MLB In Full Bloom - Rockies Preview 3/6//2014

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26– Number of days until Opening Day

 56,224 – Number of signatures at www.budweiser.com/openingday to make Opening Day a National Holiday

Colorado Rockies Preview

Key Additions: Justin Morneau, Drew Stubbs, LaTroy Hawkins, Brandon Barnes, Jordan Lyles, Franklin Morales, Boone Logan

Key Departures: Yorvit Torrealba, Todd Helton, Dexter Fowler, Rafael Betancourt, Drew Pomeranz, Jeff Francis, Jonathan Herrera

The big question mark facing the Colorado Rockies this year is can they finish .500? Rockies manager Walt Weiss led the Rockies to a 10-win improvement (64 wins to 74 wins) last year, but it wasn’t good enough to prevent the Rockies from a second straight last-place finish in the National League. With Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies have two of the best players in the game, but we saw once again last season that it’s difficult to rely on either of them to stay healthy. Colorado was actually five games over .500 as late as June 11. Neither guy has played 130 games or more in the same season since they have been with the Rockies.

OFFENSE: The lineup from top to bottom can put a lot of pressure on their opponents. Along with Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, the Rockies have Wilin Rosario, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, and Nolan Arenado that can provide some pop. Morneau hasn't been the same player since he missed the end of the 2010 season with a concussion. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Rockies probably would have been better served to pony up the money for Kendrys Morales. If the Rockies line-up can stay relatively healthy, they should score a lot of runs.

STARTING PITCHING: What can the Rockies get out of their starting rotation? Pitchers that have success in Coors Field must have fastball command and keep it down in the strike zone. Unlike most teams, the Rockies do not have a set starting rotation on paper. There are at least seven pitchers that include  Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin (health issue), Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, Juan Nicasio, Jordan Lyles, and Franklin Morales that will start at least one game. Christian Friedrich is another candidate for the rotation. Chacin is already dealing with a shoulder strain and if the Rockies lose him for an extended period of time, it will be extremely difficult on this staff. This rotation is full of question marks with very few answers.

BULLPEN: The Rockies bullpen is interesting with LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan joining Rex Brothers. Brothers is a quality reliever and now they have some additional options for the later innings. The Rockies' bullpen allowed the highest ERA in the National League in 2013, but the combination of Adam Ottavino and Brothers was surprisingly effective in the eighth and ninth innings. Ottavino allowed a 2.64 ERA, while Brothers held opponents to a .209 batting average and struck out over a batter per inning with a 1.74 ERA. Hawkins has been tabbed as the Rockies closer, but Brothers proved he can get the job done last year with 19 saves in 20 opportunities. Matt Belisle will also see plenty of innings.

2014 PREDICTION: The Rockies could be an interesting team if things break right, but you could say the same thing for a lot of teams. I like what they are doping as they are finding pieces. Progress is being made, but not enough progress in 2014 is being made in Colorado. As it stands, there are too many questions here. Fifth place, NL West.

Final Record: 74-84 (5th Place - NL West)