With Colorado’s season opener tomorrow night in Houston, it’s time to make my predictions for the season. It is impossible to be totally accurate with the possibilities of a 162-game season. Trades, injuries and slumps are just as hard to predict as breakouts and hot streaks, but that’s what is great about baseball; it’s not wholly predictable. Who thought Colorado would not only make a wild-card spot in 2007, but ride a 21-of-22 winning streak to a World Series appearance? The answer is no one. Who believed the hype the last two seasons that the Rockies would win the division and make a deep playoff push? More than plenty.
Team Record: 80-82 (3rd or 4th in NL West)
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I know this looks bad, but I just don’t think this is the Rockies’ year. The NL West has an Arizona D-backs squad that won the division and is returning with a near identical set of starters. The Giants have Buster Posey back and an enviable complement of pitchers. The Dodgers are the question mark this season, and new ownership could begin dumping money into acquiring players before the trade deadline if LA stumbles along through the first part of the season. The Padres … are the Padres, they always play strong at some point during the season only to inevitably fall on their faces and remain firmly planted face down at the bottom of the division.
Team MVP: Troy Tulowitzki
King of hollow stats, I wish he could get his and CarGo’s bat to sync up at the right time. Tulo is the team leader, has the brashest personality and doesn’t mind being vocal. He has a glove and a bat to back up the words that come out of his mouth. I hope he can have another Silver Slugger/Gold Glove season and possibly make it into the NL MVP conversation before the All-Star break.
Runner Up: Carlos Gonzalez
Best Pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie
I would put Jorge De La Rosa in here, but he will not be returning until June, and I don’t expect him to hit the ground running. I’ve bagged on Guthrie in the past for always holding a strong losing record, but I really do hope he benefits from a team and league change.
Runner Up: Juan Nicasio
Best Reliever: Matt Belisle
He is rock solid and has shown no signs that he isn’t perfectly capable of carrying a game on his back and keeping the Rockies in it. He can’t do it all the time, and I hope the lineup doesn’t put the bullpen into high usage because of limp bats at the plate.
Runner Up: Rex Brothers
Breakout Year: Chris Nelson
This is me being hopeful for a struggling player. Nelson is platooning at third with Jordan Pacheco and I really think this may be his last shot … or so this armchair GM thinks. If he struggles, he has to be sent down, traded or buried in the minors. He has shown before that he can play, only to regress, and the club can’t play “Ian Stewart, what if …” anymore at third.
Runner Up: Jordan Pacheco