This interview ran almost two months ago. However, it is still pertinent with some fantasy drafts not yet done, and I believe the Colrado Rockies will be this year's Floriad Marlins - surprisingly good in real life and a scource of excellent cheap fantasy sleepers.
"Humidor aside, the Colorado Rockies will always hold a certain allure for fantasy baseball. As such, a lot of time is spent trying to determine who the next Blake Street Bomber is going to be. For a couple seasons, there didn't seem to be anyone, but the recent seasons of Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe have me thinking otherwise. Add a stocked farm system and a couple starting pitchers who have not been fantasy dreadful, and there exists a team that could be the real sleeper in 2007.
I recently approached my SBNation colleague, Brandi, at Purple Row to see if she would offer a expert's assessment of the 2007 Rockies. She was gracious enough to answer several of my questions.
Q1. Do you believe the Marlins and Devil Rays minor league systems have gotten too much attention at the expense of the Rockies'?
PR: As far as the Marlins, yes, and the D-backs also, now that I've brought them up. If you could combine the Marlins' young pitching with Arizona's young hitting then that would be one of the scariest young teams ever (especially if you got to keep Miggy Cabrera) but neither seems to have the balance of both hitting and pitching prospects the Rockies do. Tampa Bay, however, seems to have the talent to back up the hype they've been given. I see a bigger drop off for Tampa in the next tier, however, so the Rockies should be able to maintain their high standing for a little longer than the Rays.
Q2. Is there a minor leaguer fantasy teams should keep on eye on for 2007?
PR: Hopefully all your readers are aware by now that Chris Iannetta and Troy Tulowitzki are likely to be starting for the Rockies at their positions in 2007. Both have been promised nothing (actually, Hurdle has said Iannetta will get at least 2-3 starts per week, "at least" being the key phrasing) and other options are being brought in to keep them from getting complacent in their training and development, but every indication seems to point to Iannetta at catcher and Tulo at short on opening day and getting the bulk of playing time at their positions. Also, if Todd Helton gets injured, the primary beneficiary of playing time will be Jeff Baker (Atkins will move to first, Baker will play third). Same thing goes for any of the other corners as the team wants to find a lot of AB's for Jeff this year. Jason Hirsh's performance will mean more to Rockies fans than he will to fantasy players, but I'm excited to have him.
Seth Smith was getting a lot of buzz from front office types early in the offseason as a player who was very likely to see some action by the end of the year. I'm not sure how he'll fit in unless there's a trade or the Rockies decide to get rid of Alexis Gomez or whoever wins the last spot off the bench. A couple of longshots to keep in mind given the uncertainty at second base are Corey Wimberly and Jonathan Herrera, Herrera's more of the total package and a better defender, but the speedy Wimberly's steals and average would definitely be useful to fantasy players. Franklin Morales has an outside shot of a late season call up given his talent, and Ubaldo Jiminez has a good chance of being in the rotation at some point by the end of the year.
Q3. 2008 and beyond?
PR: Let's start with Morales, who the Rockies have said has Francisco Liriano type stuff. Obviously pitchers in Denver aren't usually your best source for fantasy value, but if he continues to rack up the K's at such a high rate and gains a little more control, you might want to reconsider at some point.
Ian Stewart is well publicized and given his lack of production the last couple of seasons might come at a bargain price in keeper leagues with prospects. If he's cheap, try to acquire him before the season starts as I'm expecting a monster season from him. If said monster doesn't happen this season, though, I think it would be safe to let him go. Right now there's no place for him in Denver, but there will be movement made next offseason to accomodate him should he prove worthy of it (Obviously they'd try to move Helton, but most likely meaning Brad Hawpe or Matt Holliday get shipped out). He's got so much talent that he should be given one more chance to prove himself a superstar.
As I alluded to in the answer to question two, there's also a position battle brewing at second base. Herrera, Wimberly and Eric Young Jr are all putting up solid numbers in the minors to prove themselves. Herrera and Young have the most upside as both could hit around 15 HR, while Wimberly's more of a slap hitter, but a good one. All are blazing fast, with Young being the best baserunner and Wimberly a close second. Herrera might only provide 35-40 SB's to the other two's 60 or so, but he's the best defender. Overall, I like EY Jr (aka "Deuce") the best, so long as he develops some of the power he's capable of from the right side (both he and Herrera are switch hitters.) I think Deuce might be one of the most underrated prospects in baseball. You don't see him listed in anybody's top 100, but the last time I was this sure about a prospect was last season when I thought that Chris Iannetta wasn't getting enough attention. I'm expecting EY to rise to being one of the top 30 prospects in all of baseball in 2007.
Finally, I should mention Dexter Fowler, who also gets a lot of press, but I have to admit I'm not completely sold on him. He's got a ton of talent and all five tools, but there are still enough holes in his game to make me feel uncomfortable guaranteeing stardom. He'll definitely be a star, or a superstar if he brings it all together, but that's a big if still.
Q4. What will Jamey Carroll's role be in 2007?
PR: Jamey Carroll was promised that he'd get a good chunk of at bats in 2007 (I think it was 400) when the Rockies got him to sign his two year extension. In order to accomplish this, they say that he will be played all across the infield and even some outfield. Obviously he's the primary fallback for Matsui at second, should he falter, but if he doesn't and Carroll ends up taking AB's away from the more potent Jeff Baker or Ryan Spilborghs in the outfield, then as a Rockies fan, I'll be disappointed. That said, I love the er... uhm... scrappiness and hustle (shh! don't tell anybody I said that, either!) that Carroll brings. I'm hoping the Rockies score 1200 runs this season, so everybody gets their AB's and Carroll's all come in late innings as a defensive substitution. ;)
Q5. Who is the back-up closer to Brian Fuentes?
PR: Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that, because on paper, it's LaTroy Hawkins. That said, the Rockies are planning on moving Taylor Buchholz to the pen should he not crack the rotation, and with his stuff, he should be a better option than Hawkins. The Rockies seem to be grooming Manny Corpas as Fuentes' heir, but I doubt they'd push him into that role in 2007, look to him to take over as soon as 2008 should we not get Brian signed to an extension by next offseason.