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Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: Colorado Rockies
How does Troy Tulowitzki's health record affect his stock?
Tulo's strained left groin muscle, sustained at the end of last May and an aggravation of a tweak he'd suffered a couple of weeks prior, turned out to be such a problem because of scar tissue buildup around a nerve in the area. He had surgery to remove the scar tissue three weeks later, after that discovery, and he was projected to miss eight weeks. Optimism about his pending return lasted for about a month, but he didn't make it back to major league action.
The good news: Tulowitzki's groin is no longer a problem. He reported after the New Year that he's completely healthy, and whether that's true, the important thing is that he'll be cleared well in advance of spring training. Of course, there's bad news: The shortstop dealt with other maladies (bruised elbow, hip flexor discomfort and bruised fibula) and was so slow to recover that it leaves a terrible taste in one's mouth. It's compounded because he played in more than 122 games only twice in his previous four seasons.
In each of the past two years, roto managers were willing to look past Tulowitzki's health hazards and select him in the first round, perhaps even in the top five. They used the lack of depth at his position and the potential reward to justify the risk. In 2013, they won't be so eager, so sensible bidders may consider the risk justified. The 28-year-old has incorporated flexibility exercises and yoga into his offseason routine in order to prevent muscle injuries. That'll help.
Will that help enough, though? His multiple leg injuries have obviously taken a toll on his desire to run frequently, and that may continue. Although shortstop isn't littered with 30-homer, 100-RBI types, most of them come at a small fraction of the cost and are either good bets to play in 145 games or put up pretty good numbers in multiple categories.
And yet, none of them will play half of their games at Coors Field, and almost none of them are MVP candidates. Tulo won't come cheaply, but at least he'll be discounted a bit, finally.
Where does Wilin Rosario rank among catchers?
A .270 batting average and 28 home runs - in 396 at-bats - from a player whom fantasy owners can slot into one of their two C spots is practically gold. But he'll be just 24 years old in February, and he wouldn't be the first - or 50th, or 500th - youngster to have an astounding first full campaign and follow it up with a real dud of a year.
With the way the backstop's home environs aid offense, his contributions won't go quietly. The raw power he generates from his squat (5-foot-11, 215-pound) frame plays anywhere. But regression is essentially a given because 2012 was Rosario's best year as a pro. He'd never hit that many round-trippers (although he was on pace in 2010) in a season. His contact rate in the majors continues to hover around 70 percent.
Early indications are that the demand for Rosario, at least in single-year leagues, won't require payment for all of his 2012 line. That's a good thing, because if roto managers haven't learned by now, baseball players are highly volatile commodities. Inexperience and problems with plate discipline usually worsen the condition. If Rosario tickles your pickle, take that shot as long as there's no great risk, but remember that there are a number of very good alternatives for No. 1 catchers in mixed leagues.
How close is Colorado to putting something fantasy-worthy in the rotation?
Jorge De La Rosa is more than a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery. Throw out his limited numbers from 2012 - which are completely useless as far as his projection is concerned - and recall that, before the injury, he was making steady, seemingly long-term progress in BB/9. The TJS procedure and corresponding rehab program have become commonplace, so the effects on performance after a pitcher returns aren't so drastic. Fantasy owners may have all but forgotten about this potentially high-strikeout lefty, and he's a worthwhile sleeper.
Beyond him are no reasons to be excited, however. (That'd remain true if the organization were to sign Derek Lowe, in case you were wondering.) The combination of the ballpark and the franchise's poor track record in development (which is also, to some degree, the fault of the ballpark) just don't make their hurlers attractive. Still. Yeah, it's true. Shocking, huh?
Righty Jhoulys Chacin displayed a lot of promise in 2010 but has since seen his K/9 plummet. Last season, his pitches had no life, and he struggled to keep the ball down and was sent to the minors. Upon his return, he was much more effective, although he wasn't manufacturing the K's.
Southpaw Drew Pomeranz has the pedigree and polish and made big-time strides in K/9 as well as BB/9 in the second half of 2012. He may be closest to realizing some semblance of upside for the Rockies, despite his lack of pro experience.
Serious injuries have cut right-hander Juan Nicasio's season short two years in a row. His resume includes great K/9 and BB/9 proficiency, particularly in the minor leagues. Those items will hint at future success, but it'll be difficult to achieve (at any rate, in Colorado) because he's so hittable.
And, of course, there's always the slight possibility that Jeff Francis remains healthy and doesn't stink.
Those on the outside looking in have similarly depressing-yet-hopeful stories, all of which end at the Mile High Stadium. But, at minimum, the Rockies' rotation should feature a few arms with above-average ability. In some cases, it was there once and may reappear; in others, it has put one on the verge of a potential breakthrough. Don't write any of them off, but don't set high expectations, either.
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