Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rockies continue to be a mystery

Opening day for the Colorado Rockies is a week away. As spring training wraps up, Walt Weiss‘ bunch is full of optimism like every other team in Major League Baseball.

But what are real expectations for the boys at 20th and Blake?

There have been several different opinions on the Rockies since spring training started. They have run the gamut from 90 wins to another last place finish. No matter what, no one really knows what the Rockies are going to bring to the field.

The expectations seem to be extreme on both sides. Are the Rockies going to win 100 games this season? Probably not. Are they going to lose 100 games? That is a little crazy as well.

High hopes started for the Rockies in February when owner Dick Monfort answered questions on Twitter. He believed that with a healthy roster the Rockies could win 90 games. That win total would put Colorado right in the middle of the division and wild-card races. He also feels the Rockies have four N0. 1 starters on their pitching staff.

But health has always been a problem for the Rockies especially with their star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. He missed time last season with a broken rib. The shortstop was on the field for 126 games which was more than the 47 he played in 2012 but still not enough for a face of the franchise.

No matter what, if Tulowitzki is playing the  Rockies are better. And Colorado is at its best when Tulowitzki is on the field with the other star of the team — Carlos Gonzalez.

The outfielder battled a finger injury for a lot of 2013 and played in only 110 games. Much like his partner in crime Tulowitzki, Gonzalez still had a stellar season. He hit 26 home runs, made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove. The two just never seemed to play together.

The duo started only 66 games together last season and played in a total of 81. Since 2009, Colorado’s record is above .500 at 210-188. It is a fact that the Rockies are a better team with the two of them playing.

Monfort could be right though. If the team’s two stars are healthy, the Rockies are as potent as anybody with their two stars, young talent like Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario mixed in with veterans like Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau.

There is also the other side of the spectrum. Colorado has finished in the cellar of the National League West the last two seasons. Its win total has increased from 64 in 2012 to 74 in 2013. Another 10 game jump would put the Rockies over .500 for the first time since 2010.

Even with stars like Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, questions still surround the team. The pitching rotation was good at times last season with Jorge De La Rosa, Jhlouys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood but after the top three the Rockies got nothing. Also, Chacin is sidelined until May with shoulder problems and Chatwood and De La Rosa were shelled in the last two spring starts.

Lefty Brett Anderson was brought in to bolster the rotation but he has injury questions as well. Franklin Morales, Juan Nicasio and Jordan Lyles are battling for the other spots in the rotation but all three are puzzling. They could have no-hit stuff for four innings and then give up eight runs in the fifth.

So even with all the talent they can put on the field, the Rockies are full of “what ifs.” The realistic expectation is improvement but nothing more that 81-82 wins. The National League West is not an easy division especially with the Los Angeles Dodgers on top and looking to make a World Series run.

So fans of the Rockies will probably have to wait another season for a postseason run. Colorado will get better and with some luck and health should be a good team to watch. A .500 season would be a complete success.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSchmaedeke

Tags: Carlos Gonzalez Colorado Rockies Troy Tulowitzki

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