The Rockies Fountain of Youth

By Derek Kessinger

The Colorado Rockies have been a youthful team for over a decade. Except for Todd Helton, they have unsuccessfully tried to thrive on young minor league talent in their system to supplement the wandering free agents. For the middle years of the last decade they were known as “Todd and the Toddlers”. Well, that will no longer be the case in Denver, Colorado on opening day 2012.

Colorado’s projected starting eight features only four Rockies players from last year. Of those, three are under thirty: 25-year-old Dexter Fowler, 26-year-old Carlos Gonzalez and 27-year-old Troy Tulowitzki. These guys are the “core” of the Rockies for the next decade. Dexter Fowler’s great second half puts him in the team’s plans with the two proven MLB stars.

Todd Helton will continue to occupy first base. The 38-year-old had a huge resurgence last season after a definite slump the year before. While many in the game thought that it might be time for Helton to retire, he hit .302 with 14 home runs. His injured back is what held up his hitting in the past and could affect him this year. Luckily, he has the youthful Jason Giambi, who will back up first base, at 42 years old.

So in years past, the rest of the line-up was filled with Rockies guys, many of them fairly young. Those Rockies system guys have been shipped out the last couple of years. Seth Smith, Clint Barmes, Ian Stewart, Chris Ianetta and Brad Hawpe no longer call Coors Field their home park. The Rockies are finally willing to give something other than unproven talent a try.

This new strategy points to a win now attitude, mainly because the new guys do not have another ten years to play this game. The Rockies added Michael Cuddyer, the 32-year-old in left field. He would have to be considered the youth brought in this offseason. His presence is supposed to spark a new atmosphere in the clubhouse.

Joining him are proven veterans. Filling in the field: catcher, Ramon Hernandez (34), second baseman, Marco Scutaro (35), and third baseman, Casey Blake (38). Will this movement away from youth and homegrown talent benefit the Rockies this season? All four guys must have up years for the Rockies to make the playoffs. That’s without discussing a pitching staff so confusing that the starting rotation may have to be determined with a series of coin flips.

Welcome to the “Tulo and the Todd-fathers” era. The Rockies have a couple of years to figure out where this franchise is going.  Hopefully injuries won’t make 2012 another dismal experiment in Denver.

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