Today’s Focus: Colorado Rockies
2010 Record: 83-79, 3rd NL West
The Colorado Rockies started out slow again going 19-21 through May 19th. They were actually pretty up and down all year. Heading into the All-Star break, they won 8 of 10 but they lost 11 of 13 immediately after the break.The Rockies had a 31-51 record on the road last year while hitting .226 AVG. They were plagued by injuries which accumulated to 833 days on the DL forcing Jim Tracy to use 135 different lineups. They didn’t even think putting Carlos Gonzalez in the 3 hole was a good idea until late June! For the Rockies to be successful in 2010, they have got to figure out how to win early in the year and on the road.
For the Rockies being as bad as they were on the road, they actually put up some pretty good numbers overall. In the NL they ranked in the top 4 in hits, HR, runs, RBI, BB%, ISO, AVG, and OPS. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki will continue to rake. The Rockies added Jose Lopez and Ty Wiggington who are both super versatile. Jose Lopez is an upgrade over the departed Clint Barmes and I like Lopez as a late round sleeper this year. Lopez hit 25 home runs in ’09 while playing half his games at Safeco Field, why couldn’t he do it in Coors Field? It will be interesting to see how Jim Tracy will juggle all of his infield pieces when everyone is healthy. Carney Lansford is the new hitting coach. He helped Seth Smith, Ian Stewart and Chris Iannetta reach their potential when he was their hitting coach in AAA Colorado Springs, so maybe he can do it now.
Defensively, the Rockies are average. Miguel Olivio was pretty good behind the plate and I think Barmes was the teams 2nd best defender. Carlos Gonzalez was good but certainly not Gold Glove material. The permanent move to left field will help. Dexter Fowler and Ian Stewart have shown flashes of brilliance but have not lived up to their potential. Troy Tulowitzki is a playmaker at SS. I think this team will be a tad better defensively just from another year of playing together.
The starting pitchers for the Rockies look a bit shaky. Even though I am not ranking him as high as some, Ubaldo Jimenez is an ace. I do not expect him to produce like he did last year, (mostly because of his control and 2nd half splits) but he is one hell of a pitcher. Jorge de la Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin are both high strikeout, high walk guys with lots of potential but they may have trouble eating up innings. Jorge de la Rosa has never thrown over 185 innings and Jhoulys Chacin threw 137.1 last year. Aaron Cook is injured (No surprise here). This time he broke his finger in a car door. John Maine may be looked at to step up but it will probably Esmil Rogers until Maine can prove he is fully recovered from surgery. Felipe Paulino will not be a candidate for the 5th starter spot because the team thinks his repertoire is a better fit for the bullpen. Matt Reynolds and Franklin Morales are the only two left-handers in the pen. Matt Lindstrom provides support if Houston Street falters or has a setback. Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt will remain in the set-up role.
Notable Losses: Joe Beimel, Melvin Mora, Miguel Olivo, Clint Barmes, Octavio Dotel, Jeff Francis
Notable Pickups: Matt Lindstrom, Ty Wigginton, Jose Lopez, Felipe Paulino, John Maine
I think the Rockies may improve slightly but not enough to get them to the playoffs.
Prediction: 85-77, 3rd place NL West