One of the largest critiques of the Rockies offseason to date has been with the team adding starters with higher than average fly ball percentage on balls in play. The common refrain will go something like "Popup McFly has been traded to the Rockies? He's going to get crushed at Coors Field." A more SABR oriented slant will phrase the same sentiment along the lines of the Rockies "trying to stop giving up so many base hits, and they've now targeted guys who have a history of keeping guys from getting hits in other cities." The conclusion of both is that the acquisition of pitchers like Jeremy Guthrie, Guillermo Moscoso and Jamie Moyer will backfire on the Rockies, bringing the team another season of disappointment.
A second critique goes back to dealing off Seth Smith and Chris Iannetta and signing Michael Cuddyer and Ramon Hernandez to replace them. The Rockies lineup has gotten older, especially added to the acquisitions of Casey Blake and Marco Scutaro.
As I've noted in the past, and Jeff Aberle mentioned yesterday, all of these moves add up to the Rockies building a bridge to 2013 and beyond. That said, they have done so without harming the team's chances of competing in 2012. While the attention on the outside is focused on the stop-gaps, the real story that's emerged this winter of signing veterans to one season deals is that the team's overhaul won't really be complete until the following transformation has taken full effect:
- 2011 Ubaldo Jimenez = 2013 Drew Pomeranz
- 2011 Jason Hammel = 2013 Alex White
- 2011 Chris Iannetta = 2013 Wilin Rosario
- 2011 Ian Stewart = 2013 Nolan Arenado
- 2011 Seth Smith = 2013 Tim Wheeler?
- 2011 Jose Lopez = 2013 Josh Rutledge?
I add question marks to the last pair because while the front office has acted with some certainty on the first four switches, there have been signs of the Rockies hedging their bets a bit on the last two. Cuddyer being signed for three seasons would be one hedge for the corner outfield, the acquisition of DJ LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin for Stewart would be an example of hedges on both 2B and RF.
The major point being that the 2012 roster isn't the new team. It's the rental yacht you get while your new ship is getting constructed in the boatyard. What's disappointing to me, however, will be how many on the outside will perceive the above switches in the coming year or two as another new plan by the team, when they're being so clearly projected.
At some point in the last 12 months, the Rockies front office determined that homegrown players Jimenez, Iannetta, Stewart and Smith, along with Hammel, were not going to be part of the next Colorado success story. This contrasts vastly with outside opinion that would seemingly suggest all that really was needed was replacing Stewart, adding a 2B and then wait around for good things to happen.
Given that so many of the temporary and complementary pieces acquired by O'Dowd are so far off what's become the conventional wisdom path for the Rockies, 2012 also emerges as a fascinating experiment on team building in Colorado. We actually get to find out if low BABIP fly-ball oriented pitchers can have the same success pitching with the Rockies that many seem to have pitching against them (Ted Lilly, Ian Kennedy, Jordan Zimmerman and Shaun Marcum were a few pitchers of this type to have success in Coors last season.) In Cuddyer, Guthrie and Blake among others, we will see an experiment unfold of whether differences in personality from the exiting players can trump similarities in performance.
At any rate, the 2012 Rockies will be worth watching, even if the team likely won't be the same come 2013.
Moyer is selling his Seattle area home for $5.4 million. It doesn't have the private golf course that John Smoltz's Atlanta pad, so I think I'll pass.
Jim Tracy faces one of the five "most interesting challenges" in the National League this year. Is the challenge not asking himself questions during interviews or press conferences? No, it's not even that special, if you ask me.