2013 COLORADO ROCKIES SEASON PREVIEW
The Colorado Rockies finished at the bottom of the National League West at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign with a 64-98 record. New manager Walt Weiss will step into a situation with a team featuring a group of aging veterans who will be seen as mentors for the younger generation of players that will be the franchise's future. The Rockies made a series of moves in the offseason to improve the roster's overall depth, but the team will have to catch their fair share of lucky breaks to make a run at a wild card spot. The team opens up the year against the Milwaukee Brewers and will look to start off strong this spring to lay a solid foundation for a future contention.
The 2012 season was a year to forget for most Rockies fans, as the team finished with a 64-98 record and dug a large hole in the loss column early in the year that they couldn't quite dig themselves out of. It was the third consecutive losing season for the Rockies, who haven't posted a winning record since 2010, and over the course of the past few years, a series of slow starts have buried the team in the standings.
Worse yet, with the defending World Series champion, the San Francisco Giants, in their division, as well as strong teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Rockies will have their work cut out for them as they try to return to their winning ways in 2013.
The offseason put a serious emphasis on purging some of the bloated contracts and older veterans that had dominated the team's lineup in recent years. The Rockies said goodbye to longtime stalwarts like first baseman Jason Giambi and his backup Mark Tracy, as well as pitchers Jonathan Sanchez, Josh Roenicke and Alex White. The squad added a variety of depth players like first baseman Ryan Wheeler, pitcher Wilton Lopez and outfielders Reid Brignac and Kenneth Williams.
As disappointing as the 2012 season was for the Rockies, they still featured one of the most productive offenses in the league. The team led the National League in hits per game, was second in batting average and sixth in runs scored - all without having their best player, shortstop Troy Tulowitski, in the lineup. The Rockies boast one of the better infields in the Major Leagues, with longtime veteran Todd Helton manning the first base spot, Josh Rutledge at second base, Tulowitski returning to shortstop and Chris Nelson at third base. The outfield is led by perennial MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez, and he will be joined by Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer.
Pitching will continue to be the biggest issue for the Rockies, who posted a -132 run differential over the course of 2012. The team has solid starters in Jeff Francis and Jhoulys Chacin, but they will need to see improved play from John Garland, Jorge De La Rose and Juan Nicasio to make significant strides in the coming season. If the pitching is better than expected and the offense approaches 2012 levels, the Rockies could be poised for a surprise playoff run that would be a welcome sight for the Coors Field faithful.
COLORADO ROCKIES INFORMATION:
Location: Denver, Colorado
Stadium: Coors Field
Conference: National League
Division: West Division
Rivals: Atlanta Braves
Notable Players: Andrés Galarraga, Ellis Burks, Larry Walker, Dante Bichette
Colorado Rockies World Series Titles: 0 - Only World Series appearance, 2007
Colorado Rockies NL Championships: 1 - Last NLCS appearance, 2007
The Colorado Rockies were one of two expansion teams to begin play in 1993. Initially, they played their games at Mile High Stadium, which they shared with the NFL's Denver Broncos. This large space allowed them to smash the single-season attendance record, with 4,483,350 fans attending Rockies games during 1993. The Rockies showed encouraging signs during their first few seasons, finishing with 65 wins in '93, the most ever by a National League expansion team. Even first baseman Andres Galarraga won the batting title, becoming the first member of an expansion team to win the honor.
The Rockies' first taste of the postseason came in 1995, when the team signed Larry Walker to be the big bat at the top of their lineup. With quality starters like Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla and Bill Swift, the team quickly built themselves into a contender in the National League. By capturing the Wild Card in 1995, the Rockies became the first expansion team to reach the postseason prior to being in the league for eight years. The Rockies gave the eventual world champion Atlanta Braves a run for their money in the National League Division Championship, but would fall in four games to the overwhelming talent of the Braves' roster.
In 2007, the Rockies completed one of the greatest September stretches in baseball history, after the club won 21 of 22 games during the month to force a one-game playoff with the San Diego Padres. The steady bats of Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holiday made the Rockies a dangerous lineup from top to bottom, and star pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez kept hitters guessing at the plate. After knocking off the Padres to capture the Wild Card, the Rockies would sweep their opponents in both rounds of the playoffs to capture their first-ever National League pennant. Unfortunately, the Rockies would run into another red hot team, the Boston Red Sox, who were looking to capture another championship after the team compiled a similar postseason run in 2004. The Red Sox swept the Rockies in four games to take the World Series, but Rockies fans enjoyed every minute of the unexpected ride.
With much of the core of its World Series team largely intact, the Rockies are sure to be a major contender in the National League. Playing in the beautiful confines of Coors Field and enjoying a dedicated fan base, the Rockies are one of the modern day success stories of Major League Baseball that have many bright days ahead.
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