The way the Colorado Rockies' roster is constructed for 2015, the success of the team is completely predicated on the health of several players -- Jhoulys Chacin, Troy Tulowitzki, Jorge De La Rosa, etc. -- who have had trouble in that area in recent seasons. Based on history, it's fair to say that plan probably isn't a good one if the team truly believes it can contend next season.
The good news is that perhaps Colorado doesn't believe it will be a contender in 2015 and will handle its assets accordingly. In 2016, the Rockies will have Tyler Chatwood returning from Tommy John surgery, a few key minor league position players closer to the promised land, and a pair of highly touted pitchers with enough development time under their belts to truly be ready for a major step forward.
That means the team should do everything in its power to identify valuable trade chips -- Chacin, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and Justin Morneau, to name a few -- that can be used to setup a contention window for the near future and act accordingly. It also means that the Rockies should take their time with the development of their top two pitching prospects, Jon Gray and Eddie Butler.
After enduring varying degrees of struggles in 2014, both pitchers are in the midst of significant changes, according to MLB's Thomas Harding.
Gray spent the year trying to become acclimated with a full-season workload, and the results showed that. This offseason, the 23-year-old right-hander has made changes to his posture and is on an improved strength and conditioning routine. Colorado needs to ensure Gray is given ample time to work through his adjustments and develop the consistency need to sustain success.
The same goes for Butler, who is adding strength and mass to his wiry frame. The 2012 first-round pick is up about 15 pounds from last season after adding some leg muscle while becoming stronger. Like Gray, Butler needs to be allowed the opportunity to learn to pitch with the changes made to his body. That likely isn't going to happen in the two short months before spring training begins, so the Rockies need to be prepared to let both pitchers spend the 2015 season figuring themselves out.
It's possible for the Rockies to keep Tulowitzki and still build a winning team in the coming years, but they need to be smart about their assets -- both the tradeable ones mentioned above as well as the players coming up through the pipeline. Those tasks should be the main focus of new general manager Jeff Bridich and his staff, because handling them correctly is the best path toward bringing a championship-caliber club back to 20th and Blake.
On the other hand, if the Rockies screw these things up, it could set the franchise back at least another half-decade, which ... ugh. Let's not do that.
Baseball Prospectus | Fantasy Freestyle: Undervalued NL Starting Pitchers
Jorge De La Rosa is among the National League's most underrated starters in terms of fantasy value, writes Keith Cromer, who notes De La Rosa's insane surface stats (20-3, 2.92 ERA) in his last 29 starts at Coors Field.
What Can You Find on the Free Agent Market? – The Hardball Times
Here's a great read from Neil Weinberg about what is actually available on the free-agent market in terms of value. An abundance of good complementary players are generally there for the taking, but rarely can a team ever get impact players via this method. All of the necessary data to support that statement is laid out nicely here, and it's all another reason why it's imperative the Rockies stick to the plan alluded to above while -- yes -- acquiring complementary pieces such as Daniel Descalso as needed.