COLORADO ROCKIES (NL West)
2013 record: 74-88 (fifth, 18 out):
Projected 2014: 75.5 wins
World Series odds: 60/1
Key additions: Justin Morneau, Brett Anderson, Drew Stubbs
X factor: Troy Tulowitzki
Projected starting lineup: Infield: C – W. Rosario; 1B – J. Morneau; 2B –D. LeMahieu; 3B –N. Aranado; SS – T. Tulowitzki Outfield: LF –D. Stubbs; CF – C. Gonzalez; RF – M. Cuddyher
Starting rotation: J. de la Rosa, J. Chacin, B. Anderson, T. Chatwood, J. Nicasio.
Closer: L. Hawkins
The Colorado Rockies have the NL West right where they want them, coming from last place.
The Rockies have had a history of sneaking up on their opponents when they least expect it. And they can look at their neighbors the NHL’s Avalanche as inspiration for a team fully capable to exceeding all expectations.
There are loads of new faces and the absence of an old one. Todd Helton retired after what should be a Hall of Fame career playing only for Colorado.
The face of the franchise and arguably the player who means more to his team than any other is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. If Tulo ever could play a full season he would be a legitimate Triple Crown contender. That’s a big if.
Both Tulo and Carlos “Cargo” Gonzalez are certain All Stars if they can stay healthy. Tulowitzki missed 36 games, Cargo 52. Mike Cuddyer had a career season with the bat (.331 average) .
Acquisitions Justin Morneau (Twins/Pirates) and Drew Stubbs (Reds) should fit in nicely if they can stay healthy. Stubbs (elbow chips) is hopeful of being ready for Opening Day.
New manager Walt Weiss could start five players who were not a part of last year’s team. The starting rotation is full of potential with Jose de la Rosa (16 wins) and Jhoulys Chacin (3.47 ERA) at the top.
The spring training buzz, however, involves left Brett Anderson who comes over from Oakland. Cuddyer said Anderson has “Clayton Kershaw stuff.” If that’s anywhere in the neighborhood of being true, the Rockies could be the National League’s surprise team.
The bullpen certainly is a concern when 41-year-old Latrell Hawkins is listed as the closer. The Rockies did make a sneaky good signing in lefty Boone Logan, over from the Yankees.
Bottom line: LVH projects Colorado to win 75.5 this season, only 2 more than last year if you like the OVER. The Rockies don’t have any margin of error with their roster. Translation: If Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti can bring us back to Do, the Rockies could have the Sound of a great futures play.
On deck: Detroit Tigers
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].