clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Colorado Rockies fans have reasons to be optimistic, contrary to popular opinion

New, comments

A lot of national media, and a good portion of local media for that matter, view the Rockies as a franchise going nowhere, but that is not the case, and here's why.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The opinion of many in the national media, local media and even the fan base is that the Colorado Rockies are some sort of moribund franchise without direction for the future.

That opinion was expressed most recently in a column for Grantland by Michael Baumann addressing the biggest question for each NL team in Spring Training. His question for the Rockies was "Y'all want a hug?" He then went on to express this opinion of the team:

I’m serious. I spent forever trying to give Rockies fans a reason to be optimistic other than "Maybe Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez won’t get hurt this year?" but I struck out. The Rockies are going to be bad again, and unlike other similarly bad teams, they don’t have a great chance of bouncing off rock bottom and back into contention thanks to their farm system or front office.

Well, maybe Baumann can't find reasons aside from Troy Tulowitzki's health for Rockies fans to be optimistic, but I can. Here are several of them.

Carlos Gonzalez's fingers are free of fatty masses with tentacles

Remember Carlos Gonzalez, he of four straight 20-20 seasons and All-Star appearances in 2012 and 2013? The guy who does these types of things?

CargoDive

Well, after a 2014 season that saw him limited in both games and production because of injuries, he's back. If he can return the a Carlos Gonzalez-like level of production for even the 110 games he played in 2013 instead of the .238/.292/.431 numbers he posted in 70 games in 2014, it's a big boost to the Rockies both offensively and defensively.

They have a 24-year-old third baseman who is already a two-time Gold Glove winner

Forget what Nolan Arenado has done at the plate. His .287/.328/.500 line with 54 extra-base hits in 432 at bats in 2014 is nothing to sneeze at. But at just 24, Arenado is already one of the premier defensive players in all of baseball. Since the start of 2013, Arenado is fourth among all players in Defensive Runs Saved, an accumulating stat, despite spending a month of 2013 in AAA and missing six weeks in 2014 with a broken finger. If and when his bat, which he was touted for in the minors, catches up to his glove, Arenado is on his way to being one of the premier players in the game.

Corey Dickerson can hit

An eighth-round draft pick in 2010 and never a highly-touted prospect, all Dickerson has done throughout his professional career is go to whatever level the Rockies send him to and hit the ball. And when he hits the ball, it tends to go a long way.

Dickerson played his first full big league season as a 25-year-old in 2014 and again hit the cover off the ball, posting a .312/.364/.567 line with a team-leading 24 home runs. In the offseason, MLB Network rated him as the eighth-best left fielder in baseball entering 2015. Like Arenado, he should be a fun one to watch for years to come.

Tyler Matzek seems to have his control problems figured out

The Rockies made Matzek the 11th overall pick in 2009, and he then proceeded to walk the farm throughout his minor league career, with at least 4.9 walks per nine innings in each of his first four professional seasons. The turnaround for Matzek came in 2014, as he walked 31 in 66 2/3 innings at Colorado Springs before a call up to Denver. When he got to the big leagues, he really turned it on, with his BB/9 dropping to just 3.4, and he posted a 4.05 ERA in 117 2/3 innings. In fact, Matzek had a better ERA- than fellow 23-year-olds Zack Wheeler, Gerrit Cole and Shelby Miller in 2014. Imagine the hype if he'd put up the raw numbers of any of those three, but he plays at Coors Field, so he gets ignored, which is completely unfair. But that's a different article. Matzek put an exclamation point on his strong rookie season with a complete game shutout of the Padres on September 5 at Coors Field.

That right there is something to be optimistic about.

The cavalry is coming

While Baumann doesn't see any hope for the Rockies in their farm system, those who actually evaluate farm systems disagree. The Rockies have four starting pitchers that were ranked in some or all of the various top 100 prospects lists released by various publications recently.

The biggest name among the four is the third overall pick in 2013, righty Jon Gray. Gray spent 2014 working hard on his changeup at AA Tulsa and has by some accounts developed it into a plus pitch to go with his fastball that can reach into the mid-to-upper 90s and a slider that can be devastating. Fellow righty Eddie Butler made his big league debut in 2014 and is 15th on Keith Law's list of the top 20 impact prospects for 2015.

Lefty Tyler Anderson, the Rockies' top pick in 2011, is less heralded than Gray and Butler, but outperformed both of them in Tulsa last season with a 1.98 ERA in 118 innings. Farther from the big leagues is 2014 first-rounder and Denver native Kyle Freeland. The lefty was regarded as something of a high floor, low ceiling type out of Evansville, but flashed a mid-90s fastball in his pro debut to get onto the prospects radar.

There are bats in the minors, too

Despite all of those arms, there are some who think the Rockies best prospect is 20-year-old outfielder David Dahl. Dahl broke out in 2014, hitting .299/.335/.492 with 14 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 512 at bats between Asheville and Modesto. Dahl wasn't the only one hitting in Asheville, fellow 20-year-olds Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia also had strong 2014 seasons and earned some attention. While none of those three are in the Rockies' immediate plans, they all have bright futures to be optimistic about.

There you have it, Rockies fans, plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into 2015.

Oh yeah, Troy Tulowitzki is healthy too, and when that's the case he's the best player in baseball not named Trout.