New year, same old team?

The Colorado Rockies have done little to change up their roster this offseason but that doesn’t mean that everything will look the same. 

Thanks to some natural turnover and graduating young players, the club should expect to see quite a few plate appearances from players who received little to none a year ago.

But the big question right now is, assuming the position player side of things remains the same, will the Rockies go full in on this philosophy to start 2023 or will they go old school and see “playing the kids” as a Plan B?

Let’s take a look at the two extremes of this spectrum.

First, there are a handful of players who have roots buried at their position and will be playing there as long as they are healthy. Kris Bryant in left field, Ryan McMahon at third, Brendan Rodgers at second, and C.J. Cron at first are all locked in. The catcher position will once again be a tandem of Elias Diaz and Brian Serven, though the latter could take over as the primary starter.

Shortstop also feels very much like it is now the job of Ezequiel Tovar but his youth still suggests a possibility of starting off differently.

Here is how an especially veteran-heavy Opening Day lineup would look:

  1. Yonathan Daza (CF)
  2. Charlie Blackmon (DH)
  3. Kris Bryant (LF)
  4. 4. C.J. Cron (1B)
  5. Brendan Rodgers (2B)
  6. Ryan McMahon (3B)
  7. Randal Grichuk (RF)
  8. Alan Trejo (SS)
  9. Diaz/Serven (C)

For the purposes of 2023, or at least what the purposes of 2023 should be, this would be a poor lineup. Too many of these players have shown a decent floor to their production but also lack in signs of growth toward a higher ceiling. There’s also almost nobody to learn about for the future in this group. It’s truly a worst-case scenario even if, or precisely because, it has the most experience of any potential set up.

It may arguably have a higher ceiling than the younger lineup we are about to take a look at. The return of Bryant and some growth from McMahon/Rodgers could stabilize the lineup a bit around Cron to improve the offense but not by a significant amount to propel them into contention.

Make no mistake, a younger lineup is not necessarily more likely to be competitive. If anything, the Rockies would likely lose a few extra games by going younger, but the information they could learn about the future of the club would almost certainly make that tradeoff worthwhile.

So, let’s take a look at its polar opposite and inject as much youth into this thing as possible:

  1. Charlie Blackmon (DH)
  2. 2. Kris Bryant (LF)
  3. Brendan Rodgers (2B)
  4. 4. C.J. Cron (1B)
  5. Ryan McMahon (3B)
  6. Michael Toglia (RF)
  7. Ezequiel Tovar (SS)
  8. Brenton Doyle (CF)
  9. Diaz/Serven (C)

It’s a bit pie-in-the-sky to be hoping on Zac Veen day one but the Rockies have a few other outfield candidates they should take a look at in the meantime including Brenton Doyle who has tremendous defensive utility and good gap-to-gap power despite not blowing away the minors just yet with his offensive production.

You could (and should) go further with this concept as well by slotting in Elehuris Montero at DH and 1B whenever possible. 

This way, we learn a lot about Montero, Toglia, Tovar, Doyle and try to work in Sean Bouchard whenever possible as well. Zac Veen is in standby and ready on Alert 1.

Grichuk and Daza can still be useful off the bench if the team isn’t keen to trade them, though that should be a consideration for any of these vets. 

The most likely scenario is that we see something somewhere in the middle of these two lineups. Spring Training performance and injuries will take some of the decisions out of the hands of the coaching staff but we will have our eyes glued to the situation to see if Bill Schmidt can continue to evolve as a GM and leader and move this team into a new era.