Additions: Huston Street, Greg Smith, Carlos Gonzalez, Alan Embree, Jason Marquis, Matt Murton, Matt Belisle, Randy Flores, Josh Fogg, Glendon Rusch (re-signed), Sal Fasano, Dan Ortmeier, Scott Podsednik (re-signed)
Subtractions: Matt Holliday, Brian Fuentes, Willy Taveras, Luis Vizcaino, Matt Herges, Mark Redman, Livan Hernandez. Midseason: Kip Wells
The Rockies are not a rebuilding club, and I would’ve liked to see them retain Holliday for an ’09 run or at least swap him for something better. GM Dan O’Dowd did not bring back star-level talent in return. The Fuentes loss I understand, and the others were negligible.
The ’08 Rockies ranked 8th of 16 NL clubs with 4.61 runs per game. As crazy as it sounds, though, it’s possible the Rockies improve to 4.86 runs per game in ’09 despite the loss of Holliday (using the trusty lineup analysis tool and CHONE projections). Here’s why: Atkins and Tulo bouncing back, no more Taveras, and more Iannetta/Helton/Stewart/Spilborghs/Smith. Even 4.81 runs per game would’ve ranked fourth in the NL last year.
The Rockies’ defense was poor last year – 14th in the NL according to The Fielding Bible II. The hope is that a healthy Tulo recreates his ’07 wizardry and Hawpe is less brutal in right.
Ah, pitching. Obviously Rockies pitchers are in a rough situation with Coors Field, but they did have strong showings from Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez. Jeff Francis went under the knife, so it’ll be up to guys like Marquis, Jorge de la Rosa, Smith, Jason Hirsh, and Franklin Morales to post ERAs under 5.00 from the #3-5 slots. The bullpen will need Street to fill Fuentes’ void, a healthy Taylor Buchholz, and a resurgent Manny Corpas.
If the Rockies pitch and play defense like they did last year, I have them around 77 wins for ’09. Even if they prevent runs like they did in ’07 (their best effort of the decade) it’s still an 83 win team.
Bottom line: O’Dowd may have been right in assuming that the Rockies’ offense can withstand the loss of Holliday, but he failed to obtain the quality starting pitching the team requires.