons are nothing to snuff at. Chacin is a pitcher the Rockies can feel good about moving forward as the young righty continues to grow this season.
The next win Jamie Moyer registers will be record setting. The man who was born in 1962 will be the oldest pitcher in the history of baseball. There is little doubt in my mind that the Julio Franco of pitching wants to pitch until he is at least 50.
Anytime the number two on your staff is a 49 year old with a career 4+ ERA, you are likely going to have a bumpy season ahead of you. Even Chacin, a player who has yet to finish a season above .500, is no guarantee. There isn’t single pitcher on this roster, in the pen or in the rotation, who the Rockies can hang their hat on and give the ball to in order to stop a losing streak. Even if this team held on to Ubaldo Jimenez, they would still be erratic from pitchers three through five. There is no reason to expunge any further, this is one of the worst pitching situations in all of baseball.
While Tulo and CarGo will continue to rake, the team around them is weak. Even if Chacin comes out and has a CY Young caliber season while Tulo or CarGo wins MVP that would make the Rockies as good as last season’s Dodgers. Maybe. This team is one bat and two arms away from playoff contention. 2012? At least there will be some offense.
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