A few weeks ago, I approached the SB Nation baseball managers to interview them with fantasy related questions, and up next are the Rockies experts over at Purple Row. I want to thank Purple Row manager Andrew Martin for taking the time and effort to answer my questions.
1. Fantasy owners worldwide want to know if Carlos Gonzalez will repeat his 2010 breakout season in 2011. He came out of nowhere to hit 34 HRs, steal 26 bases and hit .336 and drove in and scored 100+ runs last year. His HR/FB rate was 20%. I see a drop in power and BA from Gonzalez this year. What do you think?
I don't know if we're going to see a drop in power, necessarily. His actual number of homers will likely drop a bit, given what I expect to be a lower batting average. I don't think Gonzalez is going to drop to a .260 average or anything terrible like that, as his line drive rates are fantastic. I think somewhere between .300-.310 is a reasonable guess, although I could see him up around .320 for the season. I think he can still best 30HR even with a bit of regression.
Gonzalez' RBI will remain high provided his table setters do a good job of getting on base. CF Dexter Fowler was good in the leadoff, batting a .286/.371/.497 (.869 OPS) line, but Eric Young Jr. and Gonzalez himself didn't impress in the leadoff slot. I think a #2 slot combination of Johnny Herrera, Seth Smith, and maybe Ryan Spilborghs can post a good OBP as well in the 2, giving Gonzalez and Tulowitzki plenty of opportunities for driving in runs.
More after the jump:
2. The Rockies picked up Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez this offseason, and almost added Michael Young, if the trade rumors were accurate. What does that tell you about Dan O'Dowd's confidence in Todd Helton, Ian Stewart Eric Young, Jonathan Herrera and Chris Nelson?
In Todd Helton’s case, it’s more insurance than it is an actual lack of confidence. The reality is that Helton shouldn’t play more than 120 games this season, given his health issues over the past few years. Yes, Wigginton was brought in with Helton specifically in mind. The fact that Wigginton has been branded as a super-utility player and is expected to play at 1B, 2B, 3B, LF, and RF, I don’t think it speaks much about a lack of faith in Ian Stewart. Helton and Stewart are both lefties, and Wigginton can only replace one of them at a time. As far as Stewart goes, Wigginton’s presence will hopefully push Stewart to really put his skillsets together in 2011 and show him as the breakout player everyone’s been waiting for.
Jose Lopez’ presence certainly does show a lack of confidence in Young, Herrera, and Nelson. As it stands, Nelson and Young appear to be nonfactors for the 2011 season, barring injury (/knock on wood). As for Herrera, he had an interesting 2010, to say the least, and the FO is waiting to see if he can continue to keep up that kind of performance.
2. a) Who gets the most at bats at 2b this year? My money is on Lopez, and what can we expect from him?
Herrera is a very polarizing and confusing player. He does all of the David Eckstein things well, like choking up and shortening his swing and fouling off pitches and being whatever the Latin version of "scrappy" is. He’s never realy been a prospect of note, just a defensive infield replacement kind of player, but he seems to have all of that Eckstein-esque bloop-hit-single kind of luck, as well as excellent infield defense. Lopez and Herrera have a similar low-strikeout-high-contact skillset, with Herrera being more of an AVG/OBP player and Lopez being more of a power threat. Lopez may get the most overall playing time, assuming Tracy names him the starter out of the gate, but past April, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them platooning the 2B position based on the rest of the lineup and the opposing pitcher that day.
2. b) Does Ty Wigginton take at at bats from Ian Strewart this season?
Yes and no. Stewart never showed the need to be platooned in the minors, but there is certainly a dropoff in his major league platoon splits. Should Stewart’s work with hitting coach Carney Lansford in fact reinvent his swing, he might not see his playing time against lefties dramatically reduced.
In the event that he does show the need for a complete lefty platoon, expect to see Wigginton and Jose Lopez take 3B time.
2. c) What can fantasy owners expect from Todd Helton this season? His back problems have sapped his power, and he has become James Loney the past few years.
Well, power isn’t going to be a thing for Helton this year, at least not in the traditional sense. If Helton hits 15 bombs I’ll be ecstatic. My expectations end up looking something like .300/.400/.450 with ~20 doubles and 10-15HR.
3. Which reliever has the best shot at getting save opportunities should Huston Street miss time due to injury this year? The Rockies appear to have several candidates.
Matt Lindstrom will be the closer if Street hits the skids. Betancourt isn’t moving from the 8th, and I don’t think the organization wants to put Belisle into a closing role at this point.
4. I have a man-crush on Jhoulys Chacin. He pitched great in the starters role last year. Is it too optimistic to call him Ubaldo-lite?
Chacin’s changeup has been likened to fellow Venezuelan, Johan Santana. Chacin also just posted the 3rd lowest ERA in franchise history, 3.28, a fun fact that was washed over by Ubaldo’s emergence as "completely awesome". If Chacin continues to fill out the potential that the Rockies see in him, we might be seeing something more like Brandon Webb-lite: Strong groundball numbers, well above-average strikeout numbers, but maybe a bit wilder than Webb. Chacin is, to borrow a Jim Tracy-ism, a very special pitcher, and continues this new wave of groundballers who can also strike batters out.
Long story short, your crush is well placed.