2014 Outlook: Colorado Rockies

2014 Outlook: Colorado Rockies
January 14, 2014, 12:30 pm
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Zuckerman breaks down 2014 Hall of Famers (VIDEO)

2013 record: 74-88, 5th place in NL West
Manager: Walt Weiss, 2nd season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $91 million
Key additions: OF Drew Stubbs, RP Boone Logan, SP Brett Anderson, 1B Justin Morneau, RP LaTroy Hawkins
Key losses: 1B Todd Helton, SP Jeff Francis, IF Jonathan Herrera, SP Drew Pomeranz, OF Dexter Fowler

Projected lineup
LF Michael Dickerson
3B Nolan Arenado
CF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Michael Cuddyer
1B Justin Morneau
C Wilin Rosario
2B Josh Rutledge

Projected rotation
LHP Jorge De La Rosa
RHP Jhoulys Chacin
LHP Brett Anderson
RHP Tyler Chatwood
LHP Franklin Morales

Top relievers
CL LaTroy Hawkins
LHP Rex Brothers
LHP Boone Logan

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Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Will their pitching improve? A team with Troy Tulowiztki, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario isn’t going to have much trouble scoring runs. The problem for Colorado for several years now has been keeping their opponents off the board, especially on days their best starters aren’t pitching. In 2013 Chacin, De La Rosa and Chatwood all had good years, it was the back of their rotation and bullpen that combined to give up the most runs of any National League team. In comes Brett Anderson and Franklin Morales, two veteran guys coming off down years. We'll see if they bounce back, but anything should be an improvement over what they saw from their fourth and fifth starters last season.

2. When will Eddie Butler be ready? The Rockies do happen to have some good pitching prospects in Jonathan Gray (3rd overall pick in 2013) and Eddie Butler (46th overall pick in 2012), who is a lot closer to the bigs. Butler – a Radford University alum – has a career 1.90 ERA in two minor league seasons with a total of 217 1/3 innings under his belt. He’s made just six starts in Double-A, but had success with a 0.65 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. If he starts this season like he ended 2013, it won’t be long before he is considered for a call-up.

3. Can LaTroy Hawkins still close? Every time you think the career of LaTroy Hawkins is over, he bounces back with a strong year that makes you wonder if he’ll ever actually retire. The 41-year-old veteran is entering his 20th major league season, and is coming off a great 2013 with the New York Mets. Through 72 appearances he held a 2.93 ERA and saved 13 games. Now the Rockies will hope he can once again be a primary closer, a role he hasn’t effectively filled for a full season since 2004 when he posted 25 saves with the Cubs.