Welcome to the 54th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where the long winter is officially over. Spring is here. Summer is coming. Baseball is back. For that, I’m tremendously excited. I have another big post this week. It’s time to talk Rockies. Isn’t that awesome?! It is. It’s very awesome. (Even if the weekly format of this blog means my Rockies preview comes a day late.) Let’s get into it.
My official prediction for your 2014 Colorado Rockies: 85-77.
Yes, I’m predicting the Rockies will finish eight games over .500 and hang around in the Wild Card race late into the season. Like last year (when I predicted the Rockies record within one game, no big deal) it appears that I have a more favorable outlook on this team than most. Vegas set the Over/Under for wins at 76. Sports Illustrated picked them to finish 11th of 15 in the National League. ESPN says 75 wins and last place in the NL West.
When you live in Denver, saying the Rockies will suck is a trendy, easy thing to do. Ohh the Rockies… They’re never good. Their pitching sucks again right? The narrarative is a pretty simple one. But it’s mostly misguided this year (I think).
I’ll address the starting pitching in a moment, but let us first look at the most important issue facing the Rockies this year.
Without a doubt, the single biggest factor in the Rockies’ 2014 is the health of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Over the last five years, when CarGo and Tulo have both been in the starting lineup the Rockies are a different team. They are 231-211 (.523) when they both start. They are 155-213 (.421) when either Tulo or CarGo (or both) does not start, according to The Denver Post and Stats Inc.
One line regarding this stuff in Troy Renck’s Sunday feature that really resonated with me: “And Gonzalez believes the pair is simply due a dose of good luck.” I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more.
Many of the injuries these guys have battled have been flukey and/or unlucky. Both players are young and healthy. They both take baseball and their careers very seriously. By all accounts, they both take care of remarkable care of their bodies. Injuries are impossible to predict, but at some point they should be able to put together a string of some healthy seasons… Right…? Maybe?
If they do, the Rockies should contend into September. Tulo and Cargo are two of the top-10 all-around players in the game. They should both be considered MVP candidates each year. When you take into account all five tools, they are far and away the best duo in baseball. Remember, before Tulowitzki got hurt last year he was playing at an MVP-level, leading one prominent Colorado blogger to ask if he is the best player in baseball. (Although these days if you attempt to make this argument for anybody other than Mike Trout, you’re pretty stupid.) Anyway, I’m expecting an enormous 2014 from Tulo.
Sidenote: The Tulowitzki trade rumors will heat up quickly if the Rockies don’t win games. There’s something to this. If the Rockies don’t make progress this year, there’s not much point in wasting Tulo’s prime in Denver. At some point it would be worth think about blowing everything up and starting over, which would undoubtably be frustrating for fans. That said, quit telling me he’s going to the Yankees because Derek Jeter is retiring. That’s dumb. The Yankees don’t have any attractive young trade pieces. The Rockies can be a perplexing organization, but even they are not just going to give away their best player because it makes for a good story in New York.
Now back to that starting pitching. We’re now two years removed from the four-man rotation and 75-pitch limit. That was a debacle that turned the Rockies into a laughingstock. Last year the Rockies’ saw unprecented success from the top of the rotation, with Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood all posting ERAs under 3.50. Those three combined to go 38-21. When you pitch half of your games at Coors Field*, those numbers represent a serious success.
*The media bias that might anger me the most is the discounting of Rockies’ offensive numbers because of the Coors Field factor, without any praise or consideration for the Rockies pitchers that have to deal with the challenges of the park. Seems like a pretty simple connection to me.
The back end of the rotation was a different story. Juan Nicasio was essentially the fourth starter. He went 9-9 with a 5.14 ERA. Not horrible. But not very good. The fifth spot in the rotation was a joke. The combination of Jeff Francis, Jon Garland, Chad Bettis, Roy Oswalt, Jeff Manship, Drew Pomeranz and Collin McHugh combined to go 8-32, which is, like… really bad.
Anyway, I’m fairly confident those big three will have good years again even though Chacin is out until the first week of May and Chatwood will miss his first couple starts and DLR didn’t look sharp and lost his composure last night.
Perhaps the key to the Rockies’ rotation is tonight’s starter, Brett Anderson. Anderson was the Opening Day starter for a good Oakland team last year, but he hurt his foot and only made five unproductive starts. If –hey there’s that word again!– he can win 12-15 games, the Rockies have a shot at a very good year.
Other key questions:
- Will Nolan Arenado take the next step offensively? Arenado had a solid rookie year at the plate, but can he take a huge jump this year into the .300/25/90 range? It’s not out of the question.
- When will we see Eddie Butler and Jon Gray? Hopefully you’ve heard of the promising young fireballers waiting in the Rockies’ farm system. I think fans should hope to see Butler in June and Gray in August. If one or both of these dudes comes up and pitches like it sounds like they’re capable of, things could get interesting.
- Will center field be a black hole? Drew Stubbs, Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson and Brandon Barnes are all in the mix to start some games in center field. Will anyone step up? Will some sort of platooon provide decent offense and viable defense? I’m kind of doubting it.
- Is 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins a legitimate closer?
- Is paying Boone Logan more than $5 million per year a really stupid idea?
- Will Justin Morneau start against left-handers? Last year in Minnesota he had 457 at-bats against righties (.280/15/61) and only 178 at-bats against lefties (.207/2/16).
- Can Wilin Rosario catch the damn ball and hit 30 homers? One or the other would be great.
- What kind of effect will the quirky early-season schedule have? The Rockies play 40 games in the first 42 days of the season, which is kind of insane. Also, 19 of their 29 games in April are against NL West teams. So a hot start could do wonders. Or a slow start could kill.
- Is the Rooftop Party Deck thing going to be as cool as I am imagining? I’m betting yes on this one.
Here is my preseason awards list, because I know you’re very curious.
National League MVP:
- Bryce Harper
- Troy Tulowitzki
- Yadier Molina
American League MVP:
- Mike Trout
- Miguel Cabrera
- Wil Myers
National League Cy Young:
- Jose Fernandez
- Matt Cain
- Clayton Kershaw
American League Cy Young:
- Yu Darvish
- Justin Verlander
- David Price
Moving on to the weekly departments…
Tweet of the week:
That tweet came from the official account for Michigan basketball right after this Shot Of The Year that capped off yet another great weekend of great basketball:
Pretty funny to listen to Jim Nantz, who I thought actually did a great job calling all the crazy action down the stretch. (I’m generally not a big Nantz guy.) He thought the shot was blocked. This one’s deflec– OHH HE MADE IT!
Stud of the week:
The Avalanche’s best player is out for four weeks and the first round of the playoffs. It’s a pretty devestating blow for a promising young team. But Matt Duchene is still a stud. Check out this series of Tweets he sent out after the word of his injury was released. Pretty classy with a good attitude.
Douche of the week:
Manhattan coach Steve Masiello lost out on a $5 million contract after it was revealed that he lied on his resume about graduating from college. At first I thought this was completely irrevelant to his job as a coach, but then people convinced me that lying on your resume is pretty douchey. What a crazy story though.
A few other things…
I have to show another Aaron Gordon GIF even though Arizona didn’t make the Final Four and made my bracket look even more stupid. This one is insane.
Donnell Alexander is leaving the CSU program for some reason. Strange and unfortunate story here.
This little interaction with Chuck is pretty damn good.
And finally, I am blatantly stealing this quote from Will Leitch’s Opening Day column, but it’s fitting for today’s post.
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” — Rogers Hornsby
Happy Tuesday everybody. And happy Baseball Season. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the home opener on Friday if you’re lucky enough to attend (and even if you’re not). See ya next week.
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