Philadelphia, PA – (SportsNetwork.com) - There is no place to go but up for the 2014 Colorado Rockies.
The good news for the 2013 Rockies was that they increased their win total by 10 games. Unfortunately, that jump only brought them to 74 victories.
If you look at Colorado's lineup there is plenty to like. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are two of the more dynamic players in the game. The only problem is that they can't seem to stay on the field.
Also, for the first time since 1998 the Rockies will have a new first baseman on Opening Day following Todd Helton's retirement after last season. That job now falls on former American League MVP Justin Morneau, who will try to resurrect a once impressive career with the Rockies.
Oft-injured lefty Brett Anderson was also brought in to give depth to a rotation that last season was battered by injuries. Anderson seems to be a curious case to fill that bill given his own history.
The Rockies treated their offseason as if they are a team ready to win now. Perhaps another last place finish would be a signal that it's time to tear everything down and rebuild from scratch.
2013 FINISH (74-88) - Fifth Place (NL West)
KEY OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: Justin Morneau (1B); Brett Anderson (LHP); Boone Logan (LHP); LaTroy Hawkins (RHP); Drew Stubbs (OF) Jordan Lyles (RHP); Franklin Morales (LHP); Brandon Barnes (OF)
KEY OFFSEASON SUBTRACTIONS: Todd Helton (1B); Dexter Fowler (OF); Rafael Betancourt (RHP); Drew Pomeranz(LHP); Jonathan Herrera (INF); Josh Outman (LHP)
PROJECTED LINEUP: Corey Dickerson (CF); Michael Cuddyer (RF); Carlos Gonzalez (LF); Troy Tulowitzki (SS); Justin Morneau (1B); Wilin Rosario (C); Nolan Arenado (3B); DJ LeMahieu (2B)
PROJECTED ROTATION: Jorge De La Rosa (LHP); Brett Anderson (LHP); Tyler Chatwood (RHP); Juan Nicasio (RHP); Franklin Morales (LHP)
PROJECTED CLOSER: LaTroy Hawkins (RHP)
MANAGER: Walt Weiss
CAN BRETT ANDERSON RESURRECT HIS CAREER?
It wasn't that long ago that lefty Brett Anderson was one of the best young pitchers in baseball for the Oakland Athletics.
But after winning 11 games as a rookie in 2009, Anderson endured elbow, forearm and knee issues in 2010 then underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2011. He made just six starts in 2012 and last year appeared in only 16 games for the A's, mostly in a reliever's role.
Now, Anderson has taken his talents to the National League, where he'll try to jumpstart what was once a promising career.
WILL BOTH CARLOS GONZALEZ AND TROY TULOWITZKI BE ON THE ROSTER AT END OF SEASON?
It seems like we can't get away from hearing about trade rumors involving Colorado's two brightest stars: Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. And since it doesn't appear as if the Rockies are going to be winning anytime soon it stands to reason that a move may actually happen.
But could it happen this year?
Gonzalez, who had an emergency appendectomy earlier in the season, was limited to 110 games last season because of a sprained right finger, but he still batted .302 with 26 homers and 70 RBI.
When healthy there are few players better in the game than the 2-time All- Star, who has produced four straight 20-homer, 20-stolen-base seasons.
Equally talented is Tulowitzki, who has evolved into the best all-around shortstop in the game, but has played more than 145 games just twice in his eight-year career. Still, he hit .312 last season with 25 home runs and 82 RBI in 126 games.
Dealing Tulowitzki could be difficult, as he is still owed $130 million over the next seven years (plus a $15 million team option/$4 million buyout in year eight.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, has 4 years and $63.5 million on his deal.
It's probably a longshot that either gets dealt, but there is no quicker way to rebuild than dealing one if not both of two of the brightest stars in the game.
IS LATROY HAWKINS REALLY THE CLOSER?
It was not a surprise that Colorado wanted to upgrade its bullpen this offseason. It was a group that last year pitched to an NL-worst 4.23 ERA.
What was surprising was that the Rockies signed 41-year-old LaTroy Hawkins to be their closer. Rex Brothers had done an adequate job in that role last season, but the team wanted him to slide back into a setup role.
Hawkins, who was a member of the Rockies in 2007 when they lost to Boston in the World Series, had saved 13 games last season for the New York Mets. He also went 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA over 72 appearances.
Colorado���s bullpen has also added Boone Logan, who was signed away from the New York Yankees, and Franklin Morales is beginning his second stint in Colorado after being acquired from Boston.
As is always the case at hitter-friendly Coors Field, Colorado's pitching staff will be under the microscope. And things aren't off to a great start, as it appears that Jhoulys Chacin will likely start the season on the disabled list. Jorge De La Rosa has ace stuff, but he's only pitched more than 130 innings twice in his 10-year career. We already touched on Anderson's history, so that leaves Juan Nicasio. One player to keep an eye on as the season wears on is righty Tyler Chatwood. The 24-year-old showed signs of being a dependable big league starter last season, as he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 starts. With a groundball rate of nearly 59 percent -- third best in baseball for pitchers with at least 100 innings - Chatwood could become a big factor for Weiss.
In a perfect world Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, De La Rosa, and Anderson will all stay healthy and the Rockies will win over 90 games. Unfortunately, we all know that just isn't going to happen. All are likely going to miss time at some point and the Rockies' season will veer off course. They have finished in the cellar of the NL West in each of the last two seasons and that seems to be their destiny again this season. Even if things go their way, though, they are still no better than the third best team in this division.