Spring Snapshot: Rockies roll into season with MVP, Cy candidates

Every day in spring training until we're finished with the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team that we visit in Florida and Arizona. Heading into the home stretch, let's go to Tucson to check in with the Colorado Rockies.


2009 RECORD: 92-70, 2nd in NL West

BIG ACQUISITIONS: Miguel Olivo(notes) will fight for playing time with Chris Iannetta(notes) behind the plate. ... Melvin Mora(notes) will move around the infield — sometimes spelling Ian Stewart(notes) at third base, sometimes Clint Barmes(notes) at second. ... Jason Giambi(notes) isn't an acquisition, per se, but it was a semi-surprise to have him return and backing up Todd Helton(notes). Dan O'Dowd is sticking with most of the same 2009 club.

BIG DEPARTURES: Jason Marquis(notes) signed a free-agent deal with the Nationals, but left-hander Jeff Francis(notes) is coming back. ... Garrett Atkins(notes) gets to try out Camden Yards as a new home park. ... Yorvit Torrealba(notes), Iannetta's counterpart of recent seasons, went to the Padres.

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1. What are the MVP chances for Troy Tulowitzki(notes)? Just entering his prime now, Tulo finished fifth in the MVP voting in '09. If he hits 30-40 homers with Gold Glove-caliber defense at short again, and the Rockies win the NL West, I'd say his chances are no worse than one in three.

2. Can Carlos Gonzalez(notes) do that for a whole season? During the NLDS against the Phillies, Gonzalez was channeling Will Clark from the 1989 playoffs. He went 10-for-17 (.588) with a 1.514 OPS, a homer, two steals and five runs scored. He was pretty good in a little more than half of a regular season, too: 13 homers, 16 steals, .878 OPS is 278 at-bats. And he just turned 24. All he needs to do is slide face-first to score the winning run in the World Series and nobody in Denver will remember Matt Holliday(notes).

3. Will refurbished Jeff Francis be as good as old Jeff Francis? We'll see. His spring results have been mixed so far after missing the 2009 season because of arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. He doesn't have to be the ace — Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) is the leader — but Francis finished in the top 10 Cy Young voting in 2007.

4. Is Ubaldo Jimenez going to challenge for the Cy Young? He's upped his strikeout rate, lowered his walks, become harder to hit. He battled Cliff Lee(notes) evenly in Game 4 of the NLDS. His ego seems small. He's got big intelligence. He can throw 100 mph. If the best pitcher in the NL isn't Roy Halladay(notes), it might be Jimenez.

5. Do they have enough relief? They're going to need more. Houston Street's shoulder injury could be worse, but it will keep him sidelined until mid or late April. ... Rafael Betancourt's(notes) shoulder hasn't allowed him to face game action yet. ... Franklin Morales(notes) tends to lose his control and Manual Corpas is pitching himself out of the league. ... Taylor Buchholz(notes) won't be ready to come back from Tommy John surgery until at least June. ... Matt Belisle(notes) has had a strong spring. ... Right-hander Matt Daley(notes) — there's nothing to complain about with him. He's looking good.

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