Monday morning, we talked about the Rockies' need for offseason shopping. While getting a new manager and replacing the missing coaches is also very important, the team on the field still needs a decent amount of work.
To sum Monday's article, I'm of the opinion the Rockies should bring Yorvit Torrealba back to Colorado to help mentor Wilin Rosario, they should be looking at blocked 1B prospects to be the heirs apparent to Todd Helton, and they should sign David Wright out of free agency (as tongue and cheek as the suggestion may have been). That pretty much rounded out the infield.
When we discuss the outfield, things get a bit more blurry. Right now, the Rockies have Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin, Charlie Blackmon, Andrew Brown, Michael Cuddyer, and Eric Young Jr. to cover the 3 OF spots. That's a few too many players to keep around for part time duty.
LF: Carlos Gonzalez is going to be the majority starter in LF, obviously. I sincerely do not anticipate an offseason shocker like moving Gonzalez. He'll likely start 140 games, give or take, given the Rockies desire to rest their stars more often.
CF: Dexter Fowler is also an intriguing name to discuss. We finally saw Fowler have that breakout season in which he batted .300/.389/.474 (123 wRC+). CF would appear to be locked down for the foreseeable future, especially since Fowler dropped Scott Boras as his agent, potentially opening the door for an extension. There are a lot of concerns about Fowler's season though, namely a career-high 24.2% K% and a .390 BABIP - numbers that might suggest Fowler is more likely to return to a more "MLB-Average-at-best" type of a player.
RF: I have absolutely no idea who will be playing RF in 2013. Right now, it seems like a Michael Cuddyer/Tyler Colvin split with Todd Helton at 1B will be the most likely combination of names in the lineup, but there's just no way to tell. For starters, Cuddyer could be traded for the sake of salary relief and Colvin could be traded as a sell-high opportunity. Eric Young Jr, while an exciting player when he's on his game, probably isn't the guy we want to see getting the regular start in RF.
4th OF: Assuming Cuddyer isn't traded, Colvin makes a lot of sense as the super-utility 4th OF. He's shown the ability to play CF as well as the corners, as well as 1B. I don't think it would be difficult to find Colvin 400+ PA between being the part-time RF starter and the depth for CF and LF. Charlie Blackmon also isn't a bad guy to have around, but more for his glove than his bat. Andrew Brown might be non-tendered.
There have been silly thoughts that Josh Hamilton could be a Coors Field guy, but I can't think of a more likely situation to end poorly, given Hamilton's injury history and Coors' history of breaking baseball players. Realistically, trading Cuddyer and working with Fowler while starting Colvin in RF seems to be the smartest option in my estimation. Should the Rockies acquire a Neftali Soto type 1B to be the future of the position, that will take care of 1B and give Colvin/Blackmon the playing time in RF (and backing up CF/LF). This also could leave room for EYJ to get some PT as well.
Should Blackmon and Young not look to be adequate bench OF bats, there are always guys like Cody Ross, Travis Buck, Austin Kearns, and Mitch Maier who could be worth a brief tire-kicking as reserve/Super-U OF.
Bullpen: Much as we hailed the bullpen for being one of the few bright spots of this past season, the Rockies also got a lot of mileage out of guys like Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino who were castoffs from other teams already. Part of that point should be credited to the Rockies for finding good, cheap scrapheap players to pitch in a non-trivial amount of games, but the 1.5 run discrepancy between Roenicke's 3.25 ERA and 4.72 FIP have me more than a bit concerned regarding what we can expect out of 2013.
Rafael Betancourt isn't getting any younger, and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with Matt Belisle. The Rockies really need to see Rex Brothers take that next step in his development and solidify himself as the next Rockies closer.
While I fully expect the Rockies to either hang on to Roenicke and/or Ottavino and perhaps even look at a couple more scrapheap guys (Chad Qualls, anybody?), I would also love to see them make a dramatic bullpen acquisition and land somebody like Brandon League, or even more specifically, Brandon League himself. Bats 'n' bullpens, that's how the 1995 Rockies made the postseason. Let's do it again in 2013.
SP: Hoo boy.
To kick it off, health is going to improve this rotation right off of the bat. Jhoulys Chacin looked... OK... after returning from the DL. Jorge De La Rosa looked... well, bad. The rest of the rotation hopefuls are injured, or should be put back into the baseball oven until they aren't quite so rare. The real question is if the team really wants to lean on Chacin and DLR to be the head and shoulders of the rotation and hope that Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, Juan Nicasio, Tyler Chatwood, and Edwar Cabrera start to show improvement in their pitching to the point where they are MLB contributors that can be counted on.
Not attempting to bolster the rotation would likely be a mistake, but the hardest part of this is obviously finding pitchers who could survive in Colorado. Names like James Shields and Alex Cobb have been thrown around by Purple Row commenters, but the costs might be too high for a guy who falls completely apart after losing an inch or two off of his fastball.
Much as I don't really want him here, I'd like to hear that the Rockies at least made a call to Joe Blanton's agent. He more or less fits that profile of the "innings eater" that Colorado needs, and if he put up numbers like he did in Philadelphia before being traded to the Dodgers, I'd be very content with that.
So to summarize, figure out who's getting traded out of Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer, and Tyler Colvin, go get Brandon League and make that big trade for James Shields or whoever, even though we know it's going to be more scrapheap guys.
Hurray for the World Series and all, but man, I just want to get this offseason underway so there are actually things to talk about beyond speculation.