I'll start off by mentioning another new lineup look for the Rockies.
EY Jr.s starts in LF and leads off. Fowler in CF. Carlos Gonzalez moves up to third and plays RF. That gives the Rockies an abundance of speed at the top of the order. Tulowitzki stays in his spot.
Todd Helton drops to fifth. Interesting idea I suppose. He's not hitting for power, which isn't unusual for him these days, but he's still maintained his ability to get on base throughout his career. Maybe this will kickstart him, I'm not sure, I guess I was just liking the dynamic of CarGo providing Tulo with protection and giving the middle of the a little speed boost.
I mean they did score 23 runs in two games with that lineup, so I'm not sure I understand the need for a big change tonight. Guess we'll see how it works out.
Olivo, Mora (starts for Stewart), Barmes and Cook round out the lineup card.
Friday, April 30, 2010
I'll start off by mentioning another new lineup look for the Rockies.
The Rockies open a three game series in San Francisco tonight. In case you haven't heard, the Giants have the best pitching in baseball.
By a mile.
So basically the Rockies are going to have to pitch the baseball with great success themselves if they plan on leaving the bay area with a victory or two.
Aaron Cook vs. Barry Zito
And it starts right off with a bad matchup for the offense. Barry Zito was murder on them in all four starst last season (2-0, 0.95). That's pretty ridiculous.
Speaking of ridiculous... Zito is 3-0 this season with a 1.32 ERA.
I have ranked the struggling Rockies in order of my confidence in them to turn it around.
1 Jason Giambi
Giambi is #1 because his main role on the team is to hit. Eventually he will, because that's what professioanl hitters do.
2. Franklin Morales
I read a couple things going off on Morales after Wednesday's game and I just sorta scratched my head. He was hardly the problem in that game. In fact, if you look at how things have played out, Morales could be 5-for-5 in save chances if not for a Tulowitzki error and then an umpire error in Atlanta. So he's not KILLING the team like you might think he is.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
With Brad Hawpe very likely to return right at or around schedule from the 15-day DL, I would say Barmes has roughly 10 days to get on track, or the Rockies will have to make a really tough evaluation of their roster.
Where does Barmes fit in?
A lot of that depends on what Barmes does with the playing time he receives between now and then. It also has a lot to do with how much Jim Tracy falls in love with EY Jr. leading off, and CarGo hitting behind Tulo. With the spark each has provided early in their experiments, I would say both are sticking there for a bit.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 11 (10 innings)
What can you say after a game like that? Probably not a whole lot more than I said while the game was going on. Feel free to go back and read that again if your stomach can handle it.
Losing Player: Greg Smith
It all boils down to how AWFUL Greg Smith was today. Absolutely brutal.
I have defended this guy all spring. I've been in his corner despite his early season troubles. There's nothing I can say anymore to defend him. I still do like this talent, but talent doesn't equal a whole lot when you have no confidence in your best pitches or your ability to retire big leaguers.
It's a mnetal hurdle he has to overcome every time out there, and you can just tell how his day is going to go with the first batter. It happened in Miwaukee. He was up 0-2 on Rickie Weeks and ended up walking him. He was up 1-2 today on Kelly Johnson... walked him.
And then it spiraled. Rockies can't afford anymore of this. Not with the circumstances having changed to tremendously in a short time.
Miguel Olivo played just hours after passing two kidney stones? That dude really does have stones!
How about this lineup... EY Jr. starting again, leading off again... and playing LF. Alright. Let's see how this goes.
Fowler, Helton, Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, Olivo, Stewart. No surprises there.
Melvin Mora gets the nod over Barmes at second. Could be an interesting defense day again as we've seen a few when Mora plays.
Only notable resting for Arizona is SS Stephen Drew. That makes sense against the lefty Smith.
Alright... time to take another series.
Have to focus on this big game at home before the big trip to San Francisco and beyond.
Greg Smith vs. Kris Benson
Hello, Greg Smith, you're now the #3 starter. That happened fast, didn't it? No pressure or anything, you just might need to go more than 5-6 innings these next few starts while we wait for everyone to get well again, or at least until we know what Rogers and Chacin are capable of.
It's possible they settle right in quickly, taking a lot of the pressure off you, but, for now, let's try to target that 7th inning.
Kris Benson on the mound for Arizona.
He's no Dan Haren. Heck, he's no Edwin Jackson, either. I would be extremely shocked if the Rockies don't pound him into the ground by the 4th inning. And even more so disappointed if they don't find a way to win the game. Gotta have it!
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Rockies 12, Diamondbacks 1
The Rockies made Edwin Jackson pay for not being Dan Haren.
That's pretty much what it comes down to. This lineup was so frustrated last night by Haren that I don't think any pitcher they faced tonight would have stood a chance. Just as any pitcher after the Nolasco gem wouldn't stand a chance either.
Well, maybe Tim Lincecum... or Roy Halladay... or Ubaldo... would have, but not many others.
The point is when this lineup has a rough game this season they always seem to bounce back in a big way. Tonight was no exception.
Ian Stewart was interviewed by the folks over at MLB Trade Rumors.
Quite the interesting lineup tonight for the Rockies. Eric Young Jr. does get a start at second base... and he's leading off. Fowler hits second. The speed there is off the charts with those two. Helton and Tulowitzki hit in their customary 3 and 4 spots.
Carlos Gonzalez slides down to 5th. I like it. I've been very anxious to see CarGo moved to an RBI position in the order. I think he'll thrive there now, and I think he'd thrive there if the Rockies elect to trade Brad Hawpe at some point in the near future.
Olivo hits 6th, Stewart 7th, and there's Seth Smith hitting 8th. That's one damn good #8 hitter. Very excited to see how this lineup performs tonight.
Having witnessed Roy Halladay lose his perfect 4-0 record last night in San Francisco doesn't concern me about Ubaldo Jimenez tonight. We all knew these guys were human.
The 250 total pitches he's thrown in his last two starts DO have me concerned about Ubaldo Jimenez, not only tonight, but going forward. Like I said, we all know they're human.
Concerned is the word... not worried or panicked. You know what I mean? Just slightly uncomfortable.
I'm less concerned about the injuries to Jason Hammel and Jorge De La Rosa. Yes, this team can't afford another injury right now, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little excited to see what Jhoulys Chacin and Esmil Rogers have in them.
That's why I'm fine with the Rockies optioning him down to Colorado Springs, because at least I know he'll be playing everyday for the forseeable future.
People will support Chris Iannetta (I've been one of those people) through this "demoition" while others will see this as a reason to count him out. Personally, I just want Chris to have a chance to get on the field consistently and establish something... anything.
I feel like every time he has a 2-3 game slip up in performance, the rug gets pulled out from under him. He's gone from the lineup. His replacement takes off for awhile, which is fantastic for the team, but Chris becomes the afterthought. That doesn't help him develop, and it sure doesn't give me a good idea of what Chris can do, or how he can bounce back.
I imagine that's not too good for a player's confidence either. He sees the commitment being made to the talent around him (Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Clint Barmes) as they've struggled through rough stretches, but he's never seen that same confidence shown in him.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 3
Dan Haren did what Dan Haren does best... pitch a baseball. He made it look way too easy.
By my count the Rockies only hit the ball hard twice. Carlos Gonzalez led off the first with a clothesline HR to straight away center. In the 8th, Eric Young Jr. tagged a double to right. I mean he really tagged it. I'm impressed with what I'm seeing from him since his recall.
Losing Player: Jason Hammel
And now hurt.
It's Dante Bichette Night at Coors Field! Let's win one for Dante! Or just win one because winning is better than losing!
Rockies go with the same lineup as yesterday. No arguments there.
Arizona will have Justin Upton despite his fouling a ball off his leg last night. Dammit.
The Diamondbacks outsmarted the entire baseball world when they brought in Kelly Johnson to play second base. Dude has 7 HRs already and is hitting .322 at the top of their order, and he really could have been had by anybody for next to nothing after a brutal 2009 in Atlanta. The D-Backs had the foresight to make the move knowing a bounce back was very likely.
Nice job by them.
Of course I don't think they saw this type of bounce back (he's already halfway to career high in HR) but it was a low-risk/high-reward move that's paying off.
If only they could have made a signing in the bullpen that made the same impact for them.
There's no doubt Dante Bichette was the Rockies original Rock Star.
The electricity in the ballpark every time Sledgehammer played was off the charts. I know that's one of the things that drew me to Dante, along with his flare for the dramatics and his unusual batting stance that I attempted to emulate throughout with Little League and high school career. With far less success I might add.
Thankfully my mom never let me grow the mullet, but I always had the batting stance.
It'll be nice to see Dante at the ballpark tonight. His walk-off homer in that first Coors Field game is one of my favorite baseball moments. I'll always remember watching that game on ESPN (one of the few I got watch back in those days) and just being pumped beyond pumped that they won.
Thanks for that memory Dante... and welcome home.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Rockies 8, Marlins 4
Winning Player: Seth Smith
2-for-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Not bad for a fill-in, eh?
How good is life when you can lose an All-Star like Brad Hawpe and not miss a beat offensively? What a luxury. The Rockies will be relying heavily on Smith, and why not? He can handle it, and about 25 teams would be estatic to pencil him in on a regular basis.
Not only will the Rockies rely on Smith, they'll also rely on Ryan Spilborghs. Again... why not? He's as good as they come for a reserve outfielder. Also, the more ABs they each get now the better chace they'll be clicking offensively come the summer time.
The emotions of the Keli McGregor memorial service give way to baseball now. The Rockies host their expansion brothers in the rubber match of a big three game series before getting deep into division play.
If you haven't heard, Colorado placed Brad Hawpe on the 15 Day DL this morning and recalled Eric Young Jr. I was thinking (kinda hoping) they might recall veteran Jay Payton, but the Rockies likely looking forward to having a speed guy off the bench in late innings.
Seth Smith will start in LF this afternoon and hit 5th. Miguel Olivo catches once again. Everything else is the usual.
Big game today. I'm always big on taking that final game of the series just because there's always something significant about it. You're either avoiding a sweep, trying to win a series, or trying to get a sweep. Let's get one today!
Jorge De La Rosa vs. Chris Volstad
A similar matchup to Smith vs. Nolasco, only De La Rosa is a more refined, more talented, better equipped to handle power right-handed hitters version of a left-hander than Smith is at this point. DLR can get swings and misses when he's ahead or behind in the count, and he can change speeds effectively enough to keep them off balance.
Volstad is a power right-handed arm like Nolasco, but he's not nearly as talented or effective. He's capable of having a Nolasco type day, but I don't one will come at the expense of the Rockies. That's more likely to happen to a Houston or San Diego.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Marlins 4, Rockies 1
Losing Player: Greg Smith
Nothing at all surprising about how this game played out. It was a tough matchup for Smith. I thought his showing was okay, nothing great by any means, but he battled and certainly kept Colorado in the game.
As did Manny Corpas, who has turned into a very valuable long reliever. His versatility in the pen is huge.
I'd give the losing player to the entire offense, but again, it's difficult to expect much against a guy as hot as Ricky Nolasco right now. This was just a tough matchup from top to bottom on both sides of the fence.
The return of good Aaron Cook must happen... NOW.
Return of good Rockies offense would also be nice.
Because it's the crappy infield defensive lineup. Giambi at first, Mora at second -- he's more comfortable at third. Bleh!
Marlins will give Cameron Maybin the nightcap off. Chris Coghlan returns in his place. Wes Helms takes over at third, moving Jorge Cantu to first.
Rockies Examiner explains the TV situation.
Just talked to the producer for Fox Sports Rocky Mountain and she said that there is no TV for the first game, HOWEVER; they are turning on their broadcast at 5:30pm so if the first game is still ongoing (probably will be) then they WILL show that.So follow along with me and the radio broadcast until they flip the switch at 5:30.
Seth Smith gets the nod over Dexter Fowler in Game 1. He bats second and plays left, CarGo shifts over to center. Chris Iannetta starts behind the dish.
The Marlins go with an entirely right-handed lineup against Greg Smith. I figured they would. This presents quite a challenge for Greg, who will need his command to be at its best. These aren't just right-handed hitters, these are right-handed bats that go up there looking to go yard.
I'm going to close my eyes and hope this goes well!
I previewed Game 1 yesterday. Nothing has changed in my opinion on that.
Game 2: Aaron Cook vs. Nate Robertson
Game 2 should be more of an advantage to the Rockies because of their clear depth/talent advantage over the Marlins. The Rockies can run an entirely different lineup out there in two games and you feel like both lineups can hang with anybody. That's a nice attribute.
Of course there's always the concerns over Giambi's defense, but let's just hope he's not needed too often with the glove.
Aaron Cook needs to be good today. I'm expecting the bullpen to pick 3-4 innings in Game 1, so Cook has to get into the 7th or 8th to keep things from getting crazy. The Marlins lineup matches up much better for him than it does for Smith. plus Cook just seems due for a Cookmanlike outing, doesn't he?
Let's cross our fingers.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The game has been postponed due to cold, crappy, Colorado April weather.
There will be a doubleheader with the Marlins beginning tomorrow at 3:10 local time in Denver.
Per Joe Capozzi -- The Marlins will go with Ricky Nolasco in Game 1 and Nate Robertson in Game 2. I assume the Rockies will counter with Greg Smith and Aaron Cook in their current order.
Everyone stay warm and dry and find something fun to do with their Friday evening.
Me? I'm going to bed early and fueling up for a doubleheader.
Greg Smith vs. Ricky Nolasco
Tonight's pitching matchup has the potential for very ugly results.
I say that not because I don't believe in Greg Smith -- because you all know I do if you've been reading since Spring Training -- it's just a very difficult matchup for a lefty with his type of stuff. Extremely difficult.
The Marlins lineup will be loaded with potent and powerful right-handed bats -- Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino -- that are capable of putting up runs in a hurrry.
Remember this day? Rockies 18, Marlins 17
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Rockies 2, Nationals 0
I know Rockies fans in and around the Denver area were shut out of watching Ubaldo pitch today. You folks didn't miss a no-hitter or anything, you just missed a really strong 7 1/3 innings of awesomeness with a handful of cheap hits mixed in.
Mhm... that's all.
Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez
This kid is just rolling. He was never really threatened at any point. The pitch count climbed pretty high again thanks to some quality Washington ABs. That makes me nervous for the later months, especially if Jim Tracy can't show better restraint with him, but there's no reason to worry about that just yet.
Pretty strange start time for getaway day on the east coast. It worked just perfect for my schedule today, but I'm sure there are plenty of Rockies fans who are annoyed by this. I doubt many Washington are pissed about it though, because judging from last night's crowd, not many people in Washington are even aware there's a team playing in town.
Brad Hawpe gets another rest this afternoon. Though it's not Seth Smith taking his spot against the righty Hernandez. Ryan Spilborghs gets the nod, plays left and hits 6th, moving Gonzalez to right.
Looks like I'm stuck with the Washington feed today. Oh joy.
Actually, I don't think any of us will be too picky about Ubaldo's encore performance as long as it results in a victory for the ballclub.
Am I right?
Old friend Livan Hernandez takes the mound for Washington. Folks, Livan hasn't allowed a run yet this season in two starts. His ERA currently sits at freaking 0.00.
I'm going to go on out on a limb here and guarantee that changes today. Livan Hernandez will allow a run. In fact, Livan will allow about 4-5 runs.
The Rockies made a conscious decision this Spring Trainng to limit the playing time of Todd Helton and Jason Giambi. Neither man appeared in game until two weeks into ST, and after that the two of them were sharing time with spring sensations Michael Paulk and Brad Eldred.
It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Keep the old guys fresh and healthy. Let the youngster Paulk and the veteran Eldred get some work in, see how they could help the team going forward if needed. I didn't have a problem with that plan at that time.
Now though, as I look at what's taking place on the field, I look back at Spring Training and wonder if maybe Jason Giambi could have used the whole spring to get his game on track.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Nationals 6, Rockies 4
Official Ruling: I hereby overrule the original scoring of a basehit for Adam Duun in the first inning. That will now be viewed as an E3. Error on Jason Giambi.
Losing Player: Jason Giambi
I can't take another inning of Giambi playing first base for the Colorado Rockies. It's hideous.
Yes, we truly have been spoiled by Todd Helton's ability to make every play look easy, I admit that much, but Giambi can't even make the most basic of plays. He has no side-to-side range. He has no clue how to play a hop. He's just a stiff out there. The truest form of a stiff you'll find playing defensive in MLB.
Some early notes.
-- Todd Helton gets a rest ahead of tomorrow's matchup with Livan Hernandez. Helton is a ridiculous 33-for-69 against the big man, so it's Giambi tonight in the three-hole against a tough lefty.
-- Ian Stewart gets a well deserved blow in favor of Melvin Mora. Mora really earned the start with his three hit performance last night. Wouldn't be a bit shocked to see him spell Ian or Clint Barmes more against lefties going forward.
-- We also welcome Chris Iannetta back into our lives this evening. I'm calling a home run.
First pitch is on its way!
Let's rattle off a few wins here shall we?
Won't be easy with Washington's clear cut ace, John Lannan, on the mound. Lannan is far from what you'd call a dominant ace, but has his nights where he's on and can shut down anyone. Hopefully this won't be one of those nights.
I believe the Rockies come in with a little edge as they saw a similar, though far less talented, version of Lannan last night in Scott Olsen. I'm sure Lannan will make some adjustments from the gameplan Olsen used, but the Rockies should probably stick to theirs. I wouldn't even be opposed to them using the same lineup.
We know that won't happen.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Had a few demands for the boys tonight. A good number of them were met, a few were even exceeded.
#1 -- I demand the pitchers throw strikes tonight.
A really awful strikezone didn't help matters.
#2 -- I demand the defense make a play on every ball hit in their direction.
#3 -- I demand Jorge De La Rosa last into the 7th inning.
See #1. Jorge was better than his line will indicate, but he's still not at top form either.
#4 -- I demand Nationals starter Scott Olsen doesn't make it to the 5th.
BAM! 3rd inning KO!
#5 -- I demand Ryan Spilborghs starts.
Starts. Homers. Dig it.
Very classy opening to the broadcast tonight. Once again I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rockies President Keli McGregor.
The games go on.
Interesting lineup card tonight for Jim Tracy. Spilborghs starts for Gonzalez and leads off. Fowler, Helton, Tulo and Hawpe are all in their customary spots. Melvin Mora plays second and moves up to 6th. Miguel Olivo gets another start and hits 7th. Ian Stewart then drops to 8th against a left-hander.
Personally, when Gonzalez isn't starting, I'd much prefer Fowler leads off and you put Smith or Spilborghs in an RBI position. Especially Spilly, who seems to have a knack for driving in runs. That's just me. Nonetheless I'll be curious to see how this particular alignment works out for the squad tonight.
Time to get a W.
Amazing how quickly things change in life.
From the highest of highs on Saturday, to the frustrations of Sunday afternoon in Atlanta and Monday night in Washington, to the sobering reminders of life's reality this morning in Utah.
We lost a good man today in Keli McGregor. We lost a good man too soon. I don't just say that as a Colorado Rockies fan or a baseball fan, I say that as a fan of good people. From all accounts McGregor was a quality, quality person.
I feel for wife his and four children that are left behind. My deepest condolences go out to them, the rest of his family, his friends, and all others who were struck by his passing.
I thank him for his hard work, dedication and loyalty to the Colorado Rockies.
As fans we don't always appreciate or even put any thought into the work that's going on behind the scenes to give us a quality product to enjoy. When you look at where the Rockies are right now, I don't know that there's a franchise in baseball being run any better. No doubt McGregor had a big hand in that, and I thank him for it.
This is a tough day. It's a sobering day. It's a reminder that what happens on the field really isn't life or death, even though it feels that way sometimes. But it's also a reminder that we should appreciate the people we love and the things we enjoy while we can.
So let's enjoy tonight's game with a different perspective, while thinking of and honoring a man who helped provide us with moments we'll never forget.
RIP: Keli McGregor
Posted by Mark Townsend at 4:01 PM
#1 -- I demand the pitchers throw strikes tonight.
#2 -- I demand the defense make a play on every ball hit in their direction.
#3 -- I demand Jorge De La Rosa last into the 7th inning.
#4 -- I demand Nationals starter Scott Olsen doesn't make it to the 5th.
#5 -- I demand Ryan Spilborghs starts.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Nationals 5, Rockies 2
Yesterday wasn't. Tonight sure as hell wasn't.
What will it take to get this team clicking? Must the clubhouse manager flip the calandar to June or September and leave it there? I mean what the hell does this team need to play a little bit motivated in April.
I don't get it.
I know they're going to play better eventually. It's just so frustrating watching a team with this much talent seemingly go through the motions like the first 10-20 games don't matter as much as the final 10-20. They do, and you just can't sleepwalk through a game against an improved Washington team. We saw why tonight.
New day. I'm completely over what transpired yesterday. When you look at the play a few times in real speed and slo-mo, it's close. Do I think it was an out? Yes.
However... Do I think Clint Barmes caught the ball last year against the Cardinals? No. Do I think Matt Holliday touched home plate? Maybe. Things even out. The Rockies will get another call this season that will likely decide a game in their favor, too. It's frustrating, but it is what it is. Pound the Nats tonight and we'll all feel better everything related to baseball.
Seth Smith starts for Dexter tonight. That shifts CarGo over to center. Olivo catches again. The back and forth continues there,
Monday night baseball in the nation's capital. Should be fun.
First on the menu: Craig Stammen (15.63)
Alright, so that ERA is quite a bit misleading. Both of Stammen's starts have come against Philadelphia. Not exactly a receipe for success. Would you care to guess what his win-loss record is based on that ERA?
It's 0-0 of course.
Meanwhile, guys like Kevin Millwood (2.89), Roy Oswalt (2.37) and Jeremy Guthrie (3.15) all have two losses to their credit in the early season.
Indeed, stats can be very misleading, and while I fully expect the Rockies to put runs on the board tonight and this entire series, we will most definitely find out that Stammen is better than those numbers indicate. I just hope he doesn't go all Jair Jurrjens on us en route to restoring his credibility.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Braves 4, Rockies 3
When your pitching combines to walk 11 batters, your chances of winning that game are significantly hampered.
Dexter Fowler led off the 6th with a single. He quickly stole second and advanced to third on Brian McCann's throwing error...
No clue how players handle these quick turnarounds. Pretty sure I'll be ready for a nap by the 4th inning.
Seth Smith starts in place of Brad Hawpe, who's being held out as a precaution after some ginger baserunning last night. Smith hits 5th and plays left, Gonzalez shifts over to right. Chris Iannetta also back in the lineup tonight hitting 6th. Otherwise it's all the regulars we've come to know and love. Probably doesn't hurt that last night's game was played so quickly and without a whole lot of stress.
Atlanta has Matt Diaz leading off today. Not sure how that'll work.
How about a series victory in Atlanta and a jovial flight to Washington to play a better expected Nationals club.
Because let's face it, Greg Smith is going to give up a hit, maybe even a run or two.
Smith vs. Jurrjens
Following a no-hitter has to be about the least enviable task a starting pitcher could face. Then again, in the case of Greg Smith, who's coming off maybe the best start of his ML career, the pressure must feel pretty low, and the confidence has to be at an all-time high.
The adjustments he made between starts one and two were exactly what I'd hoped they would be. He was aggressive. He approached the ABs like he was in control. Most importantly, he trusted his stuff could get ML hitters out, and his stuff did just that. Now I'm really looking to how he backs up that start.
I might suggest Jason Hammel take a close at how Smith fares as well. It's early yet, not sure when Francis will return, but you have to figure Smith COULD earn his way into the rotation one way or another. And even if that's not a possibility, I wouldn't mind Smith and Hammel thinking it was.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Rockies 4, Braves 0
What a night!
Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez
What more can I say that I didn't say during the game and over at Bugs & Cranks.
We have a very special right arm pitching for our favorite baseball team. The way his strength, effectiveness, filth, intensity, focus and command build and improve as a game goes along is such a joy to watch. If he were on pitch 200 in the 16th inning right now, I wouldn't be surprised if he took it to an even higher level.
I'm as full of hyperbole as the next baseball fan, so I'll go ahead and say he's one of the top 5 arms in the game right now. And he may be closer to #1 than #5, but he's not better than Roy Halladay. I'll get that out of the way.
It's the reunion of the Opening Day lineup... sans Chris Iannetta, who once again sits in favor of Miguel Olivo. Whatever, at least we know Chris will play tomorrow.
- Chip Caray back in the both tonight for Atlanta. Opens the broadcast by telling us the Rockies are battling for the NL Wildcard. Actually, numbnuts, the Rockies are aiming a little higher this season.
- Chip also informs us the Rockies are like so many other NL teams that are looking for a leadoff man. Folks, I wasn't kidding, Chip Caray is a blithering idiot. Can't wait to hear what else he has to say.
- CarGo "the leadoff man experiment for tonight" does what he does so often, leads off the game with a hit (double).
- Fowler moves CarGo to third, Helton walks, and Tulo sac flies. Good start for the offense.
- Even better start for Jimenez, who wipes out a walk with a DP grounder.
- Rockies 1, Braves 0
Because yesterday sucked. And so did the day before that.
Jimenez vs. Kawakami
When times are rough, who's the person you always turn to? Your ace in the hole, right? Well, thank God the Rockies actually have one of those, and they're going to need him to live up to the billing in full for the third straight outing.
The Braves counter with Kenshin Kawakami. Kawakami is a very much underrated right-hander who came over to MLB last season from Japan. I suppose it's easy to understand why he would be underrated or overlooked when you look at the quality arms Atlanta has in their rotation.
At 34, he's also not a young prospect with endless amounts of hype surrounding him. He's just a solid, veteran arm that knows how to get hitters out without being overpowering. Josh Fogg might be a decent comparison to make, though I'd consider Kenshin to be more polished and talented.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Braves 9, Rockies 5
Overall, a much improved effort from the Rockies tonight.
Seriously! I mean it!
No sloppiness was evident on defense. The offense put together a couple solid innings, with Seth Smith contributing the pinch-hit 3-run homer. The bullpen was honestly pretty awesome. Thank you Manny Corpas, Joe Beimel, Matt Belisle and Randy Flores.
The loss pretty much boiled down to one person and one inning.
Losing Player: Jason Hammel
Here I was all prepared for a 6:05 CT first pitch only to discover the Braves are doing the 35 after first pitch. I'd like to say that's annoying but I can only imagine how annoyed fans are by the Rockies 40 after first pitch time. Of course nothing tops the White Sox 7:11 start times.
Now I have to find something productive to do with my next 30 minutes... like laundry, or exercise.
Oh, and there is some good news on the injury/flu front. Brad Hawpe and Todd Helton are both in the lineup in their customary spots. Carlos Gonzalez is available for pinch-hit duty and could start a game in this series. All very positive things. Now hopefully yesterday's debacle served as a wake-up call and we see a whole different team out there tonight.
Update: My only productive activity in the last half hour was getting the mail. Now it's time for baseball in Atlanta!
There's no way to make that sound right, nor is there any way to make Chip Caray sound like a competent announcer.
Before I get into anything for tonight, I just want to offer you this in regards to yesterday's debacle.
Click on the following links to view condensed versions of Brewers/Cubs, Rangers/Indians & D-Backs/Dodgers from yesterday. It'll make you feel better about he Rockies game momentarily... and then you'll remember they lost two of three to Milwaukee and you feel like crap again. But at least you'll have that short moment of comfort.
Hammel vs. Lowe
I think we've seen enough of Derek Lowe over the years to know what's he about. Sinkerballer in the exact same mold as Aaron Cook. Cook probably relies on his a little more, but Lowe also lives and dies with it when it's crunch time.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Mets 5, Rockies 0
Yes, I have to. But if the Rockies aren't going to put in a full effort on a Thursday afternoon, neither am I.
Losing Player: #42. Everybody wearing Jackie Robinson's #42 in a Rockies uniform today embarrassed the number.
They played like shit. I could stop there, but I'll add a little to it.
- The defense was pathetic.
- Botched rundown with a pitcher running.
- Melvin Mora can't turn a double play unless a catcher or pitcher is running.
- Miguel Olivo with some really lazy backhands of balls in the dirt.
- Seth Smith throwing to the wrong base.
- Jason Giambi has no range.
- De La Rosa walked five.
- Zero runs scored.
Of course the final blurb there (0 runs) rendered everything else moot on this day, but you still have to look at the whole ugly picture.
We jump into the action in the top half of the third.
- Mets 1, Rockies 0
- We start with De La Rosa walking the pitcher, a high chopper over Stewart's head, and a botched rundown allowing a pitcher to score.
- This defense right now isn't just embarrassing, it's bullshit. There's no excuses for the lapses we're seeing.
- Drew Goodman with some odd commentary.
- Mike Pelfrey cruising so far today. Couple infield singles allowed and that would be the extent of that.
They came to Denver not yet a mess. One more loss and they'll leave town in shambles.
Winning homestand secured, now it's time for these Rockies to get greedy and vicious. Step on somebody's throat. Beat up on the less fortunate. Pile up some W's before we get deep into division play.
If you can't tell, I want this game today really bad. Not only for the sadistic reasons mentioned above, but because winning De La Rosa's starts is just as important as winning Ubaldo's. Jorge is practicially your second ace. Chances are really good he's going to keep you in it, so I like to take advantage of that. Puts less pressure on the bottom of the rotation.
Rockies 6, Mets 5 (10)
Try as they might, the Rockies and their continued horrid defense could not snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.
There was Todd Helton's yearly error in the first inning. Aaron Cook pitched around that.
Matt Daley pitched over top of Ian Stewart's inexplicable throwing error. He actually made several poor throws on the evening -- leading to some concern that his arm may be sore -- but the one he made here was so bad even Todd Helton couldn't pick it. That's bad.
And then there was the Tulowitzki hiccup leading off the ninth. As I mentioned in Running Thoughts, not as an easy play, but a play Tulo makes 98 times out of 100. Scored a hit. I was more than fine with the scoring. Tulo just looked a step slow.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Chris Iannetta makes his hopefully triumphant return to the starting lineup tonight. Not a big fan of the catching rotation so far, even if Olivo has knocked a couple balls over the fence. I prefer to see Iannetta get 60-40 split in his favor unless it's clear he's struggling. Right now it's looking more 60-40 in Olivo's favor.
No Hawpe or Gonzalez in the lineup. Hawpe sounds more likely to pinch-hit or play defense. Indications are CarGo would only see emergency action.
Less than 10 minutes from first pitch. Let's ensure a winning homestand tonight.
- Bob Apodaca mic'ed up tonight. This oughta be interesting.
- Todd Helton made an error. Holy Sh*t.
- Jose Reyes walks to third as the Rockies completely fall asleep defensively. Not the sharpest start mentally.
- Cookie pitches around the error, the mental lapse, and a little bit of wildness to earn a scoreless first. I fully expect him to settle in now.
- Kinda starting to wonder when Dexter Fowler will start hitting righties or lefties this season. *Inhale* Patience.
Is it fair to question the strength and conditioning coaches and routines used by the Rockies?
I ask this knowing that every team deals with similar injuries, it just seems like they pile up on the Rockies a little more than most, especially in the early months.
It's not so much the significant injuries -- Tulo's quad tear in 08, Francis' shoulder in 09, Huston Street now -- that bother me, it's the little lingering muscles strains and tightness that always seem to be plaguing one or two players at a time.
Aaron Cook's second start of 2010 comes a week and about six hours after his first. That's worth noting because a rested arm is detrimental to the sinkerballer. Not only do the numbers bare that out (6.50 ERA in 21 starts with 6+ days rest), you can easily see it on the television when the overthrown sinker only has time to sink right into hitter's happy zone.
So the math here says: Second start of season + 7 days rest = Lots of arm strength.
I'm not predicting Cook will get shelled based on all of this, but I think the Mets are going to get pitches to hit early in the game. What they do with them is entirely up to them.
Rockies 11, Mets 3
Winning Player: Greg Smith
You can't really call him a kid, but you can definitely call him the man tonight. Greg Smith did it all. 7 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 8 K. That's just the pitching side. At the dish: 1-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, R. Showed some nice wheels on the bases beating out a possible DP to get his second RBI. There's a lot to like about his athletic ability and all the ways he can help the team win games.
He gets paid to pitch though, and wow, like I've been saying all spring, the stuff he has in his arm is big league caliber. He can make good hitters look silly when he's confident and in rhythm. That's exactly what he was tonight.
For him to roll out there like he was tonight, getting into that seventh inning, has to make all of us feel better about where this team can go. So many of the top notch clubs are looking to to find a solid 4th or 5th. The Rockies have six if Francis is healthy. As it stands, they have five.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Carlos Gonzalez is out of the lineup but may be alright to pinch-hit. Seth Smith starts and hits lead-off. Miguel Olivo is back behind the plate, which means Chris Iannetta has played one time in the last 7 days. Not going to lie, that's starting to piss me off.
Can't decide if I want to watch the Rockies feed or the Mets. Probably end up going back and forth.
1st Pitch on its way.
- Jim Tracy grades his team at a C+ through the first week. That's a + too generous in my opinion.
- 22 pitch inning for Smith results in two strikeouts, a walk, but no damage. Mets batters works some deep counts on him though, so that could factor in next time through the lineup.
- Two out action for the Rockies: Helton singles on an 0-2 pitch, Tulo walks on four pitches, and Hawpe pulls his first pitch down the line for a 2-run double.
- Rockies all now scored first in all seven games. Rockies 2, Mets 0
- Brad Hawpe leaves the game with an undisclosed something or other. Lovely.
- Smith with a low pitch 1-2-3 second. Nice shutdown inning.
- It wasn't pretty but Greg Smith gets a bunt down. Rockies 2nd and 3rd, 1 out here. Top of the order.
- Horrendous AB by Seth Smith. Pops to short. Fowler flies out weakly to center.
For now, at least, they aren't a total mess.
Not that they're good either. I picked them 4th in the NL East, and they come to Denver after a 2-4 homestand that was capped with back-to-back ugly losses to Washington. Ick.
Aside from Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Daniel Murphy, they appear to be as healthy as the Rockies have seen them in three years. Jose Reyes is back in there. Johan Santana is healthy, but we won't see him. And David Wright, who debuted his Marvin The Martian helmet last season in Denver, has completely shaken the cobwebs from Matt Cain's fastball.
They added Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Mike Jacobs and held onto a guy the Rockies were very interested in this offseason in Fernando Tatis, so the offense will be capable of putting some hits together. And yes, stringing those hits together is important because there's not a whole lot of 1st-to-3rd athleticism amongst that group.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Rockies 4, Padres 2
Was it pretty?
Not at all.
Should we care it was ugly?
A little, but not too much.
Will we take it?
A week ago I would have said 4-2 would be a super way to start season. However, after seeing the action play out before me, I think we should be thrilled the Rockies are 3-3.
True a couple hits here or there could have put the Rockies at 4-2 or even 5-1, but without the solid pitching from Ubaldo Jimenez, it could have just as easily been 1-5.
Seems we had some bad information earlier. Todd Helton will not start today. It will be Jason Giambi and his lifetime 2-for-20 against Jon Garland. Not that I care about those numbers at all. Ian Stewart and Carlos Gonzalez start once again. They're turning into workhorses. Melvin Mora starts for Barmes and hits 8th. Olivo in for Iannetta. Seth Smith in for Dexter Fowler and hitting second.
Away we go.
- Cabrera starts the game with an impressive 10 pitch AB. Jimenez ultimately wins the battle with a strikeout and then handles Jerry Hairston and Adrian Goznalez for a relatively easy first.
- The Show projected three walks for Seth Smith. He got one out of the way in the first. Rockies fail to cash that in and we have a scoreless first in Denver.
It's always a safe bet that you'll see the "B" lineups trotted out there on a Sunday afternoon. That becomes even more likely when teams engage in a 14-inning marathon the night before.
Jim Tracy has already confirmed that Todd Helton will start at first, so no Jason Giambi. That's a little surprising, but I reckon it has a lot to do with Giambi's 2-for-20 lifetime against Jon Garland.
I fully expect to see Olivo at catcher, Spilborghs in center, Smith in left, and Mora at third. Ian Stewart, while hot, hasn't had a day off yet. Barmes sat the final few innings last night. Hawpe had his day off in Milwaukee. And Tulo never really needs one.
Unfortunately, Adrian Gonzalez is the Padres' workhorse, so don't expect him to sit. Yorvit Torrealba should play his first game against his former teammates. I'll also predict we'll see at least once Hairston.
Padres 5, Rockies 4 (14)
You know, the guy you can't let beat you?
He beat us.
The Rockies spent 13 innings dodging stray bullets from lesser Padres on Saturday night. They just couldn't dodge the one fired by San Diego's best only sharpshooter.
It proved to be fatal.
Adrian Gonzalez hooked a double past Brad Hawpe, plating David Eckstein, and giving San Diego a 5-4 victory.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
The "A" lineup returns. Iannetta is back in for Olivo.
- San Diego already utilizing their third different lead-off man. That says a lot.
- Jason Hammel channels Greg Smith by nibbling around Tony Gwynn Jr. Please attack him... it's not the old man.
- That sneaky Tulowitzki gets in behind Gwynn and the Rockies execute a perfect pickoff. Gwynn hated the call. No one cared.
- What a play by Chase Headley to throw out Fowler after he lined one off Latos' backside. Looked like a sure hit.
Jason Hammel vs. Mat Latos
In four starts against San Diego last season, Jason Hammel averaged under five innings per, with an ugly 5.79 ERA.
Of course there's always a little caveat to these numbers, and in Hammel's case it's that his first two starts, which lasted a total of 6 1/3 innings, both came shortly after his move to the rotation, and also while the Rockies collectively sucked. So we'll just throw those two starts out.
That leaves him with a 6 inning average and a 2.25 ERA. Mhm... that's much better.
Hammel's gameplan tonight should be a rather simple one: Don't let anyone other than Adrian Gonzalez on base. That way, when Gonzalez hits his inevitable home run, it won't kill you.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Rockies 7, Padres 0
A record crowd of 49,509 witnessed arguably the Rockies greatest pitching performance, ever.
Let's get right into it.
Winning Player: Jorge De La Rosa (1-0)
Not enough cliches and adjectives in the world to describe how special he was today. About the 5th inning I said he had close to no-hit stuff. I don't know, looking back now I'd say that's the closest we've seen a Rockies pitcher come to never being touched. The lone hit he gave up in seven innings would have been a routine grounder had it not been for the hit-and-run call.
The usual lineup with the lone exception being Miguel Olivo getting a second straight start behind the plate. It's early, but the pressure may already be mounting on Chris Iannetta.
- Baseball is back in Denver. What a beautiful day.
- De La Rosa breezes through the first, capping it with a strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez.
- Clayton Richard returns the favor, shutting the Rockies down 1-2-3.
- San Diego's Kyle Blanks is one impressive specimen. A large man of 6'6" 275 LBs, and he nearly beat out a fairly routine grounder to Stewart. Great athlete.
- DLR is dealing through two innings.
- First and third situation results in nada as Stewart GIDP. That's 0-for-1 with RISP today.
Well, now that we've lost our chance for a perfect season, lost our first series, and fallen into a three-way tie for last place in the NL West, there's only one thing I can say right now...
It's Good To Be Home
Unless you're the Washington Nationals and you're hosting the Philadelphia Phillies, nothing beats the home opener!
The Rockies open the home schedule with one of their most favoritest opponents: the San Diego Padres.
It seems the Padres always show up when the Rockies need them most. If you recall, it was the season opener of 2005 when the Rockies rallied off Trevor Hoffman in the 9th inning to steal a victory. Everybody remembers the series in San Diego and the amazing Game 163 in 2007. And then, in 2009, it was the Padres who supplied the opposition as the Rockies began to right the ship under Jim Tracy.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Brewers 5, Rockies 4
Old Habits Die Hard
The Rockies oldest, dirtiest and most annoying habit has been failure to hit with runners in scoring position. It plagued them all through last season, and it reared its nasty little head once again today in Milwaukee.
You go 1-for-12, you lose. If you didn't lose, you deserved to. It's pretty cut and dry that way.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Brewers 7, Rockies 5
Not exactly the debut Greg Smith or the Rockies were looking for.
I was hoping we'd see Smith come out aggressive. Attacking hitters. Looking to establish himself right off the bat. Instead, he set a bad tone early by getting up 0-2 on Rickie Weeks, only to tiptoe around him with the next four. After retiring Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun, he nibbled again and walked Prince Fielder. That allowed one bad mistake to Casey McGehee to cost him three runs.
When anybody mentions limiting the traffic, that's exactly what they mean. Two free runs just along for the ride.
He also used up 34 bullets in that first inning. That's always a guarantee for a short night.
What can I say, I'm excited to Greg Smith get the ball tonight. He should be doing so with far less pressure than had the Rockies lost their opener. 0-2 isn't the end of the world ever of course, but no one wants it.
He'll see a right-handed dominant order from the Crew tonight. I'll be focusing mostly on how he approaches and handles the top of the Brewers order -- Rickie Weeks, Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun. Keeping them in check will go a long ways towards keeping his team in the game. I'm hoping for six innings and two runs.
- Dexter Fowler is the only change in the lineup tonight.
- You could boil an egg on Carlos Gonzalez right now. 5-for-6 to open the season. He ends up coming around on a Todd Helton single to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
- Brad Hawpe is overmatched by Randy Wolf on three pitches. Sure hope we see more of Spilborghs against lefties. Tomorrow would be a good time to start that trend.
- Smith jumped out 0-2 on Rickie Weeks and then start nibbling away. Ends up walking him and wasting four bullets. Have to be more aggressive than that.
- More aggressive he was with Braun, impressively striking him out with the runner at third.
- Smith then turns around and walks Fielder, a guy he should attack, and serves up a 3-run homer to Casey McGehee.
- 34 pitch first inning for Smith. That about says it all.
- 3-1 Brewers.
Pirates 11, Dodgers 5
A couple things about this game.
-- The Dodgers got what they deserved for naming Vicente Padilla their Opening Day starter. What the hell did Joe Torre expect to happen? When you have a Clayton Kershaw and a Chad Billingsley at your disposal, I don't know why you'd ever pass them for Padilla. Weird decision.
-- The Pirates can really rake. It's far from a complete, all-star filled lineup, but there aren't many holes here. Garrett Jones is a nice anchor in the #3 spot. He has power to all fields, as he proudly displayed in the opener. Obviously Andrew McCutchen is a special type player, and Jeff Clement should be good, too.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Rockies 5, Brewers 3
1-0. That's about 1,000% better than 0-1.
Today's season opener was more interesting than it was entertaining. Unless you enjoy games where your team makes a few errors, leaves all kind of runners in scoring position, and then allows the tying run to bat with no outs in the ninth in a three run game.
Like I said, though, 1-0 is better than 0-1.
The Rockies will play better than this about 100 times this season, and not as good probably 40 times. I'm just making numbers up, but they should play better more times than not.
- Rockies come out aggressive on the basepaths as Gonzalez is gunned down stealing. Probably would have preferred they allow Seth Smith's AB to play out there as he had a 3-1 count at the time, though he did strikeout.
- On the defensive side, Tulowitzki gets one of his rare errors out of the way very early. You won't see but 3-4 more like that all season.
- Brad Hawpe morphs into Dexter Fowler for a few seconds as he scores from second on a wild pitch. The most exciting play in baseball aside from the inside-the-park homer.
- Good lord can Ian Stewart rake.
- The Rockies won't make many errors this season. That the Brewers aren't capitalizing on the two early ones today is a fantastic break for the Rocks.
We got action in Milwaukee. Our favorite drinking town with a baseball problem.
Rockies @ Brewers -- Miller Park
Ubaldo Jimenez vs Yovani Gallardo
Seth Smith starts, Dexter Fowler sits, and it's alright
A non-story any other day but Opening Day. I'd say this was an easy decision for Tracy. One that I'm actually quite pleased he went ahead with. You're facing a legitimate right-handed ace, so why not start your obvious best left-handed hitters? Give yourself the best chance you can to win. He doesn't have to explain that to me.
As for Fowler, hopefully it will take A LOT more than sitting on Opening Day to rattle his confidence. If it doesn't, then there's a more to develop than just his right-handed swing. You know he'll be in the game late for defense, and he'll start games 2 & 3 against a couple lefties. You'll see Ryan Spilborghs get one start for sure, maybe even two. Everyone in the pool for series one. I like it.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I don't know what's going on with the Rockies pitchers and their sore shoulders and armpits. I mean seriously... a sore armpit? Late April Fools joke? Did he sleep wrong? Allergic reaction to deoderant? You have to admit Francis looks like the kid at your high school that was allergic to everything.
I do know I feel awful for Jeff. He traveled a long, long road of rehab and recovery to get this close to that next MLB start that seemed like it was never coming. I'm fairly certain this won't prove to be anything too serious, but you have to figure a little doubt creeps into the back of his mind when this pops up now of all times.
Okay, so being down two pitchers (in addition to Buchholz) before you even play game #1 of 162 isn't what you're hoping for. However, I do believe this latest thing to Francis gives the Rockies their best possible starting rotation on Opening Day. Maybe not in the correct order -- thanks to Tracy oddly naming Francis #2 -- but definitely the right five guys.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Cubs 2, Rockies 0 (Boxscore)
No hits and misses today.
What I saw out there were two teams far more interested in catching a flight out of town than playing baseball. Who can blame them? Arizona is a great place to be and all, and they're playing baseball of course, but there's only so much meaningleess baseball these guys can take. I think we all have our limitations in that regard. Mine ran out about three weeks ago.
That said, I congratulate Jeff Francis on his outing today. I'm sure a more patient lineup would have given him a little more trouble, but when you add the Cubs to getaway day, lots of early swings are going to happen.
The Rockies had been showing more patiences as a team this spring. That was non-existant today. Hopefully that sloppiness doesn't creep over into the weekend and opening day.
Hmm... aside from that, not much to add here.
Four days until the fun begins!