Friday, February 26, 2016

2016 Pre-Season Profile: Colorado Rockies

The first National League team to be previewed is one of the more interesting teams every year.  Their offense is always strong, but is it because of the park?  Because of the park, it is next to impossible to get quality pitching.  All this leaves a team constantly trying to rise above mediocrity.  Let's look at the 2016 Colorado Rockies.

Last Season
My 2015 Prediction: 4th in NL West
2015 Results: 68-94, 5th in NL West
Another lackluster year for the Rockies in 2015 led to a Trade Deadline move that sent away their superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  I pretty much predicted their season right, thinking they had a chance to be a little higher.  This was less about misjudging the Rockies and more about misjudging the success of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who I picked for the cellar.

2016 Additions / Subtractions

The trade of Tulo started the Rockies' offseason early.  However, they had a surprisingly quiet yet confusing offseason otherwise.  They signed some bullpen help in Jason Motte and Chad Qualls.  They signed Gerardo Parra, but already had a full outfield.  So that meant they had to trade one or more of them.  Instead of trading Carlos Gonzalez, whose value is at its peak for a big return, they traded Corey Dickerson for a 29 year old lefty reliever in Jake McGee.  Now McGee is a good pitcher, but they did not get the prospects they needed.  Now Jose Reyes is on administrative leave and may not play for awhile depending on how the investigation of his off-field issues goes.  Here is another instance where Ian Desmond might come in handy.  Seriously, someone sign this guy!

Most Important Hitter
Charlie Blackmon
This was a toss up between Blackmon and DJ LaMahieu, but Charlie Blackmon has been the stronger hitter and is more essential to the offense.  The Rockies have one of the best sets of power hitters to anchor their lineup in the league with CarGo and breakout star Nolan Arenado.  For them to be successful, they need someone on base in front of them.  Blackmon broke out in 2014 and made the All Star Team.  He was solid in 2015, but not All Star level.  He needs to be All Star level for the Rockies to be successful in 2015.

Most Important Pitcher
Jason Motte
In 2012, Jason Motte led the league by saving 42 games for the St. Louis Cardinals.  He followed that up by missing all of 2013 with an injury, a shortened 2014 season, and a 2015 campaign where he was finally healthy enough to pitch a full season.  Now the Rockies are bringing him in to hopefully be their closer.  They do have Chad Qualls and Jake McGee just in case Motte doesn't work out, but they are more built for the setup roles.  For the Rockies' bullpen to be strong this year, Motte needs to return to his 2012 form.

Player to Watch
Jon Gray
Jon Gray is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.  It must be tough to be a pitcher trying to break into the big leagues in Colorado.  Gray had a short run with the big club in 2015 that was disappointing.  He is slated to start 2016 in the rotation for the Rockies.  Colorado needs Gray and other pitching prospects like him to work out to have the success they hope for.  An honorable mention here is reliever Miguel Castro, who closed some games for the Blue Jays last year before being traded to the Rockies in the Tulowitzki deal.

2016 Prediction
4th in NL West
The NL West is very competitive this year, especially with the improvements made by the Diamondbacks.  I think the Rockies might surprise some people this year, and by surprise, I mean not finish in last place.  They have a very strong offense and a lot of young talent.  The only question is if they can find enough pitching to stay in some games.  If they do, they might be respectable this season.

Fearless Prediction
Carlos Gonzalez will be part of a blockbuster trade at the Trade Deadline.
Like I said earlier, CarGo not being traded this offseason was a surprise, especially after Troy Tulowitzki was traded in July.  I don't think the Rockies are unwilling to trade him, but they are waiting for the right trade.  Carlos Gonzalez is under contract until 2018 and is a bonafide power hitter.  Someone is going to get desperate in July and give the Rockies the package they are looking for.  Then they Rockies will look like geniuses for not trading him this offseason.

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