2009 MLB Preview: #21 Colorado Rockies

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Offseason Movement: The biggest move the Rockies made this offseason was trading outfielder Matt Holliday to the A’s in exchange for pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith, as well as outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Street takes over for Brian Fuentes, who signed with the Angels. Colorado also added pitchers Jason Marquis and Alan Embree, as well as outfielder Matt Murton.

Top Prospect: Dexter Fowler, OF
Fowler is destined to start the season in the minors, but the Rockies hope that he’ll become a middle of the order hitter and flash some pop in due time. He has tons of speed, but he’s an unpolished player overall, and one that will need time to mature. With a current rash of outfielders already on the big league roster, Colorado isn’t likely to rush Fowler or Carlos Gonzalez, the latter being acquired in the Matt Holliday trade.

The Big Question: How will the rotation look without Jeff Francis?
Nobody will confuse Francis with Cole Hamels, but at least the Rockies could usually count on 13-plus wins from the 28-year old starter. But Francis underwent arthroscopic surgery in the offseason to repair his labrum and clean up the rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He’ll likely miss the entire 2009 season, which leaves the starting rotation awfully thin. Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez are solid, but after them are Jason Marquis, Greg Smith and Jorge De La Rosa/Franklin Morales. Maybe the the Rocks will get lucky and one will surprise, but this is a weak rotation on paper.

Outlook: Without Matt Holliday in the middle of their lineup, the Rockies will probably play more small ball this year. Hopefully promising youngster Troy Tulowitzki can put his injury-plagued 2008 season behind him and bounce back to his 2007 form. Colorado will rely on him and Ryan Spilborghs to set the table at the top of the lineup, while hopefully getting some pop from Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton. The starting pitching is a huge question mark, which is why the Rockies will likely struggle again in 2009. But even though this club is far removed from its World Series team in 2007, there is some hope on the horizon in the form of several promising prospects.

Projection: 4th NL West

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