Happy baseball season: Can the Rockies return to Rocktober? | VailDaily.com

Happy baseball season: Can the Rockies return to Rocktober?

The crystal ball for 2019

Nolan Arenado and the Colorado Rockies will not need to look to the heavens to make the postseason in 2019.
David Zalubowski | Associated Press file photos

You might have noticed I kinda like baseball.

This is Christmas morning as the game returns. Yes, a lot of my love for the game is wrapped in a certain franchise — go Giants; beat the Padres — but in an uncertain world, baseball is much-needed constancy.

There’s been a lot of talk of speeding up baseball to make it more attractive to the younger fan. In a world of instant Internet updates, Facebook posts and tweets, I like that there is no clock. While the world changes quickly, baseball is still baseball — 60 feet, 6 inches from the mound to the plate; 90 feet between bases and the Dodgers always stink.

Baseball is an escape. And the world needs an escape, so let’s dive into the races.

NL West

Having proclaimed the Dodgers always stink, the Dodgers will win the division for the seventh year in a row. Yes, Clayton Kershaw starts the season on the IL (calling it the Injured List will take some adjustment), and Hyun-Jin Ryu is Los Angeles’ Opening Day starter.

But the Dodgers always find a way. Their system is deep and whatever they need by the July 31 deadline they can acquire. They lost Corey Seager after a month last year and picked up Manny Machado, for crying out loud.

I want to pull the trigger on the Rockies, not only out of spite, but based on talent. Colorado is figuring it out as a franchise — after 25 years – but good on the Rockies. There is a homegrown pitching rotation and some pitching depth in the system — good because no free-agent pitcher is ever signing in Denver again.

The Rockies also finally got Nolan Arenado to sign on the dotted line for an extension. As much as this franchise reveres Todd Helton and Larry Walker, Arenado is truly the rock around which a team builds.

Adam Ottavino leaving was kind of a bummer, but relievers are interchangeable and the Rockies ‘pen is solid. We know Colorado will mash — they’re still the Rockies and half of their games are at Coors Field.

Look for the Rockies to give the Dodgers a chase and make the postseason as a wild card.

The rest of the division is rebuilding — the Diamondbacks got over their heads with the Zack Greinke contract which led to the offloading of Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. The Padres did add Machado, but will the prospects bear fruit? As Rockies fans know, tearing down is easy. Finding the gems in the draft and minor leagues is the hard part.

The Giants are trying to rebuild, but it will be slow with their contractual obligations. In the meantime, we will delight in the Dodgers’ misfortune in the postseason, including Kershaw’s annual nosedive in October.

NL Central

This is the year the national media learns what the NL West has known for years — Goldschmidt is a beast. Seriously if it happens west of the Mississippi and not in Los Angeles, it doesn’t exist. (If Arenado played in Boston or New York, he’d be a god as opposed to a rightful local deity.)

Acquiring Goldschmidt and signing him to an extension is St. Louis’ ticket to the title of the storied NL Central, which should be the most competitive division in baseball.

While the Brewers and Cubs ruled the division last years, the Cards are always a presence and they’re due. The Cubs edge the Brewers for the NL’s second wild card.

NL East

Another competitive division, but we like the ironic pick here. After losing Bryce Harper via free agency to the now rival Phillies, the Nationals still have the best rotation in the East.

What’s more the lineup features young talent like Victor Robles and Juan Soto and should hit. After all the years that the Nationals should have been successful with Harper, look for them to do just fine without him.

The Phillies and Braves are both explosive offensive teams with question marks on the mound. The Mets probably have the best staff on paper, but adding Robinson Cano, 36, and Jed Lowrie, turning 35 next month, smacks of desperation.

AL West

Houston is loaded. The Astros didn’t repeat in 2018 because teams don’t repeat these days. (Hear that Red Sox, fans.) The Astros have a loaded rotation and just smash the ball at will.

Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros have all the tools to win their second World Series title in three years in 2019. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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The Oakland A’s had a superb season last year, but their pitching, or lack thereof, will undo them. Mike Trout is making a lot of money from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, which is still a stupid name, but he can’t pitch.

AL Central

Worst division in baseball. The fact that Cleveland runs away with this division every year, and the Indians will do so again, hurts them come postseason.

AL East

Stop the Yankees hype. Of course, the Red Sox aren’t going to win 108 regular season games like last year, but the Yankees don’t have the starting pitching to get to their monster bullpen. (A team’s bullpen can’t start in the third inning during the regular season.)

Luis Severino’s injury does not help matters. While the Sawx win the division, the Yankees will pick up Madison Bumgarner from the Giants (hopefully with juicy prospects) for the wild card game against … the Tampa Bay Rays.

World Series

Astros over the Cardinals.