4 COLORADO ROCKIES

March 26, 2012

ENEMY LINES

A rival scout sizes up the Rockies

I think the Rockies can surprise people this year. It's going to be all about the starting pitching.... Jeremy Guthrie is going to stabilize their rotation. Is he an ace? Probably not. But I don't see any reason he couldn't win 15 games.... Juan Nicasio, who broke his neck when he was hit by a line drive last year, is more than a feel-good story. He's getting it up to 97 mph, and it's easy.... I saw Drew Pomeranz touch 95 in camp with Cleveland last year. I haven't seen the same guy so far this year, he's just not as electric.... Jamie Moyer is 49, but he looks outstanding. He's throwing his fastball in and out, getting his curveball over, and he's in great shape. It wouldn't surprise me if he broke camp with the team.... Last year was a disappointing one for Carlos Gonzalez, but you'd take those numbers in a good year from most other corner outfielders. The team was losing, and I think he felt like he had to do a little too much. Between him and Troy Tulowitzki, I'm not sure there are two better guys to start a team with.... I think Michael Cuddyer is going to be huge for them, for leadership and versatility but also for production. He'll hit a bunch of doubles and enough home runs, and fit into the six hole very nicely.... Casey Blake is nearing the end as a third baseman, but they've got Nolan Arenado in the system. When I saw Arenado in the Arizona Fall League, gosh, he was a man among boys. The only thing he doesn't do is run. I expect to see him in Colorado in late May, early June.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER JIM TRACY

4th season with Rockies

[originallink:10881971:1009531]

8 10 3.38 1.09 BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP RH RAFAEL BETANCOURT 2 8 2.89 0.87 RH MATT BELISLE 10 0 3.25 1.26

NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$76.8 million

THE NUMBER

4.54

Runs per game by the Rockies in 2011, fewest in franchise history. They also set new lows in batting (.258), slugging (.410) and OPS (.739) despite the fact that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez were one of the most potent tandems in the game. Only one other NL team (the Cardinals) enters '12 with two regulars who hit better than .295/.350/.525 last year.

MODEST PROPOSAL

The Rockies rebuilt their pitching staff this winter in part by trading for two inexperienced starters who don't strike out many men and take divergent approaches to getting hitters out. Righthander Tyler Chatwood, 22, acquired from the Angels, got 1.5 ground balls for every fly ball he allowed, as a rookie last year. Righty Guillermo Moscoso, 28, picked up from the A's, had the highest fly ball rate (55.5%) of any pitcher with at least 100 innings pitched—in fact, he was the only one above 50%. Now, even humidor-era Coors Field is a tough place for fly ball pitchers, so manager Jim Tracy can squeeze out the most from his two hurlers by platooning them by location. Chatwood and his emphasis on 93-mph fastballs down in the zone should get the call most often at home, while Moscoso and his lesser stuff (he averages 91 on his heater) can get the bulk of his starts in friendlier confines, especially in a division with three pitchers' parks, in Dodger Stadium, AT&T Park and Petco Park. It's a more complicated way of running the rotation, but it has been done; until the 1960s, many managers used much more flexible approaches in handing out starting assignments.

TWO PHOTOSJOHN BIEVER

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)