The only way to go is up as the Colorado Rockies prepare to embark on the 2013 season. If Troy Tulowitzki can stay healthy and Todd Helton can stay out of jail the Rockies should be able to compete in the tough National League West.
With a healthy roster and a new skipper, the Rockies look to improve from their NL West-worst 98 losses last season. Walt Weiss takes over in the dugout this season after the unexpected departure of Jim Tracy following last season’s disappointing finish.
The team kicks off spring training February 23rd against league rival Arizona. The Rockies’ 40-man roster is full of questions so spring training should be exciting. The team is projected to spend $73 million this season on player salaries, which ranks 21st in the league. That is a little more than a $5 million drop off from last season. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a projected payroll of $213 million this season, so competing in the NL West will be difficult.
The numbers don’t look good for the Rockies but the team is much younger and may be able to compete with the bigger budget ball clubs. The Rockies actually have only three players born before 1980 on the current squad, with Todd Helton now taking over the role as the oldest player on the team.
Entering his 17th season with the club it is uncertain what role the veteran will play. Helton had season ending hip surgery last year and is likely entering the final year of his career. The aging slugger’s numbers declined last year as Helton with a career .320 batting average only hit a meager .238.
The Rockies pitching staff struggled in 2012 with a league worst 5.22 ERA that ballooned to 5.97 at home. The staff struggled with injuries all season and was never able to get into a rhythm. The Rockies rotation was a revolving door with 14 different players starting a game last season. The one good thing that came from all the trials and tribulations was the experience gained as the team led the league in batters faced.
The bullpen this season will feature Rafael Betancourt back as the team’s closer. Rex Brothers looks to have a more important role with the team this year, possibly as the set-up man. The young pitcher had a breakout season in 2012 leading the club in wins.
The Rockies will return to the five man rotation this season and it should look a little something like this. Jeff Francis, Drew Pomeranz, Juan Nicasio, Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin should make up the rotation. It is uncertain who will step up as the team’s ace. Without a top tier pitcher the Rockies will probably still struggle to compete in certain match-ups but overall look for the Rockies pitching staff to be much improved this season.
Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki will be at the heart of the Rockies batting order and Dexter Fowler will be leading things off for the team this season. After that it is anyone’s guess what the line-up will look like but as a fan that has some time to pass until opening day I will do my best to put one together.
I think the line-up should look a little something like this: Dexter Fowler, Josh Ruthledge, Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Wilin Rosario, Michael Cuddyer, Helton, and Chris Nelson. A lot can change between now and then, plus my line-up projections are not always spot on. Todd Helton could find himself batting anywhere from the five spot to the seven spot depending on his health and will likely split time with Jordan Pacheco or offseason acquisition Ryan Wheeler.
The word that best describes the Rockies roster this season would be YOUTH! The Jamie Moyer days are long gone. Walt Weiss is actually about a year younger then Moyer. Besides a young coach the team will also showcase some of the best young talent in baseball this season. Young pitchers Pomeranz, Nicasio and Chacin will be exciting to watch this season and hopefully one of the three can beat out Brothers for the team lead in wins. The Rockies should be a much improved team from last season and have the framework in place to put together a solid season.
Chris Reiners has followed the Colorado Rockies since the franchise was born. He is a lifelong Colorado resident who is just beginning a part-time freelance writing career.