Mar. 19, 2012; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Juan Nicasio (44) throws during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
I've been telling people who suggest to me that the Rockies need to have a lot of things go right in order to contend this season, that really they only need half of those things to go right, and the other half to not go terribly wrong. So case in point, Troy Renck suggests that two of three of Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Drew Pomeranz need to have "starburst" seasons in order for the Rockies to pull off a division win. I'd say that if the Rockies get a breakout top of the rotation type of performance from one of the three, as long as the other two pitch well enough to be in the upper middle tier of NL starters, the Rockies as a team should be in good shape as long as half the other things that need to go right (production from either second or third base, for instance) do their part.
Renck also makes another point that I have a bit of an issue with, that offensive superiority in the division is essentially rendered moot with the quality of starting pitching. If you accept this, than it's easy to come to the conclusion that the Giants are the easy division favorites, because if only pitching skill matters in baseball, nobody else in the division comes close. Of course, that's not the case, as offense does count, and the Rockies advantage in that department in 2012 could be enough to offset a good chunk of the disadvantage they have on the mound when compared to San Francisco. It also puts a well balanced Arizona team squarely into the conversation, and likely at the top of it.
Having said all that, however, I have to confess that the Giants offense does look a bit more dangerous this season with Brandon Belt and Melky Cabrera showing signs of legitimacy. I really don't fault people for putting either San Fran or the Diamondbacks ahead of Colorado this year, as they both have teams capable of winning the division and both have done it in the recent past. And the Rockies? Well... really, if the Rockies want the respect of the local rag going into a season, they should try showing themselves capable of winning a division at all at some point.
Also in the Post, I didn't even bother to click the link to the Woody Paige article because the headline alone makes me swear he's just trolling for click throughs, but if somebody else wants to read it, go ahead. I'm also avoiding linking to Jamie Moyer, 49 year old loser articles, which leaves little else for the Rockies news feed this morning save the good news:
Nicasio has a bit of a daunting task ahead of him today, as believe it or not this particular rubber game involves a bit more than just showing up for the feel good moment. Playoff teams typically have at least .500 road records, or close to it, and we know how how difficult it is for the Rockies to perform well on the road after playing long homestands at Coors Field. So if the Rockies really are contender worthy this season, it would behoove them to go out and take care of patsies early in the schedule like Houston while they can, so they don't have to make up for losing a series like this later in a place Philadelphia or St. Louis. The Astros are sending out one of their best starters, a similar pitcher to Nicasio, actually, in Bud Norris.
Also making his season debut today, but not for the Rockies is Jason Hammel, who Colorado traded to the Orioles with Matt Lindstrom over the winter for Jeremy Guthrie. Meanwhile, yesterday, Ubaldo Jimenez made his 2012 debut for the Indians and pitched very well, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning, although his team went on to lose the game. Evaluating winners or losers from those trades still might take some time.