By David Miller @DavidMillerRant on March 14, 2014
Many people have already figured out which team is going to win the National League West or at least they think they have. With MLB rolling towards Opening Day, the Colorado Rockies plan to have a little something to say about their division when all is said and done. This roster has key members that will be critical to their chance at success. Let’s take a look.
Though Gonzalez could spend some time in center field, most of his career has been spent in left. The next gentleman is said to probably be getting most of the center field duties which will shift CarGo back to left some of the time at least. No matter where he plays, this is one of the critical roster members that must produce and stay healthy for the Rockies to win.
There is no guarantee that Stubbs will get an everyday job for the centerfield spot this season but he could get a long look at getting the most time out there. He really has to improve on his 2013 numbers with the Indians if he wants to keep starting out there however.
Cuddyer resurrected his career last season to the point that he won the NL batting title. That is quite the achievement and while there is no guarantee he will repeat that season, look for him to be one of the critical roster members as well. If he flops they have a problem.
While he isn’t going to be a necessary and critical component offensively when the season starts, don’t be surprised if Arenado adds that to his young résumé before the season is over. He has the tools to be the best third baseman in the league. This team might really start popping if he is.
Tulo is a serious MVP candidate on Opening Day of every season and if healthy all year could certainly bring home that award for real in 2014. He is more than critical to their success; so important there isn’t a word. He has got to stay healthy though. Both Tulo and CarGo have to be healthy this season.
He certainly is not a juggernaut of offensive power but LeMahieu is a solid guy there at second base. It should be mentioned that he could still have a lot of growing to do in the offensive department as well.
Can Morneau resurrect his career in Colorado the way his former Twins teammate Cuddyer did? There is every reason to believe he is capable though his spring numbers are not exactly awe-inspiring at this point. Once he gets settled in Coors Field we’ll see where he really is this season.
Rosario was a surprisingly powerful offensive catcher last season. If he can repeat his 21/79 home run and RBI totals this year or improve upon them, he will become a vital offensive weapon as well.
Pacheco has spent enough time behind the plate that he can do the back-up thing really well. He is solid behind the dish and knows how to swing the bat as well.
Blackmon could get a good bit more than most fourth outfielders get in the way of playing time if Stubbs cannot produce evenly against lefties and righties. Blackmon historically can hit both fairly well when given the chance so don’t be surprised if he and Stubbs are flip-flopped more times than not if Stubbs stumbles out of the gate.
Barnes came over in the trade that sent Dexter Fowler to the Astros and could also see some time in center field if his spring numbers carry over into the regular season. This would also depend on Stubbs struggling or not but Barnes and Blackmon are good options off of the bench as well.
Mainly great in the middle infield spots and from the bench as a utility player, Rutledge will have a solid spot on this roster or some MLB roster as long as he performs the job well. He shows no signs of not doing so.
Janish is an infielder former of the Atlanta Braves who can play pretty much anywhere in the infield and probably the outfield in a pinch. He is killing the baseball this spring and so could easily see a roster spot with his name on it on Opening Day. I think Walt Weiss will love the way Janish plays the game and the team will not be sorry for adding him to the roster.
Once Scahill was used strictly as a bullpen option things began to look better for him. He still has a ways to go before he is the top choice from this bullpen but he does look to be able to improve upon his numbers from the past.
Though he still isn’t necessarily set-up or closer material, it might not be long before Ottavino rises to that level. His overall ERA was very good last season and if he can keep that around 2.50 or a little over, could be a good middle innings option for Weiss.
Belisle went on record as believing he needed to change things up to regain some advantage over hitters last season. He was right about that and look for him to continue trying to stay a step ahead and improve upon his ERA and WHIP numbers from a year ago.
Lopez can do better than the numbers he put up last season. The Rockies bullpen looks to be improved significantly over the offseason and Lopez needs to pick his game up from 2013 to keep pace.
Here is where the fun starts if you are a Rockies fan. Logan did have some injury problems at the end of last season but he and the Rockies, while being cautious, still think he will be ready for Opening Day. This is a hard-throwing lefty that Weiss can use in specific and critical spots in later innings.
Brothers is not going to be considered the actual closer when the season starts but he is a closer. Actually word seems to suggest that he will be used as a kind of closer, holder, set-up, and stopper for whenever the game needs the Rockies’ best bullpen arm to pitch.
Hawkins was signed over the winter and comes in as the official closer. What is so great about Hawkins isn’t just that he is able to close but that he can do many other things from the bullpen as well. If they want to make Brothers the closer, Hawkins can set-up just as well as he can close. His years of experience will make him an important member of this bullpen for sure.
This is where things get a little iffy but only for one starting spot. Lyles has shown some serious shut-down potential as a starter this spring. That probably would not have been enough alone to get him a starting rotation spot but Jhoulys Chacin is opening the season on the DL for some period of time. As long as that lasts, Lyles could be the one to get a chance to shine.
Nicasio was an almost guarantee for the fifth spot in the rotation because of some awesome work of late. He is really showing another level this year early on and it certainly won him a spot. With the Chacin injury he just moves up one but look for him to remain no matter what as long as the good stuff continues.
Chatwood is one of those starting pitchers that is seeming to improve every season he pitches. He could, if that trend continues, be one of the best pitchers on this starting rotation without a doubt. Look for good things this season from him.
The trade that brought Anderson over to the Rockies rotation might be frowned upon only because of a bad year. Remember that Anderson was the Opening Day starter for the Athletics last season. He certainly has the ability to be an ace-level performer for the Rockies. They really need him to be; especially with Chacin down for a period of time.
De La Rosa is fairly obvious as the Opening Day starter with Chacin injured but likely would have been the man anyway. He is emerging as the ace of this staff and if he continues the good work from last season could be considered one of the top pitchers in the game. He certainly has that potential. It could be a challenging or an awesome year for the Rockies. Their pitching staff as a whole is critical to success and this man is their ace.
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