It’s easy to be pessimistic and negative about the Colorado Rockies. Understandably, the organization hasn’t done much to foster many reasons for fans to truly care about or have faith in the team. It’s hard being a Rockies fan. Despite an offseason that has featured some decent and quality activity, the Rockies haven’t done anything that is going to launch themselves in contention in the division. With that being said, as is the case every year for a hopeless optimist like myself, I want to look at the
purple silver lining and find some things to look forward to as the season inches ever closer.
A healthy Kris Bryant
Recently, Kris Bryant declared that he is “100% healthy.” That’s a positive proclamation to hear after a lower back strain and plantar fasciitis limited him to just 42 games in 2022. Any team needs star power and whether we like it or not, a big drawing force for folks to come to sporting events is to see those big-name players (especially when he’s making $186 million) regardless of the team’s record. The Rockies need Kris Bryant on the field.
When he was on the field, Bryant wasn’t bad. In his first 15 games to start the season, he batted a somewhat respectable .281/.339/.351. The power was noticeably not there, but tallied 16 hits and scored 11 runs. Not too shabby all things considered. Yet, it was his return from the injured list during the summer that displayed the potential he has if he can stay healthy on the field.
In 22 games in July, Bryant batted .341/.411/.612 with five home runs (all on the road) and 10 RBI while tallying 29 hits and scoring 15 runs. Make sure to knock on wood, but I’m excited to see what a full season of Kris Bryant looks like because he has the talent, he just needs to stay healthy.
We’ve been petitioning the Rockies for years to let the kids play. We have gone through seasons of aged veterans getting the bulk of playing time while young players ride the pine with sporadic opportunities. All signs indicate that this is not the case for 2023 when it comes to Ezequiel Tovar.
Tovar stormed through the minors in 2022 and if not for a groin injury during the summer, probably would have debuted sooner than the last two weeks of the season. Given the keys to the kingdom at shortstop, I can’t wait to see what the rookie Rockie can accomplish. He didn’t set the world on fire in the brief nine games he played at the end of the season. He hit just .212/.257/.333 in 35 plate appearances but did manage to hit his first big league home run. I’d much rather see what he can do when he is in there on Opening Day through the entire season.
Do I expect Tovar to win the Rookie of the Year award? Probably not, but I’m excited to see a young player grow and begin ushering in the next wave of Rockies. Tovar is already one of the most skilled defenders in the system and it’s going to be exciting to see him adjust and grow at the plate at the big-league level. Ideally, he’s going to adjust well and endure the growing pains that will assuredly come about for him. Overall, I’m looking forward to watching an exciting young man begin his big-league career and hopefully display the same success he had in the minors.
One Last Ride with Chuck
2023 is the final year of Charlie Blackmon’s contract with the Rockies, which begs the question, is this the final year of Chuck Nazty in purple? In a recent interview, Blackmon stated that he “still has a lot of baseball” ahead of him but does that just mean 2023 or more seasons after this year? Entering his age-36 season this year, and diminishing returns over the past couple of seasons, 2023 could be his final year in Colorado, and even in the big leagues.
While I don’t personally like the idea of Charlie Blackmon in another uniform, I’m prepared to say farewell to Chuck and enjoy this final season with him if that is the case. Blackmon has been a staple with the Rockies for over a decade and has engrained himself in the pantheon of Rockies player icons and trails only Todd Helton in many offensive categories. It’s tough to tell what will happen with Blackmon this year. If he is doing very well and the Rockies are well out of contention, will he request a trade to a contender at the trade deadline as Larry Walker did? What happens after the season? Does he receive a qualifying offer or does he stay alive as a designated hitter in the league for several more years away from Colorado?
Whatever happens, if this is the final year of Charlie Blackmon in Colorado, I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can. If he decides to retire after this season, remaining a Rockie his entire career, I’ll be happy about that. If he decides to keep playing but the Rockies don’t keep him on, I’ll be sad about seeing him in another uniform, but it’ll be understandable. Either way, let’s just enjoy what could be the final ride on the Chuck Wagon.
As I said, it’s tough being a Rockies fan and we will no doubt be faced with the harsh realities and difficulties the team deals with year after year. Still, to keep myself sane as I follow the team, I feel it’s best to focus on some positive notes to give myself focused reasons to follow the team, even if a World Series seems about as a close as the nearest galaxy.
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I found this an interesting little opinion piece talking about the impact a fastball to the head has had on Kris Bryant’s career. Oddly enough, it was German Marquez who hit Bryant in the head in 2018 and Bryant has since seen a decline in his career numbers. Now, it is probably a strange coincidence and not a causation, but still, pretty odd development if you ask me.
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