1. Added pitching depth = more wins in 2009. Should have happened two years ago but additional arms will mean more wins, more Q starts in 2009. Based on pitching alone I would say this team is at least .500. There will be less bullpen strain, more innings eaten, less patchwork starts in 2009. I see the Rockies team era in the low to mid 4s this year. Many close one run games which brings me to...
2. The dilemma of the offense though.... The Rockies offense will be slow, station to station and have proven to be not so run productive(see % in RISP, Sac Fly etc). Baseball is evolving back to a run producing game. The Rocks may have the slowest lineup in baseball. Few bunters of any quality, limited SB potential, and issues with contact (i.e.. less hit and run ops). How will they produce runs? Will the better pitching offset the less run production. Rocks have many guys with lots of swing holes. Atkins, Hawpe, Stewart, Tulowitzski. There best contact guys Helton/Ianetta/Smith/Spilborghs are not (save Helton) at the top of the list. I suspect there will be many low run games they are involved in this year. Can they manufacture runs to win?
3. Speed evolution. This is coming from several angles. 1. The drop in power post roid era. 2. A needed refocus on african american players coming into baseball. 3. Due to the financial situation, older more expensive players are being squeezed out. I love the speed game. The last 15 years have been difficult to swallow with the emphasis on driving balls and big innings and lack of fundamental run manufacturing and aggressive style. I played in the speed era and it was great and exciting. Rockies need to get their fast and may need to elevate Young, Fowler, etc quickly to adapt. It has been truly sad to see talented african american kids playing basketball and football over baseball the last generation. I am excited to yearn for the day when base stealing is once again a major offensive threat. Guys pushing 100 steals per season. Give me the Vince Colemans, Willie Wilsons, Tim Raines's, Willie McGee's, Rickey Henderson's back. Bring back the 2 hole guys who take pitches, hit the ball to the opposite side, can bunt the ball into a soup can etc. Thank god for RBI program and a renewed emphasis on getting the african american kids on the baseball field. They produced so many of the great players in history and are sorely needed back in the sport.
4. Defense. Another real question mark in 2009. The outfield will have coverage issues. We are suspect at 3B, 2B, and in the entire OF. Quite frankly if I were the manager I would open with Fowler in CF from the start as the gaps in Coors Field will look very large with the sloths we have in the OF. I need to see more of this Gonzales kid and will be watching the Carribean Series with interest. If Helton plays well in 2009 the infield will be improved as he eliminates errors and makes plays other 1B don't. I think either Gonzales or Fowler must be in the lineup though as speed is needed.
Prediction: 85-77 and a third place finish behind the Giants/Dodgers.