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Rock Mining Week 24: Healthy stars needed to contend

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Healthy stars are needed if the Rockies are to compete

Dustin Bradford

Did you know that the leader in games played for the Rockies this year is a rookie who wasn't with the team for the first 24 games of the season? Or that that rookie, Nolan Arenado, is likely to be the only player to reach 130 games played for the team this year?

Veterans are important to this team, but the two oldest position players, Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer, shouldn't be second and sixth in games played for this team. Ok, well with his season, Cuddy should be up there, but Todd is one game away from tying Dexter Fowler for fifth on the list. Here is the list of the top ten in games played for the Rockies this year:

Name Games fWAR
Nolan Arenado 126 2.7
Michael Cuddyer 125 2.1
Wilin Rosario 121 2.1
Troy Tulowitzki 120 5.6
Dexter Fowler 118 2.3
Todd Helton 117 -0.9
Carlos Gonzalez 110 4.9
DJ LeMahieu 105 1.0
Jordan Pacheco 88 -1.3
Josh Rutledge 81 -0.6

While it should be expected that our top eight players fill the top eight spots on this list, its the number of games missed by them that keeps this team from contending. Tulo will end up missing about one fifth of the season while Cargo is closer to one third, especially when you consider the numbers above count games where he came in as a defensive replacement.

With the drop off in talent the Rockies have from their top six players, 19.7 fWAR in 720 games played, to their next eight players, 0.4 fWAR in 669 games played, it is imperative for the team to keep the core group healthy if they want to compete next season. How this is possible with players like Cargo and Tulo who sacrifice their bodies to make defensive stops is the problem the team has to resolve.

Limiting wear and tear on the top players is best done by giving them days off in order to let sore muscles rest. While this will not prevent the freak injuries, it will keep nagging ones from becoming issues. Having a bench that allows the manager to give rest to the starters is key and something Walt Weiss probably didn't feel comfortable with based on his experience and the ability of the bench players. This was seen early on in the year when most fans were happy to see competitive games on Sunday but to the detriment of rest for the starters.

Another way to help this team will be to move Michael Cuddyer to first base. If he can match his offensive numbers for this year, letting him rest his soon-to-be 35 old body at first base in about 80% of his games will keep him in the lineup more often. This requires the Rockies to find a suitable alternative for right field either internally or externally for next year.

These are things that may seem obvious but I wanted to put out there for the second to last weekend of Rockies baseball in 2013. The Rockies need to improve the bench to allow their best players to get rest throughout next year and should definitely move Cuddy to first and spend money on a right fielder instead of a first baseman.

The Good-Return of Rockies power

After I wrote on Thursday about the lack of home run power by the team of late, it was nice to see Tulo and Todd go deep on Thursday followed by the four home run extravaganza last night that was started by Jhoulys Chacin. Keep it up Rox, there is surely a correlation between home runs and winning.

The Bad-Jorge De La Rosa's thumb

I was really looking forward to seeing if he could tie or break Ubaldo's single season win record for the team. The thumb first made him ineffective and now has him postponed to start. Hopefully we get to see him pitch one more time this year.

The Ugly-Pool Celebrations

I know it's not our team, but I was really annoyed with how the Dodger's treated the D-backs stadium. While I first thought it was cheap of the D-backs to not let them celebrate on the field, which is the right place to do it, going into the stands to use the pool was childish. These are mostly millionaires we are talking about that scaled a fence and then used another team's pool to celebrate. The D-backs should send them a bill for whatever it costs to rent the pool plus the cleanup fees and the Dodgers are lucky I wasn't in charge otherwise they would have been arrested for trespassing.