According to some of the experts, it sounds like they are already predicting the Rockies to not only make it to the World Series, but to take it as well. Hands down, no hesitation, I want the Rockies to make it to the World Series, I believe they can, and yes, I want them to take it, I believe they can too. However, when it comes to experts and their predictions, I tend to be one of those people who doesn’t like to count their chickens… or… eggs? Count their eggs before… their chickens lay them…? Whatever, you know what I mean.
When we look at spring training and regular season, we’re looking at two very different ballgames (haha, yeah, I did just make that joke). I don’t honestly think you can make any assumption before you see a regular season game played. I mean, why do you think the Cubs always say, “this is our year” before the season starts (that was mean… but true… but still mean)? If you recall the beginning of the Rockies’ 2009 season, no one would have predicted them to go anywhere, and look at what they did.
Now, like I said, I believe the Rockies can make it to the World Series; I’ll hope for that every year. But there are a lot of factors that are going to contribute to the success of this team as well as ones that raise questions.
No doubt the Rockies have an incredible lineup filled with young guys who have shown they can play the game. Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler are going to continue to produce. They’re young, talented, and well on their way to becoming five tool players. Gonzalez did some incredible things in winter ball this past season and Fowler has continued to work on his game. Not only that, but the dangerous, defensive combination of these two significantly shrinks the outfield. Todd Helton, despite his age, can also produce hits. While he’s no longer in his prime, the important thing is that he can still play the game and has the passion to do so as well. A lot of stress will also be taken off his shoulders with Jason Giambi as a back up, and Melvin Mora able to cover first. I’ve also really liked what I’ve seen of Brad Eldred this spring training, I think he could play an important role later in the season. Troy Tulowitzki, well, no questions asked, he’s one of the best – young and an elite force on the team.
The Rockies, undoubtedly, may have the best bench in the history of this team. This includes Giambi, Ryan Spilborghs, and Seth Smith. All three can come up with big hits, especially Smith. He was an immense force for the Rockies and came up as a pinch hitter, an incredibly important role. I’ll be honest that I never knew too much about Melvin Mora or Miguel Olivo. While I still don’t know much about Olivio, I like what I’ve seen with Mora. The epitome of a utility player, third base, short stop, second base, and the entire outfield.
Here’s where the Rockies are going to run into some problems. The first and biggest problem is our closer Huston Street has found his way to the DL. Although he hopes for a return on May 1, the Rockies trainer isn’t making any promises. This means that the Rockies need a replacement, with Franklin Morales, Manny Corpas, and Matt Belisle in the running. I’m not big on any of these options, but one has to be chosen. Franklin Morales acted as a sub last season when Street went to the DL, and while his performance managed to get the job done, I just didn’t feel comfortable seeing the ball given to him in the ninth. Manny Corpas needs to get back to his 2007 self if he wants to be a really, truly viable option; however, he could also be considered as a set up man for games. Matt Belisle could also be an option if a few righties are coming up to bat.
Jeff Francis is also heading to the 15 day DL. While he hasn’t made a pitch in a major leaguegame since September 18 of 2009, I was excited to see him start. I really trust Jim Tracy and if he had Francis in spot number two of the rotation, then I was going to let it ride. I am, however, very excited to see the potential of Greg Smith. When we acquired Street, Gonzalez, and Smith in the trade for Holliday, I knew we had to be getting a good deal. That paid off as far as Street and Gonzalez; and while I’ve wanted to see Smith make his debut with the Rockies, it has yet to happen. We’ll see how things go.
Here’s what could make the Rockies dangerous: discipline. They need discipline at the plate, discipline in commanding pitches and focusing on the pitch at hand rather than worrying about the runner, and discipline when it comes to stealing bases. That will make the Rockies a truly threatening team for this upcoming season.