Regular Articles

2006 Record: 76-86

Last in the NL West – 12 games back

A mile higher than they used to be:
Taylor Buchholtz (P) Via Trade from Astros
Alex Gomez (IF/OF) Signed as a free agent.
LaTroy Hawkins (RP) Via Free Agency from Orioles
Jason Hirsh (P) Via Trade from Astros
Brian Lawrence (SP) Via Free Agency from Nationals
Rodrigo Lopez (SP) Via Trade from Orioles
John Mabry (OF) Via Free Agency from Cubs*
Willie Tavarez (OF) Via Trade from Astros

Feeling Rather Low:
Miguel Asencio (P) Traded to Astros
Jason Burch (P) Traded to Orioles
Vinnie Castilla (IF) Retired
Choo Freedman (OF) Released
Luis Gonzalez (IF) sold to Japan
Jason Jennings (SP) Traded to Astros
Jose Mesa (RP) Free Agent signed with Tigers
Jim Miller (P) Traded to Orioles

With a win this year or else threat hanging over his head there is little doubt that Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd is already trying to figure out his golf dates for August and September figuring that he won’t be around to see the final standings. While the Rockies have plenty of solid young hitting talent and a low payroll, what they don’t have is a way to combat the stratified air of Colorado which makes even ace pitchers happy to walk away with less than 8 earned runs scored, or offer fans more than a prayer that hometown pitching will stand up to the bats of the National League.

Strengths: Offense. No one ever doubts that any team in Colorado will score plenty of runs but then no one doubts that their opposition will score quite a lot of runs at Coors Field too. The big four of Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Garret Atkins and Brad Hawpe will once again put up big averages and home run counts and the Rockies will score a ton of runs – but all offence does not a baseball team make.

Weaknesses: They’ve done everything but have witch doctors come in and try to curse the baseballs and command them to stay in the park, but no matter what pitching strategy has been employed there hasn’t been a lot of success. The current focus on pitchers prone to induce ground balls is a solid one, but the air of Coors Field does more than take the motion off a well thrown ball, it also seeps into the heads of quality pitchers and undoes a lot of good habits and cause harm while on the road too. The staff they are throwing this season might well be one of the better ones to take the mound in Denver, but it’s hard to imagine that outside of Jeff Francis anyone will have a lot of success.

Potential Lineup

Willie Tavaras (CF)
Garret Atkins (3B)
Matt Holliday (LF)
Brad Hawpe (RF)
Todd Helton (1B)
Jamey Carrol (2B)
Troy Tubwitzki (SS)
Chris Iannetta (C)

Potential Rotation

Jeff Francis
Aaron Cook
Rodrigo Lopez
Josh Fogg
Brian Lawrence
Byung-Hyun Kim

Keys to success: Short of a miracle the Rockies need two things to make themselves into legitimate threats – either the offense has to become overwhelming both at home or on the road or they’ll need to solve the pitching problems that altitude causes. Bringing in more Jeff Francis type pitchers, and gambling on Rodrigo Lopez is a good start, but it’s unlikely to be a real answer.

Prediction: The Rockies sadly are the easiest of teams to predict. Once again they’ll finish at the bottom of the division unless another team in the west crumbles and falls. That’s not to say that they can’t make a legitimate run at fourth or even at third in this up for grabs division, but they, at least for now have to be considered the weak sisters of the West.