2 COLORADO ROCKIES

April 03, 2011

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE ROCKIES

They're one of the best teams in the league. Tell me a team with a better core than Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.... Jimenez's mechanics got out of whack in the second half last season. He'll always have inconsistencies with his release point because of his unusual arm action, so he's going to have spurts of control trouble. But he's still one of the top two or three pitchers in the league. He's the next guy they're going to lock up long term.... Look for John Maine at the back of the rotation: He was throwing in the mid-80s when he got hurt last year with the Mets, but his velocity is back up.... Their biggest concern is the bullpen and Huston Street. When he's good he's got plus sink on his fastball, but he doesn't have anything close to that right now. His fastball barely touches 90.... Matt Lindstrom is the guy they would turn to if Street can't close. He has electric stuff, but when he misses, he misses by a whole lot. They're better off using him as a setup guy.... Tulowitzki still wants to get better. I was on the field one morning this spring, and he was the first player out there taking ground balls.... Chris Iannetta's time is running out. He's best when he's driving the ball to right centerfield, but he's still pull happy and hung up on his power.... Todd Helton keeps defying the odds [at age 37]. The ball's jumping off his bat; he's showing more raw power than last year.... Jose Lopez isn't the answer at second. He's thicker and not running well. He has to hit to have impact, but he's just not driving the ball.

THE LINEUP

WITH 2010 STATISTICS

MANAGER JIM TRACY

3RD SEASON WITH ROCKIES

[originallink:10873776:1008473]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
RH UBALDO JIMENEZ 19 8 2.88 1.16
LH JORGE DE LA ROSA 8 7 4.22 1.32
RH JHOULYS CHACIN 9 11 3.28 1.27
RH JASON HAMMEL 10 9 4.81 1.40
RH ESMIL ROGERS 2 3 6.13 1.67
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH HUSTON STREET 4 20 3.61 1.06
RH MATT BELISLE 7 1 2.93 1.09

NEW ACQUISITION

PROJECTED PAYROLL $90,100,000

THE NUMBER

.263

Opponents' batting average at Coors Field last season, the lowest in franchise history. Colorado pitchers were even better on the road, allowing a .251 average—sixth best in the majors. Rockies hitters still struggle with a big home-road split, though. They hit .298 at Coors, .226 on the road.

MODEST PROPOSAL

As Todd Helton goes, so go the Rockies. The 2007 and '09 versions of the veteran first baseman played in at least 150 games, batted above .300 with .400 OBPs and slugging percentages approaching .500. In both those years, the Rockies won the NL wild-card race. In 2008 and '10, Helton showed his age and the effects of back problems, missing at least 40 games in each year, batting under .270 and slugging under .400, and the Rockies missed the postseason. If Helton's body won't let him be That Guy, the team has to find a first base replacement. Jason Giambi is back, although he, too, has lost much of the power he had in his heyday. Ty Wigginton, who mashes lefties, can serve as one half of a platoon, and the team could use Jonathan Herrera, who has some on-base skills, to form the other half, with Ian Stewart playing some first and Herrera at third. The eventual solution could even involve a trade. Loyalty is powerful, but hits and home runs are more so, and the Rockies have made it clear over the past four seasons that they need productivity from their first baseman to compete.

PHOTOJEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES (TULOWITZKI) PHOTOTIM DEFRISCO (HELTON)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)