The beauty of tempered expectations is how good it makes sustained success look. If Jeff Francis were the staff ace then his 4 scoreless innings on Tuesday, along with his previous dominance this spring, would signal nothing more than the fact that Francis was on track. With Francis slated for one of the spots in the back of the rotation, these stellar performances are more like one huge bonus. If he comes back to earth, nobody will be terribly surprised or disappointed.
The same goes for young stud Nolan Arenado. Seemingly everybody wanted the third baseman to rake in the Cactus League in 2012 and seize the starting job. One year later most people were content that Arenado would start the year in AAA; naturally that set the bar a bit lower. All he has done since is scorch the ball to the tune of a .417 average and three home runs in three days this past weekend. Will he force the Rockies’ hand, as Woody Paige and others hope he will? There are more options at third in front of him this year, so if Arenado does crack the roster, it will be 100% because he earned it and not for lack of better options.
The expectations for Juan Nicasio are much higher this year. Unfortunately it appears that he is crumbling underneath them. On Sunday he surrendered three runs in three innings. His command with his fastball has waivered, while his secondary pitches have lagged far behind. He entered spring as a presumed fixture in the rotation. Now his status in the rotation or in the bullpen is murky.
42-year-old Miguel Batista entered Rockies’ camp with low expectations: somehow he has still failed, miserably, to meet them.
The narratives of Spring Training are splintering off in a number of directions as the World Baseball Classic is underway. We will continue to analyze every aspect of players with high expectations, ranging from Jhoulys Chacin to Jorge De La Rosa to Nicasio to Troy Tulowitzki. Sometimes that clears the way for players like Francis and Arenado to hit their strides. Although in the case of Arenado, the high expectations of one year ago might return if he keeps this up.
Due to the extended schedule this spring, the Rockies are off Wednesday and Thursday. They will take the field again Friday against the Kansas City Royals.