Where are they now? (2011 Rockies' Opening Day Starters)

The Colorado Rockies' 2012 opening day lineup is going to look a little different from last year's lineup. The Rockies will have a different catcher, second baseman, third baseman, and starting pitcher when they take the field for their first game in 2012.

Chris Iannetta, who was the Rockies' starting catcher for opening day in 2011, is now playing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Iannetta was drafted in the fourth round in the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies. He spent all of his big league seasons with the Rockies with very moderate success. His best season for the Rockies came in 2008 when he played in 104 games and had a .264/.390/.505 line with 18 home runs and 64 RBI. His offensive production struggled the following two seasons which resulted in him losing his starting job to Yorvit Torrealba in 2009, and to Miguel Olivo in 2010. Iannetta wouldn't have played in as many games as he did last season if it weren't for an injury to Jose Morales and lack of catching depth on the Rockies. He was traded on November 30, 2011 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for pitching prospect Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood, 22, will be fighting for a rotation job during spring training. Chris Iannetta will be missed in Colorado, and I hope he finds his swing out on the west coast.

At second base, most of you might have already forgotten, but the Rockies' opening day starter was none other than Jose Lopez. Lopez struggled in Colorado only hitting .208/.233/.288 with two home runs in 125 at-bats. Lopez was designated for assignment on May 26, 2011 and then upright released on June 6, 2011. He was picked up two days later by the Florida Marlins, but after a poor showing in Florida with an average of .226, he was designated for assignment. On December 16, 2011, Lopez was signed to a minor league contract by the Cleveland Indians and invited to spring training. Lopez had a few decent seasons with the Seattle Mariners from 2006-20009, with an All-Star appearance in 2006. Unfortunately, in his past two seasons, he's only hitting .233/.263/.348 with 18 home runs in 824 at-bats. I hope for his sake that he can find his groove. Maybe a trip back to the American League will benefit him, or maybe it will discourage him even more.

Ty Wigginton was the starting third baseman for the Rockies on opening day in 2011. Expectations were high for Wiggy because in 2010, he made his first and only All-Star team while playing with the Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately, Wigginton didn't hit the way everyone thought he was going to when he got to Coors Field. He hit .242/.315/.416 in 2011 with 15 home runs in 401 at-bats. However, Wigginton was beneficial to the team because he added depth not only to third base, but to first base and left field as well. Wigginton signed with the Rockies on December 7, 2010 as a free agent. His contract was  a two-year, $8 million deal with an option for 2013. Less than a year later on November 20, 2011 the Rockies traded Wigginton to the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.  The Rockies and Phillies will split Wigginton's 2012 salary, and the Rockies could potentially get $100,000 cash or another player if the Phillies exercise his 2013 option. Wigginton did reach the 1,000 career hits milestone while playing for the Rockies, but we won't get to see him get his 1,100 hit in a Rockies uniform. Good luck in Philly, Wiggy!

The last player that won't be on the opening day roster next season is the hardest loss of them all, and his name is Ubaldo Jimenez. He was the Rockies' opening day starting pitcher in 2012. As a Rockies fan, I was absolutely devastated when the trade went down that sent Ubaldo to the Cleveland Indians on July 31, 2011. In return, the Rockies got Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride. White and Pomeranz could potentially be in the starting rotation in 2012. I still remember watching the game when Ubaldo was told by Jim Tracy that he was traded. You could see the life go out of his eyes, and then he was expected to go back out to the mound and pitch. Ubaldo came up through the Rockies organization, and in 2006 he made his MLB debut as a relief pitcher in a game in which the Rockies lost to the Los Angeles Dodger 11-4. In 2010, Ubaldo Jimenez had the best season of any Rockies pitcher in history. He started the season by winning 11 of his first 12 starts while having an ERA under 1.00 (0.93), making him only the third player in MLB history to accomplish this feat. He had the lowest ERA (0.78) in MLB history in his first 11 starts. On April 17, 2010, Ubaldo threw the first no-hitter in Rockies history against the Atlanta Braves. That's easily one of the greatest moments in Rockies history, and I remember being so proud for Ubaldo when his teammates jumed all over him after the last out of the game. He made his first and only All-Star team in 2010, and after that point he went on to pitch well throughout the remainder of the season. He finished third in the Cy Young award voting. In 2011, Ubaldo struggled a little bit, but most of it was due to an injured finger. I know that the Rockies organization was worried because of his drop-off, but he was the Rockies most successful and consistently good pitcher they've ever had. He was a fan favorite, a clubhouse favorite, and a city favorite in Denver. He lived with his parents in an apartment that was within walking distance to the ballpark. So, what did Ubaldo do? He walked to the ballpark everyday. Now, he's with the Cleveland Indians, and I wish him and the Indians nothing but success. The Indians are fortunate to have such a nice and hard working pitcher at the front of their rotation.

I hope all of these players find success within the seasons to come, and I hope none of them come back to haunt the Rockies.

Check out my other blogs titled "Welcome to the Rockies, ..." to find out who will be replacing these players on the 2012 opening day roster.


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