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Rockies camp report: Likes, dislikes

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Todd Helton and  Michael Cuddyer are two key veteran pieces on a young, talented team. (AP)  
Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer are two key veteran pieces on a young, talented team. (AP)  

Likes

 You've got to like the one-two hitting punch of No. 3 hitter Carlos Gonzalez and cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki seems primed to become one of the very best players in the game if he isn't already, while Rockies people hope that Gonzalez will take a step forward this year after seemingly pressing last year while trying to justify his new $80 million contract. At the very least, there are no excuses now for CarGo.

 The infusion of experience for the still-young team was a smart idea, and Rockies ownership stepped up to allow free-agent deals for Michael Cuddyer and Ramon Hernandez, plus money-absorbing trades for Jeremy Guthrie and Marco Scutaro. GM Dan O'Dowd freed some cash by offloading closer Huston Street to the division rival Padres, and Colorado was in position to add monied players late, which it did with Guthrie and Scutaro, two AL East veterans who may thrive in new environs.

Colorado Rockies
Jon Heyman
Long on talent, the Rockies will rely on a rotation short on experience Camp report >>
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 As usual, the Rockies possess some of the best prospects in the game. They seem certain to demote Nolan Arenado before the start of the season, but he looks like a special player, and he may be up sooner rather than later. Wilin Rosario, the power-hitting young catcher, is probably a long shot to make the team and split catching duties with veteran Ramon Hernandez. But he, too, shouldn't be all that far behind. Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and others are the best of a very nice lineup of pitching prospects.

 Defensively, the team should be above average. Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are exceptional, and while first baseman Todd Helton has lost a step, he's still very good. Scutaro should be solid at second after spending the past several years at shortstop, too. Center fielder Dexter Fowler can fly, assuming he hits enough to stay on the field.

Dislikes

 The rotation is awfully young. Three of the top seven starters are 25 or under -- Tyler Chatwood, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin. So, assuming Jamie Moyer makes it, he will be spending a lot of time imparting his wisdom to the kids. The bullpen is also extremely young and inexperienced, with the exception of closer Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle.

 Betancourt has been nothing short of superb since coming to Colorado. But there isn't much closing experience in the 'pen. He had eight saves last year, and should be OK. But when they traded Street, they surrendered a lot of ninth-inning experience.

 Third base could be an issue. Arenado is going to be a star, but he won't be with the team to start the season. Casey Blake still needs to prove he can hold up -- he's played just two games in spring -- and if he can't, Chris Nelson, who had a cameo last year, is the likely guy. One positive: whatever they get out of third, it has to be better than what Ian Stewart brought last year.

 Fowler needs to hit more than he has. He has a chance to become a very valuable player if he can hit, and a late rush got him to .266 last year. But he's having a poor spring, raising new cause for concern. He struck out 130 times last year, far too often for a leadoff man without big-time power. No. 2 place hitter Scutaro hit .299 but only walked 38 times, which isn't optimal either.    

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