The roots of what destroyed the Rockies in 2012 was their silly change in pitching philosophy. The decision to use a 4 man rotation with a cap of 60-70 pitches was a crazy idea and the results prove that. In my opinion, it derailed the development of some of their younger pitchers. The question is whether they will get away from this program or not. They need to abandon it if they want their pitchers to develop. They have some talented starters: Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Jorge De la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Tyler Chatwood to name a few. Pitching these guys, as well as others, like normal starters will start to get the pitching staff back on track.
I am not high on the hiring of new managers with no managerial experience, but Walt Weiss is a very experienced baseball man. He was always one of the smarter players, and he has the ability to be a successful MLB manager. Offensively, the team got a breakout season from rookie catcher Wilin Rosario (.270, 28, 71). Chris Nelson (.301, 9, 53) has taken over as the team's starting 3B and Josh Rutledge (.274, 8, 37) seems ready to be the team's everyday 2B. Tyler Colvin (.290, 18, 72) impressed even though he may not have a position on the field. Dexter Fowler (.300, 13, 53, 11 3Bs) took major steps towards being the player the Rockies expect him to be. Gonzalez (.303, 22, 85) and Tulowitzki (.287, 8, 27 in 47 games) can turn this team into a contender as the lineup seems to have put itself into place. Cuddyer (.260, 16, 58) and Helton (.237, 7, 37) are also capable of producing much more. I'd line them up like this: Fowler CF, Rutledge 2B, Tulowitzki SS, Gonzalez LF, Rosario C, Colvin/ Helton 1B, Cuddyer RF, Nelson 3B. Helton is clearly nearing the end of his impressive career. If Helton performs, I can see Colvin getting some time in either CF or RF, spotting Fowler and Cuddyer. The bench is expected to be deep with Jordan Pacheco, Ramon Hernandez, Eric Young Jr, and Jonathan Herrera joining either Colvin or Helton. This team will score runs.
After that endorsement, it would be fair to question why so low on my team rankings. I just do not believe in the pitching. However, at its best, they do possess some who raise the bar on what to expect. Veteran Jeff Francis (6-7, 5.58 in 24 starts, 113 IP) was the only pitcher who threw over 100 IP for the Rockies last season. Pomeranz, who came over in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, has the highest upside of any Rockies starters. De la Rosa returns from a lost season. He won 16 games in the 2009 season. I would start the season with Pomeranz, De la Rosa, Chacin, Nicasio, and either Chatwood, White or Francis. The key will be if these guys are allowed to pitch. The team cannot get through a successful season using 14 different starters like they did last season. Under new pitching coach Jim Wright, who was already with the organization, they seem to be going in the right direction.
I have difficulty trusting the closer, Rafael Betancourt. I think Matt Belisle and Wilton Lopez (6-3, 2.17, 10 saves in 63 games for Houston last season) are probably better closing options for the Rockies. Either way, the Rockies have very good set-up relief with LHP Rex Brothers solidifying the game late. The question is whether the starters can get the game to the 7th inning, by themselves without the need for a piggyback reliever. That will be key.
As I have stated, I have little faith in the team's ability to pitch, particularly at the beginning of games. I am concerned the Rockies ruined the development of Pomeranz, White and Nicasio by what they did last season. But, if they are left alone, maybe the true talent can be seen. This team will not lose 98 games like they did last year, but I have a hard time seeing them compete. Vegas puts their over/ under at 71 1/2; I think they can beat that, but not by much. I see the Rockies finishing at 73-89, last place in the NL West. But like I said, if Pomeranz can become an ace, and De la Rosa and Chacin can pitch to their full potential, this team could surprise. Especially with an offense that will score runs.