Know Your Enemy: Colorado Rockies

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Helton is retired. Will this change what the Rockies are?

I'm not sure I understand the Colorado Rockies, and I might never understand them.

Except for a freak World Series appearance in 2007 (and the Padres are still waiting for Matt Holliday to touch the plate) and another wild-card spot in 2009, the Rockies have not had a winning season since 2000. In fact, they have had just six winning years in their 21-season history.

They did make a 10-game improvement from 2012 to 2013 under new manager Walt Weiss, and a lot of that improvement came from the pitching staff. Rockies pitchers allowed 130 fewer runs in 2013 than 2012. Some of that might have come from giving up on what I thought was the silly experiment of having their starters go only 75 pitches. Exactly what were they trying to prove?

Anyway, the Rox had three starters last year with an ERA under 4.00 -- which is very good, especially in Coors Field, even the humidor-reduced-offense Coors Field. Unfortunately, one of those starters, Jhoulys Chacin, has had shoulder trouble early in spring training and might not be ready for the start of the season. So the Rockies will count on Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood to lead their rotation. They took a risk this offseason by sending Drew Pomeranz to the Athletics for Brett Anderson. Anderson could be very, very good, but in recent years, he has been very, very injured (hasn't made 30 starts since his rookie year, 2009). Anderson, who just turned 26, could be a top-of-the-rotation guy if he's healthy.

Otherwise, the biggest change for Colorado is the retirement of Todd Helton, who was the face of the franchise for many years, even though he hadn't been really productive for several years. Replacing him will be free agent Justin Morneau. Morneau hasn't been anywhere near the same player since the concussion he suffered in 2010, but he was reasonably productive in 2013 and might benefit from the thin air in Denver.

The Rockies signed former Cub LaTroy Hawkins in the offseason. Their depth chart shows him as "closer," though why any team would want to do that is beyond me. Hawkins did post 13 saves for the Mets last year, but that was only because they had virtually no one else they could trust with the closer role. The Rockies have Rex Brothers, who had 19 saves in 21 opportunities and 76 strikeouts in 67⅓ innings. Why mess with success?

The Cubs and Rockies, as seems the case with so many teams, will play their entire season series within 11 days' time. Colorado visits Wrigley Field July 28-29-30-31, and the Cubs travel to Denver August 5-6-7.

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