There have been plenty of changes in Colorado this year as one of the mainstays of the organization, Todd Helton, has headed off to retirement. The rotation has changed over, there are position battles to be had and plenty of questions regarding the health and ability of some traditional high selections. Hop on board the silver bullet train as we take a look at some of the questions owners need answered when the Rockies are being put forth.
5. So the rumors of LaTroy Hawkins’ death were greatly exaggerated? The Rockies named Hawkins their closer earlier in February despite the fact he is going to be 42 this season and is out to give Satchel Paige a run for his money. Still, he pitched very well for the Mets in the second half of last season and Colorado seems set on returning Rex Brothers to the setup role. It is still highly likely that this job fluctuates over the course of the year and looking at Hawkins as a sure thing is a risk simply due to his age.
4. What will Michael Cuddyer do for an encore? To expect another season of .331 batting average is asking a bit much, but the home run and RBI totals are surprisingly in line with his career marks. Cuddyer simply needed to be given a chance to be in an everyday lineup. The retirement of Todd Helton will likely see him sharing some of the first base duties with Justin Morneau and he certainly is the team’s starting right fielder as they head towards Opening Day. For fantasy owners, it is worth noting that in six of the last eight years he has played at least 130 games. In only two of those six did he fail to hit at least 20 home runs. With his ability to drive in at least 80 and score that many as well, he represents a solid blend of success across three categories. So long as owners draft a guy that would be .280/25/80/85/7, they will get a strong third outfielder. Anything beyond that is simply asking too much.
3. Is Wilin Rosario the best catcher in fantasy baseball offensively? He certainly seems to be the best one that very few pay attention to. Only six catchers hit at least 20 home runs last season and only Brian McCann and Evan Gattis did it in fewer plate appearances. Just two catchers drove in more runs and only four scored more than Rosario did last season. In fact, he out-performed Buster Posey in four of the five categories, only losing average by .002 points. While he had two fewer home runs than Matt Wieters, he held down all four other fantasy-relevant categories. Those in the know realize that Rosario is going to be a major cog in the wheel to their fantasy success. While the .344 BABIP likely garners a slight correction, his ISO numbers were also off slightly. Should that rectify itself he would add some power to his totals without losing much in the way of average. With an ADP near 87 right now and the second catcher coming off the board, his value may actually be too high right now for the return of the position. Thus the danger of outperforming expectations.
2. Alright, this is the year Brett Anderson stays healthy, right? Even if it is, the problem here is that it likely makes little to no difference except in NL-only formats. Anderson burst onto the scene in 2009 but has done little to nothing since. While currently penciled in as the number three starter, Anderson’s lack of health has done nothing but give fantasy owners the shakes. Having not appeared in more than 20 games in a season since 2009 makes him a high-risk selection. Could he give an owner 25 to 30 starts? Of course he could and that would likely yield 12 wins, 170-180 innings, 140-150 strikeouts and some help with pitching ratios. Someone in your league will take a chance on him. After round 22 or so, there could be some value. Right now, though, he is a roster filler until he proves that he has figured out a way to stay on the mound.
1. Who plays more games – Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez? Give me Gonzalez here, but not by much. The outfielder has lost his first round status because he has not been on the field for more than 145 games since 2010, but he managed to lead the Rockies in home runs in 2013. The RBI and runs scored have fallen off each of the last three seasons and should have owners crossing their fingers as they select him to man their outfield. Tulowitzki on the other hand has had just one year in the last four where he has played more than 125 games. The shortstop still finds a way to produce at a high level and his 25 home runs last season were no exception to that. When healthy, he is a 30 home run threat that can hit .300 with 90 RBI-plus, but when selected he still represents that type of risk. Both players have plenty of upside but owners need to be aware of the risk that will come with the high draft position the players are garnering.