Our Colorado Rockies preview a year ago was very positive. As the 2020 season nears, the outlook is uncertain and to be blunt, much less uplifting.
Colorado had an unnervingly quiet offseason. Nolan Arenado rumours were in the news more than any Coors Field regular would like. A roster that won 71 games last season is coming back for 2020, and with an unhappy Arenado.
The National League West has changed from one of MLB’s most interesting divisions to the least. The Los Angeles Dodgers are far ahead of the chasing pack. Colorado could finish, but they could just as easily slump to another 91-loss campaign.
PECOTA has the Rockies finishing fourth, just two games behind the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. None of the teams are projected to be over .500.
Charlie Blackmon, Arenado and Trevor Story have been fighting with little backup over the last few seasons. The Rockies regularly rank among the National League’s best in runs scored (some of that is the Coors effect), but they have done little to nothing to give their line-up depth.
Colorado have continued to give Ian Desmond plate appearances, presumably because of his contract. Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon, two highly thought of prospects, are both projected to be below league average. McMahon should have been an everyday player for a long time, but he’s been messed around. Garrett Hampson needs to make a huge leap to be a decent hitter.
Breakouts from Rodgers, McMahon and Hampson are possible. If that happens and Dahl stays healthy, their offence is suddenly scary. Current evidence suggests another imbalanced line-up.
German Marquez and Jon Gray are potentially a very good one-two punch. Beyond them, it gets ugly pretty quickly. Kyle Freeland had a disastrous 2019 – he can’t be considered anything more than a wildcard.
Part of the problem is all the money thrown at the bullpen. The Rockies ignored the fact that relievers are volatile and handed out stinking contracts to Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis. Those contracts appear to have hamstrung them in free agency, and blocked any potential rotation upgrades.
Mediocrity is probable
The Rockies were meant to be heading into a window of contention when they handed Arenado his monster extension. They had exciting prospects coming through and a rotation that was impressing. Mismangement and misfortune have seen them slouch into an unpleasant position. Mediocrity is probable in 2020, and it seems possible, if not likely, that Arenado is dealt.
It’s been a frustrating few seasons at Coors Field. Contention isn’t impossible, but a retool seems more likely, and that’s disappointing place to be in for a team that haven’t won a postseason game since 2009.