Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Troy Tulowitzki’

Colorado Rockies Opening Day Primer

2011 Record: 73-89 Manager: Jim Tracy

The Rockies started last season with some lofty expectations. But injuries and disappointments in the pitching staff led to the season unraveling early as they only won 8 games in May. With a loaded lineup and a younger (mostly) and retooled starting rotation, the Rockies could be a surprise playoff participant if things go well.

Player in the spotlight: Troy Tulowitzki SS

Tulo is always going to be in the MVP race, especially if the Rockies are competing for and making the playoffs. Write him down for his .300, 30, and 100 with the potential for more. No worries here as the Rockies have the best shortstop in the game.

Biggest question mark in the lineup: Todd Helton 1B

Todd Helton looked like his career was coming to an end a few years ago with his chronic injuries that seemed to keep him out of the lineup all of the time. But playing most of last season, getting spotted occasionally, Helton continued to hit over .300 and have an OPS over .850. But he’ll turn 39 in August and his creaky body will eventually give out. The Rockies just hope it isn’t this year. They also signed Mike Cuddyer to play right field, but he’ll likely spot Helton against many lefties.

Pitcher in the spotlight: Rafael Betancourt   Closer

The Rockies traded Huston Street to San Diego and gave the closer’s role to Betancourt. Betancourt has been really good since coming over from Cleveland in 2009 and should transition seamlessly to the 9th inning. In all likelihood, Betancourt is holding down the closer’s role until lefty flamethrower, Rex Brothers, is ready for the full-time role.

Biggest pitching question mark: Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz headlined the Ubaldo Jimenez deal with the Indians last summer and the 2010 1st round pick is going to be expected to pitch well this year. The Rockies have a number of young starters and their playoff aspirations lie with the ability of Pomeranz and the others develop over the course of this season. The earlier they have success, the more likely the Rockies will be playing important games in September.

Prospect with a chance to make an impact this year: Nolan Arenado 3B

Arenado starts the season in AA and should be on the fast track if he continues to mash like he did in A ball last year. If he masters AA quickly, Arenado could find his way to Denver before August.

Prediction: 3rd in NL West

The Rockies are competing in a winnable division as the Giants lack great hitting to run away with the division and the Diamondbacks have some holes as well. So if the Rockies can get some early, sustained success out of their young starters, they have the best lineup in the NL West and should be able to remain in the hunt all season long. But that young rotation is the key and Coors Field is a tough place to develop pitchers which is why they are predicted to be 3rd here. With slightly below average starting pitching this is a 78-80 win team, but can get to 85 wins with average starting pitching and stay in the race to the end.

Brewers sign star LF Ryan Braun to Contract Extension

April 21, 2011 1 comment

Brewers spell commitment B-R-A-U-N

Despite already having perennial all star Ryan Braun under contract through the 2015 season, the Brewers and Braun announced an agreement on Thursday afternoon that extends Braun’s current deal through the 2020 season, when Braun will be 36 years old. There’s also a mutual option for 2021.

Braun was in the 4th year of his 8 year contract that is scheduled to pay him $36.5M for the next four seasons. The reports are that Braun’s extension is for 5 years and $105M. Troy Tulowitzki gets $20M per year from 2015-2019 before decreasing for the final two seasons of his contract. The contract appear similar in that regard.

With Prince Fielder heading to free agency at the end of the 2011 season, signing Braun to this extension reaffirms the Brewers commitment to their team and fan base that they are willing to spend money to keep their stars in Milwaukee, as long as it’s within their fiscal means.

Assuming Braun continues to produce at the similar production levels and stays healthy, Brewers fans can expect to see him get his 2500th hit, 450th HR, and 1500th RBI near the end of his contract which takes him through his 36th birthday.

While it’s not ideal to commit huge money in the long term, the Brewers are able to control the costs of their best player without the threat of free agency for the prime of his career. With 2B Rickie Weeks signed through 2014 (2015 option), RF Corey Hart signed through 2013 and starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo is signed through 2014, the Brewers have a core of highly productive players together for the foreseeable future.

Will the Brewers now be able to convince Fielder to return after the season? The history of Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, says to not expect that. But if Fielder wants to remain in a place that is showing a commitment to future success, he doesn’t have to look farther than his current team.

Colorado Rockies Opening Day Overview

Colorado Rockies Opening Day Overview

Manager: Jim Tracy         GM: Dan O’Dowd

Lineup:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Seth Smith/Ryan Spilborghs
LF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Todd Helton
3B Ian Stewart/Ty Wigginton
2B Jose Lopez
C Chris Iannetta
Pitcher

 

Fowler is the catalyst to this high powered offense and the Rockies will need him to utilize his base stealing abilities more, especially on the road where the offense sometimes stagnates. He also needs to improve his OBP for this offense to reach their potential.

Smith and Spilborghs will probably platoon again unless Smith doesn’t get his average back over .270. The Rockies need Smith to hit like 2009 and Spilborghs to hit like last year. If it’s reversed, they might have to turn to Eric Young or Wily Tavares and move CarGo to RF.

CarGo was phenomenal last season finishing 3rd in the MVP voting. He got a new $80M contract over 7 seasons and will earn every penny if he continues to hit the way he did last year.

Tulowitzki is the game’s best shortstop and might be the best player in the game as long as he’s healthy. The Rockies will need Tulo to remain healthy and if he does, he has a chance to produce numbers only seen at SS by A-Rod in Texas.

Two of the last three seasons have been mediocre for Helton. He’s going to need to produce if he is to continue hitting in a run producing spot in the order. This could be a position where Wigginton gets some at bats if Helton struggles again. Jason Giambi is around as well if Helton gets hurt and they want a lefty bat in there.

Stewart might start the season on the DL and needs to improve his average this season if he’s to convince O’Dowd and Tracy that he’s the long term answer at 3B. Wigginton should provide a solid glove and a steady bat at 3B or any other position he plays.

Lopez comes over from Seattle and could have a great year if he gets back to his 2009 form. Remember, Safeco might be the best pitching park in the AL and he’s now hitting in Coors. He could be a major surprise.

Iannetta needs to start hitting at least .250 to justify his place in the lineup. Top catching prospect Wilin Rosario isn’t expected to arrive until next year, but could be called upon if Iannetta continues to struggle andhe convinces management that he can outperform Iannetta with his production in AAA.

The Rockies really struggled to hit on the road, with their worst run production in almost a decade. The top of the lineup talent is great, but they might need to add a corner infield bat if Helton and/or Stewart struggles. The ability of Iannetta and Lopez to bounce back and for Lopez to adjust to the NL will play a critical role in the Rockies offensive success.

  Pitching Staff
1 RHP – Ubaldo Jimenez
2 LHP – Jorge De La Rosa
3 RHP – Jhoulys Chacin
4 RHP – Jason Hammel
5 RHP – Esmil Rogers/RHP – Aaron Cook

 

Jimenez was unbelievable before the break last year, but struggled right after the break and then finished strong. As long as he’s pitching well, this team should be in the hunt for the postseason.

De La Rosa got a nice contract, but is going to need to stay healthy and produce like he did in 2009 to justify the money. His 185 innings in 2009 is over 50 more than any other season.

Chacin had a great debut season and might be the second best starter the Rockies have. He’ll need to do it for 10-12 more starts than last season and improve his walk ratio. But most pitchers usually improve their control as they gain experience and become more comfortable pitching to big league hitters.

Hammel was very similar last year to 2009 and will be counted upon to provide those 175+ innings again this season. He’ll need to keep his ERA around 4.50 or better to be effective.

Cook is out until at least May and he’ll need to improve his K-BB ratio if he’s to be counted on for quality innings. Rogers gets a chance to prove himself over the first month or so of the season and pitch much better than last season. A couple of starts pitching like his over 6 ERA from last year and the Rockies could turn to Felipe Paulino who was with Houston last year.

  Bullpen
CL RHP – Huston Street
SET RHP – Rafael Betancourt
  RHP – Matt Belisle
  RHP – Matt Lindstrom
  LHP – Matt Reynolds
  LHP – Franklin Morales
  RHP – Felipe Paulino

 

Street was the victim of injuries from the start last season and the inability of the bullpen to consistently close out games hurt them in the first half of the season. He is expected to be fully healthy and the last inning situations should be better this season for the Rockies.

Betancourt doesn’t mess around as he comes right at hitters with strikes. That’s a great trait to have pitching at Coors and the Rockies have as good as a setup guy as they’ve had.

Belisle pitched well last season and a similar showing would be great. Lindstrom has closed with Florida and Houston and throws hard. His problem can be control which could be a major issue in Coors.

Morales started last year as the fill-in closer for Street and then spent over a month in AAA to work on control issues.

  Farm Prospects who could help in 2011
1 LHP Rex Brothers
2 LHP Christian Friedrich
3 C Wilin Rosario

 

The pickings are slim for the Rockies as far as major league readiness goes. Brothers could be a future closer but still needs some AAA seasoning before getting called up. Friedrich is a starter who struggled a little in AA last year and has battled health issues. Rosario tore his ACL last summer but has a good bat and might get a chance later this summer if Iannetta continues to struggle at the plate.

Three Questions:

1. Can the Rockies get improved production from the group of Helton, Smith, Stewart, and Iannetta?

  • They need to get better numbers from at least 2, if not 3 of these four. Helton and Iannetta especially need to outperform last season’s numbers for the Rockies to overcome the weak part of their rotation.

2. After Ubaldo, will the Rockies starters pitch well?

  • Steady improvement by Chacin and a full season from De La Rosa will be huge for the Rockies this season. They can’t afford to be in the bullpen in the sixth inning every game if they want to be in contention in September. Rogers, filling in for Cook, could wreak havoc on the pen early in the season if he’s not effective.

3. Can their bullpen be as good as it looks on paper?

  • Street is a very good closer and should have a great year if he stays healthy. Betancourt gives them a solid arm for the 8th inning and those two can make it a 7 inning game for Jim Tracy if they’re consistently effective at the back end of games. That would leave the rest of the bullpen to take care of the 7th inning and earlier.

 

Projection

The Rockies should be contending all season. One thing that hurts them is their lack of high level farm talent. With their best prospects appearing to be a few years away, they might not have talent to either plug in the lineup in case of injury or be able to make an impact trade if necessary. If their Chacin and De La Rosa can stay healthy and continue to get better, then the Rockies can push 90 wins for the season.