Yes, the times will be tougher without Tulo in the lineup. Some may think that big question Rockies fans face is who will take over the spot at SS or 2B depending on how the lineup is shifted. However, I believe that the bigger question is who in the lineup will pull up their socks and make a leap forward to take up some of the slack that will be felt from his loss.
You know the candidates and you know their histories, so there’s no way the Rockies are going to get a big time power surge from anyone in the lineup. The only power threats currently in the lineup include Ian Stewart and Carlos Gonzalez, and both have serious issues in terms of consistency. So is that the best the Rockies could hope for? Consistency from guys who have otherwise been inconsistent? Maybe, but I do hold out hope that 2 other players in particular will really bring up their game to a new level in order to provide the Rox with better offense for the next 6 weeks or so.
Brad Hawpe is hitting the ball very well lately with a .324 average and only 5 strike outs over his last 34 ABs (10 games). The only thing lacking has been the power, and I think that now that he’s in the clean up spot we can expect his average to go down a little but also to see his power numbers go up on all counts. He’s usually a guaranteed 22-29 HRs per season, so with 3 only thus far this season, you have to believe he can bring his game up and provide 10-15 HRs over the next 6-8 weeks. If he does accomplish this, it will take a ton of pressure off the rest of the lineup and allow guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Stewart to swing a little more easily.
The other player I like in terms of hitting for some power now that Tulo is out is Seth Smith, who has a decent 9 HRs in only 160 ABs thus far this season. Smith is very under rated in most fantasy leagues and could be one hell of a player if he was used more regularly. Well, with Tulo out he could be on his way to more playing time and a power burst as a result. Look for him to float around the lineup and to provide the Rox with a good RBI source.
If neither of these players comes out well for the Rox over the next 6 weeks and fail to induce some power in the lineup as a result it’s going to be a long recovery for Troy Tulowitzki and company. There is one other alternative if power is indeed lacking for the long term. The Rockies have one hot 3B in Colorado Springs in Travis Metcalf and Ian Stewart is a more than adequate 2B. Therefore, there is still the possibility of calling on Metcalf and shifting Stwart to 2B in order to induce some power in the lineup. Metcalf has 3 HRs, a .324 avg, a .395 OBP, and 1.101 OPS over his last 10 games. That seems like a reasonable source of good hitting if the Rox do decide to try him out for a short period. If it works, you get some production from somewhere unexpected and can deal with the extra asset when Tulo returns. If it doesn’t well, you’re still in the same place you otherwise would have been.
The Rockies could use a good run in the West in order to go into the All-Star with the knowledge of whether or not they are expecting to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. It will be fun to see who does indeed come through for them after losing their best player. I just hope that someone does come through.