The Colorado Rockies were supposed to take a step back this year. They were supposed to feel the impact of losing their franchise player, whimper through the season under a lame duck skipper, hold a massive fire-sale at the trading deadline, and sing the “small market” blues in response to their many critics.
The stage was set for a massive collapse, and for the first eight weeks of the season it looked like they were more than willing to oblige.
Even after Jim Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle on May 29th, the situation seemed hopeless.
The Rockies stumbled to a 2-4 record out of the gate bringing their overall record to 20-32, better only than the lowly Washington Nationals at the time. There was talk everywhere about this being one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Mutiny against the Brothers Monforts was in the air and there were cries for a hostile takeover at Coors Field. The only saving grace in the city of Denver at the time was the admirable performance of the Nuggets in the NBA Playoffs.
Then, on June 4th, long after the Nuggets had been eliminated by the Lakers, and in the midst of the kind of road trip that can leave a season in ruins, a glimmer of hope emerged for the Rockies.
After having lost the first three games to the Astros, the Rockies took the final game of the series 10-3 on the back of a three RBI night by Garrett Atkins. This seemed insignificant at the time, but in retrospect, might be the defining moment of the 2009 Rockies.
Carrying the momentum of this win, the Rockies would go on to win 17 of their next 18 games, bringing their record four games above .500 and back into the realm of respectability.
So, I'm assuming that the rest of the story is old news by now.
You know, becoming the hottest team in baseball for four months, winning a franchise record 92 games, being the only NL team to have five 10 game winning pitchers since the "Old Man's Circuit" was still young, clinching their second wild card berth in three years- blah, blah, blah. Just another average, run of the mill season.
So now, with the playofs beginning tomorrow, what can we expect from this team in the first round?
Well, here are my ten bold predictions:
1. Ubaldo Jiminez will pitch a complete game in his first start, give up two earned runs, and get the win
2. Garrett Atkins will make us remember why he was one of the MVP's of the 2007 season, driving in at least 5 RBI's.
3. Huston Street will record two multi-inning saves.
4. Franklin Morales will blow a lead and record a loss.
5. Jason Giambi will hit one walk off, game winning RBI.
6. Eric Young Jr., will pinch run for Helton and steal a pivotal base.
7. Brad Hawpe will be invisible, and you will forget he is in the lineup.
8. Jose Contreras will relieve Jason Marquis in game four and get the win.
9. Troy Tulowitzki will hit 3 home runs.
10. The Rockies will win in five games.
It is almost frightening now, to look back at how close the Rockies were to losing control of their season and having to resort to breaking up this nucleus.
They were likely two bad weeks of baseball away from shopping many of their talented, young players away to the highest bidder, and instead of making these bold predictions for the postseason, I'd be writing about how they should make a run at re-acquiring Matt Holliday in the off season.
Instead, I'm predicting a head to head battle against Holliday and the Cardinals in the second round. I may be wrong, but I'm probably not.