After the end of the 2010 season, three Rockies players established themselves as the core of the team. They are known as the three “O’s”. Carlos Gonzalez (or Cargo), Troy Tulowitzki (Tulo) and Ubaldo Jimenez (Ubaldo). All three are coming of the best seasons of their careers. Cargo won a batting title with a .336 average and led the league in RBI’s with 117. Tulowitzki had an unconscious September last year driving in 40 RBIs with 15 HR. Both Tulo and Cargo received Golden Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards. Ubaldo Jimenez was flirting with the record books last year with a 15-1, 2.20 ERA start in the first half of 2010 and finished the season 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. Both Gonzalez and Tulowitzki were rewarded by signing a combined 17 year $214 million during the offseason with Jimenez believed to follow suit after this year.
To say expectations were high this season for these three stars in Colorado is an understatement. It was simple: The three “O’s” were going to carry on consistent, solid numbers all season and help bring the Rockies their first NL West title. But sadly, this has not been the case in the first 2 months of the 2011 season. Tulo and Cargo have struggled with their averages and more importantly, the timely hits that a star hitter can normally be relied upon producing and the Ubaldo of 2010 is nowhere to be found.
Tulowitzki had a great April batting .298 with 17 RBI’s and already at 7HR. Since then he has dropped his average to .246 with 4HR and 14 RBI’s in May. What to look for here is not just the RBI’s and home runs, but the lack of doubles. Tulo had 7 doubles in April, just 2 in May. He has also gotten more aggressive at the plate, drawing only 8 walks in May compared to 14 in April. In his career, he has started the season slow but in a competitive NL West this year, the Rockies are going to need him to step up to the superstar his is capable of being.
Carlos Gonzalez has been slow to get going as well. The 2010 batting champion is sporting a .257 average this year and has appeared to be more anxious at the plate, swinging at many pitches well out of the strike zone. His numbers compared to last year are similar though with 8 home runs and 33 RBI’s, but like Tulo his extra base hits are way down for a 3 hole hitter. Cargo has only hit for 8 doubles on the year and he is only slugging .439 which indicates a lot of singles, something that has to change. He appears to be picking it up which is a good sign, but still shows inconsistencies with his patience at the plate.
Ubaldo Jimenez has started the season in the complete opposite manner from last year as he is now 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA heading into June. Where was he at this point last season? 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA. Now, to say that he should have similar numbers to that is a ridiculous expectation, but winless with almost a 6.00 ERA entering June is not good any way you slice it. Ubaldo has lacked the command but more importantly the confidence to go out there and consistently pitch deep into ball games without giving up too many runs. The injury to Jorge De La Rosa only adds further pressure to Ubaldo to perform. I believe that Jimenez is the most important part of this slumping trio that needs to improve in order for the Rockies to have any chance to win the division and well into the playoffs.
The Rockies have been sliding in the division standings and cannot put together multiple wins to break out of their current funk and it all comes back to the c”O”re: Cargo, Tulo, Ubaldo. It is up to these three to pick their team back up and start getting on the right track by leading through example or else it’s “O”h no for the rest of the season.
Stats courtesy of espn.com/playerbios