In talking about Colorado Rockies history, whenever the 2012 season comes up, I like to joke and say that season never happened because it truly is the worst season in team history in many aspects. The 2012 Rockies narrowly avoided 100 losses by going 64-98 while also suffering a slew of injuries, awful pitching, and some wacky experiments while seeing a number of young players get a shot out of necessity. As the 2023 season has trudged along, I can’t shake the feeling of Déjà vu about the shades of 2012 that continually pop up for the 2023 Rockies.
Following a season in which they went 73-89, the Rockies were somewhat active in the offseason leading up to the 2012 season. Their biggest free agent acquisition was Michael Cuddyer on a three-year deal while they made a number of trades and minor signings with some of the more notable ones below:
- Traded Seth Smith to the Oakland Athletics for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman
- Traded Huston Street to the San Diego Padres for Nick Schmidt
- Traded Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to the Chicago Cubs for D.J. LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin
- Traded Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to the Baltimore Orioles for Jeremy Guthrie
- Traded Clayton Mortensen to the Boston Red Sox for Marco Scutaro
- Traded Chris Iannetta to the Los Angeles Angels for Tyler Chatwood
- Signed Jamie Moyer to a minor league deal
There was a big shuffle in the roster, but nothing significant that was going to really help the team inch toward contention. Still, you could see the Rockies trying to outsmart the system on a budget by acquiring someone like Guthrie to be their ace but nothing they did seemed to harbor much confidence for the coming season. You could definitely tell that it seemed like the Rockies' front office had just seen Moneyball when it was released in September 2011 and decided to try and do that.
Reader, it did not work.
The starters were terrible
On Opening Day, the Rockies starting rotation in 2012 rolled out like this
1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. Jamie Moyer
3. Juan Nicasio
4. Jhoulys Chacin
5. Drew Pomeranz
Unfortunately, Guthrie was terrible in Colorado with a 6.35 ERA in 19 games and was traded on July 20 that year. Moyer at 49 years old became the oldest pitcher to ever win a game, but he was released in June for obvious reasons. Nicasio made 11 starts to the tune of a 5.28 ERA but was out for the year by June after a knee strain, which stung after he had barely returned from a neck fracture suffered in the season prior. Pomeranz and Chacin were decent, but not the stalwart rotation pieces they needed. That rotation changed drastically as the year went on with players like Alex White, Christan Freidrich
After returning to the team on a minor league deal in June, Jeff Francis ended up leading the team with 113 innings pitched and 24 starts but still had a 5.58 ERA. The team had 14 different pitchers start a game, nine of which made 10 or more starts, yet only one pitched more than 100 innings. By season’s end, the starters had a league-worst 5.81 ERA, ranked 27th in K%, and had the second-worst walk rate. Add in the fact that the Rockies willingly instituted a four-man rotation scheme with a 75-pitch limit and it was not a good year. Thankfully they at least had a strong bullpen that year.
Injuries for everyone!
Every team deals with injuries, and much like the 2023 Rockies, the injuries just continued to pile up. As noted in the previous section, injuries took a toll on the pitching staff, but not to the extent they did on position players. Troy Tulowitzki’s struggles with injuries continued to play a role as a groin injury limited him to just 47 games which was a shame because he had the makings of a good year in progress.
Franchise staple Todd Helton was limited to 69 games because of back problems. Cuddyer saw a good chunk of time lost due to injury. Chris Nelson was eventually knocked out of commission from what was a career year, while players like Jonathan Herrera, useful utility players, lost time to freak injuries. These are just a few examples, of injuries impacting the roster in a way that’s tough to recover from, but the Rockies found a way offensively at least thanks to the youngsters on the team.
Perhaps some of the good that came from that 2012 season was the chance for younger players to get some time to grow and prove whether they had what it took. In the wake of Tulo’s injury, Josh Rutledge saw a lot of playing time with some modest results. Injuries to Nelson and Helton allowed Jordan Pacheco more chances to showcase his contact skills at the plate. Trading away veteran Marco Scutaro at the deadline allowed more chances for guys like DJ LeMahieu to showcase his skills. Tyler Colvin got plenty of time in the outfield and benefited from it with one of the best seasons in his career.
The roster in total had an average age of 28, of course, that was skewed a because of the veterans, but in general, they had a lot of players in the 23-27 range getting plenty of playing time. Some ended up becoming important pieces, while others were a flash in the pan, paving the way for prospects like Nolan Arenado to make a splash in 2013.
Learn from the past
The 2023 season has had far too many shades of 2012 and other awful seasons engrained into its makeup. The team is quickly spiraling towards their first 100-loss season, boasting one of the worst pitching staffs and offensives in baseball. It’s ironic that the Rockies are celebrating their 30th anniversary because it’s quite apparent they have failed to learn from their past, instead remaining doomed to repeat it time and time again for eternity.
Perhaps the most valuable player that could be traded this season is Elias Diaz. He’s a first-time All-Star and ranks as one of the best offensive and defensive catchers in the National League, and is fairly cost-effective through the 2024 season. It’s an interesting argument about whether or not to trade him.
Speaking of Diaz, he was named the All-Star MVP last night after hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning to help the National League win 3-2.
Cole Carrigg represents an intriguing draft pick for the Rockies this year. Despite not starting as a catcher, it’s a position he wants to play, and the Rockies like his athleticism quite a bit.
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