The Colorado Rockies are 53-80. There’s a chance, more legitimate than you might think, that they don’t get above 60 wins this season. With Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez out, a recent series against the Giants that all but sums up the Rockies’ 2014 season, and autumn quickly approaching, it wouldn’t hurt Rockies fans to peek around the corner at what 2015 has in store for their Colorado Rockies.
With plenty of messes to sort out, we’ll start with the Rockies outfield. If there is one area the Colorado Rockies have the tools to be a better ballclub, it’s their outfield. When Carlos Gonzalez is healthy, he’s a top-five outfielder. Cargo will likely miss most, if not all of spring training recovering from surgery. While Rockies’ staff proudly boast that this surgery will get Cargo back to his MVP-like form, I’m not sold on his ability to jump back into action in 2015 and start hitting the cover off the ball. So when Cargo does get back to the outfield at Coors Field, it could take a large part of the season for him to get back in the swing of things.
Charlie Blackmon a.k.a ChuckNazty finally got a whole year in the majors, and he didn’t disappoint. Although he has cooled off from his first quarter start, he’s still putting up solid numbers (.288/15/61), though he’s just hit .152 in August. Aside from being a fan favorite, Blackmon has shown he can be an everyday starter for the Rockies. He stands as a valued part of the Colorado Rockies future.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this season is Corey Dickerson. With a recent NL Player of the Wee Award and a .318 average, Dickerson has quietly slid up the rankings in several National League statistics. Case and point, he’s deserving a long-term deal, and the Rockies have found a great outfielder. Pay him “Cuddyer-like” money and keep in Denver.
Speaking of Michael Cuddyer, while last season was magical, this season has been difficult. I’ve warned of Kid Cuddy’s age and fragility, and unfortunately his has come to light. Having spent a great deal of the season on the DL, Cuddyer has been an expensive player this year. Sadly, I just don’t see a future for Cuddy in Colorado in 2015. While he has been great and the clubhouse loves him, the Rockies have a chance to get out of this relationship easily. Cuddyer’s contract is up at the end of the season, and it would downright ridiculous to bring him back.
So what do we do with Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs? Barnes has been tremendous as bench player. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, he has gained valuable experience thanks to injuries to Gonzalez and Cuddyer. Barnes off the bench isn’t a bad thing for the Colorado Rockies. And Drew Stubbs, a similar guy to Blackmon. He has great potential, but just doesn’t see the time. He’ll be an expensive bench guy, but one that the injury-prone Rockies can rely on if and when Gonzalez comes down with another injury.
The infield in Colorado presents a bit of a quandary. The left side of the infield is one of the best in baseball. Yes, I said one of the best in baseball. Nolan Arenado has range for days, a cannon for an arm, and is developing into a solid offensive threat. Everyone knows what Troy Tulowitzki can be. But everyone also knows that Troy Tulowitzki cannot be counted on to play more than seventy-five percent of a season.
The right side of the infield is a mess. Justin Morneau was a great story at first, a quick pickup to fill the Todd Helton void. But he doesn’t have a future in Colorado. Which means the Rockies are left looking for a first baseman. My suggestion, Kyle Parker. Although he’s hidden down in the farm system, Parker’s athleticism and infield experience will make the permanent move to first fairly easy. Yes, his time at first will come with a learning curve, especially at the plate, but he’s the future. And that’s where Colorado needs to be focused.
Second base is even more confusing. Do you go DJ LeMahieu or Josh Rutledge? There has been so much talk about Rutledge’s upside. It stands to reason you don’t put Rutledge at second because he can play shortstop. And everyone knows if you’re a shortstop in Colorado, you’ll play a handful of games while Tulo nurses another injury. Which brings us to DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu isn’t going to hit the cover off the ball. In fact, it is unlikely he’ll ever be much of an offensive threat. While this would lower his value as a starting second baseman, his ability to play defense more than makes up for it. LeMahieu is one of the most overlooked middle infielders in baseball. So offense or not, he should be there in 2015.
So what does 2015 have in store for the Colorado Rockies? If the roster holds true, as I expect it to, it means more of the same. Home games where the Rox score eight runs, but give up twelve. Away games where it takes a single in the eighth inning to break up a no-hit bid. And Walt Weiss’ roster juggling as he tries to compensate for injuries. If there is one part of the Rockies team that should definitely be gone by 2015, I say start with the training staff.