To say the Colorado Rockies weren’t a very good team in 2013 is a bit of an understatement. The team finished in dead last place in the weak National League West Division with a 74-88 record and, according to their record, were one of the worst teams in baseball.
On the surface, that sounds like a team that should be rebuilding. However, looks can be deceiving.
Colorado has a pair of chips that would serve as unbelievable trade targets – Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Owner Dick Monfort, though, isn’t interested in dealing either, and has made that clear.
Both had All-Star type seasons in 2013. Gonzalez batted .302 with 26 home runs and 70 runs batted in. Even more astonishing is that he put up those numbers playing only two-thirds of the season. Tulo continued to show he’s one of the best power hitting shortstops around, crushing 25 home runs, while driving in 82 runs and hitting .312.
Because the team was so bad, the natural inclination of a lot of teams would be to trade the two players. That would be a bad idea, though.
The Rockies’ home in the National League West is a comfortable one, to be sure. It wasn’t until after the All-Star break that the Dodgers really grabbed a hold of the title and much of the season, the division looked like a pool of mediocrity. Los Angeles went on a tear, but other than that, the rest of the division left a lot to be desired. No other team was all that impressive or even finished above .500. Simply put, the division is there for the taking. Plus, even if Colorado can’t compete with the Dodgers in 2014, a strong second-place finish could warrant consideration for the Wild Card.
Both players will be paid well in 2014, but within reason for their production. The pair will cost Colorado about $26 million but that’s really about the going rate for two superstars. Each is locked up for several more seasons and their contracts get a bit unwieldy later, but for next season, the money really isn’t all that bad.
Then there’s the Rockies’ offense to consider. Even though the team was among the worst in baseball, the team’s bats were remarkable. Colorado was third in the Majors in batting average and fifth in slugging percentage. They were also second in the National League in RBI. Even given the advantage enjoyed by playing in Coors Field, the Rockies still hit well this season. Colorado has the offense to contend for the postseason.
The problem for Colorado, of course, was the pitching. The Rockies ranked near the bottom of the league in ERA, batting average against, WHIP, and quality starts. Somewhat surprisingly, three-fifths of the rotation wasn’t all that bad. Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De Le Rosa won a combined 30 games and the pair, along with starter Tyler Chatwood, all had ERAs below 3.50. Where Colorado fell apart was in finding two other quality starters. Juan Nicasio got a team-high 31 starts despite an abysmal 5.14 ERA and only nine of his starts were quality ones. And get this – Colorado gave starts to seven other pitchers and all had an ERA of over 5.50. Yikes. There was an amazing lack of depth in the starting rotation for the team last year.
The Rockies really aren’t that far away from contending for a playoff spot, so why throw in the towel now? Things looked bad last season, but a couple of serviceable starters and Colorado can significantly improve in 2014.
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