Monday, February 22, 2010

Analyzing Some Rockie Predictions

Tyler Thompson over at Bleacher Report made his 10 Bold Predictions for the Rockies in 2010.

Here's a rundown with some of my thoughts mixed in.

1. Ubaldo Jimenez will take another step forward

Thompson goes on to say Jimenez "should be an easy choice for the All-Star game in July."

Agreed.  Jimenez is only going to get better as he establishes better command and more consistency.  He's special, folks.  Let's just enjoy this guy for as long as we can.

2. Todd Helton will hit .322 with 18 HRs and 92 RBI

That's a touch optimistic because I expect Helton to see 40-50 less ABs this season.  The average should be right around that mark but I'll predict more like 13 HRs with 82 RBI.  The main thing is having Helton hitting in September/October like he is in April/May.  If Giambi hits around .250 with 10 HRs and 40 RBI then you've really got something good going.

3. Jeff Francis will spend at least 15 days on the DL

I'll agree with this one.  Expecting Francis to make 30+ starts after missing an entire season is not all that realistic.  He will fatigue and he will need to be handled cautiously, which could result in the 2-3 week DL stint during the summer.    

4. Someone unexpected will break into the rotation

Thompson lists Greg Reynolds, Greg Smith, Jhoulys Chacin and Tim Redding as the candidates to do so.  

The guy I like there is the forgotten man in the Matt Holliday trade -- Greg Smith.  He suffered through injury, illness, more injury, and general wimpiness in 2009.  This is a huge year for him for a lot of reasons, just as it is for Reynolds, but I think Smith makes the move because his being left-handed would make him a natural replacement for Francis, Chacin may need another year, and Redding is bad.

5. The Bullpen will be the team's biggest strength

Nothing bold about this prediciton.  The Rockies bullpen will be the team's biggest strength.  It's deep, it's experienced, it's versatile, it's balanced.  It's very, very strong.  

6. Seth Smith will be too productive to leave on the bench

Fact.  Which is why I think #7 will also be true.  

7. Trade rumors will swirl regarding Brad Hawpe

Brad Hawpe is a really strong bet to be traded.  You can't leave your best pure hitter on the bench 4 times a week.  And yes, I honestly believe Seth Smith is the Rockies best pure hitter.  He's the guy I want at the plate with the game on the line.  

You're also not going to bench Dexter Fowler or Carlos Gonzalez very often, plus you have to find ABs for Ryan Spilborghs.  Hawpe may not last past May in a Rockies uniform.  

8. Chris Iannetta will prove that he’s ready to be a Major League starter

Iannetta is going to explode this season.  He's going to hit a ton of home runs.  He's going to move himself into an RBI position in the lineup.  He's going to remain a solid backstop.  He will challenge for an all-star selection this season.  I think he'll be the team MVP.  

I have nothing base any of that on other than my own faith in Chris Iannetta.  I think he has it in him and I think it's coming out really soon.  It almost has to.  

9. Troy Tulowitzki will start slowly but finish as an MVP contender

Where's the boldness in this prediction?  We all know Tulo has a reputation as a slow starter.  He also finished in the Top 5 of MVP voting last season.  It's no stretch to say he'll match that.  

My prediction for Tulo is more consistency through the season, but he'll have a difficult time moving up in the MVP race as more Rockies produce offensively.  He'll be great, but he won't look like the who's obviously carrying the team again.  

10. The Rockies will win the NL West
Thompson: I think they are still a year away from competing against Philadelphia, but taking the West should be no problem at all.
That's a strong statement.

It's their best chance to date. They are every bit as strong as the other division contenders -- Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks (pending Webb's health). It's all about how they play within the division. Historically that's the issue. If they get that division record over .500, then yes, they'll win this division. If they get to .500, then they've put themselves right in the hunt. Anything under .500, as we've seen time and time again, is not good enough.

Prediction: I think they figure the Dodgers out this season.  I think they battle the Giants right down to the wire.  And I think both the Rockies and Giants make the playoffs.  In which order... I'm not ready to say just yet.