Point being is that the Rockies never seem to live up to their potential, as they love to leave everything to hanging to the last minute. They are a younger franchise, in a great city with a loyal group of fans just waiting for their first World Series win.
Could 2011 be the year for the Rockies? Let’s take a look.
Not a busy off-season outside of the organization, but internally the Rockies made it a priority to lock up two of the best players in baseball, SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Carlos Gonzalez.
Locking up both Tulo and Gonzalez for the next seven years at the price of $134 million and $80 million respectively, gives the Rockies a solid core for the next few seasons. Gonzalez played in 145 games, hitting 34 home-runs, 111 RBIs and he almost snagged the NL MVP from Reds Joey Votto. Tulo posted a .315 batting average, hitting 27 homers and driving in 95 RBIs.
Considering that these twos’ bats make up for about a third of the team’s overall run production, it is easy to see why Tulo and Gonzalez went from important to vital. Overall, solid move making sure these two remain in Denver for the long haul.
In the first half of 2010, Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez was the talk of baseball. Jimenez threw the Rockies first no-hitter in April and finished the month 5-0 in five starts. He also pitched just shy of 26 straight innings without a run scoring until it got broken up May 3rd. So, Jimenez just went on another hitless marathon topping 33 innings straight through July of last season.
The second half of 2010 was not so pretty as Jimenez came back down to earth, but finished with a 19-8 record, posting a 2.88 ERA and pitched a total of 221.2 innings over 33 starts. It would be hard to repeat the historical first half of last year, but Jimenez is the staff’s ace and needs to win 19 games for the team to contend in 2011.
The pressure was completely on Jimenez last season, but a finally healthy Jorge De La Rosa should provide the needed relief. De La Rosa is a solid lefty who had a middle finger issue last season, which kept him on the DL for 12 of his scheduled starts, but in 2009 he won 16 games and expect the same or better in 2011.
Jayson Hammel will most likely follow De La Rosa, who was second, behind Jimenez in strikeouts with 141 last season and threw just shy of 180 innings in 30 starts. The back end will be Jhoulys Chacin and Aaron Cook who broke his finger before Spring Training, so he won’t be available right away.
The Rockies bullpen was sans closer Hudson Street who missed 70 games with should injury, but still had 20 saves in 44 games. In 2009, Street had 35 saves so hoping for a comeback season to close out some wins in the ninth inning.
It is hard to imagine that a team with two powerhouses, such as Tulo and Gonzalez biggest disadvantage would be offense. Finishing 19 games below .500 in 2010 is unacceptable for any team looking for long-term success.
For a team who plays at such a high altitude, but the problem was not at home where they led the league in batting average with .298. It was anywhere other the fun-hitting Coors Field, where the team’s batting average went from first to last with a .226.
Oh we are not done yet, as there are two even bigger concerns lingering from 2010. The team ranked at the bottom with a .223 batting average with the bases loaded and came in as the third-worst in strikeouts per game averaging eight for a total of 1,274 on the season.
Tulo and Gonzalez are coming into their primes but they have absolutely zero support on either side of them. The Rockies don’t look much different from 2010, as the only external off-season move was a trade for 2B Jose Lopez.
Still, that doesn’t change much heading into 2011 and the Rockies are banking on OF Seth Smith and 3B Ian Stewart to step it up for now.
Players To Watch:
Pitching Coach, Carney Lansford is the new edition to the coaching staff. Lansford played for 15-seasons and his last stint as the 2009 Giants instructor did not fair well, as he was fired after that one season. When Lansford coached in Triple-A, his pupils were Smith, Stewart and catcher Chris Ianetta. Smith really exploded back in the minors under Lansford, so maybe the reunion will work once again. Lansford has a strict demeanor, but this might be a genius move if the team starts to produce.
2011 NL Central Prediction:
The Rockies will fight the reigning World Champion Giants in the NL West, but with all the Giants newfound fame and an improved record on the road will be enough for the Rockies will slip by the Champs to win the NL West in 2011.
- CarGo, Tulo not afraid to let it rip (mlb.mlb.com)
- Kiszla: Tulo gets tough with GenRation (denverpost.com)
- Colorado Rockies Spring Roster Preview – Outfield (prosportscolorado.com)
- 2011 MLB Preview: Colorado Rockies (thebaseballblog10.wordpress.com)
- Offseason In Review: Colorado Rockies (mlbtraderumors.com)