Tagged: Colorado Rockies

2010 Colorado Rockies Preview

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rockies.gif2009 Record: 92-70, 2nd NL West

2009 Prediction: 80-82, 3rd NL West

2010 Prediction: 4th NL West

 

Impact Player: Troy Tulowitzki

Impact Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

Top Prospect Player:
C Wilin Rosario

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Tyler Matzek

 

Manager: Jim Tracy, 2nd Season
(74-42, .638)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: C Miguel Olivo,
UTIL Melvin Mora, RHP Justin Speier, RHP Tim Redding

Significant Losses: 3B Garrett Atkins, C Yorvit
Torrealba
, OF Matt Murton, RHP Jason Marquis, LHP Alan Embree, RHP Josh Fogg,
LHP Glendon Rusch

 

For the second time in three years, the Rockies shocked the
baseball world and came back from a slow start to storm down the stretch and
get into the playoffs on a wildcard berth. 
Their 92 wins were a franchise record and manager Jim Tracy (who
replaced Clint Hurdle part way through the year) had a .638 winning percentage
with the team.  Unlike in 2007, however,
the Rockies couldn’t ride their hot streak to the World Series, losing to the
Phillies in the NLDS 3 games to 1. 
Colorado is hoping that they don’t have a repeat of the 2008 season when
they stumbled to a 74-win year following their improbable run to the World
Series.  The Rockies definitely have some
talent, but was the last part of last year a fluke, or are they that good?  They made no significant changes to their
team, but instead added small pieces such as Melvin Mora and Miguel Olivo
to strengthen their bench.  Will their
stability be a strength, or will teams adjust and push the Rockies back down
the list of good teams in the NL West.

 

Pitching

UbaldoJimenez.jpg

 The Rockies were 8th
in the NL in ERA last season, which is quite the feat when you consider that
they play in the thin air of Colorado. 
One of the reasons was their team control, the Rockies were fourth best
in the NL in walks allowed.  Ubaldo Jimenez has blossomed into a
solid number one pitcher, going 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA.  When adjusted for ballpark differences,
Jimenez’s ERA is 3.14, putting him among the best in the NL.  The team lost its other 15-game winner, Jason Marquis, to free agency, but the
Rocks are hoping that Aaron Cook can
stay healthy and be back in the 15-17 win area. 
He was 11-6 last season in just 27 starts.  There was some talk of Jorge De La Rosa winning the Cy Young Award last season, which was obviously
crazy, but De La Rosa finally had the breakout year experts have been
predicting for a while.  He led the team
with 16 wins and had a 4.38 ERA striking out 193 in only 185 innings.  There’s no questioning his raw ability, but
his elevated ERA and high career walk rate suggest he’ll slump back to earth
this season.  Jason Hammel is back and is expected to the fourth man in the rotation
after a 10-8 season in 2009; he could be poised for a breakout season.  The fifth starter will likely be Canadian Jeff Francis who is apparently healthy
again and will need to prove it to stick in the rotation.  If he can’t, another injury-riddled lefty Greg Smith could be in the mix.  22-year-old Jhoulys Chacin could also step in at some point in 2010.

 

Huston Street was
re-signed in the offseason and will remain the Rockies closer.  He can be erratic at times and gets beaten up
too often to be an elite closer, but he still saved 35 games and posted a
decent 3.06 ERA.  He also does three
things any good closer needs to do:  He
doesn’t give up many hits (6.3 per 9 innings); he doesn’t walk many (1.9 per 9
innings); and he strikes out a lot of batters (10.2 per 9 innings).  Former lefthanded starter Franklin Morales will be given the setup
job to start the year, but his permanent place is in the rotation, while Matt Daley will setup from the right side.  24-year-old Esmil Rogers will help fill out the rest of the ‘pen with
35-year-old Rafael Betancourt and
former playoff standout Manuel Corpas.  The long-man will likely be Taylor Buchholz.  Lefthander Randy Flores will have a decent shot at making the team considering
Morales is the only other lefty, while Matt
Belisle
, Justin Speier, Jimmy Gobble, and Juan Rincon are all in camp on minor-league deals and could make
hte team.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Ubaldo Jimenez

26

R/R

Aaron Cook

31

R/R

Jorge De La Rosa

29

L/L

Jason Hammel

27

R/R

Jeff Francis

29

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Huston Street

26/7

R/R

Franklin Morales

24

L/L

Matt Daley

27/8

R/R

Esmil Rogers

24/5

R/R

Rafael Betancourt

35

R/R

Manuel Corpas

27

R/R

Taylor Buchholz

28

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Randy Flores

34/5

L/L

Matt Belisle

29/0

R/R

Greg Smith

26

L/L

Samuel Deduno

26/7

R/R

Justin Speier*

36

R/R

Tim Redding*

32

R/R

Jimmy Gobble*

28/9

L/L

Juan Rincon*

31

R/R

Jhoulys Chacin

22

R/R

Shane Lindsay

25

R/R

Greg Reynolds

24/5

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

 

Lineup

troy-tulowitzki.jpg

Even though the Rockies were second in the NL in homeruns,
the Rockies don’t appear to be as power-oriented as it has been in the past,
but there are still some very good young players that will hope to score as
much as they did last season when they were second in the NL in runs.  The outfield has 5 players who will all try
to get enough playing time.  Brad Hawpe will be the everyday
rightfielder after another decent season. 
Hawpe hit .285 with 23 homeruns and 86 RBI in 2009, while logging an
impressive .384 OBP.  Dexter Fowler showed promise last year
in his rookie season and is a tremendous athlete; he’ll steal close to 30 bases
and play outstanding defense.  Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith will likely both see time in
leftfield.  Gonzalez has a much higher
ceiling and is ultimately a better athlete, so he will likely have the inside
track.  His 13 homeruns in only 89 games
last season suggest that he could be a 25/25 guy in the near future.  Smith, on the other hand, was solid last
season hitting .293 with 15 homeruns and 55 RBI.  Ryan
Spilborghs
will see significant time as well.

 

First baseman Todd
Helton
is the franchise’s best ever player and as he winds down his career,
his numbers will surely continue to fall off. 
He won’t hit for 30-40 homer power anymore, but he still hit .325 last
season and is one of the best hitters of this generation.  Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is currently the best player on the team and will
be for years to come.  He hit 32 homeruns
last season and hit .297.  Some people
say he’s Derek Jeter with more
power, but I’m not sure he can claim such things just yet.  He certainly is an MVP candidate in
waiting.  Clint Barmes hit 23 homeruns last season but was only a .241
hitter.  It’s amazing he’s still with the
organization after all the terrible seasons, and ultimately isn’t part of the
long term plans of the organization, while Ian
Stewart
will get the chance to play third. 
He hit 25 homeruns last season, but hit only .228 and had just 70
RBI.  If he struggles immensely, Mora
could step in.  Catcher Chris Iannetta also hit only .228 last
season and will have to prove that he is the player scouts once thought he was.

 

The Rockies have a much deeper and more versatile bench than
in past years which certainly helps them. 
Smith, Spilborghs and Mora will be joined by Jason Giambi who will spell Helton at first and also provide a
powerful pinch-hitting bat off the bench. 
Olivo will be the veteran backup catcher and could end up starting if
Iannetta struggles.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

LF

Carlos Gonzalez

24

L/L

CF

Dexter Fowler

24

S/R

1B

Todd Helton

36/7

L/L

SS

Troy Tulowitzki

25

R/R

RF

Brad Hawpe

30/1

L/L

C

Chris Iannetta

27

R/R

3B

Ian Stewart

25

L/R

2B

Clint Barmes

31

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Miguel Olivo*

31/2

R/R

1B

Jason Giambi

39

L/R

UTIL

Melvin Mora* (3B, SS, CF, LF)

38

R/R

OF

Seth Smith (LF, RF)

27

L/L

OF

Ryan Spilborghs (LF, CF, RF)

30

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

UTIL

Eric Young, Jr. (2B, LF, RF)

24/5

R/R

C

Paul Lo Duca* (1B)

38

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

I could be completely off-base here, but I don’t see the
Rockies contending in 2010.  The
honeymoon period of Jim Tracy’s arrival will be gone and this team
traditionally doesn’t perform well under high expectations.  Outside of Jimenez, the rotation lacks high
ceiling players entering their prime and their bullpen might have a really hard
time bridging the gap to Street, who isn’t the greatest of closers.  Their lineup is full of players who hit for
power in the thin air, but struggle on the road and hit for horrible
averages.  I don’t buy that the Rockies
have what it takes to contend in a much deeper and more talented NL West.

Final Prediction:
79-83, 4th NL West

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’09 Preview — Colorado Rockies

Colorado.GIF2008 Record: 74-88, 3rd NL West
2009 Prediction: 3rd NL West

Impact Player: Garret Atkins
Impact Pitcher: Aaron Cook
Top Prospect:  Dexter Fowler, OF

Significant Acquisitions: P Huston Street, P Jason Marquis, P Greg Smith, P Alan Embree, OF Carlos Gonzalez, P Josh Fogg, P Matt Belisle
Significant Losses: OF Matt Holliday, OF Willy Taveras, P Mark Redman, P Livan Hernandez, P Brian Fuentes, P Matt Herges, P Glendon Rusch, P Luis Vizcaino, P Kip Wells

The Colorado Rockies took the sporting world by surprise in late 2007 when they went on an improbable run of 21 victories in 22 games, won a one-game playoff over the San Diego Padres to capture the NL Wildcard and stunned both the Phillies and the Diamondbacks to capture the NL Pennant before being unceremoniously swept by the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.  The Rockies were seen by many as a team on the rise and people expected big things from them in ’08; a year in which it seemed the NL West was theirs for the taking.  That didn’t happen.  The Rockies seemed to be a young team who just wasn’t ready.  They finished the year 3rd in baseball’s weakest division with a record of 74-88.  2007 was dubbed as a fluke and the Rockies sunk quickly back into baseball obscurity.  But there are reasons to be hopeful.  Most of the young talents that led the team to its first pennant remain and although they might still be slightly overmatched in 2009, look for the Rockies to be a contender in the next few years.

Pitching
Pitching in the Rocky Mountain-juiced air in Coors Field has proven to be difficult for the Rockies franchise over the years.  Until the last few years, it seemed management was completely oblivious to the effects of its own home ballpark, developing and signing predominantly fly-ball pitchers who were lit up on a nightly basis.  It seems that, finally, the Rockies have pitchers who rely more heavily on good sinking pitches that induce a tonne of ground balls, and low-and-behold, they have some pitching.  Aaron Cook has developed into a true ace.  Last year, he was 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA; in any other park that ERA probably would have been in the low-3s.  Ubaldo Jimenez impressed in his first full season going 12-12 with an impressive 3.99 ERA and should be the team’s #2 option; management also signed him long-term.  Canadian Jeff Francis will miss the entire season because of a shoulder injury, but there are options to round out the rotation.  Dependable Jason Marquis was acquired in a trade with the Cubs that sent reliever Luis Vizcaino packing and figures to be the #3 pitcher.  He was 11-9 for the North-Siders last year.  Young lefthander Greg Smith was acquired in the Matt Holliday trade with Oakland and should also have a spot.  Lefties Jorge de la Rosa and Franklin Morales and righthander Jason Hirsh could also start.

In the bullpen, the Rockies look very strong in spite of the fact that dependable closer Brian Fuentes bolted via free agency to the Angels.  Huston Street was acquired in the Holliday deal and should replace Fuentes as the closer.  Street has 94 career saves and is only 25.  Manny Corpas and Taylor Buchholz will be the primary setup options.  Corpas looked very good as the Rockies’ closer during their improbable ’07 run and Buchholz had 6 wins and a 2.17 ERA in ’08.  39-year-old southpaw Alan Embree was signed to a one-year deal in December and veteran righty Jason Grilli returns for his first full year in Rocky-purple.  Ryan Speier and possibly Morales will grab the final spots.  Steven Register, Juan Morillo, and veteran lefty Randy Flores could also challenge for spots in the spring.

Rotation (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • Aaron Cook (R/30)
  • Ubaldo Jimenez (R/25)
  • Jason Marquis (R/30)
  • Greg Smith (L/25)
  • Jorge de la Rosa (L/28)

Bullpen

  • Huston Street (R/25) — CLOSER
  • Manny Corpas (R/26)
  • Taylor Buchholz (R/27)
  • Alan Embree (L/39)
  • Jason Grilli (R/32)
  • Ryan Speier (R/29)
  • Franklin Morales (L/23)

Lineup
As always, the Rockies can hit.  Even without Matt Holliday, easily their most prolific hitter the past few seasons, there are enough proven hitters in this lineup to strike some fear into opposing pitchers.  In the outfield, Brad Hawpe returns in Right and should fit nicely into the 5-hole, another piece from the Holliday trade in Carlos Gonzalez should start in Center and has leadoff-hitter makeup.  In Left will be a battle between 3 players: Ryan Spilborghs, Seth Smith, and Matt Murton who was acquired in another trade with the Athletics.  Garret Atkins anchors the infield at Third and is the team’s best hitter now that Holliday is gone and veteran Todd Helton is back at First.  Helton is coming off his worst professional season where he hit just .264 in only 83 games due to injury.  After posting an unbelievable rookie season in ’07, Troy Tulowitzki’s numbers dropped off dramatically in ’08.  Now that the Rockies’ Shortstop is done with his sophomore slump, most people project him to be back to form in ’09, and that is good news for Rockies fans.  At Second Base there is expected to be a Spring battle between Clint Barmes and 24-year-old Ian Stewart.  Barmes is likely to win the job after he rebounded nicely in ’08 hitting .290 with 11 home runs.  Catching will be Chris Iannetta who still needs to improve defensively but emerged as a solid offensive threat last season.  He hit 18 home runs and drove in 65 RBI.

On the bench will be the losers in the respective battles for Left Field and Second Base along with backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba.  Utility-man Jeff Baker should also make the team.  Minor-league contracts were handed out to veteran catchers Sal Fasano and Paul Phillips, infielder Luis Gonzalez, and outfielders Scott Podsednik and Dan Ortmeier and any one of them could crack the team with a solid spring.

Lineup (Handedness/Age on June 30, 2009)

  • CF  Carlos Gonzalez (L/23)
  • 2B  Clint Barmes (R/30)
  • 1B  Todd Helton (L/35)
  • 3B  Garret Atkins (R/29)
  • RF  Brad Hawpe (L/30)
  • C    Chris Iannetta (R/26)
  • SS  Troy Tulowitzki (R/24)
  • LF  Ryan Spilborghs (R/29)

Bench

  • OF  Seth Smith (L/26)
  • OF  Matt Murton (R/27)
  • INF Ian Stewart (L/24)
  • UTIL Jeff Baker (R/28)
  • C    Yorvit Torrealba (R/30)


Outlook
The Rockies weren’t so much a fluke in ’07 as they were a young team who got on a hot streak at the right time.  They came crashing back down to earth in ’08 but should rebound slightly in ’09.  They still aren’t legitimate contenders but they aren’t much more than a year off either.  Final Prediction: 80-82, 3rd NL West