Key Additions---Matt Lindstrom, Jason Giambi, Jose Lopez
Key Losses---Clint Barmes
Lineup---Carlos Gonzalez had a monster year last year, and given his age, you can only expect him to get better. He can do it all at the plate, but what I like probably the most is he gives you great defense in LF. Considering the big outfield in Coors, this is a very important part of his game. Dexter Fowler plays alongside him in CF, and although he doesn’t have a great stick, he provides defense in CF. Seth Smith is the RF, and should continue to grow as a hitter. The infield is led by Troy Tulowitzki, who is emerging as one of the top shortstops in the game. If he can stay healthy, he is an all star. The rest of the infield is average in my opinion. Ian Stewart needs to continue to build upon his success from last year to be a quality 3B. Todd Helton is not quite the hitter that he once was, but still provides leadership and good at bats for this team. With the 2 young guns in Tulo and Gonzalez in the middle of the lineup, this lineup will remain good enough to win for a long period of time. The question is, can the rest of the lineup carry them to a division title?
Rotation---Ubaldo Jimenez is a bona fide ace at the top of the rotation. He put up one of the best 1st half’s I have ever seen last year, and although he struggled a bit in the 2nd half, he still is a dominant force on the mound. The big question mark for this team is who follows him in the rotation. Jorge De La Rosa flirted with leaving, but ultimately decided to stay in Colorado and should be a stalwart in the rotation. Aaron Cook has shown in the past he has the ability to be an above average pitcher, but will he be able to stay healthy and contribute for a full year. I think that the key to this rotation lies in 2nd year player Jhoulys Chacin. He has the ability to be a front of the line starter, and I expect him to take a big leap forward. Along with Jimenez, they will form a very solid 1-2 punch.
Bullpen---If Houston Street can stay healthy and remain the closer for this team, I really like what they have out of this bullpen. Adding an arm like Lindstrom who has proven he can close games if called upon will only bolster this rotation, and goes with a few other power arms in the pen. If Street gets injured then all bets are off, as they will lose the depth they will build, but if Street can stay healthy I think this bullpen could be a key clog in the race for the division title.
Impact Rookie---Rex Brothers, LHP. A starter at Lipscomb and 1st round supplemental pick in 2009, Brothers has taken to the pen as a professional. He possesses a plus fastball slider combination and if he can improve his 5.6 BB/9 ratio he could be a valuable late inning addition to the Colorado bullpen.
Outlook---Obviously the team to beat in the division is the Giants, but I think the Rockies will be able to give them a run for their money. They have the young pieces in place to continue to win games year after year, and I fully expect them to be in the hunt till the very end. Do they have enough to win, I question that, but I do think it will be an exciting year in Denver.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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