Happy New Year, Purple Row! Hope you all had an enjoyable night and that your morning wasn't too tough.
Last March, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post wrote an article titled "Top ten questions facing the Colorado Rockies." I'd like to take a look at his questions, which I'll include below, and see how things panned out. Furthermore, I thought it'd be a fun exercise to have you all post some of your own questions regarding the Rockies heading into the 2015 season. If enough of you do so, I'll compile some of the more popular ones into a later post.
Below, Patrick Saunders' own words are included here and are taken directly from his article on the Denver Post's website, which I've linked above. My own thoughts are written in italics.
1. Can the duo be dynamic?
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonazlez are two of baseball's premier players, but can they stay healthy at the same time? And will they both be in Rockies' uniforms at seasons' end?
Unfortunately, the answer to the first part of his question is a "no." When Tulowitzki was healthy, it was a real pleasure to watch him do his stuff. A torn labrum in his left hip, however, prematurely ended what was shaping up to be a MVP-caliber season. Through 91 games Tulo raked to the tune of .340/.432/.603, going yard 21 times and knocking in 52 runs. CarGo was similarly limited by injury, playing in only 70 games. Hampered by injuries throughout the season, CarGo's year was finished after undergoing surgery to repair a left patella tendon in his knee. When CarGo was on the field, however, he was nowhere near the player we're used to seeing. He struggled mightily at the plate, hitting just .238/.292/.431 and never really looking comfortable while doing so. The Rockies have seemingly made the wise decision to hold on to their star players, at least for now. Depending on how you feel about trading either of the pair, you might disagree. At the very least, however, it allows the Rockies to hopefully boost CarGo's trade value after a disappointing season.
2. Is the Chacin machine broken?
Top right-handed starter Jhoulys Chacin is out until at least early May because of a strained shoulder. Is that a minor setback or an injury that throws a giant wrench into the rotation?
The rash of injuries to the Rockies' cornerstone players of the 2013 season didn't end with our star duo. Chacin started just 11 games before being shutdown with a rotator cuff strain and a frayed labrum in his right shoulder. Through just 63.1 innings of work, Chacin gave up 8 homers, walked 28, and struck out 42. He posted career-worsts with an ERA of 5.40 and an ERA+ of 79. Although clearly more than a minor setback, Chacin's injury was one of many for a rotation that saw a number of its best players go down at various points in the season. I guess I'd say his injury was just part of a massive, massive wrench thrown into the rotation. This upcoming season will be telling as to whether the machine is broken. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
3. Is Anderson an ace?
During spring training, left-hander Brett Anderson showed flashes that he can be the Rockies' best pitcher. But can the LoDo new-comer avoid injury, and can he succeed at Coors Field?
Anderson threw just 43.1 innings over 8 games after breaking a finger in a freak batting accident and then undergoing surgery for a herniated disk in his lower back. While on the mound, he looked like the pitcher we were all hoping he would be. He's only averaged 51.35 innings over the past four years, something the Rockies were surely aware of when the declined to keep him around for 2015. Anderson will be plying his trade out in L.A. this season, where he'll make 30 starts and dominate the Rockies en route to winning the NL Cy Young. Do I actually think that'll happen? Nope. Would I be surprised? The way our luck seems to go sometimes? Nope.
4. Is there relief in sight?
Collectively, Rockies relievers were the worst in the National League in 2013. There is new blood this year — LaTroy Hawkins, Boone Logan, Chad Bettis — but will the transfusion help? And who's the answer at closer, the 41-year-old Hawkins or Rex Brothers?
Here's a good question for 2015 as well. Replace "2013" with "2014" and those three guys with the names of Jairo Diaz, Austin House, Jorge Rondon, and Shane Carle and the question remains the same. The bullpen was awful in 2014 after an awful 2013. LaTroy Hawkins, at least, showed that he still has some left in the tank. Elbow issues resulted in a truly miserable season and he was as ineffective against lefties as he was against righties. Logan has had plenty of time to get himself healthy, so let's keep our fingers crossed for him too. Bettis, he of the dominate minor league performances, was ghastly in the majors. And finally, Rex Brothers couldn't build on a terrific 2013 and came crashing down to Earth and deep into the mantle with a brutal 2014 campaign. Sigh...
5. A catching conundrum?
Wilin Rosario can hit for power, but he still lacks game-calling and pitch-framing skills behind the plate. Can the Rockies contend with Rosario at catcher?
If the Rockies problems in 2014 were limited to one player, the season would have gone much better. Coming off back-to-back seasons in which he hit 28 and 21 homers in 2012 and 2013 respectively, Rosario hit just 13 in 2014 while posting a line of .267/.305/.435. For a guy who's as awful behind the plate as he is, the Baby Bull needs to hit and hit well to justify a starting role in the lineup. The Rockies acquisition of Nick Hundley doesn't solve the offensive side of Rosario's weaknesses, but he will help on the defensive end. Crucially, Hundley's veteran experience and above-average framing ability will be invaluable for the Rockies' young pitching coming through the pipeline.
6. Boone or bust?
The Rockies signed Boone Logan to a three-year, $16.5 million contract, the most they've ever given a free-agent reliever. His return from October elbow surgery has gone slower than anticipated. Can he be counted on to shore up the team's bullpen?
See #4. Sigh...
7. Is there a hole in center?
With the trade of Dexter Fowler to Houston, the Rockies needed to find a new leadoff hitter and center fielder. Is newcomer Drew Stubbs the ultimate answer or will the Rockies use a platoon in center, as well as at the top of the lineup? Will that system fly?
Finally, a question I can answer positively. The Rockies may have had more issues than a 1971 Ford Pinto, but centerfield was not one of them. Fowler's departure and injuries to other players opened the door for Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson to see time in the outfield. Blackmon put together a solid season and Dickerson showed he has the stuff to be a major cornerstone of the organization moving forwards. I was an advocate of moving Blackmon this offseason as a sell-high candidate, but Dickerson is the real deal. I'm excited to watch him play this season.
8. Justin the nick of time?
Veteran first baseman Justin Morneau, 32, was signed to fill the shoes of the retired Todd Helton. Is there enough pop left in Morneau's bat to boost the offense?
Does winning the NL batting title count as boosting the offense? Morneau was terrific in 2014, playing solid defense at first and hitting .319/.364/.496 with 17 homers, 32 doubles, and 3 triples. Terrific acquisition.
9. An All-Star Game for Arenado?
Third baseman Nolan Are- nado [sic] won a Gold Glove as a rookie. Can he raise his batting average, hit for power, and become an all-star in his second season?
Yes, yes, and no. Nolan raised his slash line from .267/.301/.405 in 2013 to .287/.328/.500 in 2014. Over 47 fewer plate appearances in 2014 compared to 2013, Arenado hit 11 more extra base hits including 8 more homers. And did I mention he had a 28-game hit streak to set the franchise record? He also won his second Gold Glove, but I guess that's just another day at the office for the defensive stud.
10. Who's accountable?
If the Rockies fail to contend and finish with a losing record for a fourth consecutive year, will there be changes in the front office? Or will the players take all the heat?
The players can't really be held accountable for injuries. As unfortunate as they are, it's tough to combat the freak injuries that seem to plague the Rockies. Brett Anderson breaking his finger while swinging the bat comes to mind as an example. O'Dowd and Geivett are gone following their resignations, but it doesn't seem like they were necessarily held responsible given Monfort's extension offer to O'Dowd. Regardless, let the Bridich era commence and let's hope he can bring winning baseball back to Colorado.
Hope y'all enjoyed the article. Questions for the Rockies heading into the 2015 season? Put them in the comment section below!