Colorado Rockies 2010 Season Preview

Leading up to the start of the 2010 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the Colorado Rockies. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.

Everyone knows about Troy Tulowitzki. Now it’s time for you to learn about a guy who’s going to help make Colorado a consistent force in the NL West.

Meet 24-year old Carlos Gonzalez (pictured above). He was once considered an elite prospect but has been traded from Arizona to Oakland to now Colorado. He hardly proved worthy of his elite prospect status before he got it going last season with the Rockies, but now he looks like he might finally make good on all the high marks surrounding him. His second half a year ago certainly makes you believe he can be amongst some of the best in the game when he is locked in. He hit an eye-popping .320 with 12 homers, 24 RBI, 42 runs and 11 steals in 62 games and 194 at-bats. If you extrapolate that to a full season, you would get: .320-31-62-110-29.

Let’s also remember that in last season’s NLDS against the Phillies, Gonzalez had 10 hits; tying a Rockies franchise record. He hit .588 in that four game series. To do that at age 23 is no small order for a player. He reminds us of a guy also by the last name of Gonzalez, Luis Gonzalez. Maybe a little less power, but the same stroke that looks like it’s a consistent bet to product .300 seasons. Aside from Tulo, he should be the consistent contributor in this Rockies offense for years to come while playing some very slick defense in the outfield.

Garrett Atkins no longer stands in Ian Stewart’s way at third base. Stewart hit just .228 last season but also hit 25 home runs. This guy will probably become the new Garrett Atkins of the lineup, settling into the 5th spot in the order and showing up to put up his numbers and hit between .260-.290 every year. Stewart plays in Coors, so a 40-point curve to the average in one season isn’t unheard of. Stewart also has enough speed to eventually swipe 15 to 20 bases. He along with Tulo should solidify the left side of the Rockies infield for the next decade.

Don’t forget about leadoff man in center field Dexter Fowler either. He stole five bases in a game last season and was picked before the 2009 season to win the Rookie of the Year by Peter Gammons. The guy has some ability. He will continue to battle with on-base percentage and if he can get on base enough, he could steal 50 bases.

The ageless wonder Todd Helton returns at first base with a two-year contract extension. Helton hit .325 last season with 15 homers, 86 RBI and 177 hits. His run at 3,000 really begins now, as he won’t have enough left in the tank to get there unless he does that every year for the next four or five seasons. He’s got a chance, but he’ll have to stay healthy and consistent.

The rotation goes Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis and Jason Hammel. Jimenez has something to prove and must take the next step and become this team’s ace. It’s never easy to sustain consistency as a starting pitcher in Colorado, you’re going to take your lumps every now and then. The closer is Huston Street in a bullpen featuring Franklin Morales, Rafael Betancourt and Manny Corpas.

Jim Tracy is a very good manager and this team has had the propensity to get as hot as anyone possibly can in this game the past couple of seasons. Long winning streaks have been what keep the Rockies alive after subpar starts. If they can start the season even decently, they should be a bet to be in the thick of things all year long in the West. How they play the Dodgers will be key, and the managerial chess match between Tracy and Torre is what you pay to see in those matchups. Overall we like the Rockies for a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the West.