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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Season Preview: Colorado Rockies

2008 Record: 74-88  .549

Run differential: -75 (11th)

2008 payroll: $68,655,500 

The Rockies of 2007 made an historic run to the playoffs and to the World Series that many thought would carry over to 2008.  Unfortunately, last season the team was mired with injuries to key players like Todd Helton (83 games) and Jeff Francis (24 starts) and had underwhelming performances from key contributors Troy Tulowitzki (.732 OPS, 101 G) and Willy Taveras (.241 EqA).  Realizing that the team has young parts, which can be built around, and a star whose impending free agency would likely cause him to leave Colorado, GM Dan O’Dowd traded Matt Holliday to Oakland for RP Huston Street, SP Greg Smith, and top outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez.   Knowing that #1 starter Jeff Francis is likely out for the year after shoulder surgery, Street and Garret Atkins are likely trade candidates in an attempt to complete the rebuilding effort.  Starting center fielder Willy Taveras was also not tendered a contract in order to let blooming rookie Dexter Fowler get his shot. 

If pitching and strong defense up the middle is the direction O’Dowd is deciding to take (a strong bullpen and good defense were key components of their early 90s teams but were overshadowed by the Blake Street Bombers) then he needs to stick to it.  Changing gears every two years will not allow this franchise to achieve continuous success.

Likely opening day roster:

Pos. Name Salary How Acquired
C Chris Ianetta $.396 M Drafted 4th rd 2004
C Yorvit Torrealba $3.5 M Acquired in trade w/ Sea 12/7/05.  Resigned 11/29/07
1b Todd Helton $16.6 M Drafted 1995 #8 overall.  Signed extension 3/99
2b Clint Barmes $1.63 M Drafted 10th rd 2000.
3b Garrett Atkins $7.05 M Drafted 5th rd 2000. 
SS Troy Tulowitzki $.75 M Drafted #7 overall 2005
LF Seth Smith $.390 M Drafted 2nd rd 2004
CF Dexter Fowler $.390 M Drafted 14th rd 2004
RF Brad Hawpe $5.5 M Drafted 11th rd 2000.  Signed extension 3/4/08
Inf Ian Stewart $.390 M Drafted #10 overall 2003
UT Jeff Baker $.403 M Drafted 4th rd 2002
Of Ryan Spilborghs $.397 M Drafted 7th rd 2002.  Resigned 12/21/05
Of Matt Murton $.415 M Acquired in trade w/ Oak 11/12/08
SP Ubaldo Jimenez $.75 M Signed as amateur FA from D.R. 2001
SP Aaron Cook $8.75 M Drafted 2nd rd 1997.  Signed extension 12/11/07
SP Jason Marquis $9.875 M Acquired in trade w/ Cubs 1/6/09
SP Franklin Morales $.391 M Signed as amateur FA from D.R. 2002
SP Jorge de la Rosa $2 M Acquired in trade w/ KC 4/30/08. 
Cl Manny Corpas $.75 M Signed as amateur FA from Panama 1999
SU Huston Street $4.5 M Acquired in trade w/ Oak 11/12/08
RP Alan Embree $2 M Signed as FA 12/11/08
RP Taylor Buchholz $1.06 M Drafted 6th rd 2000
RP Steven Register $.390 M Drafted 3rd rd 2004.
RP Greg Smith $.390 M Acquired in trade w/ Oak 11/12/08
RP Jason Grilli $.8 M Acquired in trade w/ Detroit 4/30/08

Say hello to: Huston Street, Greg Smith, Jason Marquis, Alan Embree, Carlos Gonzalez

Wave goodbye: Jayson Nix, Matt Holliday, Willy Taveras, Luis Vizcaino

Rookies: Dexter Fowler

Non Roster Invites to watch: Josh Fogg, Glendon Rusch, Scott Podsednik

Potential breakout: Ubaldo Jimenez, Seth Smith

Welcome to Earth: Ian Stewart, Aaron Cook.  While Cook's GB rate is likely to remain about the same, his batting average of balls in play (BABIP) is likely to rise even with a good defense behind him.

Likely to rebound: Troy Tulowitzki

Strenghts: Defense up the middle. Fowler and Tulo are excellent defensive players.

Weaknesses: Where will the offense come from once Todd Helton serves his inevitable DL stint?  With the loss of Holliday, there's also not much power in the lineup.

Payroll obligations to former players: none

Optimal batting lineup:

CF Fowler B 

SS Tulowitzki R .263/.332/.401 8, 1  .249

1b Helton L  .264/.391/.388  7, 0   .274

C Ianetta R .264/.390/.505 18,0  .302

RF Hawpe L .283/.381/.498  25, 2  .295

3b Atkins R  .286/.328/.452  21, 1 .266

LF Smith L .259.350/.435  4, 1  .270

2b Barmes R .290/.322/.468 11, 13  .269

Prediction: 4th place NL West

*This post has been edited after learning Jeff Francis is likely to miss the entire 2009 season

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