Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What to expect from the Colorado Rockies in the second half

Wilin Rosario has been a bright spot for the Rockies in 2012.
In a way, the home run derby and the All-Star game was very fitting for Colorado Rockies fans.

The Rockies had a participant in each in the form of Carlos Gonzalez, but he made little impact while the guys around him put on the real show. It was strangely symbolic for a team that has been as bad as any team in the league throughout the first half of the season.

With the Denver Broncos set to open training camp in a little more than two weeks, the Rockies are soon to be an afterthought in Denver. The clamoring for Dan O'Dowd to be fired will turn into clamoring over how many victories Peyton Manning will lead the Broncos to.

So what else do Rockies fans have to look forward to in 2012?

As easy as it would be to suggest that there is nothing positive going for the Rockies, the answer isn't that negative. As bad as things have been in the first half, there are things that the club can build on. There have been individual performers who have given the club some signs of hope.

1. Dexter Fowler

Dexter Fowler is a huge bright spot in an otherwise dismal season. The fleet of foot outfielder seems to be figuring things out at the big league level. After a horrendous spring, he is hitting an even .300. He leads the National League in triples with nine and surprisingly, has added the power element to his game, launching 11 home runs.

Fowler still strikes out way too much. He has 73 strike outs to just 37 walks. However, the rest of his game has significantly improved. Considering the fact that he was on the bubble coming out of spring training as a guy who the Rockies might need to move on from, Fowler has impressed. The impressive thing is that his progression may just be at the beginning. If Fowler can cut down on the strikeouts and use his speed to get on base, his numbers could improve even further. The only thing to worry about with Fowler is whether his sudden breakout season will make him a valuable trade commodity at the end of July. It is doubtful that the Rockies would deal him, but if they were offered enough, it might be the perfect time to pull the trigger.

2. Tyler Colvin

As much heat as Dan O'Dowd has taken, Colvin represents a major win for the embattled general manager. The Cubs and Rockies essentially traded their biggest head scratchers to each other. The Rockies gave up Ian Stewart and the Cubs gave back Colvin. The two throw-ins were DJ LeMahieu and Casey Weathers.

Stewart continued his downward spiral in Chicago before requiring wrist surgery that will most likely end his season, and Colvin has pressed his way into the starting lineup. In just 200 plate appearances, Colvin is hitting .305 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs. He is also a free-swinger, notching 48 strikeouts to just nine walks, but overall, his performance has been nothing short of remarkable for the Rockies. Whether it is a fluke, as many have suggested, or if this is the real Colvin, should be discovered quickly in the second half.

3. Wilin Rosario

His defense is nothing short of frustrating. He struggles with balls in the dirt, he looks silly on routine plays and often throws the ball away. There is no excuse for poor play behind the plate, but it is also easy to forget that the catcher is making the jump from the Double-A level. He would have started in Triple-A, but the Rockies were convinced that playing every third day behind veteran Ramon Hernandez would aid his growth. With Hernandez hurt, Rosario has been thrust into a role that he isn't ready for. His defense is showing that fact, but his offense looks like the real deal. Even with such a small sample size, it leaves anyone who watches Rosario on a regular basis shaking their heads when an opposing pitcher throws him anything but a slider. Fastballs tend to get out of the ballpark in a hurry when they are throw to Rosario, and they travel a long way.

If Bryce Harper wasn't already ordained Rookie of the Year before he made his debut, Rosario would be a top candidate. He has 14 home runs, well on his way to breaking Todd Helton's Rockies record of 25. Rosario has proven that Hernandez is no longer needed, and that he is ready to move forward as the starting catcher. With experience, Rosario's bat could prove to be a huge piece of a lineup that has no shortage of power.

4. Young starting pitchers

In a season like this, putting anyone who is a starting pitcher on this list seems crazy. However, as bad as things have been for the Rockies, as much as they have struggled, particularly on the mound, take a step back and look at the talent that a few of the young starting pitchers have shown.

Despite a general manager who tells his team that their home park is an impossible place to pitch, Drew Pomeranz and Christian Friedrich have done well in their limited appearances at the big league level.

Pomeranz was supposed to impress. The Rockies dealt their first ace to Cleveland for him. Friedrich, on the other hand, had nearly been forgotten about before a great spring training put him back on the map. A curveball that resembles Barry Zito's when he was a Cy Young winner and a fastball that sits around 93 MPH gives Friedrich impressive stuff. Even better than his stuff is his poise on the mound. He carries himself like a veteran who knows he is going to get outs.

Along with Friedrich, Pomeranz has shown that he is ready not just to participate, but to dominate at the big league level. The lefty held the Nationals to just one hit in six-plus innings on Friday night and has the confidence back that the Rockies were excited about when they snagged him from the Indians.

Combine those two guys with a healthy Juan Nicasio, a Jhoulys Chacin who is back in shape and potentially Alex White or any number of other starters and the Rockies rotation suddenly doesn't look so bad. With former pitching coach Bob Apodaca out of the way, the younger Rockies might have a chance to develop into good starting pitchers. The key is to ignore the words that come down from the front office about how difficult it is to pitch at Coors Field. If these young minds can avoid that excuse, they might just turn this club around.

As bad as it has been for the Rockies in 2012, there are still some reasons to keep paying attention. There are still reasons to hope that this team can be in a much better spot one year from now.

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1 comment:

  1. starting lineup for Rockies 2013. catcher-Rosario-1st base T. Colvin- 2nd base C. Nelson- 3rd base J. Pacheco- SS Tulo- rt. field Cuddyer- center field D. Fowler- left field Cargo as for pitchers take your pick which is slim to none. as for management start at the top with O'dowd, keep Tracy and look real hard at the coaches and see if they fit if not they along with Danny boy must go. the players are there they just have to have proper guidance and they will win there share of games. have 4 not 5 top of there game starting pitchers and look out national league here come the Rockies.