1. Spinning wheels
The Rockies' rotation, by any measure, was abysmal last season. Jeff Francis led the staff in innings pitched at 113-plus, the fewest by a staff leader since 1900. The rotation finished 29-68 with a baseball-worst 5.81 ERA. There was no nip-and-tuck procedure over the winter, either. The Rockies are banking on the improved health of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio to get better. Chacin, armed with the security of a two-year contract, believes he can be the staff ace after falling out of favor last season. His ability to compete at Coors Field — 4.18 ERA, .244 average against — can't be dismissed. On a team with a roughly $80 million payroll, De La Rosa, as the Rockies' highest-paid player at $11 million, must pitch well to justify that contract. Spring training should give a good read on whether the trio will rebound. Francis is pegged as the rotation's fourth starter. Contenders for the fifth slot include Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, Tyler Chatwood (if he's not a reliever) and Chris Voltsad.
2. Defense, your witness
The Rockies committed a baseball-high 122 errors last year, 22 more than the MLB average. They need better play from their third basemen: Chris Nelson, a converted shortstop, and Jordan Pacheco, a former minor-league catcher. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the two combined for minus-35 defensive runs in WAR (wins above replacement level player). Having a full season of Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, Josh Rutledge at second base and a safety net for catcher Wilin Rosario should help. Rosario led baseball in passed balls and errors last year.
Rockies' 5 Spring Training story lines
Denver Post | Feb 10