Coming off of a rainout on Sunday afternoon in Minnesota, the Mets travel out to Denver where the weather forecast looks even worse. With some luck from Mother Nature, the Mets will play four frigid games against the Rockies at Coors Field beginning this evening. The Rockies, fresh off of a 98-loss season in 2012, have a new manager in former big leaguer Walt Weiss and the team has gotten off to a pretty quick 7-4 start. To help give us a better look at the Rockies, Jeff Aberle of SB Nation's Purple Row was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Amazin' Avenue: What are your expectations for the Rockies this year and what do they have to do to reach those expectations?
Purple Row: Before the year I had pegged the Rockies for a 75 win season - an 11 win improvement from 2012. Most of the reasoning for this was reliant on improved health from our top starters as well as Troy Tulowitzki. Thus far in 2013 we've seen the kind of team this can be when those guys are healthy. If that is sustained throughout the season this team should exceed that 75 win barrier.
AA: While the Rockies seem to have plenty of offensive firepower, the starting pitching leaves something to be desired. How do you see the Rockies improving that facet of the team going forward and do you think it'll require them to deal one of their offensive stars?
PR: I don't foresee Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd dealing any of our front-line offensive players for pitching. Neither he nor ownership seems to be inclined towards dealing prospects either. With that said, Colorado's pitching was really bad last year due in most part to health. When Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Juan Nicasio are healthy this is a slightly below average pitching staff. Throw in a breakout from Drew Pomeranz and a return to form by Jon Garland and this staff is closer to the middle of the league than you might think.
AA: The Rockies experimented with a four-man rotation and 75-pitch limit for their starting pitchers last season and it looks like they're doing something on that order this season. How do you feel about this strategy and the way it's been implemented?
PR: They aren't using the 4 man, 75 pitch limit anymore, which is a good thing. It was a poorly thought out idea (changing mid-season, only doing it at the major league level, etc.) that had somewhat predictably bad results. They are instead using a pretty hard limit of 100 pitches for their starters though, which is similarly asinine in my opinion. The whole idea of a hard pitch count really grinds my gears. After all, the 100 pitch limit is completely arbitrary - not every arm can handle the same stress load, some can handle more and some less. It should be a case where the pitching coach is able to determine on a case by case basis when a starter loses effectiveness, not governed by an arbitrary number.
AA: Wilin Rosario has a lot of power at the plate but he did not have a great reputation behind it as a defender last year. What are his weaknesses as a catcher and has he shown any improvement early on?
PR: Wilin Rosario, the Baby Bull, struggled blocking and framing pitches last year - and having him catch a lot of young, fringy pitchers last year exacerbated the problem. Thus far he's been pretty clean behind the plate and has been deadly against the running game as well. Add in his prodigious power and you're looking at a potential All-Star berth this season.
AA: Third base prospect Nolan Arenado has been on the radar for a while now. With his hot start in Colorado Springs, coupled with Chris Nelson's unimpressive start, how long until Arenado gets the call to the big leagues?
PR: I think that Arenado will get the call sometime in late May or June. Nelson's been acceptable thus far, but it's pretty universally agreed that Arenado is the future at the position. I'm in favor of giving him more seasoning in AAA from both a baseball and financial perspective, delaying his service clock a little bit more.
Thanks again to Jeff Aberle for giving us a preview of the Rockies! Here are the pitching matchups for this series: