If I had nothing else to say about the Rockies' 2011-2012 offseason, I'd have to say that the roster moves made by the beginning of the new year had the Opening Day roster at least 75% figured out, and that left kind of a comfortable feeling about the upcoming season. Really, even before the Marco Scutaro trade, the Rockies Opening Day starters were essentially in place. They might as well have started pre-printing lineup cards.
Having an Opening Day Lineup that only really lacked one established MLB player had me at least CONTENT with the Rockies. We weren't waiting on half of the lineup to finally "figure it out". We hoped they would, and as such, we expected a Division Title in 2011.
What makes 2012 different in my mind is that there really AREN'T any expectations. This team could finish anywhere from 1st to 5th in the division, and frankly, I wouldn't be surprised by any of it. The lineup looks to be pretty much full of established MLB players, and we have a good idea of what we're getting out of them.
The options aren't all great, they aren't all All-Stars, and honestly, I'm OK with that. This season, the question marks are far more about player health and talent ceilings rather than work ethic and questions about commitment to the game of baseball. This in itself makes it much easier to break down a team, and leaves much less to speculation.
What killed me about the 2011 season is that as the eternal "guy who sticks up for Chris Iannetta, and most of the time, Ian Stewart," I was forced game in and game out to try and spin something up about why Ian Stewart didn't look like he cared about his 18th consecutive backwards-K at the knees on the outside corner and why Iannetta's apparent questionable pitcher-handling wasn't as big of a deal as people were making it out to be. That won't be the case this season.
(Yes, I'm admitting it here, Iannetta's framing or umpire gaming or whatever else falls under "poor pitcher handling" appears to be a real thing, and while I still need to see more than Jered Weaver's complaints and one Baseball Prospectus article to give it much more credence, I am willing to concede this particular case.)
The 2012 Rockies might be godawful. They might be mediocre. The difference is that with a team constructed in the fashion of the 2012 Rockies, if they do start losing and start disappointing and basically don't hit that upper tier of potential outcomes, it won't be for lack of effort. It won't be for lack of fundamentals. It won't be because somebody's more focused on Call of Duty 4 or NCAA football than hitting the batting cages. You know that this team is going to charge out on the field and give every game everything they've got.
See, every baseball team has 3 things that will determine the outcome of their season: Talent, Effort, and Luck. The 2007 Rockies had the Effort, they CERTAINLY had the Luck, and they had the Talent. The 2008 Rockies had roughly the same talent, and for the most part they had the effort, but Todd Helton's back and Troy Tulowitzki's quad had something to say about that whole luck thing. The 2011 Rockies certainly had the talent, but they absolutely lacked the effort and one could make the case that the luck was either neutral or just not there at all.
The 2012 Rockies still have the talent. There's no doubt in my mind that they have the effort (seriously, can you name one player out there who isn't going to go balls-to-the-wall in every game in an effort to win?). This season's going to come down to luck. The way the bounces and the injuries fall will also determine the final standings. Also pitching, but honestly, I just didn't want to write about the #5 battle again.
If this team goes out there and plays as hard as I expect them to, I will have no problems spending my hard earned dollars on the 2012 Colorado Rockies.
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2 Homers? I'll say he is.
Also, Alex White looked like a boss on Sunday, getting a few big strikeouts and just looking nasty with his stuff. Maybe getting into the bullpen and building some confidence in his own stuff can help him transition to the rotation down the line.
82 pitches in 5 innings still isn't quite where we'd like to see Jhoulys Chacin at, but he still has a little bit of time to start shaving off a few pitches per inning and get to the point where he can make it into or through the 7th based on that arbitrary 100 pitch count.
Generally a recap of the recent Spring Training topics, but Renck does raise a key issue: The Rockies need Juan Nicasio to be a beast. Not an Ace, not a World Beater, but he needs to take that #4 rotation slot and hang onto it as if the season depended on it. It just might.
Jamie Moyer is Old and Throws Slowly! I still like him for the #5 starter, purely for kicks and giggles. Also something about veteran presence and such.