Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies September surge tailed off at the end of the month, and they fell out of the playoff race quickly. With the commitment to the current team in place, do the Rockies have enough to overtake the World Champions in the NL West?

What they Have: The homegrown talent that makes an organization. The major off season move was resigning Troy Tulowitzki. He's of course one of their biggest offensive weapons, and don't forget the near NL MVP Carlos Gonzalez. Throughout the lineup, the homegrown aspect reigns supreme in guys like 3B Ian Stewart,  CF Dexter Fowler, and 1B Todd Helton. The lineup up and down has the power potential, the park they play in notwithstanding. Due to the departure of Clint Barmes to Houston, the Rockies signed 2B Jose Lopez to fill the void. He may not be the best, but he'll certainly fill the void well enough. They were in the top 10 in the league in almost every hitting category, and their offense will no doubt be the backstop to their success. Their pitching rotation is spearheaded by Ubaldo Jimenez, who will try to get back some of the momentum of the first half of last year. He may not be the best number 1 starter, but he'll definitely get a sizable amount of wins. Also in the rotation are Jorge De La Rosa, Aaron Cook, and Jason Hammel. They may not be the best rotation the Rockies have had, but certainly not the worst. Their bullpen also got better with the addition of Matt Lindstrom from Houston, to back up Huston Street at the closer position. Rafael Betancourt and Matt Reynolds are the other major players in a good Rockies bullpen.

What they Don't Have: They don't have much depth behind their starters. Chris Ianetta is a good catcher, but not what the Rockies may hope for him to be. Behind the stars, there isn't much there. Ryan Spilborghs and Eric Young Jr. are the backups in the outfield, and if one of the Rockies star outfielders is injured, then they may be in some trouble. They got rid of a lot of depth in the bullpen, and also at the catcher position. Behind Ianetta, there isn't much immediate help, and with the pressure on Ianetta, the catcher position seems to be a sore spot for this team.

Any Help Coming? Wilin Rosario may be the answer to the Rockies catching problems. He is the catcher of the future, and if he didn't tear his ACL in early August of last year, he may be the opening day starter. He has great offensive potential to back up the good defensive catcher side. Tyler Matzek is the Rockies best overall prospect, and the Southpaw probably won't see much action near the major league level this year because he is still a raw talent.

Outlook: Promising. If they can stay healthy, this team will no doubt challenge the Giants in the NL West and compete for the NL Wild Card. Their offensive firepower is nothing to gawk at, and their pitching while not the best, will be enough to keep them in most games. You have to wonder though whether their lack of depth at some key positions, and the hole at catcher will be too much to overcome if disaster strikes. Dan O'Dowd and Jim Tracy have done a good job keeping the team together, and they will be a factor in the NL playoff chases.

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