We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Rockies Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Bryan Kilpatrick from Purple Row.
1) Juan Nicasio was a feel good story heading into the season after a horrific neck injury sustained from 2011 but didn’t have a very successful run in 2012 before going down with another injury, this time to his left knee. All said and even with a career ERA close to 4.50 at the major league level, it’s hard to ignore his minor league strikeout and walk rates. Really I just loved this guy as a sleeper the last two years and it hasn’t panned out. Please tell me it’ll pan out in 2013 and what can we expect from Nicasio in 2013?
Nicasio performed very well for the Rockies prior to the injury despite the fact that, in my opinion, he profiles better as a reliever. Nicasio doesn’t have a wide repertoire of big league-quality pitches, but throws gas and has a decent enough slider to complement the above-average fastball. His only other pitch, the change-up, is nothing more than a show-me pitch right now.
That said, Nicasio will more than likely be in the starting rotation this season, and if he can get a slight uptick in his velocity, at least back to where it was in 2011, he has a shot at posting an ERA in the low-to-mid 4’s, which is about as good as can be expected from him in his current role.
2) Staying on the subject of starting rotations, there are a lot of questions marks 1-5 there and the Rockies have brought in a lot of veteran arms which makes many fantasy owners nervous there’s no one to count there for starting pitching. Who do you think the 5 starters will be and which ones would you be drafting for fantasy baseball in 2013?
Don’t count out Jhoulys Chacin. He pitched the first part of 2012 while injured, and upon his return, posted a 2.84 ERA and made it through five innings on six separate occasions, which is a tremendous accomplishment considering the Rockies’ strict pitch count limits after implementing “Project 5,183.” Chacin has a career 3.68 ERA and just turned 25. If he proves to be healthy, he is certainly a draftable pitcher.
The same can be said for Jorge De La Rosa, who blossomed into a very fine pitcher before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010. De La Rosa was not good in three MLB starts last season, and never really found his footing during various rehab stints either. However, being able to return to a normal offseason workout regimen shouldn’t be discounted, and helps make De La Rosa a strong bounceback candidate. He may be a bargain in deep leagues.
The only free agent starter likely to crack the Rockies rotation is Jeff Francis, who was the team’s most consistent pitcher a year ago, and was only a free agent by definition. My belief is that the rotation will be rounded out with Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio, leaving Tyler Chatwood in the bullpen or, perhaps better, in Triple-A, where he can get some much-needed seasoning. Pomeranz is a wildcard; he has the prospect pedigree to be a fine major league pitcher, but he has struggled with consistency and a mysterious drop in velocity since joining the Rockies organization in late-2011.
3) Troy Tulowitzki is a great player when healthy, which is obvious. However, he’s only had two seasons of 150 or more games in his brief career and last year had to be a lowlight for him when he only played 47 games. Please tell me the Rockies have figured out a way for Troy to play in a bubble out on the field and still be productive? Oh and how confidently/what round would you draft Tulo this year knowing his injury history?
Tulo is a player who is worth taking a first-round gamble on. Simply put, there are no other shortstops in baseball who can match his level of production. That said, I think we can officially slap the “injury-prone” label on him, whether it’s his fault or not. As far as keeping him “in a bubble,” there have been a lot of rumblings about moving him to third base at some point, but GM Dan O’Dowd has publicly debunked those talks, at least for now.
This is just one of those situations where all you can do is hope he stays healthy. I think he learned his lesson about bulking up rather than doing workouts to maintain (and improve) his flexibility, and has stated that he plans to adjust his offseason workout program accordingly. Hopefully it makes a difference, but who knows. All I know is that when he’s on the field, he’s a top-5 player in baseball, and he makes the players around him better, especially offensively (see Gonzalez, Carlos).
4) The hype-train for Wilin Rosario is growing. Some analysts are predicting 30 to 35 HRs which is amazing power regardless of position but when you throw in that he’s a catcher, he becomes all the more alluring. I knew the power was there last year and called it with my Wilin Rosario fantasy but I’m worried that .270 average is unsustainable. Are we worried about a sophomore slump from Rosario and what are your expectations for him in the 2013 season?
The biggest problem that Rosario faces is whether or not he’ll be adequate enough defensively to stay in the lineup consistently to put up those number offensively, which he appears more than capable of doing. In fact, Rosario got off to a very slow start at home last year, or else his batting average and other numbers could have been even better. I’m not real worried about him sustaining an average around .270, as you said, as his approach at the plate continues to improve. Also, a little-known fact is that, for the majority of last season, Rosario’s road numbers easily trumped his home numbers, and was one of the few Rockies who showed the ability to perform well away from Coors Field.
So, in a nutshell, everything hinges on his defensive performance. If he doesn’t improve over last year, he won’t stay in the lineup enough to have a shot at cracking the 30-HR plateau. There’s also the problem of a healthy Ramon Hernandez, and whether or not Walt Weiss will be tempted to go with experience over actual production, even if Rosario gets better behind the plate. It will certainly be something worth keeping an eye on.
5) Given the personnel moves made by the Rockies so far in the off-season, it’s really hard to tell which direction they’re going moving forward. What’s the most likely storyline about the Colorado Rockies for the 2013 season?
A) Either Carlos Gonzalez or Tulo get traded by mid-season as the Rockies rebuild?
B) Dinger gets fed up with the play of his team and starts his own version of the show Barney and it’s just as weird and creepy as the original?
C) Josh Rutledge lives up to the hype that Grey bestowed upon him in his Josh Rutledge fantasy?
D) Todd Helton finally retires mid-season saying he wants more time to watch his great-great-great grandchildren grow up?
E) Nolan Arenado is up and raking at 3rd base for the Rockies by early June?
You hit the nail on the head by saying it’s hard to tell what the Rockies are doing. Are they rebuilding? Do they think they can compete now? One thing O’Dowd has pretty much made clear is that the team will use a wait-and-see approach as, in his defense, the team was too decimated by injuries to be able to properly judge how good (or bad) they really are.
One thing is for certain: there’s not enough pitching there, any way you spin it. The bullpen looks to be okay in theory, but if the starters perform as poorly as I think they might, a decent bullpen will go up in flames in a hurry.
It’s unlikely that Carlos Gonzalez will go anywhere, but the Rockies would be foolish not to listen if the right offer came along. That said, they would HAVE to get an established major league pitcher that has the characteristics of being able to survive in Coors Field (high groundball, low walk, good strikeout numbers), and there aren’t too many of those guys around. Dexter Fowler re-emerging on the trade market is a much likelier scenario. As for Tulo, he definitely isn’t going anywhere — I think.
So, I’ll go with E, although it would be hard to turn away from B (oh wait, no it wouldn’t). I have a feeling that any sort of torrid start from Arenado in the minors will result in a push to the big leagues, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to hit well at that level from the outset.