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Rockies begin Walt Weiss era in Milwaukee

7:56 AM, Apr 1, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Colorado Rockies begin a new era on Monday when they kick off the 2013 season against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

Something had to give in Colorado, as the Rockies posted their worst winning percentage in franchise history a year ago, going a miserable 64-98. They finished 30 games behind National League West champion San Francisco and 12 back of fourth-place San Diego.

You can't get rid of the whole team - unless you are the Miami Marlins - so the manager is normally the one who pays and that is what happened in Colorado, as Jim Tracy resigned shortly after the end of the season.

Former major leaguer Walt Weiss gets his shot for a Rockies team that has the potential to raise a few eyebrows. Health, of course, is always an issue and nobody understands that more than Rockies' two-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki was limited to just 47 games last season because of a nagging groin issue, but enjoyed an injury-free spring training.

Tulowitzki is not the only one Colorado has to keep an eye on if it wants to shock the NL West. Aging first baseman Todd Helton could be in the final season of his career, second baseman Josh Rutledge and catcher Wilin Rosario have question marks as productive leaders and the rotation is debatable after Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa.

Chacin will be on the hill Monday in his first-ever Opening Day assignment. Chacin missed most of last season with a nerve disorder in the area of his right chest, but returned in August, going 3-2 with a 2.84 in nine starts.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, took a big step back in 2012.

Following one of the best seasons in franchise history in 2011, the Brewers stumbled out of the gates a year ago and batted .245 before the All-Star break, 13th among the 16 teams in the NL. They scored the fifth-most runs, but inconsistency up and down the lineup kept them producing at an even higher level.

Things changed for them around the All-Star break, as the Brewers started to resemble the team everyone thought they'd be. Milwaukee swatted 101 homers over the second half, second only to the Washington Nationals, and the 392 runs they scored trailed by just two to the major league-leading Oakland Athletics.

Still, the team dealt ace right-hander Zack Greinke at the trade deadline and a leaky bullpen kept them from really making a mark on the playoff chase, as they finished 83-79.

Milwaukee still has perhaps the best hitter in the National League in Ryan Braun, but again he starts a season surrounded by allegations of performance- enhancing drugs.

The injuries that reared their ugly heads last year seem to be doing the same again this year, as first base prospect Mat Gamel will miss the season with an ACL injury, while slugger Cory Hart is expected to be sidelined the first month of the year after offseason knee surgery.

Then there's the pitching staff, which figured to be very young and inexperienced up until Monday when they signed righty Kyle Lohse to a 3-year, $33 million deal.

The one constant in the rotation continues to be righty Yovani Gallardo, who will make his fourth straight Opening Day start for the Brewers. Gallardo was 16-9 with a 3.66 ERA last season and the Brewers won 22 of his 33 starts.

Milwaukee, which has lost each of its last four season openers, were just 1-5 last season against the Rockies.

The Sports Network

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