In a wide-open NL West, no one should sleep on the Colorado Rockies
. After a disappointing encore to their historic World Series run in 2007, this year's Rockies feature a talented group of youngsters ready to dismiss the idea that the Matt Holliday
trade raised a white flag for this upcoming season.
A big part of their lineup is outfielder Brad Hawpe
, who has hit at least 20 home runs with a .280 BA, a .380 OBP and a .490 SLG in each of the past three seasons. His 76 home runs over that span rank 15th among all major league outfielders and are more than any current Rockies player. His defense leaves much to be desired, but his value is in his bat.
Soon to be 30 years old, Hawpe isn't exactly ripe for fine-tuning his swing, but he needs to cut down on the swings-and-misses. His biggest flaw in particular is dealing with off-speed pitches from lefties. He comes up empty nearly half the time he swings at the slow stuff from southpaws. On the flip side, he crushes the off-speed stuff from righties. The Rockies should give some thought to a platoon when a soft-tossing lefty is on the hill.
The Holliday trade effectively turned one year of an All-Star outfielder into much-needed help at the back end of the Rockies' bullpen, not to mention some prospects to help long-term. Acquired in the trade from the A's, Huston Street
went through a rough final year in Oakland but will now replace Brian Fuentes
as the Rockies' closer and push Manny Corpas
to the set-up role.
It'll help the Rockies that Willy Taveras
won't be making out after out at the top of the order anymore now that he's on the Reds. His .308 on-base percentage was egregious as it is, but the Rockies inexplicably felt that he should bat ahead of the best hitters on the team in the leadoff position. Taveras got out 388 times in his 538 trips to the plate last year and had a sad .502 OPS when leading off the game. In fact, the Rockies created more outs from the leadoff position than any other team in the National League. Other teams surely rejoiced when the Rockies decided he should have more at-bats than any other player on their team.
And lastly, it will be crucial for Todd Helton
and Troy Tulowitzki
to recover from their injury-riddled 2008 seasons. With these two fully recovered from their ailments, the Rockies will score more runs, and save more outs in the field. Expect the Rockies to win a few more games this year with their new, healthier look.