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News » Colorado Rockies Roster Report 2009-04-03


Colorado Rockies Roster Report 2009-04-03


Colorado Rockies Roster Report 2009-04-03
The Rockies have to decide whether to make room on their Opening Day roster for 3B/LF/2B Ian Stewart, who turns 24 on April 5 and has impact power, and speedy CF Dexter Fowler, 23, the team's best outfielder and a potential base-stealer even though he hasn't learned to use his speed. Both players are key parts of the Rockies' future and should contribute this season; the club must determine whether it's better to have them start the season in the big leagues. Stewart seems virtually certain to do so, since he has had 671 at-bats at Class AAA the past two years with little to prove there, but Fowler has yet to play at Class AAA, having jumped from Class AA to the Rockies in September.

A hip flexor and groin strain limited 3B Garrett Atkins' Cactus League at-bats, but he expects to be ready to start the season. RF Brad Hawpe also was slowed this spring, missing times with a lacerated pinkie and then a strained hamstring.

RHP Taylor Buchholz will miss at least the first month of the season after being diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament early in spring training.

The Rockies have endured a losing April in four of the past five years and could use a fast start, or at least not an abysmal one. They play 11 of their first 14 games on the road this year with the home games against the World Series champion Phillies. The Rockies' April schedule includes nine home games and 11 on the road, where they play six games at Arizona (they won't see Chase Field again until Sept. 18), two at the Chicago Cubs and three at the Los Angeles Dodgers.

ROTATION:

1. RHP Aaron Cook

2. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

3. LHP Franklin Morales

4. RHP Jason Marquis

5. LHP Jorge De La Rosa

ROTATION ANALYSIS: Cook and Jimenez are fine at the top of the rotation, both capable of having big seasons, but problems may be lurking behind them. Marquis is a bottom-of-the-rotation type. De La Rosa was very good in his final seven 2008 starts and very up and down in spring training. The challenge for him will be to remain consistent over a full season, which has never been the case. The Rockies don't need a fifth starter until April 21, making it possible LHP Greg Smith, getting over the effects of the flu and not fully stretched out, could improve with a couple starts in the minors and displace one of the incumbents.

BULLPEN:

RHP Huston Street (closer)

RHP Manuel Corpas

LHP Alan Embree

LHP Glendon Rusch

RHP Ryan Speier

RHP Jason Grilli

RHP Juan Morillo

RHP Matt Belisle

BULLPEN ANALYSIS: Corpas came into camp in better shape than he was in last year, but Street wound up winning the closer role. The loss of RHP Taylor Buchholz for at least the first month of the season means Speier and Grilli will pitch later in games than usual. Belisle has thrown well after getting over a forearm strain that bothered him early in spring training, and Rusch, who could end up filling the fifth starter's job, is a swing man who can start or pitch long relief. The assumption is Morillo, who is out of options and has a power arm, will make the Opening Day roster, since the Rockies won't need a fifth starter until April 21.

LINEUP:

1. CF Ryan Spilborghs

2. SS Troy Tulowitzki

3. 1B Todd Helton

4. 3B Garrett Atkins

5. RF Brad Hawpe

6. C Chris Iannetta

7. LF Seth Smith

8. 2B Clint Barmes

LINEUP ANALYSIS: The Nos. 2 through 6 batters could each hit 20 or more homers, which will help make up for the loss of Matt Holliday. There's a lack of speed with the departure of Willy Taveras, but his .308 on-base percentage last year frequently rendered that speed a moot point. Spilborghs should do a much better of job of consistently reaching base.

If Tulowitzki can play as he did in 2007, and there's every reason to think he can, he'll benefit from having Helton and Atkins hit behind him and get a lot of fastballs to hit. The key for the free-swinging Tulowitzki will be to lay off the high ones, but he has a chance to do a lot of damage hitting second, setting the stage for a revived Helton (he has found his power stroke after back surgery) and a proven run-producer in Atkins. Iannetta should build on his 2008 season, when he showed power and patience, helping make this a deep lineup. The Rockies were a poor situational hitting club last year but have shown in spring training they will be better under new hitting coach Don Baylor.

RESERVES:

OF/INF Ian Stewart

INF/OF Jeff Baker

INF Omar Quintanilla

OF Dexter Fowler

C Yorvit Torrealba

RESERVES ANALYSIS: The Rockies will have a power threat in left-handed-hitting Stewart, who can play third base, left field and second base, and right-handed-hitting Baker, assuming Baker isn't traded and makes the team. Quintanilla is very good defensively at second, shortstop and even third and provides a left-handed bat with limited power. Either Podsednik, a left-handed hitter, or switch-hitting Fowler will be able to spell Ryan Spilborghs in center field. Torrealba does a good job handling the staff, holds his own offensively and can drive mistake pitches a long way.

ROOKIE WATCH: CF Dexter Fowler, who jumped from Class AA to the Rockies in September and has yet to play at Class AAA, has a chance to make the team. If the Rockies do decide to send Fowler to Class AAA to get more at-bats, there's little doubt he will be in the big leagues before too long. The lanky Fowler covers a lot of ground with ease and is a very good center fielder, a demanding position at spacious Coors Field. He's stronger this year, no longer hitting with a split-hand grip and looks as if he's ready to blossom, whether it's at the start of the season or soon thereafter after some time in the minors.

MEDICAL WATCH:

RHP Taylor Buchholz (partial tear in right ulnar collateral ligament) will miss at least the first month of the season. The Rockies are being very cautious with Buchholz, trying to make sure the partial tear doesn't become a full-blown one and require Tommy John surgery that would sideline Buchholz for about a year.

LHP Jeff Francis (left shoulder surgery in February 2009) likely will miss the entire season. Recovery time ranges from six to 12 months, meaning it's possible Francis could pitch in September but not very likely.

3B Garrett Atkins (strained right groin) was slowed in late March, but he believes he'll be ready for the regular-season opener.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 3, 2009

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