Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Baseball Really Imminent
2008-03-27 23:54
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Wow, the season came quickly this year, huh? Perhaps it was the fact that the Rockies' 2007 didn't end until the World Series did that it feels like less of a wait than usual this year. Or also it could be that Opening Day is in March.

Troy Tulowitzki is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated baseball preview issue, which came in the mail today. After one in their history, this makes for two Rockies covers in the past seven months, which qualifies as an outright rash.

When the biggest question coming out of your spring camp is whether Scott Podsednik makes the team or not, things are probably going pretty well. That may be overstating things slightly -- it will make more difference to Colorado's won-loss record who the fifth starter ends up being. But most teams have fifth-starter issues. Here's the rotation, which is more or less as we expected except for Mark Redman taking the spot projected for Jason Hirsh, who is injured -- Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Redman, Franklin Morales. Morales could probably use some time in AAA -- to make up for the time he missed while filling in for the injury-depleted Rockies in their pennant run last year. None of the various veteran retreads brought into camp made impression enough to unseat the semi-incumbent Redman, who sort of ended the season last year as the fifth starter as the Rockies' pitching staff staggered into the playoffs held together with duct tape and baling wire. (Josh Towers did hang around as a swingman.)

I feel a certain amount of trepidation as the Rockies prepare to open because the end of last year was such a singular experience. If the team gets out to a poor start, bigger crowds at Coors and more articles about the Rockies in the papers might be a temporary phenomenon. That'd be a shame because in 1995 (strike-shortened season) and 2007 (freakish late-September surge) fans in Denver missed out on the central pleasure of being a fan of a baseball team -- following their progress to a playoff appearance through the ups and downs of a full 162-game season. The Rockies will need luck to make the postseason as they did last year, but they won't have to wait until the day after the regular season before anyone takes them seriously as contenders.

Does "Better fundamental team, but maybe no playoffs" sound like a hedge or a lack of faith? The Rockies not being terrible is a new thing for me, too. We'll see how it goes.

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