By Will Carroll
February 29, 2012
The story goes that everything is different at altitude. Sports medicine isn't. It's easy to adjust athletes to the conditioning necessary to succeed in Denver. The rest is dreadfully ordinary. Which means that the Rockies medical staff is operating under the same conditions as every other medical staff is. The Rockies often have been forward-looking; they were one of the first teams to have a medical director, a model several other teams are going to this season. The downside is that their results have been inconsistent at best, mediocre at worst. That's neither good nor bad, neither warm nor cold. At least the Rockies have often shown the commitment. Year after year, the risk profile is high and this one is no different. Something I've worked on for years is a risk-adjusted ranking. Finishing mid-pack with a red-filled roster isn't a bad thing.

Health Keys: Keep the young pitchers healthy while maintaining the established players so as not to expose the limited depth.

(HEAD TRAINER: Keith Duggar; FIVE YEAR RANK: 12; 2011 RANK: 18)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
CF Dexter Fowler
Fowler's never played more than 150 games, but only because he's never been given the chance. Overall, he's been very healthy, and for him, the best part is that his legs have never been an issue.

SP Jeremy Guthrie
There used to be a lot of theories about what kind of pitcher could succeed at altitude. The Rockies never really found an answer, aside from "good." Guthrie's not an ace, but he's going to give an easy 200 innings, which might let one of the younger pitchers on this staff develop into a real ace.

Also Green:
2B Marco Scutaro
RP Matt Belisle
CL Rafael Betancourt
LF Michael Cuddyer
Cuddyer is willing to play through pain. He's done that most of his career. He's pretty good at it by this stage, but he's still hurt. His neck was the major issue last year, but there were stories he often ignored treatment schedules and questioned teammates that were out.

RF Carlos Gonzalez
Gonzalez's season was stunted by a wrist injury that lingered. It's a soft tissue injury, one that could recur, which makes Gonzalez a huge risk. Even if he hits well, there's no guarantee that it won't come back at some point. Know that when you're taking him as high as you'll have to.

SP Guillermo Moscoso
Moscoso is a fly ball pitcher in Coors Field. He's a placeholder, and at 27, can probably take the innings increase if one of the younger pitchers, such as trade-mate (and mechanical test case) Josh Outman or Alex White, isn't ready by midseason.

C Ramon Hernandez
Hernandez is in a familiar role, place-holding for Wilin Rosario, who's nearly ready. Rosario might be up quickly. If so, it's good for Hernandez's health. He'll be overtaxed if he gets much over a half-load. The conundrum is that the quicker he loses his job, the healthier he'll be.

1B Todd Helton
At the same time Peyton Manning is facing the end of his career because of a neck problem, Helton is showing just how long a player can struggle through the problems. Of course, it's not the same. Helton's loss of mobility means he doesn't get as far afield as before. He's still got some power, but the back probably cost him a Hall of Fame plaque. This year will probably look like the last couple for him.

SS Troy Tulowitzki
Remember that red doesn't mean the player will have some massive injury and lose all value. It just means that a player is likely to be on the DL at some point in the season. Tulowitzki gets "hustle injuries" every year and as he ages, they'll cost him a little more. At some point, he'll lose value. In this case, the red rating could mean something like the hip injury he had last year, the wrist injury the year before, or any number of things. Before and after that, he's still very valuable.

3B Casey Blake
Blake is coming off neck surgery this offseason, and while he's expected to be fine for camp, he's 38 and showed no ability to stay healthy last season. He's a placeholder, but it's this kind of acquisition that taxes the Rockies medical staff. Maybe 200 PAs get Nolan Arenado ready, but that's about as much as they can hope for here.

SP Juan Nicasio
The System has no idea what to do with a broken neck. The fact that Nicasio is walking around is testament to a medical staff that's ready for everything. That he's going to pitch is simply amazing. I don't want to call it inherently risky, since it's medically safe, but it's definitely an unknown.

SP Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin had a big innings increase at the same time that the league adjusted to his pitches. He adjusted back, keeping the ball lower and inducing grounders at an increased rate. If Chacin can find a way to keep the grounders while upping the strikeouts or dropping the walks, all while absorbing that innings increase ... well, that's why he's red. Most won't.

P5 Drew Pomeranz
There are a lot of possibilities for the P5 slot, but Pomeranz is the best of the bunch. He's young, so if he breaks camp in the rotation, he'll be facing a huge innings increase. If he heads to Colorado Springs, there's another pitcher, probably young, who'll have to take the innings. There's no one answer to how to limit workload, but finding a way is very important to the Rockies. Pomeranz isn't more risky than any young starter facing his first season in the bigs, but he does have a lot more potential upside.

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