Looking Forward: Colorado Rockies

What they have: The Rockies have an interesting team, in the sense that they can get offense (at home) from practically anyone. They don’t need to invest a lot of money in offense, which is why it’s a little strange that they gave Todd Helton a 9-year, $141.5 million contract in 2011. Now they’re probably stuck with him until 2011, the last year of Helton’s deal. Helton is a great offensive player, and after a horrid first half this year, he’s been blistering hot, but his contract is hurting the Rockies. Nevertheless, it’s not Helton’s deal that’s killing the Rockies so much as the Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton contracts, signed in 2001. This is the last year that the Rockies are on the hook for both of these deals, which should save them upward of $10 million, a nice chunk of money to play with on the free agent market. The Rockies have two good corner outfielders–Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday–and a future All-Star shortstop, Clint Barmes. Ryan Shealy, a first baseman who did a great job filling in for Helton while the first basemen was on the DL, does not seem to fit into the Rockies’ plans, since he has no position to move to. Pitching-wise, B.K. Kim has been surprisingly good for the Rockies, with a 4.95 RA (park-adjusted, that’s equal to 4.23, 9% better than the league average). Jason Jennings, with a 100 RA+, has continued to be a good pitcher, though he’s out for the season. But the real key to the Rockies’ future is Jason Francis, who came into the major leagues last year as a highly touted rookie. Last year, he was much better at home than on the road (2.45 RA at home vs. 6.40 on the road), which I would’ve chalked up to small sample size. But he’s doing the same thing this year, with a markedly better RA at home than on the road: 5.13 vs. 6.76. And it’s no fluke; look at Francis’ peripherals at home and on the road:

SPLIT

HR/9

BB/9

K/9

Home

1

2.68

6.58

Away

1.86

4.31

6.52

I know what you’re thinking: “how can that be?” I have no idea, but the fact is that Francis is allowing 86% less home runs at home, 61% less walks, and striking out 1% more batters. His RA+ at home is 122; on the road, it’s 68. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Francis developed in the Rockies’ system, and is thus used to pitching in Denver’s climate. Go figure. And then there’s Aaron Cook, he of the 2.88 G/F ratio and 135 RA+. Cook is a nasty pitcher with a nasty sinker, and should continue to have success in Colorado (yes, I have officially jinxed him). In Brian Fuentes and (if he can keep up his performance since being dealt from the Nationals) Sunny Kim, the Rockies have a couple arms in an otherwise weak bullpen.
What they need: Unlike the Royals, who I profiled last week, the Rockies have a lot of pieces in place. With the payroll money that will free up this off-season, they should try to get a 2nd baseman, a catcher, and a center fielder to replace Preston Wilson. In the minor leagues, the Rox do have Tim Olson and Jeff Baker, one whom should be their next third baseman. As I showed, Colorado actually has a pretty good rotation, but the Rockies definitely need some bullpen help. The Rockies do have a few good starters in AA (Enmanuel Ulloa and Sandy Nin, to name two) who could probably help out next season. And then there’s Ryan Shealy, a player who has no future with the Rockies. A trade rumor at the deadline had him going to the Red Sox, and I still think that’s a great potential destination for him. Perhaps the Sox would deal Hanley Ramirez or Dustin Pedroia for him, thus filling one of the Rockies’ needs as well. If the Rockies included Fuentes as well, they might be able to pry Kelly Shoppach. If they go after Johnny Damon to boot, I could see the Rockies contending next year in the weak NL West.

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2 Responses to Looking Forward: Colorado Rockies

  1. David Gassko says:

    Shealy is spectacular. In his minor league career, he’s put up a .322/.413/.591 line, including a .319/.389/.589 line this year in AAA. In the major leagues (small sample size caveats do apply), he’s put up a .333/.412/.507 line. And he’s 26. Now, Colorado Springs does have ~110 park factor, which means that you have to discount his numbers somewhat; maybe from 137 RC/600 PA to 125 RC/600 PA in the minor leagues. Apply Bill James’ MLE and you get 106 RC/600 PA, which would make him the offensive equivalent of Bobby Abreu or Mark Teixeira (and they both are helped by playing in hitters parks). So yes, Shealy is great.

  2. site admin says:

    I’m curious to hear more about this Shealy to Boston. I had not heard this, would love to know more about Shealy and why he’d fit in Boston. If you advocate trading Ramirez or Pedroia, Shealy must be a stud.

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