Predicting the Colorado Rockies Lineup in 2 Years

David A. Cucchiara@@cucch22Correspondent IOctober 16, 2013

Predicting the Colorado Rockies Lineup in 2 Years

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    Carlos Gonzalez should bypass the trade rumors and stay in purple pinstripes.
    Carlos Gonzalez should bypass the trade rumors and stay in purple pinstripes.Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    The Colorado Rockies have adhered to the loyal philosophy of building instead of buying throughout their 20 years of existence.

    However, with more room to spend this offseason, Dan O’Dowd and Co. are now graced with the ability to fill in the cracks and formulate a playoff-worthy roster.

    With prospects maturing and major league players aging, the next two years will usher in a new era of Rockies baseball and give way to talented youth.

    Here is the projected Rockies starting lineup for the 2015 season.

1. Corey Dickerson, CF

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Corey Dickerson’s outstanding second-half campaign puts him at the forefront of the outfield competition for next season.

    Dickerson is one of the most prominent outfield talents to exit the Rockies farm system in recent memory. The 24-year-old free-swinger should win the job next season and solidify his role as the starting outfielder for years to come.

    In 213 at-bats, Dickerson batted .263 with five homers and 17 RBI.

    Another injury plagued and disappointing season from Dexter Fowler has opened the door for Dickerson. Fowler had just 140 at-bats through the second half and batted just .221.

    Expect Fowler to exit Colorado this offseason and Dickerson to take over center-field duties.

2. Charlie Culberson, RF

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Charlie Culberson was one of the best hitters in baseball through the last month of the 2013 season, batting .370 with five RBI and an OBP of .408.

    A natural second baseman, Culberson also got the majority of his playing time in left field, hinting at a full-fledged position switch for the future.

    Todd Helton’s retirement and Michael Cuddyer’s ability to take over at first opens up right field. If Culberson can mirror his 2013 campaign in 2014, he should have no problem solidifying his role in right.

    Rockies fans should expect a learning curve out of the top of their order in 2014. Once 2015 approaches, both Dickerson and Culberson should be primed for success.

3. Carlos Gonzalez, LF

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    Last week, Rockies owner Dick Monfort put an end to the media speculation and said the organization plans to keep Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki long-term.

    It’s a smart move not to break the dynamic duo up. When healthy, Gonzalez and Tulowitzki are arguably the most dangerous three-four punch in baseball.

    Gonzalez, while battling a thumb injury for most of the season, still managed to hit .302 with 26 homers and 70 RBI in just 110 games. Being a two-time Gold Glover, he’s equally as effective in the field as his is at the plate.

    Why rebuild when they already have the pieces on offense?

    Fans should expect Gonzalez to stay in Colorado for at least the remainder of his contract, which runs until 2017.

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Tulowitzki is the best shortstop in baseball. The once arguable statement has morphed into fact after his illustrious 2013 campaign.

    Tulowitzki acts as the leader and unofficial captain, the offensive catalyst and the defensive staple for the Blake Street Bombers.

    He batted .312 with 25 homers and 82 RBI in 126 games for the Rockies.

    While trade rumors will always surround the All-Star shortstop, he’s not going anywhere any time soon.

    Fans should expect Tulowitzki in the lineup for as long as he’s healthy enough to play the game.

5. Nolan Arenado, 3B

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    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    After a productive rookie season, Nolan Arenado should find his way into the top five of this year’s Rookie of the Year voting.

    Arenado batted .267 with 10 homers and 52 RBI in 2013. He also played more than any other Rockies player—a testament to his durability.

    At just 22 years old, Arenado has a high ceiling with the ability to improve upon his 2013 campaign.

    The Rockies have traditionally struggled at the third base position. Arenado is the sure answer and the future of the franchise.

    Expect Arenado to be a solid five-hole hitter in 2015.

6. Daniel Murphy, 2B

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The New York Mets are stuck in a rebuilding phase that will carry over well into the 2015 season.

    Murphy, who hit a solid .286 with 13 homers and 78 RBI this season, will be a free agent in 2016. The Mets will likely look to move him at some point in 2015 in an attempt to acquire some younger talent.

    DJ LeMahieu and Josh Rutledge split time at second base this season, but neither proved to be a legitimate option.

    The Rockies also are in desperate need of another lefty bat after Todd Helton’s exit.

    Murphy proves as the perfect solution to their woes and could potentially be a steal financially.

7. Wilin Rosario, C

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Willin Rosario is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after catchers in baseball after another impressive season at and behind the dish.

    The 24-year-old catcher batted a crisp .292 with 21 homers and 79 RBI in 2013. While his OPS is down from 2012, the higher average is a testament to his growth as a hitter.

    Catching, especially in this day and age, is a valuable commodity.

    Rosario should be able to work an extension in the near future to remain in Rockies pinstripes well into his 30s.

8. Michael Cuddyer, 1B

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Like with Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, Dick Monfort spent the majority of the season harping on the fact that Michael Cuddyer was not going to be traded.

    After batting .331 with 20 homers and 84 RBI, the Rockies should take a chance on the 34-year-old veteran and sign him to a two- to three-year deal.

    Cuddyer was selected to his second career All-Star game in July and quietly won the National League batting title.

    However, if the Rockies continue to struggle in 2014 and 2015, there’s little doubt legitimate trade rumors will surface and he will be on the move.

    For now, Cuddyer should fill Helton’s shoes nicely at first base.