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Springtime Storylines: Will the Rockies make us all look like suckers again?

Mar 30, 2012, 9:12 AM EDT

Eric Young Jr.

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2012 season. Up next: The Colorado Rockies.

The Big Question: Will they make us all look like suckers again?

Maybe it’s just me who has looked like a sucker. For the past two years I’ve picked the Rockies, seeing something in them — as I sit here right now, I don’t know what — that made me think they had what it took to win the division. Maybe easily. Was I simply blind to what the Giants were able to do in 2010 and the Diamondbacks last year, or did the Rockies just give off some kind of spark that misled me so? Maybe both. I don’t think a ton of people picked Arizona last season — maybe no one did — and I’ll grant that there is something about a stud shortstop being a team’s best player that always draws me in.

So recently I got it in my mind that I wasn’t going to be fooled again. I was going to ignore the fact that in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez the Rockies had two of the most exciting players in the game. I was going to ignore the fact that Dexter Fowler could break out at any time.  I was going to ignore the fact that, in the NL West, you don’t have to win 95 games to win it all and that the Rockies, even when they have disappointed, have made a habit of going on exciting, Rocktobery runs.  If they keep it close and stay healthy …. no, I can’t do it.  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times, hey would you like my credit card number Mr. Nigerian Prince’s Special Attache for Financial Affairs?

What else is going on?

  • The rotation has all kinds of ifs. But unlike past Rockies rotations — which always seem to have ifs — there is some sharp upside here. Losing Jorge De La Rosa to Tommy John surgery was a bummer, but Jhoulys Chacin has shown flashes of ace-like talent. And call me crazy — “you’re crazy!” — but I sort of feel like Jeremy Guthrie may find some juvenation in the NL West. Sure, Coors Field is death to pitchers, but is it much worse than facing the Yankees and the Red Sox all the time?
  • Oh, and Jamie Moyer may very well make the rotation, and that’s all kinds of fun.  I hope to get to a Rockies game this year so I can meet him and ask him what FDR was really like.
  • Moyer isn’t the only gray hair Dan O’Dowd brought in. Veterans Marco Scutaro, Michael Cuddyer, Ramon Hernandez and Casey Blake were added in the offseason. Blake was released the other day, but all of these additions show that the Rockies themselves aren’t all that confident in many players under 30 not named Gonzalez or Tulowitzki.
  • Seeing Juan Nicasio come back is heart warming. He took a line drive that broke one of his vertebrae last August.  He’s been pretty impressive this spring.

So how are they gonna do?

I want to believe. I want to believe that all of my optimistic assumptions about pitching will come true (Moyer throws 200 innings!) and that guys like Cuddyer will come in and thump due to the thin air. But there are so many ifs with this team. And, as we’ve seen for the past couple of years, the Rockies have a great capacity to disappoint.

Maybe I’m wrong again and me picking them to finish third will look silly come fall.  But I’m pickin’ ’em third anyway.

  1. eastcoastblows - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    I’m gonna git you sucka!

  2. cardsfanindenver - Mar 30, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Technically, it wasn’t getting hit with the ball that broke Nicasio’s vertabra; it was hitting the mound after the ball knocked him unconscious. Still a great story. Heyman just picked up on it himself a few days ago (BREAKING NEWS), even though it’s been talked about for weeks.

  3. ezthinking - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Probably one of the hardest teams to handicap for sure.

  4. Old Gator - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    They’ll be goin’ after that demon that lives out in the thin air….

  5. blabidibla - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    The NLW is wide open this year. Pretty much anyone but the Padres has a decent shot.

  6. tuloisgod - Mar 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Pretty fair assessment, IMHO. Starting pitching seems more of a question than ever. Don’t know who’s on third. (No, who’s on first.) Fowler keeps tantalizing and then disappointing. Helton and Giambi are creaky at first (supplemented occasionally by a mid-30s Cuddyer), catcher remains a dubious spot, and the bullpen is significantly weaker than last year, when it was badly overworked.

    On the positive, Scutaro and Cuddyer were decent pickups. Guts might be a good addition to the rotation, DLR comes back in May/June (although it’s usually a second year before Tommy Johns start pitching like in the past), Chacin and Nicasio have potential, and Moyer’s “fast” ball continues to baffle major-league hitters for some reason. Pomeranz seems prime for a breakout, White hopefully will get his act together, and hey, we still have Tulo and Gonzalez, both in their primes.

    But in the En El West, where runs are scarce except in Coors Field, pitching is still king, and it’s hard to compete against stud rotations like Lincecum-Cain-Baumgartner, Kershaw-Billingsley, and Kennedy-Hudson-Saunders.

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