Last year, I said the Rockies had a shot at 100 wins. Unfortunately, they fell roughly (exactly) 17 games short of that mark, and hit a few stumbling blocks along the way as well. They had a few pleasant surprises in Carlos Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin and a bullpen with good peripherals, but several young offensive players took a step back instead of a step forward. However, they got rid of Bad Hawpe (not a typo, thanks), which only bodes well for their future.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
The Starting Lineup
|C Chris Iannetta||.197||.318||.383||20||9||27||0||188|
|1B Todd Helton||.256||.362||.367||48||8||37||0||398|
|2B Eric Young, Jr.||.261||.336||.373||26||0||8||17||172|
|SS Troy Tulowitzki||.315||.381||.568||89||27||95||11||470|
|3B Ian Stewart||.256||.338||.443||54||18||61||5||386|
|LF Seth Smith||.246||.314||.469||55||17||52||2||358|
|CF Dexter Fowler||.260||.347||.410||73||6||36||13||439|
|RF Carlos Gonzalez||.336||.376||.598||111||34||117||26||587|
Unsettled: Everyone except Tulo, Stewart, and Gonzalez. Eric Young, Jr. has been in line to take the 2B throne previously held by superstars Jonathan Herrera, Clint Barmes, and other miscellanea, but Jose Lopez is in town now and brings with him a track record of 20-HR power (and bad defense, albeit undeserved, which may give Jim Tracy a reason to limit him to 1B duties most of the time). Jason Giambi, if he makes the team out of spring training, also figures to spell Helton if the latter slumps, which is a less-than-ideal situation given that they’re 40 and 37 years old, respectively. And the usual OF Colorado clog will likely rear its head again this year, with EYJr. and Ryan Spilborghs figuring to log time in the outfield. Seth Smith will probably go underappreciated again this year (.223 ISO in 2010 — come on!), so he and Fowler will ride the pine a couple games a week unless they both really impress this year. And finally, the organization has shown little patience with Iannetta the last couple years, so there may be turnover again among Rockies backstops this season. By the way, super-sub Ty Wigginton is also on the team and could threaten everybody.
Target: Eric Young, Jr. and Ian Stewart. Gonzalez and Tulo are first-rounders while pretty much everyone else potentially has PT problems due to the fantastic bench depth. EYJr. has insane speed, with the potential to put up 70+ SB sometime in the next few years, but with his inexperience and potential PT issues I wouldn’t expect him to hit that in 2011. He did swipe 17 bags in only 172 AB last year, though, and he would have had a lot more AB if it weren’t for that broken leg he suffered in May. His ADP is 350, so he’s pretty much going undrafted in a lot of leagues. Look for him near the end of the draft and reap the SB gold. The 26-year-old Stewart missed a month with an oblique strain that sapped his power, but he’s good to go for 2011. Even with the injury, he had a better ISO than guys like Dan Uggla, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Adrian Gonzalez, among a lot of others. He’s decreased his K rate by 3-4% every year, and has a history of BABIPs much higher than his .308 last year. If he turns in a full season, he has a realistic chance at .270 AVG and 30+ HR. For where he’s going in drafts, it’s worth it.
|Ubaldo Jimenez (R)||19-8||2.88||1.16||214||92||221.2|
|Jorge de la Rosa (L)||8-7||4.22||1.32||113||55||121.2|
|Jhoulys Chacin (R)||9-11||3.28||1.27||138||61||137.1|
|Jason Hammel (L)||10-9||4.81||1.40||141||61||177.2|
|Aaron Cook (R)||6-8||5.08||1.56||62||52||127.2|
Unsettled: Hammel, and to a lesser extent Cook. Hammel followed up a solid ’09 with a disappointing ’10, posting a 4.81 ERA. However, his peripherals told a different story: good K and BB rates with acceptable ground ball rates resulted in a 3.81 xFIP and 3.70 FIP. He should be able to perform well enough to secure a job, but tread a bit carefully if you draft early in spring training. Aaron Cook has been a mainstay in the Rockies rotation for several years, but his recent performance has been drop-dead awful. His walk rates are climbing and his K rates are falling, and neither was that good in the first place. 62 strikeouts to 52 walks? Seriously? Esmil Rogers and Felipe Paulino easily deserve the spot over him, but Cook has the “veteran presence” that some teams go for.
Target: Ubaldo Jimenez. Again. I like Jhoulys but I’d have to see him repeat that K rate in the majors before I fully endorse him. Hammel and de la Rosa both have risks in them. And I really can’t pass on Ubaldo if he falls to the sixth round. He’s only 27 and his stuff is downright filthy. If you’ve seen the way his pitches move (who else throws a 98 mph screwball?), you’d see why I believe that sometime in the next couple years, he’s going to bust out with like 10 strikeouts per nine innings. There’s also data to support this; he throws the hardest fastball out of any qualifying pitcher since ’09 (96.1 mph on average!), and there’s a strong correlation between velocity and pitcher Ks. He also posts great ground ball rates, enough to earn him a 3.28 tERA in 2010. Ubaldo’s been in the league for five years and he’s still an upside play.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Huston Street (R)||38||3.61||1.06||45||11||47.1|
|Matt Belisle (R)||1||2.93||1.09||91||16||92.0|
Chasing Saves: Street got a bit unlucky in 2010, putting up a 3.61 ERA despite the usual strong K and BB rates. The only problem with him is the well-documented injury history. Including spring training, he missed over three months of baseball last year. In his absence, the closing duties went mainly to Franklin Morales and Manny Corpas. Neither is any good. Belisle really turned heads with his fantastic performance in 2010, and should get at least a chance at the closer role if Street should go down. At this point, he’s head and shoulders above pretty much any other reliever in the Rockies bullpen.
OK, let’s not say 100 wins this time. However, the Rockies didn’t lose any major parts from the 2010 season, got rid of a couple dead weights, and have another year of experience from their young guys. They should push 90 wins in 2011 and have the talent to unseat the Giants NL West throne. Unfortunately for fantasy players, the offensive bench depth limits the production you can get from most of the lineup. But hey, as a Rockies fan I won’t mind not owning Seth Smith if it means a division title.
André Walker is Ubaldo's Smirking Revenge. His alter ego Neato Torpedo is Hawpe's Well Below Average Glove.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!