March 30 2010, 11:30 AM
It's no secret around Denver that there are high hopes for the Colorado Rockies this year. They've been to the playoffs in two of the last three years and always make games interesting at Coors Field. This season they're seen as legit World Series contenders and are expected to perhaps win the first division title in franchise history. But the best team in baseball? Yes, according to MLB.com's Peter Gammons. "Right now, there are more managers, general managers, and scouts who think the Rockies are close to the Phillies as the league's best team, even if Huston Street can't pitch until May," writes Gammons, who cites, as proof of his claim, amazing depth in the bullpen, quality starting pitching, depth and speed in the outfield, and high-quality role players off the bench, such as Jason Giambi, Ryan Spilborghs, and Seth Smith. He also calls shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (pictured) "one of the game's premier stars," nice recognition for a 25-year-old kid. This opinion of the Rockies is widespread in Major League Baseball circles. According to Tracy Ringolsby at InsideTheRockies, the consensus of scouts who get paid to evaluate every aspect of a baseball team say the Rockies are "hands down the best team in the NL West." He also gathers scouts' evaluations of the other teams in the NL West, all of which have major flaws. But in order to live up to all the hype, the Rockies will have to hit better. They struck out at the plate more than any other team besides the Diamondbacks in the National League last year, prompting manager Jim Tracy to emphasize putting the ball in play rather than the big hit this year, using construction cones in center field to direct the players where to hit, reports The Denver Post. The result? The Rockies are leading the National League in batting average this spring and have the most doubles (77) and triples (18) to show for it. If this keeps up into the regular season, which starts next week, all the flattery the national press is showering on the Rockies will likely be justified.