|Walt Weiss should bring energy to the Rockies.|
For whatever reason, baseball has a way of making even the biggest pessimist a believer. Maybe when pitchers and catcher report to Arizona and Florida, there has been just enough cold and snow to make people a little crazy.
The Colorado Rockies, fresh off of their worst season in 20 years of playing baseball, didn't give their fans much to be excited about in the offseason. Despite losing 98 games, the Rockies did next to nothing over the winter.
There have been years in which Rockies fans haven't had much to root for, but in 2013, the optimists forgot to show up. The morale among Rockies faithful is at an all-time low, for good reason.
Maybe because it is spring, maybe because a long winter erases memories of horrible baseball, but there is reason for Rockies fans to be excited. This Rockies team has the potential to surprise people.
Make no mistake, barring a miracle, the 2013 Rockies won't be playing in October. However, there are reasons to believe that they will finish far better than in 2012. In fact, this team could potentially finish in the neighborhood of .500.
The Rockies didn't make many changes, but one change that caused the cynics to scoff may end up being the best move the Rockies could have hoped for.
Jim Tracy was by all accounts a phenomenal human being. He cared about his players, he cared about the organization, he wanted to win. All of those things are great qualities. The only problem, he was a terrible manager.
Blessed with an incredible vocabulary, Jim Tracy used his words to craft excuses night in and night out. After games in which Tracy clearly misused his bench, poorly handled his bullpen and completely mismanaged the game, he was a sure-bet to blame his starting pitcher, or tip his hat to the other team.
Those excuses got old, and more importantly, that attitude seemed to permeate the clubhouse, as players started to point fingers at each other. They also started to act as if they were always the underdogs, and any win was almost unexpected.
Walt Weiss, despite never managing a game above the high school level, brings a fresh perspective. He doesn't bring a perspective of someone who has been jaded by the fact that in baseball, losing three times a week is still pretty good. He played under both Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox for eight of his 13 full seasons.
If Weiss manages the way he played the game, he will be intense, hard-working, and never making excuses. He will constantly be demanding that players don't accept situations, but that they push forward and get the most out of their talent.
That demeanor is exactly what the Rockies have been missing for the past three seasons. That style should also resonate well with Troy Tulowitzki, the best player in a Rockies uniform. Instead of a message that contradicts Tulowitzki's, Weiss will reinforce the message.
In addition to Weiss, fans quickly forget that Tulowitzki himself wasn't around much in 2012. Tulo saw his season end after just 47 games last season before ultimately seeing his season end due to a groin injury. Missing that aspect of the lineup cannot be understated. Not only is Tulo the best player on the field for the Rockies, but his presence makes everyone in the lineup better.
Carlos Gonzalez instantly sees more fastballs with Tulo healthy. Those two hitters change the dynamics of the Rockies lineup enough to win a handful of more games than they did in 2012.
Of course, fans can talk all day long about the managerial change and the added pieces to the lineup that will change the course of the 2013 season. However, the fact is, success for the Rockies hinges on one thing, the guys standing on a 10-inch hill standing 60 feet, six inches away from home plate.
A miserable failure in 2012, the Rockies failed to address their biggest issue, starting pitching.
The Rockies posted a team ERA of 5.22, a complete embarrassment. In 2013. Every March, the answer always seems to be the same from the Rockies. If a couple of the young pitchers turn the corner, the pitching will be fine. Well, that answer is wearing thin on fans. However, it is still true. Drew Pomeranz, the centerpiece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, is still learning. Bear in mind, he pitched just over 100 minor league innings before making his debut. He was also good enough to be selected fifth overall in 2010. The talent is there, whether it all comes together is still a debate.
In addition to Pomeranz is Juan Nicasio. While the righty is far from young, turning 27 in August, he is still getting his feet wet in the big leagues. He has started just 24 games before two separate injuries ended his seasons. If Nicasio can find another pitch, he has All-Star stuff.
The third piece is Jhoulys Chacin was once a top prospect for the Rockies. His season didn't go as planned in 2012, but injury derailed his season in May, but after comments about being out of shape from Dan O'Dowd came out in spring training, the Rockies ace didn't want to admit injury, perhaps making things worse. Regardless, he should be better, especially if he throws his changeup to right-handers at the same rate that he did in 2011.
The Rockies will improve by the simple fact that Jeremy Guthrie, who proved to be a mental midget with his performance and postgame comments at Coors Field, will be closer to sea level in Kansas City.
When it comes to pitching, there are a ton of "ifs." If everything comes together exactly right, the Rockies will be successful. The odds of that are slim. The pitching is really a huge question mark. However, they will be better. If for no other reason, the young pitchers should gain more experience that will help them.
The reality is, this Rockies team is far from contention. Yet, they should be more fun to watch. They should play with more energy, and they should be a better team. That alone should make them more fun to watch.
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