The Rockies' Anti-Youth Movement
The Rockies wanted to add some veteran presence to their team during the off-season, and by the looks of things, I'd say mission accomplished! With the addition of Marco Scutaro, the Rockies now have five players that are projected opening-day starters over the age of 33: Todd Helton (38), Casey Blake (38), Marco Scutaro (36), Ramon Hernandez (35), and Michael Cuddyer (33). Last season, the Rockies had two opening-day starters over the age of 33: Todd Helton (37) and Ty Wigginton (33). The Rockies have gotten older, but hopefully not so old that they can't succeed.
The Rockies' average age of opening-day position starters in 2011 was 28.5, whereas the projected average age of opening-day position starters in 2012 is 32.4. That's an increase of 3.9 years. The 3.9 years that they added to the team are referred to in baseball as a player's prime or peak years. Generally, the prime or peak of a player's career has been described as their age 27-32 years. This is when a player is believed to get the best production of their career due to their maturity and their physical capabilities. At the age of 33, the average MLB player begins their decline in production. Of course, some players will begin their decline earlier, and some players will begin their decline later, but 33 is the general benchmark for decline. If that is the case, then the average Rockie starter is .6 years away from a decline.
Good hitters stay around, weak hitters don't. Most players are declining by age 30; all players are declining by age 33. There are difference in rates of decline, but those differences are far less significant for the assessment of future value than are the differing levels of ability (Bill James, 1982, p. 205).Here's a link to a wonderful article by J.C. Bradbury that tackles the question; How do Baseball Player's Age?
I know that it's unfair to group together the team as a whole when looking at age because each player has their own skills and abilities, but I do find it fair to point out that the Rockies' age might have a negative impact on the team. Coors Field is better suited for younger players who are athletic and healthy. Not only does Coors Field own one of the largest playing fields in all of baseball, it's also located a mile high above sea level. This means there's more ground to cover with less oxygen to breathe. These might be difficult obstacles for the aged players to overcome. I'm aware that a lot of the older players are merely stop-gaps for the younger players coming up through the system, but it's going to be difficult for the Rockies to justify dismantling a team of young, home-grown players for players that are well past their prime and could potentially struggle playing at Coors Field.
I'm a fan of all of the players the Rockies have accumulated during the off-season, and I hope they have wonderful seasons in Colorado. They're a great group of guys and I believe they'll have a positive influence when it comes to team camaraderie, but I think they might be liabilities when it comes to actual production on the field. I understand that the Rockies want mentors for the younger players, and I believe they found the perfect guys for those positions, but if the Rockies want coaches for their team, then maybe they should think about upgrading their coaching staff. A team shouldn't need over six veteran pick-ups during the off-season for their presence, unless there's leadership lacking elsewhere....uh hum...management.
At least the pitching staff's age evens out the everyday player's age. Even Jamie Moyer can't make the Rockies' pitching staff look old.
If you're looking for a "Just For Men" spokesperson, then look no further than the Rockies' dugout...
|Jason "Giambino" Giambi (41)|
|Colin Firth? No, that's Jamie Moyer (49)|
|Casey Blake "St. Bomber" (38)|