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March 16, 2010

Team Health Reports

Colorado Rockies

by Will Carroll

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Team Health Reports 

The Summary: It's pretty simple. When the Rockies are healthy, they win. When they're not, they don't—I mean they really don't. The roller coaster ride for the Rockies during the last five years correlates almost perfectly with injury. It's a bit of fool's gold, however. The team won without their expected ace (Jeff Francis) and didn't win when Troy Tulowitzki went down. That's hardly rocket science, and it tells Keith Dugger nothing about where he should focus. The team's injury stats are very much in the middle of the road when looked at on either a three- or five-year average, but no team is less telling when viewed that way than Colorado. Teams like this rely on luck a bit more than I like to see; if things break right, great. If not, it seems as if there's no real difference that the team can make. Of course, Dugger and his staff are working hard to try and prevent things, but there's just no tangible result we can see in the numbers.

The Facts
Days Lost: 863
Dollars Lost: $8,284,043.48
Injury Cost: $13,407,500.00

The Cost: The Rockies had a relatively good year in terms of dollars lost in 2009. They only lost $8.3 million last season, and over the last three years, they have only lost $27.2 million. Pitching was Colorado's big injury concern, as Francis, Taylor Buchholz, Alan Embree, and Aaron Cook combined to take up the majority of 2009's dollars lost at $7.2 million. The Rockies saved almost $6 million compared to the rest of the league in 2009 and put that to use. They brought back Rafael Betancourt and Jason Giambi and brought in Melvin Mora and Miguel Olivo to newly don the black and purple for a combined $13.1 million. Colorado was connected to a few other free agents over the winter, including players like Miguel Tejada, showing that they were willing to spend that money that they saved. Without any serious additions, though, the Rockies look to be relying on some more of that luck. 

The Big Risk: 609. 838. 732. 930. That's a statistical roller coaster. Troy Tulowitzki has put up those OPS numbers for the four years of his Rockies career. Is he a shortstop version of Bret Saberhagen, or is that 732 in the middle there the fluke? He certainly struggled with a quad strain in '08, then struggled even more for the first two months of '09. It's that latter part that's the real problem for PIPP. Was it more injury or just a slump? Since we don't know and neither do the Rockies, it's an apparent risk. We can say, for certain, that '08 was injury and measure the likelihood that something like that happens again. He's not much riskier than any other yellow-rated shortstop, but when you're talking about a guy going 15th overall, that turns any risk into a big risk.

The Comeback: The Rockies have signed Helton to an extension, pretty much guaranteeing that he'll retire as a Rockie. (Rocky?) Just two years ago, the idea that he would be playing in 2012 was almost laughable. With back problems draining his power, an intestinal issue causing more questions, and a mortal enemy in the humidor, Helton didn't look like he'd be able to stay at a level where he could stay productive enough to hold at first base. Instead, he's looking rejuvenated after a microdiscectomy. Will he get back to his previous All-Star levels? No, but he can certainly be productive in a late-career second wind.

The Trend: I feel like I could only repeat myself here after what I wrote in the summary. So just read that again if you're wondering. To give you something here, I'd say watch the pitching staff. With this many yellow ratings, we may be able to tell just how much of a difference the medical staff is making.

The Ratings


Red light SP Jeff Francis: In the NL West, two pitchers are trying to come back from a lost season and a labrum repair. The success rate is low, but with Brandon Webb, people are expecting a return. With Jeff Francis, the expectations are significantly lower. Webb's ADP is 140, while Francis isn't even drafted in most leagues according to MockDraftCentral. It makes you wonder why the expectations are so different, doesn't it?
Red light RP Franklin Morales: At just 24, he's got a chance to come back, but back injuries followed by shoulder issues point to a kinetic chain issue. Given how hard he throws, it's only surprising that it's not worse.
Yellow light C Chris Iannetta: Ianetta's problem hasn't been injuries; it has been inconsistency. This yellow rating is more about the position and the confusing way his career line tracks.
Yellow light 1B Todd Helton: See The Comeback.
Yellow light 3B Ian Stewart: A young guy with back injuries usually turns into a 30-year-old who's talking about when he used to be a baseball player. The Rockies hedged by bringing in Melvin Mora in case the back and/or the batting average stays an issue.
Yellow light SS Troy Tulowitzki: See The Big Risk.
Yellow light RF Brad Hawpe: Hawpe fell apart in the second half. While there's not a known physical issue, the line sure looks like it. I'm very curious to see if there's something hidden here or if Hawpe really did just lose it.
Yellow light SP Aaron Cook: Cook seemed to be all the way back from his lung problems, putting up solid, consistent numbers. Then his shoulder started acting up, much in the same way that many power sinker guys have. The Rockies shut him down quickly despite their playoff run. We'll soon learn if it was enough.
Yellow light SP Jorge De La Rosa: De La Rosa has always been talented but inefficient. He found it last year and became a surprising winner. If he holds that, he'll be that good again. The innings are a bit worrisome despite his age, just because he's never been able to stay out there long enough to put them up in any great number.
Yellow light SP Jason Hammel: He's 27, so the innings jump isn't as worrisome as it would be. He shifted from the pen, so again, no big deal. The question here is whether or not he can take another jump without overtaxing his arm.
Yellow light CL Huston Street: Street's shoulder has been problematic off and on, so much so that he's perhaps the least-known Galea client in baseball. When he's on, he's on, but early spring "stiffness" isn't a good sign that he can hold it together.
Green light 2B Clint Barmes
Green light LF Carlos Gonzalez
Green light CF Dexter Fowler
Green light SP Ubaldo Jimenez  


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