Monday, May 31, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: He's Real, And He's Spectacular

If you weren't sure, that's only because you hadn't seen him pitch yet.

Now that you have, you're sure.

Rockies 4, Giants 0

Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez

I don't know what I can tell you that isn't already obvious.

I could rattle off the amazing numbers, but you've already seen those a 100 times.

I could tell you he throws hard, his ball moves, and he gets stronger as the game moves along. I think you can all see that for yourself

I'll just settle for telling you it's a special thing we're witnessing. A special thing that not only Rockies fans are invested in, but after today, baseball fans from all over the world will be invested Ubaldo Jimenez.

Lineup Card: Ubaldo vs. Lincecum

On this Memorial Day, we cannot thank those who have served and sacrificed for our country enough.

Thank you for fighting for us.

Thank you for giving us the freedom to travel and spend time with our loved ones.

Thank you for giving baseball nerds like myself the opportunity to sit here and write about the game I've grown up loving, and for giving all of us the freedom to sit back and watch two of the most talented pitchers in our lifetime pitch in one of the most beautiful ballparks in the world.

Rockies Lineup (26-24)

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C   Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Jimenez
Giants Lineup (27-22)
  • LF Torres
  • 2B Sanchez
  • 3B Sandoval
  • RF Huff
  • SS Uribe
  • 1B Posey
  • C   Molina
  • CF Rowand
  • P   Lincecum

Fowler Demotion A Sound Decision

Troy Renck broke the news late last night.

Judging from the reaction I've heard and read everyone understands and is on board with this decision. I'm on board with all of you.  It makes nothing but sense and is, in fact, a bit overdue.

Fowler needs that extra bit of seasoning he missed out on by coming straight from AA in 2009.  He was able to get by on raw ability for most of his solid rookie season, but we all know how scouting works in MLB.  They found the hole in Fowler's left-handed swing.  He hasn't adjusted.  His numbers are down and his confidence is down with it.

Some are suggesting Fowler scrap switch-hitting altogether.  I wouldn't be opposed to that.  There's no doubt his right-handed swing is ML ready (His defense and speed also already measure up to that of a quality big leaguer), so all he'd need at AAA are a few right-handed ABs against some right-handed pitchers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: One Catch. One Call.

That's all it takes for LA to take the series in Colorado.


Dodgers 4, Rockies 3

The Catch

It's funny how baseball works sometimes. Chris Iannetta pops a 1-2 pitch a mile in the air in the first inning, Blake DeWitt loses it in the sun, RBI single.

With the bases loaded in the 5th inning, Iannetta hits a ball right on the screws to CF, Matt Kemp lays out to make a fantastic diving catch. If the ball touches down it's a guaranteed two runs, and with a good bounce probably three.

Just that close to being a hero. Just that close to busting the game wide open.  Baseball is cruel like that.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Dodgers

Today's pregame thought...

Beat LA!

Again!

Rockies Lineup (26-23)

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Spilborghs
  • 1B Giambi
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C  Iannetta
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Chacin
Dodgers Lineup (27-22)
  • SS Furcal
  • C   Martin 
  • CF Kemp
  • 1B Loney
  • 3B Blake
  • RF Paul
  • LF Johnson
  • 2B DeWitt
  • P   Kershaw

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Milestones Galore

Before we get too far in... yes, we must take our hat off and salute the great Roy Halladay on his Perfect Game in Florida.

Alright, that's enough saluting already.

There were actually two MUCH more important milestones that took place at Coors Field on Saturday night.

1) Rockies 11, Dodgers 3

Boy does that feel good to type.

2) Jim Tracy's 100th victory as Rockies manager.

Congratulations to Jim for not only achieving the milestone, but doing so so quickly. Pretty amazing.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Dodgers

My pregame thoughts today...

Beat LA!

Rockies Lineup (25-23)

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C   Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Cook
Dodgers Lineup (27-21)
  • SS Furcal
  • RF Anderson
  • LF Ramirez
  • CF Kemp
  • 1B Loney
  • 3B Blake
  • 2B DeWitt
  • C   Ellis
  • P   Kuroda

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Less Than Zero Margin For Error

That's what it must feel like to the Rockies when they meet up with the Dodgers.

Every misstep. Every error. Every lead-off walk. Every little blemish seems to turn a game under Rockies control to a Dodger victory. And the most frustrating thing about it is how easy the Dodgers can make it look.  It's almost as if they're toying with the Rockies at times.

They flip the switch on. Do just enough to take the lead. Flip the switch back off. Put the ball in the hands of their bullpen and hold on to a 1-2 run victory.

That's the formula they have concocted to beat the Rockies. You can't argue with its results: 17-5 since the beginning of 2009.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 4

Losing Player: Jeff Francis

Tough one for Jeff to take. He was in top form for five solid innings. Then, like Hammel yesterday, he began the sixth inning with a walk. Lead-off walks are never good. Lead-off walks against the Dodgers are deadly.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Dodgers

I know nothing about Dodger starter Carlos Monasterios other than this is his second career start and he's posted a 1.90 ERA in 23.2 innings. How many innings the Dodgers hope to get out of him is something else I'm not sure about.

I do know Jim Tracy is hoping for Jeff Francis to get deep into the game after using six relievers to record 11 outs yesterday.

Rockies Lineup (25-22)

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Francis
Dodgers Lineup (26-21)
  • SS Furcal
  • C   Martin
  • LF Ramirez
  • CF Kemp
  • 3B Blake
  • 1B Belliard
  • RF Johnson
  • 2B Carroll
  • P   Monasterios
Lots of righties for Francis to deal with again tonight.  Hasn't been a problem for him so far.

The Difference A Week Can Make

Last week at this time we were wondering what the Rockies needed to do to spark their offense.

This week the Rockies are raking, while fans of teams like St. Louis, Philadelphia, and the New York Yankees are all asking the same questions we were asking.

That's the beauty (and frustration) of baseball. Every team goes through slumps. Every good team works their way out of them. These past five games should make us feel pretty good about the Colorado Rockies

Of course there are a number of little things that the Rockies are doing better during this five game winning streak.

The extra base CarGo took in the first inning yesterday after a bobble by Chris Young is a good example. It was aggressive and smart, which is different than aggressive.

Aggressive is Tulowitzki attempting to go first-to-third in KC against David DeJesus and getting thrown out by a mile. That had very little chance of going well, but it qualifies as aggression just the same.

Smart and aggressive is CarGo running out of the box with purpose, not assuming anything, watching the opponent, knowing the opponent, and not hesistating to make his move. Can live without the head first slide, but the pure hustle involved there can never be questioned.

They aren't giving away ABs so easily. We were all pulling our hair out as batter after batter took awkward looking swing after awkward looking swing against very mediocre pitchers. It honestly looked like a team going through the motions, just taking their normal BP cuts at live pitches under the lights.

Starting with Greinke on Sunday, the offense has seemingly refocused their entire approach. Their patience has improved. Situational hitting has improved by leaps and bounds. And above all that, the longball has returned in force full. Nothing better than getting a quick one or three runs on the board in one swing.

The defense is back to making every play they need to make. They're also making several plays that few of their counterparts can make. When it's on, the defense can absolutely carry this team on a given day. Tuesday's 3-2 win was a shining example of that.

Bullpen structure. Jim Tracy has a better feel for where he wants to use guys and the guys are taking to their roles. It's a fairly significant thing where you look back at all the bullpen we saw the first six weeks of the season.

And those are just some of the things I'm noticing that have improved.  They're pretty obvious to see, but sometimes writing the obvious is the best way to go.

Now that the Rockies have all these things going in their favor, they are in a position to make up a move up the divisional standings earlier than we're used to.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Stack'em Up

Not only are the Rockies stacking up victories... 5 in a row

They're stacking up some long balls as well... Smith-to-CarGo-to-Spilborghs.

That makes 16 dingers in their last 9 games.

And hey, they're stacking up the whoppers and tacos for Rockies fans as well.

Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 2

Winning Player: Seth Smith

This is a retroactive Winning Player selection.  He deserved it last night for hitting two bombs with the flu.  He deserves it even more today for extending the lead from 4-2 to 6-2... while even sicker than he was last night.

I don't know where he found the strength, but I can appreciate the energy it must take just to get out of bed feeling that awful. Hopefully he feels better tomorrow night.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs D-Backs

Big start today for Jason Hammel.  Not that his spot in the rotation is in any immediate danger, he just needs to keep showing us some consistency after a slow start to the year and then the groin injury.

Unlike a lot of Rockies fans, I'm on Hammel's side.  I think he's a solid #5 starter that a number of teams would like to have.  It was clear most fans don't agree with that after reading some criticism of his start in Kansas City.

I actually thought the start was solid.  I mean anytime you can pitch into the 7th inning in an AL park with only two runs allowed, you've pitched well.  True a couple more runs were tacked on in the 7th, but it's hard to find a lot to complain about.

That said, he may have to be a little better than he was last Friday to beat Dan Haren today.

Rockies Lineup (24-22)

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Spilborghs
  • 1B Giambi
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C   Iannetta (Welcome back)
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Hammel
Diamondbacks Lineup (20-27)
  • 2B Johnson
  • LF Parra
  • SS Drew
  • RF Upton
  • 1B LaRoche
  • 3B Reynolds
  • CF Young
  • C   Snyder
  • P   Haren

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: I Like Ubaldo Jimenez

Because he's adding years to my life and keeping my hair from graying in my late 20s.

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 3

Don't be fooled by the three... that came AJ (After Jimenez).

Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez

There was a challenge tonight from Seth Smith (two home runs), but duh, that's not enough to wrestle WP away from The Chief.

He was fantastic, as usual, but also allow me to say this about Arizona: They swung the bats very well tonight. Seriously. They squared up more pitches than anyone has in a single game against U.

And you know what that amounted to?

0 runs, 4 singles, 2 doubles in 8 innings.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs. D-Backs

Tonight would be the perfect night.

The perfect night for the Rockies offense to start taking advantage of below average pitchers, because that's exactly what Rodrigo Lopez is at this point in his career.

Also, it's easy to assume 3-4 runs will be enough for Jimenez to cruise to victory.  More times than not that will be more than enough, but I don't want the offense to come in relaxed feeling like their work is easy.  I want them to come out and do to Lopez what they did to Edwin Jackson last time Ubaldo Jimenez faced Arizona.

Support the hell out of him.  Make his life easy.  Make Jim Tracy's life easy.  Make my night be Stress Free!

Also, Ubaldo... stay hydrated, my friend!

Rockies Lineup (23-22)

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Jimenez
Diamondbacks Lineup (20-26)
  • 2B Johnson
  • RF Parra
  • LF Jackson
  • SS Drew
  • 1B LaRoche
  • 3B Reynolds
  • CF Young
  • C   Snyder
  • P   Lopez
Day off for Upton.  I don't care how much he may struggle against Ubaldo, I'm glad he's not in there.  He'll be a key weapon in the late innings of a close game, though.  

Caught In The Act: Bob Apodaca Coaching

Believe it or not, Bob Apodaca actually serves a purpose other than being the guy who makes phone calls in the dugouts and/or slowly walks to the mound when the Rockies are trying to kill time.

Here he is working with Jeff Francis before last night's game against Arizona.  Looks like Bob is helping Jeff rediscover his pick-off move.

Hey, wait a minute.

Didn't Jeff Francis pick two runners off in his last start?

Who's really coaching who here?

Photos courtesy MLB Network's Ballpark Cam.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: The Little Things Add Up

Now that was a profressional baseball game that makes you proud to be a baseball fan. Very well played by both sides.

Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 2

Winning Player: Jhoulys Chacin

Anytime your 22-year-old starter gives you six innings of two run baseball, you best win the game for him. When you win the game for him, you must give him the game ball.

Chacin was fantastic in limiting a really strong Arizona lineup to just four hits and two walks. He struck out five and also induced a well timed double play ball off the bat of Chris Snyder in the second inning. That was his biggest pitch of the night.

Maybe his biggest moment of the game came in an under-the-radar AB.

His successful sacrifice bunt in the 2nd inning led directly to a stolen run. The bunt pushed runners to 2nd and 3rd with two outs. Miguel Olivo then scored from third on an Ian Kennedy wild pitch.

One simple little bit of execution leads to a stolen run. It was really was huge, because all the Rockies could muster aside from that run were solo HRs from Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki.  That's why I always stress the little things.

Save: Ian Stewart/Clint Barmes

Listen, the bullpen did great once again tonight backing up Chacin. The usual trio -- Belisle, Bemiel and Corpas -- got the nine outs and sealed the deal once again. Credit to them.

But that play Clint Barmes made in the 9th inning was huge. Not only to knock the ball down, preventing a 1st and 3rd situation, he actually got an out of the play. We all know how precious and elusive outs 25, 26 and 27 can be. Barmes secured 26 right there.

That's why he plays.

And the two plays Ian Stewart made in the late innings. Incredible. Diving and throwing from his backside, and then leaning over the rail in the D-Backs dugout for out 25. When the Rockies flash leather, they win baseball games. They win them inspite of whatever offensive struggles they're going through.

It's a defense first team.

Stewart's swing also looked good. Two knocks the opposite way plus a walk. Todd Helton chipped in with three hits.

Eat that, Mark Kiszla.

Ubaldo takes the ball tomorrow. Let's hope for a Stress Free Wednesday against former Rockie Rodrigo Lopez and the rest of the D-Backs.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs D-Backs

While the Rockies did recall Chris Iannetta today, they still haven't recalled Matt Daley.  I try to not read too much into that, but it put a tiny thought in my mind that they may be concerned about Jimenez.  Maybe not so much that he can't make his start, but there may be concern the situation could flare up again during his start, so they're keeping an extra long reliever around.

Or maybe Jim Tracy just doesn't like Matt Daley.  *Shrugs*

Rockies Lineup (22-22)

  • LF Smith
  • CF Fowler
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C   Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Chacin
Diamondbacks Lineup (20-25)
  • 2B Johnson
  • LF Jackson
  • SS Drew
  • RF Upton
  • 1B LaRoche
  • 3B Reynolds
  • CF Young
  • C   Snyder
  • P   Kennedy
They still have a damn good lineup.  Rockies are going to need to score to win this series.  Score big even.

Tuesday Links

A handful of links on a Tuesday afternoon.  Tonight's Lineups will be going up soon.

Chris Iannetta is back!  (Denver Post)

Here's a great take on the importance of this upcoming stretch of baseball for the Rockies.  (TrueFanColorado)

Mark Kiszla... Still getting paid to be a moron.  (Denver Post)

David Martin fires back at Kiszla.... and also reminds us how big of a scumbag Kiszla is.  (Rockies Review)

Time to get reacquainted with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  (Purple Row)

And finally... my own take of the Rockies signing of Kaz Matsui.  (Heaven & Helton)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rockies Sign Kaz Matsui...

... to a minor league contract.

Which thankfully means he's not on the 40 man roster.

That's the only part of the deal that excites me.

If he becomes a member of the 40 man roster, or plays in a meaningful game for the Rockies this season, well... we're screwed.

I understand he had a good season in 2007 (which is still three years ago and getting further away).  I know he's a likable guy and all.  But he's so far done it's not even funny.  It's actually sad how done he is.

The Houston Astros (baseball's most desperate team for anything resembling baseball players) just released him.  The Astros didn't have a hot shot young prospect they were clearing playing time for... or a red hot veteran that commanded the job. All they have at second base are journeymen Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger.

Couch Time: Don't Trade Morales

Everybody's frustrated by the struggles of Franklin Morales in 2010.

I am. You are. He is. The Rockies are.

By my count, that's everybody.

Frustration (anger, disgust, so forth) often lead the less disciplined to make rash and reactionary decisions.

Example: When you're young, your boyfriend/girlfriend does something that really pisses you off or frustrates you, there's a pretty decent chance you break up with them.

Of course that all changes again a couple days later you talk and things are normal. The door to reconciliation opens up. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but the point is that door remains open despite your reactionary decision.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: 22-22 Never Felt So... Good?

Baseball is a beautiful game when played smoothly and correctly.

Sunday's game was anything but beautiful.

We'll take it old way we can gets it.

Rockies 11, Royals 7

I hate to quote myself, but sometimes it's just necessary.

Sometimes matchups like these are just what the doctor ordered to bust a slump. Maybe the Rockies peck away at Greinke a few innings before finally breaking through with a 3-4 spot.
Or how about 3 spot AND a 5 spot? That'll work?

Sunday Linkage: Which Team Has a Crush on Iannetta?

David Martin breaks down the Rockies 3-0 win over Kansas City and evaluates the potential impact of a healthy Jeff Francis. (Rockies Review)

Irv Moss fills us in on the Rockies farm system, including answering concerns over the lack of power hitting in the system. (Denver Post)

The Boston Red Sox have always had strong feelings for Chris Iannetta. (WEEI)

Dave Krieger tackles Dexter Fowler's switch-hitting experiment. (Denver Post)

10 Thing The Rockies Can Do To Turn Their Season Around (Bleacher Report)

How much credit does Miguel Olivo deserve for the success of Zack Greinke and Ubaldo Jimenez?  (Bleacher Report)

Lineup Card: Game 3 @ Kansas City

I am really excited to watch today's game. Love the pitching matchup.

Aaron Cook will be out there looking to equal his recent strong efforts against the Phillies (Roy Halladay) and Cubs (Randy Wells).

This will be a challenging day for an already challenged Rockies offense.  Zack Greinke is currently in the same tier as Ubaldo, Halladay, Tim Lincecum and few others. In fact, that may be the first tier in its entirety right there.

But you know, it can't get too much worse for the offense than we've seen this week.  Sometimes matchups like these are just what the doctor ordered to bust a slump.  Maybe the Rockies peck away at Greinke a few innings before finally breaking through with a 3-4 spot.

Crossing my fingers for that result, along with a Cookie victory.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Stress Free Francis

Rockies 3, Royals 0

Winning Player: Jeff Francis

He looks good doesn't he? I'm always a little cautious to say a guy's back to top form so soon after 21 months on the shelf... but damn, he's in really, really good form.

Everything is so smooth and effortless out there. He's locating precisely, he's setting hitters up 2-3 pitches ahead, and then he's attacking and finishing them off. That's the new wrinkle in Ubaldo's game that has put him over the top. For Francis, it's an old wrinkle that he has to live and survive by because he's not overpowering.

So far, so good.

I understand he came in to the game dealing with strep throat, so that just makes his endurance and performance.out there even more amazing.

Lineup Card: Game 2 @ Kansas City

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Fowler   (Finally!)
  • DH Giambi
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • LF Smith
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
Jeff Francis on the mound.

Much needed day off for Carlos Gonzalez.  And it's great to see Fowler back at the top of the order.  

Royals Lineup
  • LF Podsednik
  • 2B Aviles
  • RF DeJesus
  • 1B Butler
  • DH Guillen
  • 3B Callaspo
  • SS Betancourt
  • CF Bloomquist
  • C   Kendall
Former Atlanta Brave Kyle Davies on the mound.  

Essentially the same lineup for Ned Yost even against a left-hander.  Willie Bloomquist starts for Mitch Maier in CF and that's the only change.  

Also, hopefully the Rockies are now aware the DeJesus can throw a little bit on there in RF.  You can take advantage of Podsednik and Bloomquist all day... but leave well enough alone with DeJesus.

Rob Neyer Offers Rational Thoughts On 2B Situation

If you're ever on the lookout for rational and unbiased baseball opinions, one of the first and best places to look is Rob Neyer's Sweet Spot blog on ESPN.com.

In his blog yesterday, Rob touched on the struggles of Clint Barmes and the Rockies rumored pursuit of an upgrade at the 2B position.

Here's a snippet of what he had to say.

At some point, you have to make a move.

But the Rockies aren't at that point yet.

Especially considering their (supposed) options.

Regarding Matsui, I'm having trouble imagining the "high reward." He's 34, and he's got a .267/.321/.380 career line. Yes, he was valuable to the Rockies three years ago, but 1) it was only 104 games, 2) he wasn't that good, and 3) that was three years ago. Matsui was lousy last year, and lousier this year. Much lousier than Barmes, even. 
Bingo... and amen even.  I completely agree with and approve of everything Rob had to say there and had to say in the rest of his article, which I encourage you to read at the link below.  I also found it to be somewhat uplifting and reassuring.

Rockies on lookout for second baseman

Friday, May 21, 2010

Roster Questions

How many more days can Jim Tracy justify sitting Dexter Fowler?

Just play him. With an offense that has no life or means of bunching hits together, you need his presence. You need his speed. And honestly, you need his plate discipline. That's not to say his is great, but it's a lot better than CarGo's or Ian Stewart's or Clint Barmes' or Miguel Olivo's or you get the point.

How many more days can Matt Daley waste away in AAA?

Esmil Rogers isn't really cut out for this reliever thing. He's great if he retires everybody, but any kind of error or basehit sends him into disaster inning mode. Those don't just kill games, those damage team confidence/morale/bullpen flexibility.

Rock Solid Recrap: Avoiding A Royally Cliched Headline

Unfortunately the Rockies couldn't avoid another cliched performance from their woeful offense.

Royals 9, Rockies 2

There is no losing player tonight. There's an entire losing team that has zero fire and zero guts.

It continues to be sad and frustrating to watch them be satisfied simply going through the motions against awful teams they should be mauling and taking advantage of.

This is the easiest effing roadtrip the Rockies have all season.

Hell, it might be the easiest roadtrip they've had in five years.

Cubs, Astros and Royals.

1-4.

The Rockies offense has been shutdown by the likes of Carlos Silva, Randy Wells, Felipe Paulino and Brian Bannister this week. These aren't exactly the Tim Lincecum's and Dan Haren's of the world, folks. Jim Tracy can't ramble on his pregame radio show about the talented NL West arms holding the offense down.

Lineup Card: Game 1 @ Kansas City

Nothing better than some hot Interleague Action in Kansas City.

It's easy to assume Kansas City stinks... because they do.  But the Cubs and Astros aren't exactly contenders either... and we know the problems that happened there.  There's no reason this series can't or won't go the same frustrating way if the Rockies leave the door open for bad things to happen.

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez 
  • DH Giambi
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Hawpe
  • C   Olivo
  • LF Spilborghs
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
Jason Hammel pitches.  

Last night I mentioned my Helton hitting second idea again.  So naturally Giambi hits there tonight.  Seriously, if Tracy has totally soured on Fowler, which he clearly has, move Helton up to 2.  Of course my whole reasoning for that idea is to put Gonzalez in an RBI spot, but Tracy doesn't see the value in that either.  

Royals Lineup
  • LF Podsednik
  • 2B Aviles
  • RF DeJesus
  • 1B Butler
  • DH Guillen
  • 3B Callaspo
  • CF Maier
  • SS Betancourt
  • C   Kendall
Brian Bannister pitches.  The Rockies offense has a golden opportunity to snap out of their collective funk against this guy.  Seriously.  Nothing about Bannister is impressive.  

KC has a pretty decently balanced lineup card.  2-6 can do some damage.  Aviles is on fire right now.  DeJesus and Butler are professional hitters.  Jose Guillen is streaky veteran that tore up in April, but not so much May.  Still, he could have a big series.  

The guy to really watch is Alberto Callaspo.  Arizona gave up on him last year and that completely shocked a lot of people... me included.  He's off to a good start on his breakout season in 2010.  I also recall him being a pest against Colorado in a handful of appearances.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Stress Free Jimenez

Rockies 4, Astros 0 (and they barely scored 0)

Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez

Apparently the only thing Ubaldo doesn't do well is stay hydrated.

Cramping in both legs limited him to only seven innings... of one hit baseball.

An infield hit.

An infield hit that Ian Stewart misplayed into a hit by going barehand on a slow roller he could have easily gloved for an out. That's all he allowed.

My goodness is this guy good.

Now we just have to hope the cramps were really just that. That nothing was significantly worsened by Jim Tracy's silly decision to leave him in the game. That his arm was able to stay intact despite obvious differences in his mechanics while pitching on two cramping legs.

Yes, Jimenez nights are typically stress free. But with the way things are going for this Rockies sqaud, you know there's always going to be a subplot that makes you hold your breath for awhile.  Thankfully all indications point to us being able to exhale and look forward to Stress Free Jimenez next week at Coors Field.

Lineup Card: A Must Win In Houston

Yeah, I went there.  It's a must win tonight.

This team has to show us the ability to overcome adversity.  Jim Tracy will tell you they have because they've hovered around .500 despite the injuries.  I'm telling you Jim Tracy is full of crap.  This team hasn't overcome anything, and if the team is resting on the injury excuse, then we have our explanation for the uninspired baseball we're seeing.

Is there such a thing as a good error?  Of course not, but sometimes you have to overcome one.  That didn't happen last night, and it hasn't happened enough all season.  Just the same, too many errors have happened.

Are the umpires going to blow calls?  Absolutely.  But good teams will overcome that.  The Rockies haven't.

When the offense blows an opportunity, do they battle right back, or disappear 3-4 innings at a time?  More times than not, the offense disappears.  That's giving in to adversity and frustration.

Where's the resilience?

I don't know where it is, but it damn sure better show up in the dugout tonight in Houston.

First Quarter Report Card: Pitching

Rotation -- Grade: C+

Without Ubaldo Jimenez, probably a D+.  He's worth a whole letter grade himself.

The last week or so though the rotation would get an A.  It's possible they're hitting their stride heading into June, which would be further aided by Greg Smith's exit from the regular rotation after his emergency start last night.

Then again, it's difficult to be all in on guys like Jeff Francis, Jason Hammel and Jhoulys Chacin at the moment.  Too many ifs involved with each for different reasons.  All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Pummel Barmes Night

Astros 7, Rockies 3

Sorry, I can't beat up Clint Barmes as easily as other folks. (link)

Yes, I'm just as frustrated as anyone by his inconsistent defense and overall bleh offense.

Yes, he's the obvious target tonight. He made an error that was awful and set off the Astros four run 8th inning.

But come on, what other options do the Rockies have at second base? Barmes should continue to play until Young is healthy. At that point, yes, I'm all for a reevaluation of the situation if needed. But I'm not ready to move someone out of a position when he's the obivous best choice.

And I will point out I was very much in favor of signing Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez in the offseason.  I'm not an all out Barmes guy, I just think he's the guy you have to stick with given the circumstances.

Also, one one-base error with two outs and nobody on base can't lead to four runs. I'm sorry, it just can't.

I like Rogers. I know he's just 22. I know he has great stuff. The inning should have been over, I get that. But sometimes in baseball the pitcher has to pick up the defense.  This is definitely one of those situations.

Lineup Card: Game 1 @ Houston

Rockies Lineup

  • LF Gonzalez
  • CF Fowler
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • 1B Helton
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Mora
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Smith
Right after his awkward slide last night I thought for sure Miguel Olivo would have a concussion or a sprained neck or something DLable.  That's just the Rockies luck these days.  Good to see him bounce right back.  Now... let us learn to slide first feet from now... deal?   That doesn't just go for Olivo.  

Question: Wasn't the Rockies best lineup this season when CarGo was hitting fifth?  

Fowler finally cracks the lineup again.  Ian Stewart needed a day off as bad as anyone in baseball.  Melvin Mora, who is a good third baseman, gets a start there.

Astros Lineup
  • CF Bourn
  • 2B Keppinger
  • 1B Berkman
  • LF Lee
  • RF Pence
  • 3B Feliz
  • SS Manzella
  • C  Cash
  • P   Paulino
Paulino is 0-6 with a 5.72 ERA.  If the Rockies do not kill this guy then we have good reason to be very concerned.   The key for Greg Smith will be to keep Michael Bourn and Jeff Keppinger off base ahead of the "Big 4".  I include Feliz because of his history hitting 3-run HRs against Colorado.

First Quarter Report Card: Offense & Defense

For the next couple of days I will be grading the Rockies performance in several categories over the course of the first 40 or so games.

We begin with the offense and defense.

Offense -- Grade D+

Trying to not overact to the recent struggles.  There have been some positive moments, but overall this offense is very disappointing in 2010.  All this versatility and talent, and they have yet to truly find any sort of groove -- pun partially intended -- or any kind of consistency.

The lack of power from Helton and Tulowitzki has been quite troubling.  The lack of timely hits and productive outs are what stands out to me though.  Just far too many wasted opportunties and empty plate appearances that could have truly turned a baseball game in the Rockies favor.

This isn't a new thing though, which actually scares me a lot.  The offense did the same thing pretty much all through the final porition of 2010, but were somehow able to win games with pitching and defense.  That is not happening enough in 2010.  The offense has to improve very quickly.

Because.

Defense -- Grade C

They aren't the Bad News Bears out there... or even the Milwaukee Brewers, but this team is capable of much better glove work.  Their grade should consistently grade as a low A or high B.

It comes across at times like they're lazy or unprepared.  I don't believe lazy to be true.  Sometimes I question their preparedness.  A lot of that goes on Jim Tracy for putting guys at positions they aren't accustomed to playing.

There's far too much sloppiness and failure to execute an entire play going on.

  • Throwing to the wrong base.  
  • Sloppy throws to first. 
  • Poor footwork.
  • Inability to complete double plays.  
You can't underestimate how important each misstep is.  Every out you fail to secure extends an inning and a pitch count.  It changes matchups later in the game.  It can literally change the entire complexion with of the game even when it doesn't directly impact the score.

To be honest, when you look at the grades so far, it's a minor miracle this team in only one game under.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Rockies Effort Rhymes With City

Cubs 6, Rockies 2

Losing Player: Everyone

What a mess.

This isn't March 18th in Mesa, Arizona against the Cubs split squad.  It's May 18th.  The games count now.  Going through the motions and getting your swings in isn't good enough.  Not when you're struggling for consistency and the team you're playing is desperate for wins.

Don't be fooled by what you saw.  The Chicago Cubs are far from a good baseball team.  Heck, I didn't even think they played all that well or inspiring these last two games themselves, but it was more than enough to own the Rockies.

That's embarrassing.

Lineup Card: Game 2 @ Chicago

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki 
  • 1B Helton
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Chacin
After several unexplainable lineup changes while the offense was doing fine, Tracy elects to stick with the same lineup three straight days while it's struggling.  I'm NOT complaining.  I like the consistency.  I just don't understand the logic sometimes.  

Another note.  Chacin's two great starts came with Paul Phillips.  His last start was with Olivo and he wasn't so good.  Is there something to the chemistry Chacin and Phillips built in AAA this April?  Who knows.  Hopefully he'll bounce back tonight so I don't have to think about such useless things.  

Cubs Lineup
  • RF Fukudome
  • 2B Theriot
  • 1B Lee
  • 3B Ramirez
  • CF Byrd
  • LF Colvin
  • C   Soto
  • SS Castro
  • P   Silva
Last night was stone cold proof of Aramis Ramirez being a Rockie killer.  Struggles or no struggles, he's going to collect a back-breaking hit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Wrigley Horrors Continue

I can't think of one single pleasant memory of a Rockies game at Wrigley Field.  Actually, I can't think of a pleasant Wrigley Field pertaining to anything. Nothing good ever seems to happen there.

Cubs 4, Rockies 2

That was a dreadful performance by the Rockies offense and their manager tonight.

The pitching -- the guys who weren't exhausted -- did a fine job. Aaron Cook seems to be in a good rhythm right now. I hate to say he's "back" or what not. He's just pitching well, which is refreshing to see.

Rafael Betancourt had a dominant inning of work. Thumbs up to that.

Matt Belisle was untouchable for two innings. Unfortunately, Jim Tracy, who appeared unprepared by not having Esmil Rogers warming up sooner as the Rockies were batting, decided to push him for a third inning -- on Belisle's third consecutive day pitching.

That's what we call playing with fire. Fire burns.  Jim Tracy got burned.

Lineup Card: Game 1 @ Chicago

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • 1B Helton
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Cook
Cubs Lineup
  • CF Fukudome
  • SS Castro
  • 1B Lee
  • 3B Ramirez
  • RF Colvin
  • LF Soriano
  • 2B Fontenot
  • C  Hill
  • P  Wells

Randy Wells is a very plain right-handed pitcher but he's very effective.  That pretty much describes the whole Cubs rotation to be honest.  Ryan Dempster stands out a little bit, but he's not due to throw in this short series.

Bad Wrigley Field Memory

May 30th, 2008

Remember that day? (Boxscore)

Aaron Cook takes the mound against Ted Lilly and the Chicago Cubs.

Rockies score four in the first behind a Helton 3-run HR and a Chris Iannetta RBI double. Three more in the third thanks to an Iannetta 2-run and an Omar Quintanilla RBI single.

Take a 9-1 leads into the 6th. It seems like a lock they will climb to 13 games under .500.

And then Cook loses it... quickly.

Bottom 6th: Fukudome hits a 2-run HR. Jim Edmonds follows that up with a solo HR. Suddenly it's 9-4.

Bottom 7th: Henry freaking Blanco hits a 2-run HR off Cook. Finally after Micah Hoffpauir singles (what the hell ever happened to him -- he could hit), Clint Hurdle figures out Cook is gassed. In comes bad 2008 Manny Corpas.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: All That's Old Is New Again

Check the calendar. Make sure it doesn't read October 3rd, 2007.

On that day, the Rockies defeated the Philadelphia Philkes 4-2 in Game 1 of the NLDS. (boxscore)

The Winning Pitcher: Jeff Francis

The Save: Mamy Corpas

Today looked an awful lot like that day.

Rockies 2, Nationals 1

Winning Player: Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis didn't get the real win, but he did more than any Rockies fan, player, coach, or Francis himself could have imagined. He was flat brilliant. Actually, he was better than brilliant. He was on whatever level Ubaldo Jimenez has lived on all season. Yes, that's how good he was.

Lineup Card: Welcome Back, Francis

After hearing the news late last night about Huston Street leaving a rehab appearance with a groin injury, I've been checking the updates every five minutes to make sure Francis didn't sleep wrong on his arm again or twist an ankle walking to the bullpen.  

He didn't.

He's been activated from the DL, struggling Matt Daley has been optioned to Colorado Springs, and the lineups are in.

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Spilborghs
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • 1B Helton
  • C   Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Francis
Nationals Lineup
  • CF Morgan
  • SS Desmond
  • RF Guzman
  • 3B Zimmerman
  • LF Willingham
  • C   Rodriguez
  • 1B Morse
  • 2B Al. Gonzalez
  • P   Olsen
Olsen recently no-hit the Braves for seven innings.  I doubt he'll have any success close to that today.  Jim Riggleman rests Dunn, Kennedy and Bernadina against the lefty starter.  That gives him some nice options late in the game.  Don't be surprised if Greg Smith makes him reliever debut to counteract one of those guys.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Let's Take Two

Did you know doubleheaders are split 74.8% of the time?

Those odds, the Rockies inability to win two games in a row in what seems like years, and the return of a previously struggling Jason Hammel from the DL, would seem to add up in favor of the Washington Nationals.

But that's why odds, stats and momentum mean little in terms of an individual baseball game.

Rockies 4, Nationals 3

Winning Player: Jason Hammel 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K.

That's the very definition of rock solid.

I'm sure Jim Tracy would have been satisfied with five good innings from Jason. He must be overjoyed that he got seven.

You may have noticed I emphasized and highlighted the zero walks. Man, that's so important for Jason. Limiting that extra traffic and keeping his pitch count down are two KEY contributors to his success. If we could get this we saw guy tonight about 66-75% of the time, the Rockies rotation becomes very strong, because you're not counting on him as more than a 4th or 5th starter.

Lineup Card: DH Game 2 vs Washington

I'm a baseball player at heart, which makes me very superstitious.  Therefore, there will be no Running Thoughts for the nightcap of the doubleheader.  Why change anything?  The Rockies were as crisp and on their game in Game 1 as we've seen them all season.  Maybe they don't need (or want) me critiquing their every move.

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • 1B Helton
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • C  Phillips
  • P   Hammel
Kind of strange to have just one change (Paul Phillips) in the second half of a doubleheader, even if it's a split doubleheader. Jason Hammel makes his return.  EY Jr. officially placed on the DL.

Update: I'm a goof.  Todd Helton starting at first is different than Game 1.  So two changes.  

Nationals Lineup
  • CF Morgan
  • LF Harris
  • 3B Zimmerman
  • 1B Dunn
  • 2B Guzman
  • RF Bernadina
  • SS Desmond
  • C   Nieves
  • P   Atilano
There's nothing overly special about Luis Atilano, nor is there anything about his stuff that makes me nervous about the Rockies offense tonight.  As long as they made him work a little, hopefully get a little pressure on him early, they should be able to provide Hammel with some much needed run support.

Rock Solid Recap: Another Day At The Office

Rockies 6, Nationals 2


Winning Player: Ubaldo Jimenez

The machine just keeps pumping out quality starts and victories for the good guys.

The Nationals did have a handful of good swings on Ubaldo. Ryan Zimmerman was 3-for-3 with an RBI double. Adam Dunn become the first player to homer off Jimenez in 2010 -- and the 29th man to reach the upper deck at Coors Field (highlight). But Ubaldo did what an ace should do -- he shutdown all the guys surrounding their big boppers.

His league best ERA now stands at 1.12.

Losing pitcher LIvan Hernandez saw his league second best ERA fall to 1.46. He's 4-2 and in line for Comeback Player of the Year honors if this continues.

Lineup Card DH Game 1 vs Washington

Well, at least no one got hurt yesterday.

I'm actually pleased to report that I mowed the lawn yesterday wearing a Rockies hat and didn't injure myself.  That could be a sign of good things to come.

Here are the lineups for Game 1.  Due to scheduling conflicts there will be no Running Thoughts of Game 1.

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • 1B Giambi
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart 
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Jimenez
Nationals Lineup
  • CF Morgan
  • 2B Kennedy
  • 1B Dunn
  • 3B Zimmerman
  • LF Harris
  • C   Rodriguez
  • RF Bernadina
  • SS Desmond
  • P   Hernandez

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Coors Field Cesspool

And the umps just stood and watched as the game continued for several innings in a complete cesspool of mud and slop. Both teams have to be a little angry the game continued, but even more thankful they didn't lose a player to injury in those conditions.

A Waterlogged and Muddy Recrap

This was not as ugly as the score indicates, but was every bit as ugly as this picture of the field indicates.


The Rockies played fairly well tonight for seven innings, The Nationals just played a little better.

So many losses have been frustratiing because it felt like the Rockies gave it away. This wasn't one of those. The Nationals just came in and took it. Everytime the Rockies battled back, which was often, the Nationals distanced themselves some more.  A sign of a solid baseball team.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Running Thoughts: Chacin vs. Lannan

Colorado Rockies (16-17) vs Washington Nationals (19-15)
Coors Field
First Pitch: 7:18 (38 minute rain delay)
Attendance:
Lineup Card (Tonight's lineups)
Couch Time

Tarp is off the field.  Baseball in mere moments.

Lineup Card Game 1 vs Washington

Rockies Lineup (16-17)

  • LF Gonzalez
  • CF Fowler
  • RF Hawpe
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • 1B Helton
  • C  Olivo
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Chacin
For now it seems like Tracy's favorite lineup features CarGo leading off, Hawpe hitting third and Helton hitting fifth.  I think this will probably stick at least through the weekend.  

Nationals Lineup (19-15)
  • CF Morgan
  • 2B Kennedy
  • 3B Zimmerman
  • 1B Dunn
  • LF Willingham
  • C  Pudge
  • RF Bernadina
  • SS Desmond
  • P   Lannan
Good lineup.  Good ballclub.  I think we all expected improvement.  I don't think anyone expected them to have the league leader in wins (Reliever Tyler Clippard) and the league leader in saves (Matt Capps).  This series is going to be a four day battle.  The Rocks are aware of that after splitting four in Washington.  

Lineups courtesy @TroyRenck and Washington Post.  

Couch Time: Stealing Signs

A lot of talk yesterday centered around the controversial binoculars and the possibility of Philadelphia stealing signs.

I sensed a lot of anger and bitterness from Rockies fans over the situation. Not only Rockies fans, but I read many comments from Mets fans and others piling on to accuse the Phillies of cheating.

On the other side, the Phillies faithful got defensive and lashed out with the predictable "durrr we beat you, you're just a bunch of whiners, we're better than you" school yard crap.

That included the manager of the Phillies, Charlie Manual, who has proven the "any dope can manage talented players to success theory" to be correct for many years now. I've never considered him to be a great or even average manager. I thought that was proven rather convincingly when Clint Hurdle managed circles around him in the 2007 NLDS.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Halladay Serves As Olivo's Slumpbuster

Rockies 4, Phillies 3

As I said earlier... to call this a big win would an understatement.

The Rockies didn't beat Roy Halladay, but they knocked him around quite a bit. Great swings up and down the lineup. High pitch counts. Bascially they made him work harder for his money than any other Halladay opponent this season. This approach needs to carry over to every pitcher, not just the elite ones.

Aaron Cook pitched a fantastic six innings. Seriously. I'm not a fan of the quality start stat, because I think it needs to be adjusted for ballpark and opponent, but this qualifies as a quality start on any scale. He kept the Rockies in the game and held down a terrific offense. I'm very pleased with Cook.

Running Thoughts: Cook vs. Halladay

Lineup Card


It's what?  39 degrees?  As if Roy Halladay didn't have enough going for him.  

I don't know what approach the Rockies should take in this one.  Maybe they should hand out binoculars to everyone in the first five rows of the stands.  Even that probably wouldn't help.  

Top 1st

Aaron Cook gets through the first unscathed.  It was difficult though, as Melvin Mora failed to turn yet another routine double play ball.  I mean this was tailor made for 4-6-3, he bobbled it, fell on his ass, and recovered to throw out Howard at first.  Cook struck out Werth to end it.

Lineup Card: Doubleheader Game 1

Let's try this again!

Rockies Lineup

  • CF Gonzalez
  • LF Smith
  • 2B Mora
  • RF Hawpe
  • 1B Helton
  • 3B Stewart
  • C  Olivo
  • SS Barmes
  • P   Cook
Nice to have Carlos Gonzalez.   Tulowitzki wisely ruled out because of the cold.  That makes me hopeful that all Rockies have stretched out probably in this weather.  

Phillies Lineup
  • CF Victorino
  • 3B Polanco
  • 2B Utley
  • 1B Howard
  • RF Werth
  • LF Ibanez
  • C   Ruiz
  • SS Valdez
  • P  Halladay

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother Nature Sides With The Rockies

At least for tonight.

Let's face it, they needed another day to get healthy.  And maybe they needed another day to look in the mirror and get their stuff together.

Doubleheader scheduled for tomorrow.  If Mother Nature really liked the Rockies, she'll start the Halladay game on time.  Maybe play an inning or two, and then open the skies again.  Get Halladay out of there early and then we'll go from there.

The Denver Post has more information on the doubleheader.  I invite you to check that out.

Lineup Card Game 2 vs Philadelphia

Rockies Lineup

  • LF Smith
  • CF Fowler
  • 1B Helton
  • RF Hawpe
  • 2B Mora 
  • 3B Stewart
  • C  Olivo
  • SS Bamres
  • P   Cook
I don't disagree with starting Mora against Halladay (he's 22-for-76 lifetime).   I just find it strange that Tracy was so desperate to get Eric Young in the lineup last week that he had him play LF.  Now that 2B is open for a couple days, he turns to Mora and Young is planted on the bench.  

Who else is ready for Chris Iannetta to return?

Also, the Rockies have placed Franklin Morales on the DL and recalled Edgmer Escalona (love that name).  His stay should be a short one (unless someone else gets hurt) as Jason Hammel will be activated to start tomorrow.  Of course it's possible Esmil Rogers will go down to resume starting at AAA.  

Phillies Lineup 
  • CF Victorino
  • 3B Polanco
  • 2B Utley
  • 1B Howard
  • RF Werth
  • LF Ibanez
  • C  Ruiz
  • SS Valdez
  • P   Halladay
We''ll have the rest later, but that's scary enough as is.

We Need Couch Time

All of us.

I'm frustrated. You're frustrated. Some Rockies fans are even talking to themselves in their tweets. This isn't healthy.

We all need to sit down and talk about the problems here. In place of my usual game preview, we are going to start doing just that. We're going to have little couch sessions to vent our frustations and hopefully make ourserlves feel better. At the very least I'm sure I'll feel better.

What would make me feel better today?

Well, I'd like to vent on Denver Post sportswriter Mark Kiszla.

Mark Kiszla remains one of the worst sportswriters I've ever read. I thought my ideas were all over the place. This guy jumps to conclusions and offers some of the dumbest solutions to problems you could possibly imagine.  And often offers even dumber solutions to problems that don't even exist.

Rock Solid Recrap: Several Bullets Lodged Firmly In Foot

Phillies 9, Rockies 5

The Rockies hung around and hung around. It even looked promising a couple different times. But the reality is that the Phillies never lost control of the baseball game, and the Rockies never were in a realistic position to win it.

That's because the Phillies were never going to shoot themselves in the foot. They were just waiting for the Rockies to shoot themselves in the foot, and then they jump all over them for their mistake.

In the 5th, Melvin Mora couldn't turn a double play (again) which led directly to a run on that play. This allowed the inning to contunue, and then another run scored one hitter later as Seth Smith booted one in LF.

In the 6th, a two out, two strike wild pitch by Matt Daley gave Philly another gfit.

In the 8th, Brad Hawpe drops a flyball that should have ended the inning. That did NOT lead to a run, but folks, it was costly. That meant Randy Flores had to come in to face one batter (Chase Utley), whom he retired.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Running Thoughts: Smith. vs Kendrick

Preview

Lineup Card

Here we go.  This should be interesting.

Rockies lining up in their three announcer setup tonight.

1st Inning

  • Shane Victorino triples on an 0-2 pitch.  Smith simply can't make a quality 0-2 pitch.  
  • Polanco with the sac fly.  Hawpe made a great throw from fairly deep right.  Good try.  
  • Another 0-2 basehit, this time by Chase Utley.  
  • Smith strikes out Howard.  He's throwing strikes tonight, no doubt about that.  Now he just needs to find more quality strikes.  
  • And then he walks Werth on four pitches.  Maybe I need to shut up.  
  • Strikes out Ibanez.  High pitch count inning but limited the damage.  
  • Phillies 1, Rockies 0
  • Jason Giambi with a laser RBI single to even the score.  Much needed hit for team and player.  
  • Rockies 1, Phillies 1
  • Good first inning of baseball.  

Lineup Card: Game 1 vs Philadelphia

Rockies Lineup

Could be a rough night defensively with Mora and Giambi on the right side.  At least Young isn't in LF again.

  • LF Smith
  • CF Fowler
  • RF Hawpe (fresh off the DL)
  • 1B Giambi
  • 2B Mora
  • 3B Stewart
  • C  Olivo
  • SS Barmes
  • P   Smith
Tulo is day-to-day with his quad strain.  It's not the same quad he tore in 2008, and the MRI was clean.  That's obviously great news.  He will still be rested at least a couple days to help assure a repeat of 2008 doesn't come about.  

Lineup courtesy @TroyRenck.  Renck also tweeted some Jim Tracy thoughts on Jason Giambi.  

Phillies Lineup
  • CF Victorino
  • 3B Polanco
  • 2B Utley
  • 1B Howard
  • RF Werth
  • LF Ibanez
  • C  Ruiz
  • SS Valdez
  • P   Kendrick
You know how good the first six are. Greg Smith needs to find out a way to get as many outs as he can from the 7, 8 and 9 spots.  That won't be easy because Ruiz is also a terrific hitter and pain in the ass for the Rockies.   

Looking Ahead: Rockies Unprepared For Litmus Test

I hate being a pessimist, but not as much as I enjoy being a realist.

This series doesn't look good on paper.

It didn't look good on paper on Opening Day. It didn't look good on paper the second it was official Roy Halladay would make a start. It didn't look good on paper when it was official the Rockies would start Greg Smith, Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel. And amazingly, as bad as it looked at all those times, it looks a helluva lot uglier on paper now than it did 24 hours ago.

Thankfully the games aren't played on paper.

The Rockies won't make any excuses. which is good, because the Philadelphia Phillies -- far and away the best team in the National League -- come to town, and they could give crap about the Rockies problems.

Those problems, by the way, go beyond the injuries and absences.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Rox Mail It In

Dodgers 2, Rockies 0

Very dosappointing game today on so many levels.

The only thing that went well was, well, Ubaldo Jimenez. He's the tough luck loser after allowing 1 ER in 7 innings. He falls to 6-1 with a 0.93 ERA.

The Offense

Made Kershaw work in the first inning. They loaded the bases behind two walks and a bunt single. In total, Kershaw threw 30 pitches. Despite not scoring, I thought that was a terrific start, and that Kershaw was on his way to another 5th inning exit.

Wrong.

It was his best start... probably of his big league career.

Or at least his most efficient.  He never threw more than 15 pitches in his remaining seven innings. The Rockies only hit one baseball out of the infield the entire game... an 8th flyout by Clint Barmes.

Running Thoughts: Jimenez vs. Kershaw

Preview

Lineup

Vin Scully -- "Ubaldo Jimenez is 6-0.  His ERA is 1.00.  He pitched a no-hitter.  Otherwise he hasn't done a darn thing."

I love Vin.

1st Inning

  • Rockies load the bases and then Ian Stewart is called out on strikes on a pitch that was high and inside.  
  • Jimenez's strike zone better be that big!  
  • Jimenez retires Martin, Kemp and Ethier in order.  
  • Back to work on Kershaw's pitch count.  

Lineup Card Game 3 @ Los Angeles

Rockies Lineup

  • LF Young
  • CF Fowler
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Spilborghs
  • 3B Stewart
  • C  Olivo
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Jimenez
My condolences to Carlos Gonzalez and his family for their loss.  

Dodgers Lineup
  • C  Martin
  • CF Kemp
  • RF Ethier
  • LF Manny
  • 1B Loney
  • 3B Blake
  • 2B DeWitt
  • SS Carroll
  • P   Kershaw
No getaway breaks for Dodgers regulars.  They send the entire A lineup out there to face Ubaldo.  Could be his toughest challenge to date.  

Looking Ahead: To Sending A Message

Not to the Dodgers.

The Rockies need to send a message to themselves. A message that includes...

  • The Dodgers aren't so damn tough,
  • We can win a series in LA.
Again, you know how important these getaway games are to me. This one is especially huge. A series win in LA would do wonders for the Rockies confidence. It would also be great to head into the Phillies series record with a winning record.

If you do that, and then you steal one or possibly two from Philly, you're set up pretty well as the schedule lightens up for the next two weeks. Still have to take care of business of course, but you can really get yourself into a great position. Let's hope they get it done with Ubaldo.

Rock Solid Recap: New Script In Hollywood

And while the ending was rather anti-climatic, it was met with two thumbs up from Rockies fans.

Rockies 8, Dodgers 0

Headliner/Winning Player: Jhoulys Chacin

The rising star out of Maracaibo, Venezuela was on his game once again. He was staked to a 6-0 lead right off the bat, but didn't relax or get lazy. He attacked and lived in the strike zone from pitch 1 though pitch 117.

He kept the Dodgers off balance all night long by mixing his baseball, changeup and slider -- all three were very effective for him. This led to seven strikeouts and a scattering of six very soft basehits over 7 1/3 scoreless innings.

Seriously... the Dodgers hit nothing hard at all.  And half of their hits came from the red hot Andre Ehtier.  Two of those beat the silly overshift Jim Tracy likes to employ.  Chacin was just flat on it.

The scary/enjoyable thing about this performance is knowing he can actually improve. Confidence or poise don't look like issues, but he can defintely become more efficient with his pitches. He can get quicker outs and maybe even get himself into the 8th and 9th inning. For now, though, we'll just take and enjoy this roll he's currently on. It's quite a story.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Running Thoughts: Chacin vs. Knuckler

Preview

Lineup Card

1st Inning

  • Dexter Fowler, as many switch-hitters do against a right-handed knuckleballer, will hit from the left side.
  • Rockies are making Haeger prove he can throw a knuckleball for a strike.  He can't.  Can't throw a fastball for a strike either.  Three walks in a row.  
  • CarGo clears the bases!  Sweet piece of hitting.  
  • Charlie Haeger out after five batters.  Damn!  Ramon Ortiz in.  
  • Ian Stewart:  Two-run bomb to dead central.  
  • #8 hitter Paul Phillips is the first out recorded.  
  • Rockies 6, Dodgers 0  
  • Good start for Jhoulys Chacin.  Only needed 13-14 pitches.  

Lineup Card: Game 2 @ Los Angeles

Rockies Lineup

  • LF Smith
  • CF Fowler
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Gonzalez
  • 3B Stewart
  • 2B Barmes
  • C   Phillips
  • P   Chacin
Phillips and Chacin have been attached at the hip so far.  That's not a bad thing.  

Dodgers Lineup
  • C  Martin
  • CF Kemp
  • RF Ethier
  • LF Manny
  • 1B Loney
  • 3B Blake
  • 2B DeWitt
  • SS Furcal Carroll -- sorry, he looked so much like Furcal last night that I got confused.  
  • P  Knuckleball Haeger
Well damn... Dodgers are getting to full strength.  

Looking Ahead: Knuckle Up

Jhoulys Chacin vs. Charlie Haeger

It's been a long time since the Rockies have seen a knuckleballer.

I have no idea what to expect.

Haeger's starts have ranged from 6 IP, 3 ER, 12 K to 4 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. He's been skipped a couple times. Been used in relief a couple times. That's just the unpredictable nature of a knuckleballer.

My suggestion to Rockies hitters would be to take a patient approach first time around to see what kind of read they can get on the pitch.

My suggestion to Jhoulys Chacin would be to do the same thing he did in San Francisco. Pound the zone. Trust the defense to help. I understand that's a bit much to hope for these days, but you just have to have the mentality that they'll make all the plays.

My suggestion to the defense... make the ****ing plays!

Rock Solid Recrap: Dink & Dunk Dodgers

Dodgers 6, Rockies 5

There's no other way to say this...

The Dodgers are annoying.

Annoying because they ALWAYS play the game the right way against the Rockies. They can look like complete garbage for stretches -- like their series with Milwaukee for example -- and they will always find a way to right the ship against the Rockies.

The Rockies do their part in that as well. When a team has your number like this, you have to tighten up the strings. That didn't happen tonight. The defense let down young Esmil Rogers. The end result was another loss to the Dodgers.

Same script.  Different season.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Running Thoughts: Rogers vs. Kuroda

Checking in a little later after a Mother's Day gathering with the family.

1st Inning

  • Doesn't look like I missed much.  
2nd Inning
  • I see Tulo at third with one out.  
  • And Ian Stewart is able to sacrifice him home on a flyball.  Good start.  
  • Rockies 1, Dodgers 0
  • Dodgers showing sound fundamentals as well.  Leadoff double by Blake, moved to third by Martin.  Sets up Blake Dewitt
  • Dewitt pops out, but Rogers make bad pitch to the pesky Jamey Caroll, who dumped right in to right field.  Rogers will learns a valuable lesson there.  You have to focus and execute every pitch at this level.  Even the Jamey Carroll's can make you pay in their own way.  It won't be a blast, but a bloop can hurt just as much.  
  • Rockies 1, Dodgers 1
3rd Inning
  • Feeble looking swings in that inning.  Sometimes Kuroda will do that to you and you don't understand how or why.  
  • Wow.  Rogers strikes out Xavier Paul on a fantastic changeup.  Nasty.  
  • Ian Stewart with another horrendous throwing error.  Fast runner in Kemp, yes, but slow down and make a big league throw.  
  • And now Matt Kemp steals second.  Poor defense opening doors for the opponents again.  Should be 2 out with no one on.  
  • Predictably, Ethier knocks in Kemp.  Dodgers take advantage of all Rockies errors.  Been that way since 1993.  
  • Rogers isn't sharp by any means, but he's at least making the Dodgers earn it.  Defense needs to back him up.  
  • Dodgers 2, Rockies 1
4th Inning
  • Tulo smacks one off the base of the wall for a double, CarGo bloops one right over second base to even the game at 2.  
  • Olivo with another rally killing AB.  6-4-3.  Just when I was about to compliment the patient ABs the team was having.  
  • Rockies 2, Dodgers 2
  • The dreaded leadoff walk.  Couple good takes by Martin.  
  • Rogers gets three very weak grounders to strand the runner.  Solid poise!
5th Inning
  • Rockies hustle their way into 2nd and 3rd with no.  Smith single, 1st to 3rd on a Fowler single, Fowler takes second on a bobble.  
  • Casey Blake robs Helton with a diving stab.  Big play.  
  • CarGo battles tough, earns a sac fly RBI.  
  • Rockies 3, Dodgers 2
  • The back and forth continues.  Xavier Paul leads off with a double.  
  • Ethier ties it up again.  Ringing double to deep right.  He's a really studly baseball player.  
  • Somehow Barmes misses a liner.  Right off the glove.  Dodgers retake the lead.  
  • Wild pitch, RBI single by Martin.  
  • It's just another replay of every Rockies/Dodgers game in 2009.  
  • Feel awful for Rogers.  He wasn't great, but geez, if a couple more plays get made behind him he's probably only allowed two runs right now.  
  • Dodgers 5, Rockies 3
6th Inning
  • Casey Blake with another Web Gem.  Dodgers winning this one with defense.  
  • EY rips a triple down the right field line.  Smith dumps a single into left center.  
  • We gots a barnburner.
  • A Dodger error helps steal the Rockies a run.  Helton gets a sac fly.  Back and forth.  Poor defense at poor times.  
  • Tulo walks, CarGo bounces out on the first pitch.  Maybe learn to take one of those sometimes.  
  • Dodgers 5, Rockies 5
  • Matt Daley in.  Another leadoff Dodger double.  Jamey Carroll this time.  Pressure right back on.  
  • This figures.  Two quick outs after the double, but Kemp just flips one perfectly between Fowler and Gonzalez.  That craps just never ends with the Dodgers.  
  • Dodgers 6, Rockies 5
7th Inning
  • Vin Scully points out the Rockies are hitting .185 from the 7th inning on.
  • Matt Belisle throws the Rockies best inning of the night.  1-2-3.  
8th Inning
  • Nothing for Fowler, Helton or Tulo against Ramon Troncoso.  
  • 6 up, 6 down for Matt Belisle.  He deserves a win... hint hint... offense.  
9th Inning
  • Broxton.
  • Odd he blows a save two nights in a row?  
  • CarGo with a great AB.  Fouled off 7-8 pitches before singling.  
  • Gonzalez out by 4 steps stealing.  Not even close.  

Looking Ahead: Time For Sharper Baseball

Throw the records out the window.

I don't care if the Dodgers are 20-8, 14-14, or 8-20, they're a talented team. Not only are they talented, but I think we're all aware of how well they play against Colorado.

I don't care that the Rockies are 14-14. The baseball they've played to get them that very average record simply won't cut it against this LA team. It barely cut it against San Diego, and it damn sure won't cut it in the Philadelphia series coming up next week.

But let's not get too far ahead.

Esmil Rogers vs. Hiroki Kuroda

Runs probably won't be easy to come by again for the offense. Kuroda is a solid pitcher that's off to a nice start. He's over the scary incident last season where he was struck in the head by a line drive. He's throwing the ball confidently, more confidently than anyone else on the LA staff, and will present a challenge.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Bowling Shoe Ugly

Last night makes up for the 12-11 Arizona loss. Rockies didn't deserve this one at all.

Rockies 6, Padres 5  (12 innings)

Winning Player: Manny Corpas

Manny earned every bit of his individual W though.

He had a couple hiccups over the last two appearances but rebounded with 2 2/3 scoreless innnings tonight. Not just middle of the game scoreless innings either. We're talking 10th, 11th and 12th inning of a tightly contested, yet ugly baseball game.

After Franklin Morales provided the team with nothing for a second straight game, Corpas came in to clean up that mess. His only real blemish was a walk to Adrian Gonzalez that made pretty good baseball sense considering the situation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Running Thoughts: Cook vs. Richard

Preview

Lineup

Huston Street could begin a rehab assignment on Monday.  That's awesome news.  

The Rockies are getting very close to being healthy, which makes this next stretch of games even more important.  I mean tonight in San Diego.  I mean this weekend in LA.  I mean next week vs Philly.  

You don't want to dig a hole now with these guys on the verge of returning.  Stay afloat, keep the pressure off them when they return, and then get ready to take off in a big way in the middle of the month.

Lineup Card: Game 3 @ San Diego

Rockies Lineup

  • LF Young
  • CF Fowler
  • 1B Helton
  • SS Tulowitzki
  • RF Gonzalez
  • 3B Mora 
  • C  Olivo
  • 2B Barmes
  • P   Cook
Where's Paul Phillips?

Kidding.  

I will predict that Ian Stewart's slump will continue as long as he's in and out of the lineup every other day.  I don't think it's necessary he sit against all lefties, especially a lefty like Clayton Richard.  

Clayton Kershaw, Johan  Santana, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito.  Those are the lefties you rest him against.  Otherwise, just let him take his ABs and enjoy having his glove in the lineup.  

I'll have the Padres lineup when it becomes available.

Padres Lineup
  • CF Gwynn
  • 2B Eckstein
  • 1B Gonzalez
  • 3B Headley
  • RF Venable
  • LF Blanks
  • SS J. Hairston
  • C   Hundley
  • P   Richard
That looks like a lot of groundball outs for Aaron Cook.