Saturday, March 29, 2008


It's staying light longer, the Leafs are toast ... that can mean only one thing: We'll soon see the first halter top of the season. OK, two things: It's baseball season, that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team for six months, knowing full well they won't win. Here's a starting nine for the Colorado Rockies.

  1. Sorry, I blinked, could you do that again: The Rockies will probably have to win another pennant soon just so people remember they were in the World Series last season. The sweep against the Red Sox was over that quickly.
  2. They'll be back: It won't just be this season. The NL West will likely go Arizona-Colorado-L.A.-San Diego-San Francisco.

    Still, the Rockies do it right -- pitching, defence, disciplined hitting. Last season's crew was probably their best bunch of hitters and defenders they've ever had.
  3. Young pitching: Canadians know about Jeff Francis -- he was runner-up to a hockey player (Sidney somebody) for Canadian Press male athlete of the year in 2007. The post-season was a premature coming-out for Ubaldo Jimenez and lefty Franklin Morales, who aren't fully formed pros.

    It's also a good idea to check Colorado Springs boxscores regularly to see how Greg Reynolds is making out in Triple-A. Taking him No. 2 in the 2006 draft was, uh, not smart, but there's no mulligans.
  4. Pods the God: The Rockies picked up the human sparkplug, Scott Podsednik, since former Lynx Jamey Carroll's departure lowered their scrappy grit quotient. Podsednik can still be an effective leadoff man; plus anyone who got a World Series ring and the blonde (Lisa Dergan, you know what she looks like) with his natural gifts must be a winner.
  5. Todd Helton -- Hall of Famer? The Bill James Gold Mine 2008 gives the first baseman a 70% likelihood of making it to Cooperstown. He just needs a few more wind-down seasons to pad his counting stats.
  6. They need a bullpen: Middle relief never gets talked about. It's not sexy, but it was a Rockies strength last season. Thing is, there's a suspicion the Rockies lucked out big-time last season. Closer Manny Corpas is also highly combustible.
  7. Josh Towers pitching at high altitude is amusing: The much-maligned meatball tosser whom the Jays non-tendered (that's the formal term for tossed aside) is with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. No one who has a heart doesn't half-heart Josh Towers, who worked his butt off to have a career in the majors.
  8. Next-gen: Hopefully those Elias Sports Bureau guys can figure out if having both Eric Youngs play for the Rockies, who are only entering their 16th season,, is some kind of record. The Jays have yet to have a father and son who both played for the team.

    The Mariners hadn't been around for as long when they had both Ken Griffeys in 1990. That was different. Griffey Sr. was at end of his career and it was mostly a sentimental move. Both Eric Youngs came to the Rockies more legitimately. Eric the Elder, the franchise's first batter on Opening Day 1993, was an expansion-draft pickup. Eric the Younger, a minor-league second baseman who isn't considered a big-time prospect, was a draft pick.
  9. Need-to-know: The caveat with the Rockies is to be wary of teams whose starting pitchers aren't hard throwers. They were eighth in the NL in ERA, which is like second for a team in neutral park, but the whole randomness of baseball means some of those line drives might drop just a bit faster and some of the deep flies might reach spots even centerfielder Willy Taveras can't reach. Bear in mind, this is just a hunch.

    The 1980s Cardinals might be a good analog, In their pennant-winning seasons (1982, '85, '87), their staff was third, second and fifth in the league in ERA. In the season following, they were 10th, fourth and eighth in ERA. Injuries and player turnover played a part, but the Rockies pitchers might have a huge evenout this season.

    (This written before Yahoo! Sports noted "the pitching depth isn't there.)

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