Much hand-wringing has - and will continue to - been done so far this "offseason" about how the Rockies will address their glaring holes at third base, second base and in the rotation. Potential answers from the farm are not ready, but there certainly are options (Thomas Field, Josh Rutledge, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Chad Bettis, Nolan Arenado) in existence.
The problems facing the Rockies in the next year likely are not the problems facing the Rockies' longterm viability. Two of the problems - gulp - could be Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
Despite their dual slight dips in performance this season, on-field production is not a concern for me. When they are on the field, they justify their contracts and the effect it has on Dan O'Dowd's ability to supplement the roster. They just have to be on the field.
Last offseason, I spent a good ten minutes per day spewing mockery at various internet outlets for calling Troy Tulowitzki "injury prone." He had suffered a quad injury in 2009, lacerated his hand in 2009 being young and dumb, and broke his hamate bone on an errant pitch. Nothing there had predictive value.
Until Tulo injured his leg again, then had lingering hip bursitis. I can no longer fully defend "injury prone" accusations.
Carlos Gonzalez puts catching any one fly ball as priority over his longterm health, and as a result, he has suffered notable wrist injuries in consecutive seasons. Power hitters need their wrists. Despite sitting out October and much of September, he still isn't healed from the injury he suffered in July. CarGo claims his wrist is currently at 70%. He won't swing a bat again until four months after the original injury.
Neither Tulo nor CarGo require surgery, which is a relatively good sign. Last Monday, Tulo turned 27, and yesterday, Gonzalez turned 26. Their repeated injuries at a young age is not such a good sign.
We haven't exactly struck an iceberg here. I am not calling for hysteria. But there is undoubtedly an ominous obstruction peeking out of the water on the horizon. When one contract has 9 years/$152.25mil left and the other 6 years/$74million, one can't be too careful.
Much was written about how critical the farm system would be to supplement the Rockies' duo with cheap, productive hitters during their peak contract years. Perhaps more critical is Tulo and CarGo's health. The Rockies' managed with an oft-injured Todd Helton, but he was productive in spurts, and the farm produced its best crop of hitters in franchise history alongside it. As far as I'm concerned, the health of the two boppers is the greatest storyline to watch in 2012 regarding the viability of the franchise in coming years, perhaps tied with the performance of Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.
Fortunately, after years of claiming he can play no other way, CarGo is going to play a different way:
Gonzalez admits that he will attempt to adjust his style a bit, playing smarter to avoid the disabled list.
I'll gladly trade a couple defensive runs for the additional fifteen offensive runs, thank you very much.
Free Agent Market: Second Base | FanGraphs Baseball Matt Klaassen picks out the notable free agent second basemen, and you can see why Mark Ellis is such a (relatively) attractive option. Those available include Jamey Carroll (who is 38), Jerry Hairston Jr, Kelly Johnson, Aaron Hill and Ellis.
Pitching prospect Matzek aims to show Rockies his resilience | ColoradoRockies.com: News Jonathan Mayo reviews his preseason top 10 Rockies prospects and spins Tyler Matzek's season as positive as one possibly could. Strangly, he ranks Christian Friedrich over Nolan Arenado still...
Looking ahead: 2011 xBABIP-adjusted batting lines When TrueMath tells you who was "unlucky" or "lucky" based on "expected batting average on balls in play vs batting average on balls in play" (an xBABIP/BABIP comparison), you listen. Two Rockies fit in the top 25 or so unluckiest hitters in MLB. Colorado featured no "lucky" hitters. So that's good for 2012.
And if you are in need of a wry smile this morning, Jim McLennan posted this at The Hardball Times four years ago today: