Last year the Rockies made a cinderella run to the World Series with one of the youngest teams in the NL. Do they have the talent to make another run to the fall classic? Lets take a look at how the Rock Show looks heading into 2008.
2007 Finish: 90-73, 2nd place in NL West
Key Acquisitions: Luiz Vizcaino (RP), Kip Wells (SP), Marcus Giles (2b), Scott Podsednik (CF)
Key Losses: LaTroy Hawkins (RP), Kazuo Matsui (2b), Josh Fogg (SP)
Probable Opening Day Lineup:
1) Willy Taveras - CF
2) Troy Tulowitzki - SS
3) Matt Holliday - LF
4) Todd Helton - 1b
5) Garrett Atkins - 3b
6) Brad Hawpe - RF
7) Yorvit Torrealba - C
8) Jayson Nix - 2b
Lineup Grade: A-... Any team that plays 81 games is going to have a good offense. But the Rockies lineup is loaded with a great mix of speed, power and patience. Other than Philly, there may be no greater 2-5 hitters in the National League. And if Willy Taveras can provide adequate leadoff production, the Rockies may score 900 runs this year.
1) Jeff Francis
2) Aaron Cook
3) Ubaldo Jimenez
4) Jason Hirsh
5) Kip Wells
Rotation Grade: B-... Just as Coors Field greatly affects hitting, it also does with pitching. For years the Rockies overpayed for starters who were destroyed in the thin mountain air. Now though they have developed some solid young arms for much cheaper, and those starters did better than any Rockies staff in team history. Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook are solid if unspectacular, but the real key to the rotation is Ubaldo Jimenez. He made a huge difference down the stretch and has the most talent of any of the starters, but he pitched a lot of innings last year and will have to be monitored carefully.
2008 Outlook: The young Rockies grew up before our eyes last year, winning 14 of their last 15 regular season games and then advancing all the way to the World Series. Its going to be hard to duplicate such success, and the NL West has many improved teams. But the core of a successful team is in place, and the Rockies know how to win after surviving the crucible of September and October last year. It always comes down to pitching for the Rockies, and this is probably the most optimistic the team has ever been about the staff it has assembled, which means the team will stay competitive all year long.
Predicted 2008 Finish: 89-73. The NL West looks like a three team race for the division between the Rockies, Dodgers and Diamondbacks. Out of those three teams, the Rockies may have the least questions to answer, and should contend for the division title at best, and be a large player in the Wild Card race at worst.