Our guest bloggers is Matt Seybold from the Sporting Hippeaux.
Question 1 – Each year it seems that the Rockies make a late season charge to compete; why can’t the Rockies start the season hot?
Jeff: for one thing, it certainly wouldn’t be realistic for them to keep up their recent late season pace all year — but as to ‘why’ they don’t start hot?? Who knows — but for my money, I would sure rather finish on fire than start that way — can anyone actually remember (not guess) who was leading the NL West on May15 last year….me either — but back to the question, possibly it’s weather related? not sure….maybe Jim Tracy is an evil genius who just sees the season as one big snowball…the epitome of getting bigger (and better) every week — or maybe it’s just some crazy random anomaly, which is actually most likely the case — chalk one up to randomnessism.
Tom: I don’t think there’s any shady reason the Rockies don’t compete late early in the season. When something bizarrely unexplainable happens in Denver, I blame the altitude. Maybe it’s some early season combination of cold, weather, altitude, and lack of asthma medication. I also think there’s something to be said for a team entirely under 30. The older guys probably start to tire out toward the end of a six month season. A team of 20 year olds are looking for their next drink.
Eugene: I agree that there isn’t a real reason. The idea of the youthful team makes sense; not so much the drinking part, but I think a lot of guys don’t know how to condition properly at an early age. I’d expect to see them get better earlier each year due to experience.
Question 2 – Can Ian Stewart finally live up to potential?
Chad: Stewart really seemed to turn a corner in the second half of last year. He hit much closer to his career minor league numbers, so logic says he’s finally figured it out. He still hit 20+ HRs last year and even stole a few bases. I think a 25-30 HR, .270 avg is a pretty good bet for this year. If that’s living up to potential, then yes, he will finally live up to potential.
Eugene: I think Stewart was impressive enough that they’d get rid of Atkins for him. He’s got the ability to hit and his defense is too shabby. I like him better as a full time player more than Clint Barmes.
Tom: To me, it seems like Ian Stewart is just following a normal career path for a low-average power hitter who strikes out a lot. His average is low but his OPS sticks around league-average while hitting 25 home runs. If he keeps this up, he can aspire to be the new Adam Dunn — a guy who everyone thinks is worse than he actually is.
Question 3 – What will the Rockies rotation look like this year?
Matt: There’s a real chance this could be Colorado’s best rotation ever. I see Ubaldo Jimenez developing into a legitimate Ace, with Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, and Jeff Francis all solid middle-of-the-rotation guys. Jason Hammel pitcher pretty well at the tail end of ’09, but I think he’ll be pressed by Jhoulys Chacin and Franklin Morales for the #5 spot. If they can all stay healthy, it’s a very talented staff.
Eugene: I think their rotation is better than anything they’ve run out in their history. With Jimenez taking the ace role, Jeff Francis has less stress coming back from injury and expecting to lead the rotation. Cook is a solid mid-rotation starter. I’m not sold on de la Rosa, but he’s also pitching for a contract so he could have a monster year. I like Chacin as the better 5th starter option. This rotation matched up well with the Dodgers, but is still behind the Giants and Diamondbacks, just for the top of their rotations.
Question 4 – How will the Rockies finish in the standings?
Matt: The Rox will once again be in the hunt for the NL West and the Wild Card. If Jim Tracy can get them back to their late ’09 form directly out of the starting blocks, they could finish with one of the best records in the National League. I’m expecting, however, that there will be a speed bump or two along the way, either because of injuries or because young Rox like Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Chris Iannetta, Clint Barmes, and Jorge De La Rosa aren’t able to match their ’09 production. I still think they manage 85-90 wins, which will put them right in the running with the Dodgers and Giants.
Tom: I expect the Rockies to compete late in the year, but I think this division comes down to the Dodgers and Giants fighting it out down the stretch.
Warren: The Rockies for the past few years have put on a good showing toward the end of the season and should not keep that up and possibly finish 2nd in the division and fifth/sixth in the NL.
Eugene: I expect them to compete as well. I don’t think they’ll make the post-season, but they’ll be in contention for the division and the wild card.
Tags: 30 Teams in 30 Days, Baseball, Baseball Preview, Roundtable