Colorado Rockies Spring Training 2012: The Five Most Intriguing Players
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The Colorado Rockies had one of the most active and intriguing 2011-2012 offseasons in all of baseball. Coming off of the most disappointing season in franchise history, general manager Dan O'Dowd knew he had to make some drastic and important moves.
At the beginning of the offseason, he let fans know that he needed to change the atmosphere of the clubhouse. He did just that, proceeding to let a number of players go by trade or free agency. He then added a number of players the same way.
Throughout this offseason, he has made some very questionable and some very smart moves. If the Rockies do not succeed this year, it could be the beginning of the end for O'Dowd.
However, if these moves do pan out the way fans hope and expect they will, O'Dowd will look like a genius.
These moves did not simply bring in new players, but they gave opportunities to some highly-touted prospects in the minor leagues.
With Spring Training in our midst, it is time to analyze some of these moves and the players who will be given an opportunity to help the Rockies have a successful 2012 campaign.
After being called up towards the end of the season in 2011, he had a sensational start to his Rockies career given his circumstances. Just after being traded, he had his appendix removed and missed about a month of the season in the minors.
When he came back, he didn't produce his best game on the mound, but still dominated minor league hitters. When he was called up to the big league club in September, he immediately made his presence felt: 2-1 record, 5.40 ERA, 13 SO, and 5 BB in 18.1 innings pitched in four games.
There are some glaring issues with that line, such as his ERA, but he only pitched in four games. For his first big-league action, his line isn't what it could have been. He was called up to a team that had been struggling all season to win. In every game he started, he gave the Rockies a chance to win.
Another issue with his stats is Jim Tracy didn't let him finish the 6th inning last season. In all but one of his starts, he pitched into the 6th and was taken out after no more than 85 pitches.
It is difficult to judge a pitcher on such a limited amount of time, but after seeing him pitch in some unfortunate circumstances and still dominate many hitters, his 2012 outlook looks very bright.
With full health in 2012, the sky is the limit for Pomeranz. He has proven himself as a pitcher who can win at the Major League level. It is time for him to win for six months rather than just one.
In 2011, Pacheco, like Pomeranz, was called up in September and proved himself as a versatile player in the Rockies' lineup. He played third base, first base, and catcher during his time in Colorado.
Throughout his minor league career, he tore up the pitching. He was an All-Star five times in the minors and was the MVP of the South Atlantic League (Single A) in 2009.
Once he was called up, there was a learning curve for him as there often is with newly called up players. But looking at his line after 21 games with the Rockies (.286 BA, .318 OBP, 14 RBI, 2 HR), it is clear that he has a lot of potential.
As a September call-up, a .286 BA shows some talent and some room for improvement. It is clear that he can get on base and drive in runs. This Spring will be very important for his first full season in the MLB. He will see real big-league pitching again. If he can have a very successful Spring, he will be able to help the Rockies finally realize some sustained success.
The clock is not ticking on Pacheco like it is on some other players. If he doesn't play very well this year, it is not the end of the world for him. However, with the failed Ian Stewart experiment, his clock is ticking faster.
Who will be the ace of the Rockies' rotation?
If he can succeed this year, the Rockies will be in a great place. They will have a versatile player who can fill in for Todd Helton and Jason Giambi every now and then and who can successfully hold down third base. The Rockies need a third baseman who can produce at the plate.
The move to acquire Guthrie was probably one of the more questionable moves of the Rockies' 2011-2012 offseason. They traded Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel for a fly-ball pitcher from the AL East.
Hammel was a fairly consistent pitcher and Lindstrom had great potential for 2012 if he could have stayed healthy.
The reason why this move is questionable is not because Guthrie is not a successful pitcher or that the Rockies gave up great players to acquire him. The issue here is that they acquired a fly-ball pitcher to pitch in Coors Field. The number of fly-ball pitchers that have succeeded at Coors is extremely low.
That being said, Guthrie's numbers, which are likely inflated because he pitched in the hitter-friendly AL East, are quite good. He has proven that he can pitch effectively at the Major League level.
In 2011, he went 9-17 with a 4.33 ERA in 208 innings pitched. When looking at his record, it must be remembered that Guthrie pitched for the Baltimore Orioles. He pitched for a team that has been greatly struggling for the past decade, never getting much run support from his offense.
Coming to Colorado could help his stats and his confidence greatly. With this lineup, Guthrie could have a very successful season with the Rockies because they have a potent offense.
With some run support, Guthrie won't need to put so much pressure on himself to keep his team in the game and he'll be able to win games while giving up four or five runs. Being a fly-ball pitcher, games like that will happen on a regular basis.
With Guthrie on the mound, the pressure will be on both him and the offense. That will be a new feeling for him. In Baltimore, the pressure rested squarely on his shoulders. If he let the game get out of hand, there was nothing the offense would be able to do.
Guthrie definitely has the opportunity to succeed as a member of the Rockies. He does not need to change his style of pitching in order to win in Colorado and the offense will need to know that it needs to step up its game when he is on the mound.
There is no question of readiness for Arenado. The only question is: When will he be brought up?
He was awarded the Arizona Fall League MVP this year and has won many other minor league All-Star honors in recent years. He is by far the best prospect in the Rockies' farm organization.
The only question mark about Arenado is his age. He will be 21 midway through April. Will he be ready and mature enough to handle the big-league workload? There is no question that he has the talent to be a good ballplayer.
Being a third-baseman, he has a lot of value for the Rockies. Third base has been a recent issue offensively. If Arenado pans out as he is expected to, third base will be his position.
Colorado's future looks bright for the position. The question is, when will the future start? All indications are that the future will be this year. Being a small-market team, the Rockies could wait until June to call him up in order to gain another year of arbitration out of him. This tactic has been used by other small-market teams, such as the Tampa Bay Rays.
The bottom line with Arenado is he'll be a star at the next level. If Jim Tracy puts him on the opening day roster, he'll have made the jump to the majors without playing an inning in AA or AAA ball. Many experts think that he could make the jump now and be successful.
When he gets called up this year, whether that be Opening Day or in September, it is quite obvious that he will have an instant positive impact on the Rockies' lineup. Fans should be excitedly anticipating his arrival in Denver.
The one player that most Rockies fans are most excited to see this year (outside of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki) is Michael Cuddyer. This was probably one of the biggest offensive free-agent signings the Rockies have had in recent years.
They needed another strong bat in the middle of their lineup and another guy who could take some pressure off of Todd Helton at first base every now and then.
He will likely project to be the number five hitter in the Rockies' lineup hitting behind CarGo and Tulo. Pitchers will have to throw to both Gonzalez and Tulowitzki knowing that Cuddyer is right behind them.
After playing his entire career in Minnesota and, more recently, in a very pitcher-friendly park, playing with a new team in a hitter-friendly park could propel him to a very good year.
With the Twins last season, Cuddyer hit for a .284 BA with .346 OBP, 70 RBI, and 20 HR. Playing half of his games at Coors Field at altitude could push those numbers significantly higher.
Expectations are very high for the newest veteran in the Rockies' clubhouse. He has had a reputation of success in the American League. Rockies fans are hoping that his success in the Junior Circuit can transfer to the Senior Circuit.
Which player will have a bigger effect on the Rockies' season?
All of these players could provide the Rockies a solid foundation for a successful playoff team.
Dan O'Dowd made it clear that he was going to shake up the clubhouse this offseason, and he did just that. He made a few blockbuster moves and signings. He let a few players that Rockies fans had gotten used to seeing find new teams.
With all of these moves, the Rockies have become the hardest team to predict for 2012. The 2012 campaign could be a huge success or it could be a gigantic failure.
The play of these five players could decide how 2012 will go for the Colorado Rockies.
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