Thursday, May 3, 2012

Admit it, these Colorado Rockies are better than you expected

Michael Cuddyer has been a huge part of the Rockies success.
The Colorado Rockies went to Scottsdale, AZ with high hopes in February. However, those associated with the team were probably the only ones who gave them a fighting chance.

It was tough to blame the the fans for being a little cynical. After all, it was just one year ago that the Rockies were favorites to win the National League West. Many experts had them picked to go all the way to the World Series. The excitement of signing Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez masked the fact that they didn't get any better talent-wise from 2010 to 2011.

The excitement of the expert predictions fizzled as quickly with the realization that Ubaldo Jimenez was not himself, and then in May, Jorge De La Rosa went down with an elbow injury that would require Tommy John surgery.

Many fans were ready for an overhaul in the offseason. However, they were hoping that the overhaul would entail signing a big-name free agent or two. The Rockies signed a free agent, but Michael Cuddyer, a 33-year old outfielder, was not what Rockies fans were hoping for.

On top of not being in the CJ Wilson sweepstakes, the Rockies got rid of several fan favorites, including Ryan Spilborghs, Chris Iannetta, Seth Smith and Ian Stewart. While all four of those players had under performed, many fans were enamored with them, and hated to see them go.

With Cuddyer, at 33-years old, and a trade for 36-year old Marco Scutaro from Boston, the Rockies had only gotten older. It wasn't looking promising for the Rockies. Fuel was added to the fire when the club announced that they were bringing in 49-year old Jamie Moyer to compete for a job in the starting rotation.

The skeptics and cynics had all the material that they would need. It is easy to make fun of this Rockies team. Many of them were saying the Rockies would lose 100 games.

On May 3rd, the Rockies sit at 12-12, 4-1/2 games behind the Dodgers, who have played two additional games.

Of course, 12-12 is nothing to write home about, but consider where the Rockies are at. If someone would have said that Jhoulys Chacin would be in the starting rotation for the Sky Sox, not the Rockies at the beginning of May would anyone have thought this team would be anywhere near .500?

What if someone had said that the 49-year old Moyer would be the most effective pitcher so far in 2012? Most would have bet that the team would be closer to five games under .500 rather than even. Consider that Jeremy Guthrie, who was described as an ace when the club acquired him, has an ERA of 5.92.

With the struggles that this club has had on the mound, it would make sense if they were several games under .500. Instead, they are right at 12-12 and within striking distance.

Look at the two most recent postseason appearances by the Rockies. In 2007, when they ended up in the World Series, the team was an abysmal 10-16 in April. In 2009, when the club won the National League Wild Card, they finished April 11-17.

Of course, in both of those seasons, the Rockies had to go on improbable runs to get to the postseason. They forced themselves into a place where they had to win games in a hurry in order to get back into the race.

The good news for the Rockies in 2012 is that they haven't dug a hole. They have kept themselves in the race. In fact, they have won games in which Tim Lincecum and reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw took the mound against them.

The offense, carried through much of April by Cuddyer, has proven that it has the firepower to win games all by itself. Even in games in which the starting pitcher struggles, the offense has bailed him out on numerous occasions.

The starting rotation will get better. It can't get worse. Even if there are moves made to bring prospects up from Colorado Springs, the numbers will improve. On top of that, the team is just six weeks away from getting their true ace, Jorge De La Rosa back, which could prove to be a huge boost for the rotation, and a bullpen which has been ailed by the lack of depth from the rotation.

Reality is, this team is better than the cynics were expecting. They might be better than the optimistic fans were anticipating.

There is no doubt that this team has holes. No one is saying that they have the talent currently to make a solid argument for why they will be playing in October. However, they are a fun team to watch. The offense battles. They take better at bats than they took in 2011. The starting pitchers might not be pulling their weight, but they haven't been bad enough to make the Rockies look terrible in the early-going. They have room to grow, but even with flaws, they still are winning baseball games, which is the most important part of the game.

Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"

1 comment:

  1. The problem with the pitchers is that they simply will not do as expected. The ones you expect to do well don't, and vice versa. But this year the offense and defense are showing some passion that seemed sorely lacking last year. Hang in there, Rockies!