The NL West is top-heavy (Dodgers & Giants), but the rest of the division improved their rosters this offseason. Colorado was one of the most active teams in baseball. They completed a few trades and landed starter Brett Anderson and added depth at other positions. The biggest splash they made was signing former AL MVP Justin Morneau. It is unknown if the thin air in Denver can help rekindle his career.
Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki have both been hampered by nagging injuries the last two seasons. If both players appear in 150+ games, could they contend for a Wild-Card spot?
Colorado made an effort to improve one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. Can the starting rotation hold up until top pitching prospects Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler are ready?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Colorado Rockies.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 74-88
Key Additions: 1B Justin Morneau, SP Brett Anderson, OF Brandon Barnes, OF Drew Stubbs, SP Jordan Lyles, RP Boone Logan, RP LaTroy Hawkins, SP Franklin Morales, RP Nick Masset, SS Paul Janish & RP Greg Burke
Key Losses: 1B Todd Helton, OF Dexter Fowler, C Yorvit Torrealba, OF Tyler Colvin, SP Drew Pomeranz, SP Jeff Francis, RP Josh Outman, RP Edgmer Escalona, 2B Jonathan Herrera & SP Jon Garland
Interleague Schedule: AL Central + Texas Rangers
Projected Starters: Wilin Rosario, Justin Morneau, DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Troy Tulowitzki, Drew Stubbs, Carlos Gonzalez & Michael Cuddyer
Projected Starting Rotation: Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood & Juan Nicasio
Closer: LaTroy Hawkins
Fantasy Sleeper: 3B Nolan Arenado – Arenado had a great second-half in 2013. He doesn’t have any competition at third base, so expect him in the lineup everyday. He’s a solid corner infield backup. He will not hurt you in any category. I like a backup that is above average across the board. A guy like Houston’s Chris Carter will get you home runs, but kills your batting average. Arenado is a guy you can plug in and not worry. If Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs weren’t destined to be in a lefty/righty platoon in the outfield, they would be in this section. They should still be owned in NL-only leagues.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: SP Jonathan Gray & SP Eddie Butler – The Rockies’ Opening Day rotation leaves a lot to be desired…but their two best pitching prospects in the minors could drastically improve the rotation. Gray was the #3 pick overall in the 2013 draft and Butler was #46 overall in 2012. Neither pitcher has many minor league starts under their belt, but the recent trend is to fast-track elite starters to the Majors. Oakland’s Sonny Gray, St. Louis’s Michael Wacha and Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole only had a few dozen starts before they were pitching meaningful innings in the Majors. Colorado isn’t a contender like those teams, so they might slow down the process. I still think both end up in the Majors at some point in the season. These guys aren’t draft-worthy this season, but they are worth keeping an eye on.
Team Analysis: The Rockies struggled through injuries last season and had major issues on the mound. Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood were all solid, but the back-half of their rotation was a joke. Their bullpen was better as a whole, but would often be asked to pitch when already behind. Rex Brothers had a breakout season filling in for Rafael Betancourt as the closer. They were either 28th or 29th in the league in quality starts, ERA and batting average against. This offseason, they traded for Brett Anderson and former top Astros pitching prospect, Jordan Lyles. They also focused on the bullpen by signing Boone Logan and LaTroy Hawkins. They are in a better situation, but now the question marks are on the other side of the ball. Can Justin Morneau rejuvenate his career in Denver? Can CarGo and Tulo stay healthy for an entire season? These are two huge questions we will have to wait and see what happens. If Morneau proves to be a 30/100/.285 guy and they get 150 games out of CarGo and Tulo, who knows, Colorado could be a .500 team or better. Those are two huge maybes for a team still trying to figure things out.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 76.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 75-87 (5th in NL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.