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Rockies Journal: Questions to ponder as regular season nears, including cable TV situation that remains unresolved

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Questions to ponder as the Rockies near Thursday’s season opener against the Diamondbacks:

Will fans be able to watch games via traditional cable?: The Rockies continue to say that negotiations are ongoing to find a way for fans to watch games on systems like Comcast, Dish Network or DirectTV. I was originally told that a deal would hopefully be worked out before the regular season begins. However, there are no guarantees that’s going to happen, leaving some fans in limbo.

Will fans pay to stream games via Rockies.TV?: That’s the multimillion-dollar question facing owner Dick Monfort. The club launched its online streaming service last month. Rockies.TV will show all Rockies games this season, with Major League Baseball producing and distributing the games.

MLB will also remove blackouts for fans, meaning that for the first time, fans in the Rockies’ traditional TV territory can live stream all of the club’s games. To stream Rockies games only, the cost will be $19.99 per month or $99.99 for the season.

Streaming all sports, not just baseball, is the wave of the future. But several disgruntled fans have told me they won’t pay $19.99 monthly to watch a team that lost 103 games last season. I’m not sure I believe many of them. Baseball is part of the fabric of summer, and I think fans would miss tuning in to the local team more than they realize.

Still, it’s going to be a hard sell. Two years ago, the Rockies drew an average of just 15,000 household viewers per game via traditional TV, according to Forbes and Nielsen Media. Only the Miami Marlins and Oakland Athletics had worse ratings.

Will attendance tumble at Coors Field?: A little bit, but I don’t see a giant slide. Last season, the Rockies averaged 32,196 fans per game at Coors Field, down only slightly from the 32,467 average from 2022. Even if the Rockies stumble early — a distinct possibility — they have the Red Sox coming into town for three games after the All-Star Game and they end the season with the Cardinals and Dodgers coming to LoDo for what could be meaningful games for the visitors.

Which Rockies will make the All-Star Game?: We know every team sends at least one player to the Midsummer Classic, but I’ll give you three Rockies who could end up at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on July 16.

Topping my list is left fielder Nolan Jones, a terrific athlete who has a chance to be an impactful power hitter. On deck is second baseman Brendan Rodgers. He’s had an excellent spring, and his confidence is sky-high.

My wild-card choice is veteran lefty Kyle Freeland. Manager Bud Black said recently that he’s never seen Freeland pitch better. That’s saying something, considering that Freeland went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA over 33 starts in 2018.

Will the “real” Kris Bryant finally show up?: I want to say yes because he’s very well-liked by his teammates and he’s a class act. He’s got a beautiful swing and is a graceful athlete. But I don’t know what KB has left at age 32 following two years of injuries that limited him to 122 games in a Rockies uniform.

If he stays healthy and plays 145-150 games, I could envision him hitting .280 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs. But he’s never going to hit .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs as he did in 2016 when he was named National League MVP and helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908.

Which top prospect will get called up and have the biggest impact this season? Things can change quickly because of injuries, trades, etc. Plus, the Rockies’ youth movement is in full bloom, so expect roster movement in the second half of the season. But the pick here is power-hitting outfielder Jordan Beck.

Beck had a terrific spring before being sent down to minor-league camp. He’s athletic, strong, and has a sweet swing. Like many of the Rockies’ young players, the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder needs to reduce his K’s.

“There’s a self-assurance of his ability,” Rockies manager Bud Black said recently. “I like the strength of his swing. There’s power in there. He can run. Defensively, he’s done fine.”

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