Complete Colorado Rockies 2013 Season Preview

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

2012 Record: 64-98 (fifth in National League West, missed playoffs)


Key Additions

RP Wilton Lopez (trade-HOU), SP Chris Volstad (free agent), SP Miguel Batista (FA), RP Manny Corpas (FA), C Yorvit Torrealba (FA), 1B Ryan Garko (FA), 1B/3B Ryan Wheeler (trade-ARIZ)


Key Losses

SP Alex White (trade-HOU), SP Jonathan Sanchez (FA), RP Matt Reynolds (trade-ARIZ), 1B Jason Giambi (FA), SP Guillermo Moscoso (waivers-KC), SP Zach Putnam (waivers-CHC)


Projected Starting Lineup

1. CF Dexter Fowler (.300/.389/.474, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 72 R)

2. 2B Josh Rutledge (.274/.306/.469, 8 HR, 37 RBI, 37 R)

3. LF Carlos Gonzalez (.303/.371/.510, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 89 R)

4. SS Troy Tulowitzki (.287/.360/.486, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 33 R)

5. RF Michael Cuddyer (.260/.317/.489, 16 HR, 58 RBI, 53 R)

6. 1B Todd Helton (.238/.343/.400, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 31 R)

7. C Wilin Rosario (.270/.312/.530, 28 HR, 71 RBI, 67 R)

8. 3B Chris Nelson (.301/.352/.458, 9 HR, 53 RBI, 45 R)


Lineup Overview

A groin injury limited superstar shortstop Tulowitzki to just 47 games last season, just a year after he posted a .302 batting average with 30 homers and 105 RBI, so getting him back in the lineup will be the Rockies' biggest offseason addition.

He'll once again be joined by Gonzalez in the middle of the lineup, as the 27-year-old turned in his third straight 20/20 season last year and ranks among the best outfielders in the NL.

In Tulowitzki's absence, the 23-year-old Rutledge proved capable of putting up solid numbers, and he'll slide over as the team's everyday second baseman.

Fowler also enjoyed a breakout season, leading the team with a .389 on-base percentage after posting just average numbers across the board in his first three seasons as a full-time player.

Alongside Gonzalez and Fowler in the outfield, Cuddyer will be back for his second season with the Rockies after signing a three-year, $31.5 million deal last winter. He could improve his numbers significantly after he was limited to just 358 at-bats last season.

Rosario, who was expected to take over as the starting catcher at some point last year, proved ready quicker than expected and ended up leading the team in home runs and finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting.

While Rosario's career is just taking off, Helton could be entering the final year of his career as he is a free agent at season's end and has seen his production drop off significantly over the past few years.

In 16 seasons with the Rockies, Helton has hit .320/.419/.545 with 354 home runs and 1,345 RBI and he may be putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career.

Third base is the biggest question for the team, as Nelson and Jordan Pacheco will continue keeping the position warm for top prospect Nolan Arenado.


Projected Bench

C Ramon Hernandez (.217/.247/.353, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 16 R)

C/IF Jordan Pacheco (.309/.341/.429, 5 HR, 54 RBI, 51 R)

1B/OF Tyler Colvin (.290/.327/.531, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 62 R)

IF/OF Reid Brignac (.231/.323/.353, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 45 R at Triple-A)

OF Eric Young Jr. (.316/.377/.448, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 36 R)


Bench Overview

The Rockies signed Hernandez to a two-year, $6.4 million deal last offseason to bridge the gap to prospect Rosario, but when Rosario proved ready from the start of the season, he turned into an expensive backup.

Pacheco brings solid versatility and should push Nelson for playing time at third base after turning in a solid season last year.

Colvin appears to be the player that will take over first base for Helton, and the Rockies will find a way to get him semi-regular at-bats after he was one of the team's better power threats last season.

Former Rays top prospect Brignac is nothing more than a utility player at this point in his career, and Young provides speed off the bench (14 stolen bases).


Projected Rotation

1. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (3 GS, 0-2, 9.28 ERA, 6 Ks, 10.2 IP)

2. RHP Jhoulys Chacin (14 GS, 3-5, 4.43 ERA, 45 Ks, 69 IP)

3. LHP Drew Pomeranz (22 GS, 2-9, 4.93 ERA, 83 Ks, 96.2 IP)

4. RHP Juan Nicasio (11 GS, 2-3, 5.28 ERA, 54 Ks, 58 IP)

5. LHP Jeff Francis (24 GS, 6-7, 5.58 ERA, 76 Ks, 113 IP)


Rotation Overview

Last season, Rockies starters went a combined 29-68 with a 5.81 ERA and averaged under five innings per start.

Little has changed from a personnel standpoint, but having De La Rosa, Chacin and Nicasio all back after they made just 28 combined starts last season will certainly help things.

The team also re-signed Francis to a one-year, $1.5 million deal after he led all starters with six wins and 113 innings pitched.

Pomeranz, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball entering last season, could take a big step forward in his second full season, and has the ceiling to be the ace of the Rockies' staff moving forward.

With a solid offense, the rotation may once again be what holds back the Rockies. On the other hand though, they can't get much worse than last year, so things could be substantially better in 2013.


Projected Bullpen

CL Rafael Betancourt (60 G, 1-4, 31 SV, 2.81 ERA, 8.9 K/9)

SU Matt Belisle (80 G, 3-8, 3 SV, 3.71 ERA, 7.8 K/9)

SU Wilton Lopez (64 G, 6-3, 10 SV, 2.17 ERA, 7.3 K/9)

MR Rex Brothers (75 G, 8-2, 3.86 ERA, 11.0 K/9)

MR Adam Ottavino (53 G, 5-1, 4.56 ERA, 9.2 K/9)

MR Josh Outman (27 G, 7 GS, 1-3, 8.19 ERA, 8.9 K/9)

LR Daniel Rosenbaum (26 GS, 8-10, 3.94 ERA, 99 Ks, 155.1 IP)


Bullpen Overview

In his first year as a closer, 37-year-old Betancourt turned in a solid season, and he could serve as a nice trade chip for the Rockies at the deadline.

The team acquired his likely replacement in Lopez from the Astros this offseason, shipping starter Alex White off in return.

Belisle tied for the NL lead in appearances with 80 last season, and has appeared in a whopping 230 games over the past three seasons while posting a 3.28 ERA.

Brothers led the team with eight wins last season and has been as good as any Rockies reliever over the past two seasons. 

Outman has starting experience but may wind up in the 'pen long term, while Rosenbaum was taken in the Rule V draft from the Nationals after four solid seasons in the Washington organization.


Prospect Watch

3B Nolan Arenado

The Rockies' second-round pick in 2009, Arenado enjoyed a breakout season in 2011 when he hit .298/.349/.487 with 20 home runs and 122 RBI to elevate him to the ranks of the game's top prospects.

He took a step back last season in his first year in Double-A, hitting .285/.337/.428 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI as a 21-year-old.

Despite that, he still ranks as arguably the Rockies' top prospect (David Dahl may claim that spot now) and one of the best third-base prospects in all of baseball.

He's been ahead of the development curve throughout his career, and if he can take another step forward in his second season in the high minors, he could be the team's starting third baseman at some point in 2013.


Final Thoughts/Predictions

Despite the fact that the Rockies did very little this offseason, they have the pieces to be a surprise team this season with a healthy core of starting pitchers and Tulowitzki returning from nearly an entire season on the disabled list.

That said, they will be facing stiff competition in their own division with the Giants and Dodgers ranking as legitimate contenders and the Diamondbacks in a position to bounce back after winning the division title in 2011.

It will be interesting to see how the team approaches the future with a fairly thin farm system and a clear need to improve long-term. Could that mean trading Tulowitzki or Gonzalez at some point? Time will tell.

As it stands, I expect them to finish in roughly the same place they did last year despite what could very well be a significant improvement from the starting rotation.


Record Projection

68-94 (fifth in NL West, miss playoffs)


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