2006 Colorado Rockies Preview
The Colorado Rookies suffered through a tough 95 loss season ending the year 15 games behind the NL West Champion San Diego Padres. The 2005 offense was led by 1st baseman Todd Helton (.320 20 79), outfielder Dustan Mohr (.214 17 38), and the young 3rd baseman Garrett Atkins (.287 13 89). Shortstop Clint Barmes (.289 10 46) and Matt Holliday (.307 19 87) also contributed to the lineup.
The 2005 Rockies pitching was as thin as the air in their home stadium, Coors Field. Beyond youngster Jeff Francis (14-12 5.68) and Aaron Cook (7-2 3.67) the rest of the starting pitching suffered to provide quality starts throughout the entire year. Starters Jamey Wright (8-16 5.46), Byung-Hyun Kim (5-12 4.86) and Jason Jennings (6-9 5.02) all failed to impress. On the upside, closer Brian Fuentes (2-5 2.91 31 saves) did manage to convert 31 saves in 34 save opportunities, and was an impressive 14 out of 14 in save opportunities at Coors Field. Not an easy task when a pitcher is required to close games in a stadium that is notorious for late inning comebacks and blown saves.
Off Season Moves:
The Colorado Rockies didn’t make many moves in the off season. They did however add some veteran experience to the bullpen by signing free agent closer Jose Mesa (2-8 4.76). The Rockies also re-signed starter Byung-Hyun Kim and reliever Mike DeJean (5-4 4.48) plus traded for St. Louis left hander Ray King (4-4 388). Catcher Yorvit Torrealba (.234 3 15) was also picked up in order to upgrade the position.
Growing pains are to be expected with a team this young. Rockie fans need to be patient and allow youngsters such as third baseman Atkins, and shortstop Barmes the time they need to grow into their positions. Look for right fielder Brad Hawpe (.262 9 47) and outfielders Matt Holliday and Dustin Mohr to be expected to contribute more in 2006. Both players proved they were capable of handling major league pitching during the 2005 season and both are expected to be an important part of the Rockies future.
Colorado is reluctant to abandon their game plan and with so many young prospects no one can blame them. Management remained overly cautious in the off season and passed by the opportunity to add a bunch of new faces.
One newcomer to the pitching staff will be pitcher Ray King. He will help, but the starting rotation shouldn’t be expected to provide much better numbers then they did in 2005. Francis and Cook should start more in 2006 and the Rockies closer Brian Fuentes ended the season very strong. In August and September Fuentes was an impressive 15 for 15 in save opportunities. The Rockies are looking for a few breaks to go there way and if the starting pitching can impress the offense should be able to score runs. The Rockies are still a few years and starting pitchers away to be considered a legitimate contender for a division title or wildcard spot.