|Rockies: Plenty of power, plenty of speed|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 02, 2010
Offensively, the Rockies are a powerhouse.Â Once again it's safe to expect that the Rox will rank among the league leaders when it comes to number of runs scored.Â From top to bottom the offense is capable of producing, but that is only part of the recipe for success that the organization has discovered in recent years.
The team has done a lot of things right - perhaps the most impressive being the formation of a talent pipeline of clean cut young men who have similar values and feel privileged to have a chance to play the game.Â Year after year it seems the Rockies are producing the players they need to sustain themselves as contenders in the NL West and it seems that it is only a matter of time before the Rox get another shot at a World Series title.
Even then, roughly half of the pitchers on their roster, have finished their minor league careers hurling for the Colorado Spring Sky Sox - a trial by fire to see which of them were able to handle the altitude.Â But how many homemade pitchers the Rox have isn't the relevant factor in their success.Â It's how the staff is built, and how well the pitchers perform their duties.
It's unlikely the Rockies will ever lead the league in ERA, and management knows enough not to expect that or even to try to build a staff that could do that.Â In other parks around the game, teams try to zero in and look for pitchers who can win 17 or more games, post a very low ERA and WHIP and generally dominate the opposing hitters.Â That's not as realistic in Colorado - after all in the history of the franchise no pitcher has ever won more than 17 games (and only three have done that, Jeff Francis being the only current one) and only six starters have ever held an ERA of under 4 throughout a season (Ubaldo Jimenez has done it twice).
No, the Rockies have succeeded by not excelling in pitching, but by being good enough.Â The team ranked eighth in pitching, dead center in the NL rankings in both 2007 and 2009, both of their playoff years.Â And in both of those seasons a couple of their starters were good, and even bordered on great.Â In 2007 Jeff Francis won 17 games, while in 2009 Ubaldo Jimenez won 15 while putting up one of the best overall pitching lines in Rockies history.
But the heroes weren't just the starters but a bullpen that has been close to automatic for the Rockies during their most successful seasons.Â Â In 2007 the Rockies bullpen gathered 80 holds and almost a third of the team's 90 wins.Â And last year, while they weren't needed as much (the starters racked up 66 of the team's wins) they did manage 73 holds versus just 22 losses.
It's that kind of end game that allowed the Rockies to make their runs at the playoffs both seasons, and it's what they've attempted to recreate again.Â And on paper the pen looks to be that good, but what should be a plus for the Rockies, the starting staff, might well be the best they've every had, especially if Jeff Francis regains most of his form from 2007 after missing much of 2008 and all of 2009.That means these Rockies could be downright scary.