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Rockies: Young-ish Old Team or Old-ish Young Team?

The 2024 Major League Baseball Season begins on Thursday for the Colorado Rockies and the active roster is set, but how can the balance of young developing talent and older tailing talent result in 100 wins this year?

The latest adjustment to the roster made by the Rockies came on Sunday when the club acquired Jake Cave, 31, for cash and released Bradley Zimmer, 31, as a direct swap for centerfield.  This is a bit of a head-scratcher given Zimmer’s good performance in Spring Training this year. Baseball-Reference lists Cave’s career WAR as 2.0 to Zimmer’s 2.9 career WAR, so that does not point to a clear reason. Cave had a .748 OPS this Spring after 38 plate appearances to Zimmer’s .984 after 49 PA, so that does not point to a clear reason either. Both Cave and Zimmer are left-handed batters, and neither player is expected to hit over 10 homeruns this season, so that does not point to a clear reason. Ultimately, this is a move that does not seem bad but that does not make it a good one either. What this trade does seem to do is demonstrate Colorado’s continued resistance to committing to a younger lineup of affordable developing talent, and instead continuing to invest in a field of average late-career players.

Colorado has alluded to two obstacles to success in past years: injuries and a young line-up still in development. Aside from the second Spring Training injury scare from Nolan Jones on March 23rd, the Rockies have remained healthy enough to start the 2024 regular season without any unexpected players on the 60-IL. Then judging by the current active roster, the team will be led by the veterans Kyle Freeland, Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, Brendan Rodgers, and Ryan McMahon. Each of these veterans has the potential to contribute significantly toward a turnaround season, but none of them are a certain All-Star contender at this point. Staying healthy will be the biggest hurdle for most of these veterans.

The young side of the team is comprised of Sean Bouchard, Elehuris Montero, Michael Toglia, along with the MVP-potentials Ezequiel Tovar, Nolan Jones, and Brenton Doyle. The problem is that players like Montero and Toglia are going to struggle to get their playing time in with consistency to help them develop if there are veterans choking up those spots with lackluster performance.

Balancing senior player leadership with young developing talent is a challenge for any team, but Colorado’s veterans seem to represent a bit more of a gamble than their younger rising stars. Maybe Cave brings something unexpected to this Colorado team that the numbers do not yet reveal. Maybe Bryant stays healthy all season and finally delivers the performance his contract paid for. Maybe Blackmon goes out on a supernova season of All-Star performance. Maybe McMahon hits over 30 homeruns this year. Maybe the Rockies have a true turnaround season that returns them to the status of a relevant contender in the National League West. It is challenging to decide on a team’s potential when the older players are just as unpredictable as the younger players.

The last game of Spring Training is today for the Colorado Rockies, and fans would love to see the momentum of this year’s Cactus League performance continue into the 2024 Season. It is all potential and projection at this point, but Rockies fans can still believe that 2024 can make Rock-tober a thing again for this old-ish young-ish team.


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