Longer days and warmer temperatures can only mean one thing: Colorado Rockies baseball is back. The Rockies enter their 20th season as a professional baseball franchise and aim to win their first N.L. West title. There is always a lot of shuffling of players during the off-season and this winter was no different. Here is a recap of the Rockies key moves they hope can push them into the playoffs in 2012.
Michael Cuddyer, OF
Cuddyer comes over from Minnesota via free agency. He signed a three-year contract with Colorado and at 32 years of age can seem like a risky move for Colorado. Hitting 20 HR and 70 RBI in a very pitcher friendly Target Field should translate well to hitter friendly Coors Field. Cuddyer has been valuable in the past with his ability to play almost anywhere. Though he’ll primarily play outfield for Colorado, he can also play third base, second base and first base (which is nice to give Todd Helton a day off while keeping a solid fielder in play). Most importantly, Cuddyer will provide the lineup with some extra pop where he will most likely hit 5th or 6th depending on the match-up. He should be a solid addition to an already potent lineup.
Marco Scutaro, 2B
After spending the last 8 seasons in the American League, Scurato comes back to the National League to replace Mark Ellis, who has moved on to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scutaro provides Colorado with a reliable glove at second, though a slight downgrade from the always dependable Ellis. Where he may lack with the glove, he makes up for with his bat. Scutaro has hit 30 HRs in his past 3 seasons. The Rockies gave up RHP Clay Mortensen for Scutaro in a trade with Boston on January 21, 2012. Scutaro could find himself hitting 2nd for the Rockies, but also could slide down in the lower third of the lineup to provide some stability down there.
Ramon Hernandez, C
Hernandez signed a two-year contract in the off-season to start at catcher for the Rockies after the organization traded C Chris Iannetta to the Angels for RHP Tyler Chatwood. Hernandez, a career .266 hitter, should enjoy hitting at Coors Field (who wouldn’t?). His most important attribute might come as a manager of the young pitching staff. Hernandez has been the backstop for some great staffs, including the Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito powerhouse in Oakland from 1999-2003.
Jeremy Guthrie, RHP
Guthrie was acquired from Baltimore for RHPs Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom in early February. While his numbers aren’t amazing, he has been able to pitch at least 200 innings in each of the past three seasons. I think a change in scenery could help him this season. He will also be counted on to help younger pitchers on the staff (Pomeranz, White, Nicasio) with what it means to be a major league pitcher.
Other news and notes:
Some other notable transactions include the trade of Ty Wigginton to Philadelphia for cash considerations, the free agent signing of 3B Casey Blake to replace Wigginton at third and the Major League camp invite to 49 year old Jamie Moyer. Reports so far this spring put Moyer’s fastball around 82 mph, but still able to get movement on his pitches and should be a contender to make the team in April.
Three trades to note in the off-season were the departure of 3B Ian Stewart to the Chicago Cubs for OF Tyler Colvin and INF DJ LeMahieu, former OF Seth Smith being sent to Oakland for RHP Guillermo Moscoso and RHP Josh Outman, and finally former Rockies closer Huston Street was sent to San Diego for LHP Nick Schmidt.
I only highlighted the major moves the Rockies made this offseason even though more were made. The Rockies come into the 2012 season with a lot of promise but need their young pitching staff to pitch well in order to catch up to division favorites San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Look out for my next article which will be a roundtable preview of the N.L. West with fellow ProSportsBlog writer Matthew Hesse of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It should be up in the next few weeks. After that we will be ready to hit the ground running on another exciting season of Colorado Rockies baseball.
About the Author
Written by Steve Folsom
Sports has always been my passion in life. I enjoy all sports but baseball is by far my favorite. I bring an analytical perspective to my sports consumption. Follow me on Twitter @Steven_Folsom.