For all the pontificating, pondering and preposterous preciseness of the palpable statistical premises of us more pompous baseball pontiffs, the most paramount of all prizes is still the run. Is it more important to prevent it or to score it at all costs?
In a vacuum this question is impossible to answer (maybe, what do I know?) but the Colorado Rockies will face a more specified version of this question in 2014.
Apart from the fifth rotation spot, which is essentially a battle position on every team, the Rockies question marks heading into Spring Training -- and likely into the regular season -- will boil down to a preference of offense or defense.
At second base, the Josh Rutledge vs. DJ LeMahieu argument has been hashed out for now and we await their progress and new results. Still, if your premise as a team of pitchers is to induce ground balls, an infield defense comprising of Nolan Arenado, Troy Tulowitzki, and LeMahieu is positively ideal.
In the outfield it is unlikely that both Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes start the team because they have both shown deficiencies at the plate, but if they did coupled with the infielders I listed above, the Rockies would likely have one of the best defenses on balls in play of any team in baseball.
Conversely, runs will be scored at Coors Field. You heard it here first. So why shouldn't the Rockies give themselves the best opportunity to score as many runs as possible and consistently load their lineup with hitters that will challenge opposing pitchers from start to finish?
A lineup with Josh Rutledge's threat of power and speed near the bottom gives pitchers no break (especially when Tyler Chatwood is pitching.) Both Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson have promising hit tools and if the former catches on as a consistent on-base and average guy or the later as a legitimate power threat the Rockies could end up boasting one of the best lineups in the NL.
Since none of these scenarios is a guarantee, the Rockies must bank both on what they think is the most likely outcome and what they think will bring about the most positive results. This is a difficult balancing act and one that could define the margins between the Rockies having another forgettable season and them surprising people by giving them something to remember,
My personal instinct is to rely most heavily on defense to start. Trot out your best pitchers and defenders (I would even consider starting Stubbs, Barnes and Cargo in the OF and putting Michael Cuddyer at 1B against lefties) and do everything you can to instill a clean baseball identity. If and when the injuries arrive and/or certain players struggle and/or other players excel when given opportunities, you can call audibles from there.
The more the Rockies can control the games and keep their opponents from gaining any kind of offensive momentum, the more they will have the opportunity to win those games on the strength of just one good at-bat from Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki or even Wilin Rosario. With those guys coming up, the game never really feels tied.
The Chicago Tribune has some Rockies players to watch for including Tommy Kahnle.
I found this piece from David Coleman to be a thoroughly entertaining read on the dangers of the game of baseball.