Just two short years after their last playoff appearance, the Rockies found themselves in a deeper hole than they could overcome midway through last season, forcing the front office to change course. For all the success the team had at the end of the last decade, the status quo wasn't working anymore. The roster was in need of a makeover.
Certain parts were untouchable, such as the nucleus of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Both are locked up long-term and both are good as it gets at their respective positions. But Ubaldo Jimenez, perhaps the only true ace the organization has ever known, suddenly became expendable and ultimately landed the Rockies two promising young pitchers in Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.
Though Pomeranz showed some potential down the stretch and has a pedigree that suggests he could be the organization's next true ace, the Rockies still didn't feel comfortable with their pitching depth entering spring training and made it their mission this offseason to acquire as many serviceable arms as possible -- most of which are probably too hittable for Coors Field.
Between Jeremy Guthrie, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, Jamie Moyer and Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies should have no shortage of innings. Whether or not they'll be good ones is a different story. Fortunately, any of those five (with the exception of Guthrie) who make the roster will likely become expendable as soon as Juan Nicasio (broken neck) and Jorge De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery) prove healthy and effective again.
As for the offense, the Rockies loaded up on veterans to complement Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, and while old men Todd Helton and Casey Blake may not hold up at the corners, Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro are still productive enough to take advantage of the move to Coors Field. And whenever the Rockies decide they need an injection of youthful energy, they can turn the hot corner over to future star Nolan Arenado and the catcher spot over to slugger Wilin Rosario.
Breakout ... Dexter Fowler, OF
Judging by the final numbers, Fowler was the same player last season as the previous two seasons, when he was widely regarded as an underachiever. But let's not forget the path he took to those numbers. In June of last year, he was hitting so poorly that the Rockies actually demoted him to the minors. Instead of sulking, he adjusted, changing his stance -- which was never a thing of beauty from the left side -- to shorten his stroke. He returned a different player, hitting .297 with 36 extra-base hits, nine steals and a .901 OPS in his final 64 games. That's who the Rockies thought they were getting when Fowler was first breaking into the majors. Granted, the homers aren't there yet, but given his 6-foot-4 frame and extensive number of doubles and triples, they should come as he enters his prime. And even if they don't this year, Fowler still figures to exceed his draft position in Head-to-Head leagues. He's basically a Shane Victorino waiting to happen.
Sleeper ... Rafael Betancourt, RP
After trading Huston Street to the Padres this offseason, the Rockies plan to make Betancourt their full-time closer. But wait, didn't the Indians try that with him in 2008, when he was coming off his best season? And wasn't it a cataclysmic failure? And didn't no-names like Masahide Kobayashi and, later, Jensen Lewis end up getting saves instead? Yes, yes and -- oh yes -- yes. But that was the old Betancourt. At age 36, he's no longer so easily rattled. Want proof? Hey, he was at his best while filling in for Street last year, posting a microscopic 0.32 ERA over his final 30 appearances, when he recorded all eight of his saves. He has always had great peripherals, from his strikeout rate to his WHIP, and his stuff is as good as ever despite his age. Betancourt is likely to slip in drafts given his limited closing experience, but if you draft him late as your second or third reliever, he might end up being your best.
Late-round flier ... Marco Scutaro, SS
Let's be honest here: Scutaro isn't going to hit 20 homers or steal 20 bases. He might not even be a 10-10 guy. He isn't going to redefine the shortstop position or carry anybody's Fantasy team. So why should anyone care about him on Draft Day? Because what he does offer, at least in Head-to-Head leagues, makes him surprisingly productive at the weakest position in Fantasy. He hits doubles. He walks. He puts the ball in play. As a full-timer in 2009, he ranked fifth among shortstops in Fantasy points, and one year later, he ranked sixth. Best of all, he's going to be batting second for a team that, given its home ballpark, routinely ranks among the highest scoring in the NL. With Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki hitting behind him, how can he not score a ton of runs? Again, you can do better at shortstop than Scutaro, but if you miss out on the big names early, don't forget about him as a fallback option.
|Projected Lineup||Pos.||Projected Rotation|
|1||Dexter Fowler||CF||1||Jeremy Guthrie||RH|
|2||Marco Scutaro||2B||2||Jhoulys Chacin||RH|
|3||Carlos Gonzalez||LF||3||Juan Nicasio||RH|
|4||Troy Tulowitzki||SS||4||Guillermo Moscoso||RH|
|5||Todd Helton||1B||5||Drew Pomeranz||LH|
|6||Michael Cuddyer||RF||Alt||Josh Outman||LH|
|7||Ramon Hernandez||C|| |
|8||Casey Blake||3B||CL||Rafael Betancourt||RH|
|Top bench options||SU||Rex Brothers||LH|
|R||Wilin Rosario||C||RP||Matt Belisle||RH|
|R||Tyler Colvin||OF||RP||Matt Reynolds||LH|
|R||Eric Young||OF/2B||RP||Edgmer Escalona||RH|
|Even at reduced velocities with the extended workload, Pomeranz was more effective than not in a late-season call-up. He's a worthy late-rounder in mixed leagues, provided he wins a job.|
|2||Nolan Arenado||20||3B||Class A||Double-A|
|Despite his young age, Arenado is already a good enough contact and power hitter to play in the big leagues. Considering only Blake stands in his way, it'll likely happen midseason. A future star.|
|Rosario's power hitting should play well at home, but his poor plate discipline could make him another Rod Barajas. He'll eventually supplant Hernandez, making him worth a flier in deeper leagues.|
|4||Chad Bettis||22||SP||Class A||Double-A|
|Bettis was overpowering in the heavy-hitting California League last year, causing him to shoot up the prospect rankings. He likely won't arrive in 2012, but he's a worthy long-term keeper.|
|Wheeler emerged as a power hitter last year and is also an adequate base-stealer. His struggles against lefties might confine him to a platoon role, but he's not far from reaching the bigs.|
|Best of the rest: Tyler Matzek, SP; Trevor Story, SS; Tyler Anderson, SP; Kyle Parker, OF; Jordan Pacheco, 1B; Charlie Blackmon, OF; Christian Friedrich, SP; Edgmer Escalona, RP; DJ LeMahieu, 2B; Kent Matthes, OF; Joe Gardner, SP; Edwar Cabrera, SP; Zach Putnam, RP; Rob Scahill, SP; Hector Gomez, SS; and Ben Paulsen, 1B.|
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