2014 Colorado Rockies preview: Can Tulo & CarGo stay healthy?
Offense: When healthy, the duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are as dynamic as any in baseball; however, injuries have limited the pair’s time together. Fowler’s trade to Houston leaves a question mark at leadoff, and though there is no sure-fire replacement option, Corey Dickerson and Stubbs look like the best choices to fill the void. Even though Helton didn’t have much of an impact during the twilight of his career, his leadership will be sorely missed. Morneau’s arrival will actually be an upgrade at first base despite the fact that he will be eight seasons removed from his MVP-winning campaign. The 32 year old could be a prime candidate for a bounce-back season as he sports a career .364 average at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Rotation: Colorado looked to address its rotation depth issues with by acquiring Anderson in a trade from Oakland, and while the lefty has shown promise on the mound, injuries have put a damper on his career thus far. The Rockies’ top three starters — Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood— collectively posted a respectable 38-21 record in 2013, but the team couldn’t find a reliable answer on the back end of the rotation. Chacin’s shoulder issues could put the pitcher on the DL to open the season and Chatwood is returning from offseason elbow surgery. De La Rosa seems to be heading into his Opening Day start in good shape, but the Rockies’ rotation overall remains to be a big question mark for ‘14.
Bullpen: The Rockies were aggressive in the offseason, bolstering a bullpen that notched an NL-worst 4.23 ERA in ‘13. Hawkins was brought in to provide another option for the eighth inning or closing the ninth inning along with returning closer Rex Brothers. Logan’s three-year deal with Colorado gives the team yet another left-handed reliever.
Player to watch: Gonzalez. He finished last season hitting .302/.367/.591 with 26 home runs and 70 RBI despite being shut down for 49 of the Rockies’ final 73 games due to a sprained finger. Gonzalez opted for rehab instead of surgery on the finger and had an emergency appendectomy in January but is said to be back at 100 percent health. If Gonzalez can make it through this season without any health problems, the 28 year old could be on track for the most impressive numbers of his career thus far.
Why they will in: Everything has to go right. If Tulowitzki and Gonzalez can avoid getting injured for the entire season, the Rockies’ offense, paired with what could potentially be a good pitching staff, may be enough to help Colorado be in the running for a wild-card spot.
Why they will lose: The Rockies will live or die by their rotation. If Chacin and De La Rosa fail to replicate their success of last summer and newcomer Anderson succumbs to injury as he is prone to do, it could be hard for the team to improve on 2013’s last place finish.
Rob Neyer’s outlook: I don’t know, man … the Rockies? They seem like nice enough guys and I adore their ballpark. But when are they going to start developing some young pitchers? Because until they do, it’s hard to see them competing for another playoff spot without catching lightning in a bottle (as they did most recently in 2009). Remember in 2011, when they traded Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians and supposedly restocked the larder? The three pitchers they got in that deal, fine prospects all – Joe Gardner, Drew Pomeranz, and Alex White – have combined for an 8-27 record in the majors since the trade. Which is sub-optimal. Maybe sub-sub-optimal. Developing pitchers in Colorado might be even harder than most places, but whatever the Rockies have been doing isn’t working.