SLEEPER Willy Taveras has the green light and the speed to steal 50 bases. Pass on more expensive steals specialists, and you'll be just fine with him.
BUST Opening Day starter or not, Aaron Cook is not a fantasy ace. Or even fantasy worthy.
HITTER TO WATCH: Ian Stewart, 3B Stewart is now two years removed from his breakout season, but he'll turn 22 in April and still has good pull-power potential.
PITCHER TO WATCH: Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP
Jimenez has always had the stuff (including a 95-96 mph fastball), but control issues and a stress fracture in his arm have held him back.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins, two of the NL's most underrated hitters, could add to last year's combined 234 RBIs with two of the league's fastest runners, Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui, hitting in front of them. If Taveras can keep the ball on the ground, he can steal 30 bags -- at least. "We're going to let him run," says GM Dan O'Dowd. Matsui hit .345 in 113 at-bats for Colorado, finally realizing some of the ability he didn't show with the Mets. "He has a real sense of comfort and confidence about him," O¹Dowd says. The Rockies stole 85 bases last year; Taveras and Matsui might approach that number by themselves. And that'll make for a dangerous offensive club.
NEEDS FIXING Todd Helton is still a Rockie because Boston wouldn't part with young guns Manny Delcarmen or Craig Hansen. Helton is owed $90M through 2011, and the Rockies would eat a large portion of that to give them some payroll flexibility. Helton isn't the hitter he used to be, but in Boston he'd repeatedly dent the Green Monster. He wants to go the Red Sox, so the deal could be resurrected at the deadline.
Doubles machine Ian Stewart has nothing left to prove in the minors, but third baseman Atkins is in the way. If the Rockies trade Helton, Atkins goes back to first base, clearing the path.
Since Charlie and Dick Monfort assumed control of the Rockies, in 2003, fan patience has grown thinner than the mile-high air. From 2003 to 2006, the Rockies averaged an underwhelming 71 wins a season, while the payroll has dropped from $67.2 million to $41.2 million. Also plummeting? Attendance, by more than 23% since the end of 2002.
"The Rox had the talent last year but lacked the experience to put it all together. I think that this year they will compete for the division or at least the wild card. If they fail to do so, there will be some major house cleaning starting with Clint Hurdle and Dan O'Dowd."