MLB odds makers aren't expecting much from the Colorado Rockies this year, as they not only haven't had a winning season since 2010, they haven't even had a year where they topped 74 victories in that stretch.
Recap of 2014
I'm not saying that Rockies manager Walt Weiss might want to have his resume updated ... but, yeah, Rockies manager Walt Weiss might want to have his resume updated. Two of the past three Colorado managers, Jim Tracy and Buddy Bell, didn't last more than three seasons in Denver. Bell had a winning season (82-80) in 2000, his first year, but was canned after a 6-16 start in 2002. Tracy had a winning record in 2010, his first year, but was dumped after a 64-98 mark in 2012. Weiss improved the team to 74 wins in 2013, but the Rockies slipped back to 66 wins last year. On the bright side, that did earn Colorado the No. 3 overall pick in this summer's amateur draft.
No team is more Jekyll-and Hyde in home/road splits then the Rockies. They are an offensive juggernaut in the thin air at Coors Field. The Rockies led the majors by a mile with 500 runs scored at home; No. 2 Toronto had 387. They also led in home dingers with 119 (No. 2 Baltimore had 107), total bases with 1,518 (No. 2 Detroit had 1,205), batting average at .322 (No. 2 Detroit was at .282) and slugging at .529 (No. 2 Toronto at .438). On the road, the Rockies were last in runs (271), and better than only San Diego in batting average (.228).
It's because of Coors Field that no free-agent pitcher worth his salt will sign with the Rockies unless it's his last contract. Call it Mike Hampton disease. It's also why the Rockies will continue to stock up on pitching in the draft. An average major-league hitter can become a star playing 81 games at Coors Field but an average big-league pitcher will get lit up there most times.
Outlook for 2015
Well, the team will hit -- at home. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is probably one of the five best offensive players in baseball. That's when healthy, which is almost never. Tulo played only 91 games last year, the third straight where he didn't play more than 126. He would have won the batting title if qualified as Tulowitzki his .340 with 21 homers and 52 RBIs. His home splits were obscene: .417 average, .497 on-base percentage, 14 homers and 35 RBIs in 163 at-bats. Those are Barry Bonds-type numbers. I would be surprised if Tulo is a Rockie come Aug. 1. There were many rumors of the team trading him this winter, with the Mets as a logical match because they have young pitching to deal and a gigantic need at shortstop. The Rockies at least want to see if they can contend first and they need Tulowitzki to prove he can stay on the field or take pennies on the dollar. Ditto for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who also is injury-prone. CarGo slumped to a .238 average with 11 homers and 38 RBIs in 70 games in 2014. He hasn't played more than 135 in a season since 2010.
First baseman Justin Morneau has had a career resurgence in Colorado and won the batting title last year, hitting .319 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs in 135 games. Third baseman Nolan Arenado is one of the best in the game, both on offense (.281, 18 HRs, 61 RBIs in 111 games) and with the glove. Outfielders Corey Dickerson (.312, 24 HRs, 76 RBIs) and Charlie Blackmon (.288, 19 HRs, 72 RBIs) were both pleasant surprises a season ago. The Rockies were very quiet in free agency, only losing outfielder Michael Cuddyer of note and adding really no one.
The rotation again looks like it will be one of the worst in baseball. Lefty Jorge De La Rosa is the ace, and he actually fares well at Coors Field. He was 10-2 with a 3.08 ERA at home and 4-9 with a 5.09 ERA on the road. Explain that to me?! De La Rosa is dealing with a strained groin and thus probably won't be able to start on Opening Day but shouldn't miss more than a few games. The projected No. 2 starter was to be veteran Jhoulys Chacin, but he was rather surprisingly cut. So now you are looking at Phillies castoff Kyle Kendrick, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek and then TBA for the rotation. Touted pitching prospect Eddie Butler was in the mix for the No. 5 spot but he left Monday's spring outing with right shoulder fatigue. That sounds ominous especially as Butler was shut down last year with a shoulder problem. So it looks as if fellow touted prospect Jonathan Gray opens the season in the rotation. He was the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, taken one spot after the Cubs grabbed Kris Bryant.
MLB Free Picks: The offense could be excellent if the key guys stay healthy, but boy that rotation. There will be plenty of 10-8 games again this year for the Rockies. A total of 71.5 win is pretty low so I'd lean over that at Sportsbooks, with perhaps a 75-win season in the offing.