02 February 2011
Each day this week, a member of the Bloguin family will preview the upcoming 2011 season for each of the NL West Teams. The Giants Cove (Giants), RJ's Fro (Padres), The Rockie Mountain Way (Rockies), TetreaultVision (filling in for the Dodgers) and D'Backs Venom (Diamondbacks), will all give their 2 cents for their respective teams. Next on the list is Joe Dexter from The Rockie Mountain Way answering all the difficult questions about the Colorado Rockies.
I'm proud to participate, and glad you clicked here to take a peak, but the credit for this report is all due to Joe at The Rockie Mountain Way and reading the preview over there is well worth your time. Due up next is my report on the Dodgers.
1. 2010 Record
83-79 (3rd in NL West)
2. Player Additions
P Felipe Paulino, C Matt Pagnozzi (MIN), 2B/INF Jose Lopez, 1B/INF Ty Wigginton, 1B Eric Duncan (MIN), C Jose Morales, 1B Mike Jacobs (MIN), P Billy Buckner (MIN), 3B Matt Macri (MIN), OF Jeff Salazar (MIN), 2B Tug Hulett (MIN), P Matt Lindstrom, IF Hernan Iribarren (MIN), P Sean White (MIN), Claudio Vargas (MIN), P Josh Muecke (MIN), P Jim Miller (MIN), 3B Joe Crede (MIN), P Clayton Mortenson, OF Wily Taveras (MIN), 1B Kala Ka'aihue (MIN) and UT Alfredo Amezaga (MIN)
3. Player Losses
P Joe Beimel, 2B Clint Barmes, SP Jeff Francis, P Octavio Dotel, OF Jay Payton, OF Chris Frey (Rule V), SP Ethan Hollingsworth, SP Wes Musick, P Jonnathan Aristil, P Paul Bargas, 3B Melvin Mora and SP Chaz Roe, RP Mannyl Corpas, OF Brad Hawpe, RP Manny Delcarmen, P Samuel Dedunom C Miguel Olivo
4. Strengths going into 2011
The Rockies went into the off-season looking to simply add depth and bring back the core of it's team. No matter what position, there is a player that can fill in and do a solid job going into 2011. There is no doubt that the Rockies have addressed that. Last season, when Houston Street went down to injury, there was not an arm that could fill in effectively. This year, Matt Lindstrom provides closer experience with some nasty stuff. The rotation remains in tact after the re-signing of Jorge de la Rosa and Jason Hammel. Ubaldo Jiminez has become what the Rockies hope to be the long time horse at the top of the pitching staff.
Like last season, this team is built to win at Coors Field. At home, the Rockies went 52-29 in 2010 and this offense remains pretty much in tact. This is a team that scored twice as many roads at their friendly confines.
Much of the success in 2011 will be based on how they play at home, which like always, should be an advantage.
5. Weaknesses going into 2011
If the biggest strength is play at home, then you can probably guess where we are going with weakness. Despite putting together a clinic at Coors, The Rockies went just 31-50 on the road, scoring a lackluster 291 runs.
Of course in a competitive division like the N.L. West, it is expected to drop some games on the road, but factored with a slumping second half, the Rockies failed to finish ballgames. There was never a stretch where this team got hot to the extent of winning ballgames like there isn't a tomorrow. A 34-40 second half finish is not going to propel you into a wildcard spot or division championship.
Positionally, this team does lack depth in the outfield. If Seth Smith can get his swing fixed after the massacre that is Don Baylor in a coaching position, things will be brighter. Smith hit .246 in 2010, just one year after hitting .293 with similar power numbers. Wily Taveras, Alfredo Amezaga, and Jeff Salazar will add depth at the position, but most likely a fifth outfielder won't be carried on the roster.
It has also been chronicled how much depth lacks at the catcher position. Chris Iannetta hit just .197 last year, but will be called upon to handle the majority of the work behind the plate. Top position prospect Wilin Rosario is coming off injury, and is only 21.
From Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein:
"He could be an All-Star catcher with above-average offense and defense...the rare catcher you actually want in your lineup...showcases plus power without sacrificing too much in terms of contact..Defensively, he's a gem."
That's a year away, but hopefully the depth at catcher doesn't become an issue in 2011.
Addressing the Opposition:
6. Despite Troy Tulowitzki being a fine player, after the whole "signing Todd Helton for the rest of his life" deal, is signing Tulow to such a long extension a good idea? (RJ's Fro)
Every Organization does things differently. The Yankees buy whoever they can. The Padres grow from within, but very rarely invest in keeping someone that they feel will be overpaid.
The Rockies lock up who they believe is their cornerstone players and find ways to work around it.
When Todd Helton was locked up in 2001, he had been under contract for two more years at a decent salary for his experience and service. That didn't stop Rockies management from locking up who they saw as a hall of fame player.
Though fans might question the deal, The Rockies see it as a high reward for a number of reasons. There isn't a doubt that the Long Beach State product possesses the most power in the league. He has shown to be a good young leader in his four years. This signing is a compliment of that, and hopefully will motivate Tulowitzki. Beyond the game aspect, this is a business for the Rockies brass and GM Dan O'Dowd put it best.
"It was the right thing to do, We believe in character, team and integrity.''
7. Why does this team always seem to struggle out of the gate and then turn it on in August and September? Can they start winning from day one this year? (TetreaultVision)
Last season, the tides changed for the Rockies. Despite a sub .500 in April, the best month record wise for this team came in May. The problem with this team is putting together any type of consistency. There were only two months in the season where this team played more than one game over .500 ball. Their best month was still a mediocre one.
As we saw last season from the World Series Champion Giants, it isn't how you start. It's how you finish. The Padres started a sizzling 15-8 and remained steady all season long until they hit a wall in September, going 12-16. The Giants finished 18-8 when it mattered.
Winning from day one would be nice, but putting together a solid September and October and competing within is what matters most in this division.
8. After starting the season 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA, Ubaldo Jimenez struggled in the 2nd half going 4-7 with a 3.80 ERA. While he's been a solid pitcher in the past, he's never been unhittable like he was the 1st half of last season. What will be the Jimenez we see in 2011? (RJ's Fro)
The safe answer would be somewhere in the middle. It will be hard to match the dominance that Jimenez displayed in the first half of last season. The man won 15 games, threw a no hitter and was considered a lock for the Cy Young award.
One pitcher that I think would be comparable to Jimenez is the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander. Jimenez should return to a form similar to the beginning of the season, but the humidor is not going to be as forgiving in 2011. Jimenez is going to walk a lot, strikeout a bunch and be a workhorse. Just what the Rockies are asking of him.
9. If we accept that Ubaldo will regress, how hard will he tumble back to reality? (TetreaultVision)
It wouldn't be surprising to see Jimenez struggle with control and staying healthy, but it would be another thing to say that he is going to fall off the face of the earth. At worst, the starting pitcher falls to his '09 self, were he put up similar numbers in a larger sample than his second half last year. Jimenez hasn't pitched enough innings for his arm to fall off, but he does pitch at Coors Field. It's safe to anticipate his reality state on the mound will still be top notch.
10. How will the Rockies be able to build a competitive 25 man roster for the next five years with so much payroll devoted to just two players-- SS Troy Tulowitzki (10 yrs @ $157.75 million); OF Carlos Gonzalez (7 yrs @ $80 million). Tulo and Cargo will be making $26.5 million in 2014; $36 million in 2015, $37 million in 2016; and $40 million in 2017. How will the Rockies be able to afford Ubaldo Jimenez after 2014? (The Giant's Cove)
This is the question all Rockies fans are asking. When you try to peel it back and look at it from management's standpoint, it make sense. There is a lot of young talent in the Rockies system that like always, will grow into a role.
A quick look at a projected 2014 lineup will show you that for the most part, there are pieces that can fill in the puzzle if need be. A lot of money will be coming off the books before 2014, including Todd Helton, Aaron Cook, and a slew of different relievers.
If the Rockies really buy into Jimenez by that point, then things will work out. But the question has to be, do they buy him as a long term ace? Probably not. When is the last time that the Rockies paid top 10 money for a starting pitcher? Ever since the days of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle - for the most part, the Rockies have relied on homegrown pitching. By 2014, the hope is that lefty prospects Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich will have taken Rockie nation by storm.
Projected 2011 N.L. West Standings
1. Colorado Rockies
2. San Diego Padres
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. San Fransisco Giants
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
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