2009 Rockies Preview: Keys to Success

Nick TremaroliCorrespondent IApril 2, 2009

The key to a team's early season success is the production coming from all parts of their lineup. 

This doesn't mean just hitting. It means hitting, pitching, and fielding all together.

The Rockies are in a position they have never been in before this season. Every year since their inception into the MLB, they have had at least one big-name star anchoring their lineup.

Not this year.

With the trade of Matt Holliday to the Oakland A's, that star's presence left the franchise. 

There could be arguments that Troy Tulowitzki is stepping up into Matt Holliday's former role, but he hasn't been in the MLB long enough to really solidify his reputation as a star that every team must respect.

For the last few years, Holliday has been one of the most feared players in the game. Because of him the Rockies were a very feared team.

Now he is gone, they must find a way to gain back the respect from other teams.

One major way to gain it back is to get offensive production from all nine spots in the lineup. Even the pitcher's spot.

Ian Stewart, Todd Helton, and Ryan Spilborghs had very pleasantly surprising spring statistics. On top of that, the regulars in the lineup have produced in ways to help the Rockies win games.

Ian Stewart, on top of his offensive production (.288 BA, .667 SLG, 4 HR, and 18 RBI), has shown this spring he can do more than play third base in the field. In numerous games, Stewart played outfield with surprising success.

During a spring game against the Cubs in which he was playing right field, Stewart was quoted saying to FSN Rocky Mountain, "I just let the game come to me." 

This was a true team player speaking.

Pitching has always been a major source of concern for the Rockies. This year doesn't seem to be any different.

There have been a few bright spots in the rotation like Aaron Cook.

Cook has dominated teams this spring with a 3.25 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched. This is a good sign for the Rockies when the regular season finally rolls around April 6.

Another big piece of news recently made was the announcement of the Rockies' closer. Clint Hurdle named Houston Street the guy over Manny Corpas, who will be the right-handed setup man this year.

Hopefully Street can return to his form from a few years ago when he dominated hitters across the MLB.

Fielding has never been a weakness for the Rockies, especially since the arrival of Troy Tulowitzki. "Tulo" has been a defensive staple in the Rockies defensive lineup since his rookie season two years ago.

One of the major reasons for last year's disappointing result was Tulo spent much of the season on the disabled list. 

When he finally returned, his production was way down from what he achieved the season before.

This year, Rockies fans will hopefully be cheering the "Tulo-chant" immortalized in the 2007 postseason.

The Rockies have been given an extremely difficult April schedule this year. As with any year, it is important that the Rockies get off to a fast start to achieve their goal of winning the World Series. 

For this to happen, all three elements—hitting, pitching, and fielding—must come together at the same time.

If or when this happens, the Rockies will be nearly unstoppable. Much like their 2007 run to the World Series.