I would love to see the Rockies in the fall | PostIndependent.com

I would love to see the Rockies in the fall

Casper's CornerJeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

We’re almost 100 games into the baseball season and Rocky Nation has a division contender on its hands. Well, with a .500 record that may be a slight stretch, but as we barrel toward August, the Rockies are lurking a mere 512 games back in the National League West race before Monday night’s game against San Diego. This in a quality division, mind you.And, for a fan base that’s witnessed just three above-.500 seasons in 14 years, this has to be a wonderful thing. Imagine August and September baseball laced with hope. Imagine following both the Broncos and Rockies as the season shifts from summer to fall? It could happen.And the Rox are doing it the old-fashioned way, with homegrown talent. Matt Holliday is a Rockies lifer and is showing superstar form anchoring the Rockies lineup, brushing elbows with the league’s best in average and run production. It took him a while to get his offensive motor running, but Troy Tulowitski’s offensive numbers have undergone a meteoric rise in recent months. And the young shortstop boasts a sweet glove.And Brad Hawpe’s steady bat is again providing the Rockies with average and pop. Throw in a healthy Todd Helton and non-farm imports Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui and you have – at least in my opinion – one of the more balanced, dangerous lineups in all of baseball.Pitching, as it always seems to be, is the wild card that plagues the Blake Street bunch. Given the altitude with which they tangle, the Rockies may never field a staff of aces. But they’re running with one of the steadier rotations they’ve had in franchise history.Homegrown southpaw Jeff Francis (10-5, 4.07 ERA entering Monday’s start) has stepped nicely into Jason Jennings’ old role as staff ace. Three other starters (Aaron Cook, Rodrigo Lopez and Josh Fogg) have five or more wins, which isn’t Earth-shattering, but not bad as far as the Rockies are concerned. What you have with the 2007 Rox is a team that – once all parts fully jell – could morph into a legitimate contender. Youth, and the inconsistency that typically accompanies it, is the biggest reason this team – which has both a seven-game win streak (May 22-29) and an eight-game losing streak (June 22-29) on its ledger – has yet to hit its peak. If manager Clint Hurdle and his coaching staff can teach these kids how to win consistently, home and away- a big if – then the Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks better watch out. In a traditionally wide-open NL West, the Rockies are a hot streak or two away from division supremacy. When’s the last time you could utter such a sentence in the waning days of July?And, if it happens, Jay Cutler and the Broncos might just have to share the fall headlines with Holliday and the Rockies. Imagine that.Contact Jeff Caspersen at 384-9123 or jcaspersen@postindependent.com.

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