As Major League Baseball sees moves involving high-profile players and perennial playoff teams, we fans of small to medium market teams that keep their payroll under $100 million are worrying about the depth on the bench and ignoring the Robinson Cano talk.
Although the Rockies could use Cano at second base, he is set to sign a contract worth more than Colorado’s whole payroll. It is not going to happen. So Rockies fans look forward to a signing in the bullpen, a first baseman that isn’t Todd Helton, and maybe Brett Favre will come out of retirement to catch for Roy Oswalt.
Since our “hot stove” is warm at best (thanks to Justin Morneau) we as fans can always be appreciative that the Rockies are better than the Astros. So let’s evaluate the stars we have. When you think of a Rockies All-Star who comes to mind? If you said Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez you would be correct, but we cannot forget Michael Cuddyer.
Let’s start with Cuddy. Not only did the 34-year-old veteran play in the summer classic, he also represented the Rockies very well in the Home Run Derby despite major media outlets’ disinterest in his participation. Cuddyer also played a vital role in the Rockies everyday lineup shuffle, taking turns at first base to give Helton days off in what was his last season. Also in more quantifiable terms Cuddy kept his success up all year-long winning the N.L. batting title by ten points. He also appeared in the second most games of any Rockies starter (130). For his selfless, consistent, and very high level of play Michael Cuddyer deserves an A for his 2013 season.
Now for Tulo. All the Rockies position players missed time with injuries, so 119 starts and 126 appearances is fair to expect from the Long Beach State product considering last year’s measly 47 games. Fact: each season Tulo has appeared in 150 games or more the Rockies make the playoffs. Directly related to one another? Maybe not, but facts are facts.
In 2013 Tulo was a fan voted All-Star, although many people think the honor should have gone to Milwaukee’s Jean Segura whose production fell off towards the end of the year. Tulo led all National League shortstops in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in, not suprising considering the defensive importance placed on the position. Surprisingly he also sported the highest fielding percentage in the league, paired with the second best range factor at short; it’s hard to believe he was not the recipient of the Gold Glove.
If there was a statistic that truly showed value of timely hitting Tulo would not have been among the leaders. His batting average was 17 points lower with runners in scoring position, and a staggering 43 points lower with runners in scoring position with 2 outs. Tulo gets a B- for his 2013 season.
Last but not least for the Rockies’ 2013 All-Stars is Carlos Gonzalez. It doesn’t seem like three seasons have passed since CarGo flirted with the triple crown and won a batting title, but last season showed the hard truth. CarGo was voted to the All-Star game and started alongside Cuddyer and Tulowitzki. Unfortunately an injured finger cursed him to just 99 starts in the outfield, his lowest total since 2009 (his first year in Colorado).
Plenty of players can recover from injury like nothing ever happened. However CarGo, like Tulo, has been the subject of player preservation much like the youngsters on the Nationals or every NFL Quarterback playing today. There is no doubt that after disappointing personal and team performances that CarGo’s availability will be discussed and he will take more days off next year. But that is one of next season’s disappointments that we have to look forward to. Even for the lack of playing time, CarGo’s 2013 home run total bested his 2012 total. Unfortunately his RBIs, doubles, runs, and hit totals were his lowest since he became a full-time player. CarGo gets a C+ on the year.
Combined Tulo and CarGo are supposed to be the two superstars to carry the Rockies lineup, even when on the road. They never seemed to be in the lineup together, they never supported each other strategically or got consistent enough to keep up the pace they had when the team was in first place in April. Because of this as a combined grade the pair receive a D-. Individual accolades are not the name of the game, and the two “leaders” of the clubhouse failed to change the course of the season.