The season begins today Rockies fans, as our squad takes the field tonight in Houston. This is the beginning of a long, 162 game trek that will end in the fall. The familiar studs like Tulo and Cargo return, but how will Colorado fare this season? The Rockies started strong in 2011, but fell apart after that, and finished well below .500. The front office made plenty of deals during the winter, hoping to change the culture in the clubhouse and on the field. There are plenty of questions heading into this year….here are the “Top 7″…..
1 – Will The Rockies Have Enough Pitching To Contend? - Guys like Ubaldo, Hammel, and Street are gone, so who will elevate their game and be the workhorses on the mound? The Rockies dealt for Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie, who they hope will give them plenty of innings this year. He had a 4.33 ERA last year for a terrible team, so the thought is he can win 15-18 games behind a better team here. A crazy blend of 49 year old Jamie Moyer, and a bunch of young pups round out the rotation. Rafael Betancourt is the closer, and some unproven talent will help him in the bullpen. The pitching this year is a very dicey situation, and if it struggles, this could be a frustrating year for Rockies fans.
2 – Can Todd Helton Hold Up Again? - Last year was a great surprise for Helton fans, as he looked healthy and was probably the most consistent player on the team. The 38 year old has battled back issues for a few years now, and in 2010, looked like he may be done. How much longer can he play over 100 games at first? If he falters, Jordan Pacheco and Jason Giambi can fill in when needed. If he can hit around .300 and stay in the lineup, the Rockies could stay in the hunt.
3 – Will The Veteran Additions Make A Difference? - The Rockies brought in Michael Cuddyer, who was very productive in Minnesota for over 10 years. The 33 year old will play right field, and typically hit 5th or 6th in the order. Cuddyer averaged 20 HR’s and 82 RBI while with the Twins, and that has been in a park the last few years that has not been hitter friendly. The Rockies hope he approaches 30 HR and 100 RBI here, and that should be very realistic. Second baseman Marco Scutaro was added as well, and should add a nice veteran presence near the top of the batting order.
4 – Can Dexter Fowler Be Consistent? - This guy is the wildcard in my book for 2012. He had a strong second half of 2011 after being sent down to the minors for a while. The Rockies want him to be their every day center fielder, as his overall speed and athleticism is amazing at times. He has, however, gone into the tank for periods of time. He has to stay consistent for the Rockies to contend.
5 – What Will Happen At 3rd Base? - Mr. Frustrating, Ian Stewart is history, and his inconsistent play won’t be missed. Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson will platoon at 3rd to start the year, but make no mistake, this will be temporary. 20 year old Nolan Arenado is the future here, and my prediction is he will be called up no later than June. This guy seems to be the real deal, and should be a fixture at 3rd for years to come.
6 – Who The Heck Will Play Catcher? - Chris Ianetta was traded to the Angels, and was just ok here really. Veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez, who has bounced around the league, will play plenty. 23 year old Wilin Rosario will be in the mix at times too, and could play more if he matures enough during the season.
7 – Will the 2012 Rockies be a contender in the NL West? - My feeling is they will be in contention come September. This could be the 2012 rendition of the Blake Street Bombers, as 3-4 guys have the potential for 25+ Home Runs. The problem, I feel, will be the pitching. Too many questions there, and quite honestly it could be a disaster as the year unfolds…..The NL West will finish like this…..1. San Francisco (94-68) 2. Arizona (89-73) 3. Colorado (86-76) 4. Los Angeles (80-82) 5. San Diego (71-91)……
Gonna be a fun year of course, and the team should have plenty of hitting. Lots of 14-11 games at Coors Field, with a lot of offensive fireworks. Unfortunately, no playoffs for our Rox in 2012…..Hit me up below if you think I am wrong….As a Colorado fan, I truly hope I am!