The Rockies have reached out to Brad Lidge. - The Colorado native and off season resident has some interest in returning home to pitch. Lidge would serve as a set-up man and insurance for Rafael Betancourt.
Camp Tulo - Troy Tulowitzki wishes to be MVP, and he's pushing Nolan Arenado hard to follow in his tracks. Once again Arenado's mentioned as a possibility for the Rockies Opening Day third baseman. Arenado's also the most likely player to break the "Second base must bat second" model that Jim Tracy espouses. A hypothetical lineup using parts already on hand:
- CF - Dexter Fowler
- 3B - Nolan Arenado
- LF - Carlos Gonzalez
- SS - Troy Tulowitzki
- RF - Michael Cuddyer
- 1B - Todd Helton
- C - Ramon Hernandez
- 2B - DJ LeMahieu
- P -
Looks pretty good if the two youngest players Arenado and LeMahieu, rise to their potential. Obviously the Rockies and their fans would prefer a more experienced and predictable option at one of those two infield slots, especially if it's Martin Prado, but this lineup does have a lot of promise.
Similarly, come July, the rotation could also be daunting if the Rockies young pitching matures ahead of schedule and pitches to their talent.
There's a high ceiling for that list, just not a lot of maturity or experience, and given the lineup, this team should be divisional competitive at its peak. My point with this would be that one of the Rockies biggest needs to be competitive in 2012 isn't something any front office could bring, they need the talent already on hand to grow up to their capabilities. This is a bit of irony given General Manager Dan O'Dowd's statements about wanting a team of men and not little boys, seeing as he's the one who's stocked the club with so many early 20-somethings. That said, both the Indians and Diamondbacks of 2011 are examples of young teams maturing into better than projected results despite not making major overhauls in the winter before. The Rays use the approach as a key part of their model.
O'Dowd's somewhat successfully followed that path with the Rockies pitching for next season, getting a bundle of young talented arms keeps the team from having to rely on any one individual breakout. Despite my title to today's post, that's not the only place we see a gathering pool of talent that could be starter capable. The infield mix lacks the same upside of the pitching group outside of Arenado, but you can start to see a similar pattern emerging. Arenado, LeMahieu and Josh Rutledge, along with Brandon Wood will be added to a possible in 2012 pool that already included carryovers Jordan Pacheco, Thomas Field, Chris Nelson, Eric Young, Brad Emaus and Jonathan Herrera.
In the outfield, the Rockies have a similar glut of ready now and near MLB players that includes Tyler Colvin, Jamie Hoffman, Charlie Blackmon, Tim Wheeler and Kent Matthes. Cynics will see this as O'Dowd building a AAAA team rather than an MLB ready one, but there is no team in the division, and only a couple in the major leagues that can boast this kind of depth. For that, I do think the front office deserves some credit. The Padres come half way there, they have the depth of position players, but not the pitching. The Diamondbacks are sort of in the opposite camp, having pitching depth (this got weakened with the Cahill trade) but not position player depth.
Depth doesn't show up in off-season projections, which can't really account for the increased likelihood of breakouts that accompanies it, but I'm a firm believer that it can show up in the W/L results at the end of a season. Albeit, here's my hedge of the day: the Rockies were a relatively deep team last year too (I don't think they were as deep as they are now, though) and if the front line of starting talent is as disastrous again in 2012 as it was in 2011, it won't matter how deep the Rockies are.