Well we've got 22 days left until Opening Day, which means it's season preview time. We'll be running it down team by team, with an added new wrinkle this time around: the beer of choice for fans of the team to enjoy whilst watching their team take the field! Nothing like that to help get you through a baseball season, especially if you're from Pittsburgh. Up next: the Colorado Rockies.
Lineup: We are huge believers in this lineup. The outfield is insanely talented, going five-deep with good bats. Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Brad Hawpe, Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs? Yes please. Troy Tulowitzki is the best thing at shortstop this side of Hanley Ramirez, and Ian Stewart and Chris Iannetta both have big power. Todd Helton, the veteran presence here, just signed a new contract after looking like a rejuvenated man last season, and Clint Barmes, while not especially good, should play well at second base. Overall, there is not much at all to dislike about the hitters that the Rox are running out there.
Rotation: It's a similar story in the rotation; solid throughout, with some star-level players for good measure. Ubaldo Jimenez is an ace, and Aaron Cook, if healthy, is a sinkerballer par excellence. Jorge de la Rosa is a premier strikeout pitcher, Jason Hammel - while he's lost some of the sheen of his top prospect status from a few years ago - should be a serviceable #4 in the weak-hitting NL West, and Jeff Francis was, once upon a time, the best pitcher on this team. We figure that Jimenez and de la Rosa are going to take a step forward this season and be the best two pitchers they have, but a lot rests on whether Francis can regain his old form after a myriad of arm troubles in the past. There's not a lot of depth here, so if Francis falters and the organization remains committed to having Franklin Morales in the 'pen, then we're not really sure what they're going to do.
Bullpen: Huston Street and the aforementioned Morales are a dynamite duo in the back of the 'pen, and while we think the Rockies overpaid for Street on his extension and are making a mistake keeping Morales there, there's no denying that it's one of the better setup/closer combos going. Rafael Betancourt, Taylor Buchholz, and Manny Corpas are also likely to provide plenty of value in the 'pen, making this a strong unit from top to bottom.
Overall: This team looks scary good. They underachieved in the first half of last season, which took some of the veneer of a very solid club, but we fully expect them to dominate this season. They can hit, they can run, they can field (except for Brad Hawpe, who is, like, historically bad with the leather), they can pitch, and they can do all of those things very well. Definitely a team to watch out for in 2010.
Predicted Record: 93-69, 1st place NL West
Beer: We didn't want to do it this way, but the beer has to be Coors, right? Coors Field, taste the Rockies...there really isn't much of a choice. And, yes, we know that Colorado has a proud group of microbreweries that are probably all better choices than Coors, but the fit is just too perfect. Also, we guess you can go with Coors Light if you can't find regular Coors. Which we never can.