Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Franklin Morales deserves a chance

Saw the name Franklin Morales a lot on Twitter again yesterday. Not sure why. It shouldn't come as news to anyone that he's getting another opportunity to make the Rockies squad. And quite honestly, he deserves that chance.

Yeah, he was a complete train wreck last season. Got that.

The Rockies were foolish to keep running him out there time after time when it was obvious he didn't have any answers. Got that too. No one could possibly deny it.

That said, why not allow him to come to camp to see if he's figured something out? Why is that such a crime? The release Morales sentiment I often hear from fans drives me crazy. It's nonsense. Nobody seems to remember that this kid saved the Rockies ass in two different playoff seasons.

In 2007: The Rockies went 6-2 in his 8 starts. All of them coming in August and September. I'd say that was pretty important... right or wrong?

In 2009: Morales converted all 7 of his save opportunities. Each of them coming when Huston Street was injured in the month of September. He saved the Rockies ass one more time. No one could possibly deny that either.

To me that earns him at least one more chance. If he struggles and somehow clears waivers, I'd be willing to give him one more chance after that. What the heck does it hurt?

I'm not saying you hand him a roster spot in 2011 or force feed him down our throats. I'm not telling you he's going to be good again in a Rockies uniform. I'm saying he's twenty-freaking-four, he made a major impact at the big league level in the two most successful seasons the Rockies have ever had, and he did so at the age of 21 and 23. Why would you even consider pulling the plug now? That's a kid you give chances to.

Just imagine if the Cleveland Indians had pulled the plug on Cliff Lee after his dreadful 2007 season. That would have lost their opportunity to restock their minor leagues after the 2009. I'm not putting Morales on Lee's level. Please don't twist my words to say that. It's just an example of a situation where a talented guy completely lost it for a whole season but managed to recover it and became an elite player.

It happens.

A thought or two on Tebow

Don't worry, this is still a baseball blog. I just realize 90% of the readers here are Denver Broncos fans and have thoughts on Tim Tebow. 

I also have thoughts on Tim Tebow.

As does Brandon Lloyd, who was quoted as saying...

"I don't want to be a lab rat for a guy learning to play...going across the middle"

That says all you really need to know. There has to be a reason the Broncos aren't willing to run Tebow on the field, and not having the trust of his receivers would be a very valid one. I don't think Lloyd says that unless he's witnessed some serious accuracy issues with Tebow in practice.

"Oh but you have to see what you have in Tebow" you might be saying.

You don't HAVE to. It would be really nice if you could, but if the guy isn't ready, he's not ready.

It's really not as easy as it sounds to throw a young QB into the fire. Tebow has to first learn the basics of running an NFL offense against an NFL defense. Sorry, that's a huge leap from running a gimmick college offense surrounded by elite weapons against overmatched college defenses.

That's why you don't see option QBs succeed in the NFL. That's why Troy Smith is a third stringer on a bad San Francisco team. They have to learn the very basics of running an NFL offense before they can even be considered in a game. To put Tebow in there when he's not prepared just isn't realistic, smart, or even necessary.

And who knows, he may never be prepared to do it. If he doesn't show the accuracy or arm strength necessary to make the receivers or coaches comfortable, he can't play. If he can't read defenses, he can't play. Plain and simple.

I have to believe that's the reason he's not slated to start this week. Maybe I'm giving the coaches too much credit. Maybe they're all complete fools. That's not out of the realm of possibly here. Maybe they'll eventually give in and let him start at home against Houston. And maybe he'll be just fine after all.


Or maybe this Broncos are already admitting they spent a first round pick on a goal-line running back.

PS: The name Brady Quinn should be removed from everyone's mind immediately. He's Brett Favre without the talent. What a waste of a precious roster spot.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Meetings Tuesday Recap

First and foremost I would like to send well wishes to Rockies skipper Jim Tracy. Those were a scary couple of hours early Tuesday morning when word of his collapse at his hotel in Orlando started getting around. I'm very thankful he was able to return home on Tuesday and am hopeful the medical situation is behind him.

My best to his family as well on what had to be an incredibly stressful 12 hours.

-- The Rockies probably overpaid on Ty Wigginton. I have to wonder how many teams would have been willing to go to two years for anything close to that money. Probably not a one, but it does show me the Rockies have identified a guy they like and were aggressive in getting a deal done. That's good. Now we just have to hope their evaluation is sound and Wigginton can handle the assignment.

What's scary is the team apparently didn't do its homework on Melvin Mora last offseason when they believed he was capable of handling a utility role. A lot of people, myself included, saw that problem coming a mile away. Unfortunately we were right, and the Rockies were significantly hampered defensively for an extended period of time.

I think Jim Tracy would be wise to limit Wigginton to 1B and a little bit of 3B. 2B and OF don't seem necessary when you have Jose Lopez giving you plenty of infield flexibility and Eric Young Jr. who can also play 2B and is likely a better outfielder than Wigginton would be a middle infielder. Let EY take those emergency OF innings when needed.

-- Missing on Ronny Paulino robbed us of a potential Paulino-Paulino battery every fifth day. That novelty aside, I don't think the Rockies will regret missing him too much. I know he's a Tracy guy, and it sure is possible the Rockies end up settling for something less, but at this stage I'm not concerned.

-- Michael Young trade rumors dominated Twitter and other media outlets on Tuesday night. My official stance is that potential move would be far fetched, but that's what I would have labeled the Jayson Werth contract right until the moment he signed it. This has been a weird offseason. Teams are being aggressive, creative, and often times stupid, so it's difficult to rule anything out without having enough information.

For now, I'm saying it's unlikely.

Young may fit from a baseball standpoint, but the business side, his age, and his declining skills are all factors weighing heavily against this. The only possible scenario I can see working would involve Colorado flipping Young to a third team, possibly someone like the White Sox, in exchange for a pitcher like Gavin Floyd.

Again, the money would have to make sense, and I don't see it getting to a point where it makes enough sense for Colorado.

But what do I know? Stay tuned and we'll see what Wednesday brings us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tulowitzki contract links and thoughts

Not a whole lot of congratulations coming the Rockies way over the past 24 hours. That's to be expected given the length of the contract and the risks involved in such deals. It's unlikely Tulowitzki will hold his value for the entirety of the contract, I think we all understand that. It would be a total disaster if his skills fell off before his original contract was set to expire. We get that too.

That said, sometimes teams have to take risks to stay competitive and keep the fan base happy. Tulowitzki, when healthy, which is a key, has shown he can be a franchise player. It's also pretty clear he WANTS to be here long-term and the fan base has accepted him wholeheartedly. Those two factors alone make it far less risky from the Rockies standpoint, and if this franchise accomplishes the ultimate goal even one time over the next decade with Tulo leading the way, it'll be brilliant business.

I guess we'll know for sure 10 years from now when we look back at this contract as we've looked back at Todd Helton's. Yes, Todd's contract hampered the team over the past couple of seasons. Maybe it even kept the team from making a move that would put them over the top last season.

But to me it was worthwhile because I don't think this team makes the 2007 World Series without Todd Helton anchoring the greatest single season team defensive effort in MLB history, and contributing his usual clutch hits down the stretch.

It's also safe to assume this team will be structured better over the course of this contract than they were throughout Helton's contract. The Rockies have a different mindset now than they did then, and a better reputation. A winning reputation. An expectation that they will be at or around the playoff hunt come September. That makes doing business a little easier when it comes to adding key pieces.

I'm on record right now saying I like that deal. I don't necessarily love it or consider it a guarantee for future success, but I like that our ownership and front office are not afraid to lock up a guy they love and face the backlash they're receiving today around the league. Believe me, there are some teams that shy away from deals for that reason, so it's nice to know ours will face it head on.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Missing out on Dan Uggla and other Rockies issues

With the Florida Marlins officially trading second baseman Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for what even the most casual baseball fan would recognize as a weak return, Rockies fans are left to wonder how and why their team didn't get involved.

For the price the Atlanta Braves paid, yes, the Rockies could have easily topped that package without losing a truly meaningful piece to their present or future plan, and probably should have. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Rockies were not in on recent discussions.

I don't know why that is. But one thing we shouldn't discount is that the Florida Marlins are a pathetically run franchise. This isn't all about what the Rockies were willing to part with, it's also about who the Marlins valued in return. As Troy Renck pointed out on Twitter, the Rockies didn't have the pieces that would have satisfied Florida based on what they took.

It's also possible Marlins GM Larry Beinfest's demands during talks last off season led Dan O'Dowd to believe a deal would be impossible then and in the future. That could be BS in itself, but believe me, it's never as easy as we're led to believe by the armchair GMs with blogs and Twitter accounts.

I completely understand the frustration, though. I'm frustrated to see Uggla go elsewhere for such a lousy return, but again, there are a lot of factors involved. Of course you can put money at the top of that list.

Other Issues

I don't like the pattern developing with the Rockies roster. In the past 18 months we have seen once valuable trade pieces like Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, Taylor Buchholz and now Manny Corpas unloaded from the squad with absolutely nothing in return.

It's concerning because the model for the franchise to stay competitive is never going to be excessive spending. I don't think it has to be or should be either, but they do need to stay ahead of the competition, evaluate their talent better and trade out pieces before they lose value. That's why I've always been big on the idea of dealing Ryan Spilborghs and Clint Barmes the past two off seasons. Their value will never get that high again.

The Rockies also stand to lose Jeff Francis for nothing in the coming weeks as we're hearing up to five teams have interest. His case is a little different though with the injury bug having bitten him repeatedly.

I've stated many times this is the most important off season for Dan O'Dowd as Rockies GM. It's off to a quiet start. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's understandable that many fans will start getting antsy. Hopefully we'll see something worthwhile develop in the next couple of weeks so he's not left scrambling to fill several roles in February.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thoughts on Miguel Olivo being traded to Toronto

It's Official: The Colorado Rockies have traded Miguel Olivo to the Toronto Blue Jays for a guy not yet identified and/or cash money.

There had been at least two incorrect reports from Tracy Ringolsby leading up to the official announcement of the trade. Sloppy reporting on his end, no question about that. But all reporters get caught with bad information from time to time. I don't think it makes him any less the credible source. Though you give credit to Thomas Harding and Troy Renck for sticking to their guns here.

Anywho... a lot of Rockies fans seem disappointed by the news, which I guess I expected, though not to the extent I've seen on Twitter.

Unfortunately the arguments for Olivo staying mostly center around him fitting in, being a nice guy, always smiling, wanting to be a Rockie, so on. All nice things, but things that play little part in winning a championship.

Really all you need to know is that Toronto will be Olivo's 7th different team since 2004.
  • Chicago White Sox 
  • Seattle Mariners 
  • San Diego Padres 
  • Florida Marlins 
  • Kansas City Royals 
  • Colorado Rockies 
  • Toronto Blue Jays
Not to rip on the guy, but this isn't a monumental loss from any baseball standpoint. In fact, that Dan O'Dowd was able to swing a last minute deal is a pretty nice piece of GMing on his part. It saved the team a $500,000 buyout, which could be signficant in making another signing down the road.

Also, Olivo wasn't brought in to be a long term solution. He was brought in to play a backup role to Chris Iannetta for a year or two while the Rockies young catching talent developed.

It turned out he had an amazing start to the season, very likely all-star worthy, took the job, and then he regressed back into being the guy he's been his entire career -- an okay backup catcher that moves around a lot like all backup catchers do.

Unfortunately Chris Iannetta never got into a rhythm, so the Rockies had a gaping hole behind the plate the last three months of the season, but the way it was designed made sense.

I know names like Mike Napoli and Victor Martinez are being tossed around. I'm sure a couple more names will be thrown in that mix. We'll see what happens. There are many factors involved here including how the Rockies want to spend their money, roster flexibility, and how they view their catchers behind Iannetta.

It's a process and it's impossible to predict which way they'll go until some chips start falling around the league.

Also, in case you haven't heard.

The Rockies declined the option on Jeff Francis. They will attempt to re-sign him for far less money.

They also declined the option on Octavio Dotel, which had to be one of the easiest decisions O'Dowd has ever made.

And finally, O'Dowd declined the option of fries with his sandwich at lunch today. By my count he's 4-for-4 so far in the offseason.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Welcome Aboard Carney Lansford!

I've been having a lot of fun helping the folks over at Big League Stew cover the baseball playoffs this month.  Certainly that pitching matchup tonight in Philadelphia is shaping up to be something historic... or a big letdown.  

All that aside, I must take a step back from that task to comment on the Rockies removal of Don Baylor as hitting coach, and the announcement that Carney Lansford will be replacing him.

My comment: Hell yes!

The Rockies desperately needed this switch. It's not a matter of what Don Baylor knows, doesn't know, how he communicates, what his experience is, what his past credentials are, blah blah. This is about results.

SEVERAL key Rockies players entering, or about to enter, the primes of their careers took major steps backwards offensively in 2010. Chris Iannetta, Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Seth Smith. All backwards.

Then you had professional hitters like Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe, guys in their prime, falling completely off the face of the earth under Baylor's watch. That's a problem.

I know Troy Renck of the Denver Post will continue telling us how well Baylor worked with these hitters. Then he'll cite the development of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez as feathers in Baylor's cap.

Fine. Great. I'm sure he had sound wisdom for them at times, but come on, those two would hit if I was the hitting coach. If that's all you can give me on the positive side, then you've actually made more of a case against the guy you're defending than for him.

As for Lansford, his experience in the Rockies organization is certainly a plus. The comfort level already exists between him and a number of the Rockies players already mentioned in this article. They know his message and his style. There's no guarantee it'll work for them at this level, obviously, but there's just as much chance it'll be precisely what the doctor ordered.

That's why you have to make the move.

I applaud the Rockies -- Dan O'Dowd and Jim Tracy especially -- for stepping up here to make the change. It's never easy to tell a guy his services are no longer required, but it's necessary to be constantly evaluating your team, your coaches, your situation, how your organization is evolving, and what pieces may or may not be helping you reach a championship level.

I'm happy to see that process taking place.

It's very early still in what I perceive to be the most important off-season in the Dan O'Dowd regime, but I'm encouraged by the events of yesterday and optimistic that honest assessments will be taking place across the board in attempt to correct the problems of 2010. There's a long way to go. There's a lot of work to be done. But it's a damn good start.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: I Preferred The 2007 Finish

You know, the season the Rockies WON 13 of their last 14. I liked that one

This losing 13 out of 14 stuff (I don't care about the circumstances) is no fun at all!

Today was not a day about padding stats or even winning. Today was a day of opportunity.

-- Esmil Rogers was given an audition as a starter after a rough couple of weeks in the bullpen.

The final line wasn't exactly pretty or efficient (4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB 2 K), but you can point directly at some more sloppy Rockies defense as the main culprit for that. And results aside, the minimal experience gained is more valuable to the Rockies than throwing Jeff Francis out there for another start.

-- Francis did work two innings of relief that were mostly unimpressive for him.

-- Jim Tracy wanted to give Mike McKenry a good opportunity to notch his first career hit today. Unfortunately, McKenry wore the golden sombrero (four strikeouts) in four at-bats.

-- Chris Nelson received the start at 2B. He want 1-for-3 with two errors in the field.

-- Clint Barmes returned from spending time with his ailing father and looked good at the plate with two hits, but booted a key grounder as SS.

-- Chris Iannetta got the start at 1B for Todd Helton. He did some nice things around the bag and with the glove, but would go 0-for-4 and see his season average finish at .197. This was a completely wasted season for Chris after getting the new contract. What his future holds in the organization is any one's guess.

-- Strong finish to the season for Dexter Fowler. I wish I could say that about more Rockies, but, as it is, it actually made Fowler's fantastic play stand out even more. Good for Dexter. I hope whatever confidence he has gained will carry over into the offseason, but I also hope he continues working hard in the offseason. This offense needs him to take a big step forward next year.

Well... that puts a wrap on the 2010 regular season. Heaven & Helton will continue covering Rockies news and things throughout the offseason, but there will be a slight hiatus as I will be contributing my playoffs thoughts and quips to Bugs & Cranks and Yahoo's Big League Stew.

Hopefully you'll follow me over there and check it out.

Only 178 days until Opening Day!

Lineup Card: Rockies @ Cardinals

Jim Tracy is waving the white flag!  

Of course that actually makes sense since today is the final day of the season and a lot of his players seemingly waved the white flag the minute they boarded the plane to St. Louis.

Rockies Lineup (83-78)
  1. CF  Fowler
  2. 2B  Barmes
  3. C    McKenry
  4. 3B  Stewart
  5. 1B  Iannetta
  6. RF  Smith
  7. LF  Payton
  8. 2B  Nelson
  9. P    Rogers
A Rockies catcher hitting third?  Has that ever happened?  Barmes is back with the team and gets one last start for the Rockies at the position he came up playing.  Esmil Rogers gets a chance to impress.  Chris Iannetta gets a full game at 1B.  There are enough interesting things here to make the game worth paying attention to.  

Well, maybe not for you, but definitely enough for me.   

Cardinals Lineup (85-76)
  1. 2B  Schumaker
  2. RF  Winn
  3. 1B  Pujols
  4. LF  Holliday
  5. CF  Rasmus
  6. 3B  Descalso
  7. C    Pagnozzi
  8. SS  Ryan
  9. P    Suppan
LaRussa decides to go with most of the regulars in the home/season finale.  I almost feel like guaranteeing a Rockies win.  I won't though. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: No Way To Treat Your Ace

For the better part of ten weeks, Ubaldo Jimenez has learned what it's like to walk in the shoes of Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke and Roy Oswalt as a member of the Astros.

It's not fun.

It's not fun because Ubaldo has given this team everything he could in 2010. Oh sure, there were a couple days when he needed the offense to get him off the hook and they obliged, but for every one of those, there were four that he deserved to win but the offense didn't support him.

So frustrating. No day more frustrating than today, though.

Ubaldo Jimenez has pitched some special games this season. The no-hitter, of course. How about that complete shutout on Memorial Day in San Francisco, out dueling Tim Lincecum. Heck, throwing two shutout innings in the all-star game is pretty bad ass, too.

Today's outing ranked right up there with all of those.

8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K


But the frickin' Rockies offense couldn't even get him a single run to work with. Pathetic. Absolutely, positively pathetic. You're facing Kyle Lohse. Kyle Lohse. It would be harsh to say Kyle Lohse sucks, but it would be pretty honest and accurate.

To mount no offense against Lohse. To get shutout by Jake Westbrook. To only have one run through three games of this series. I'm sorry, you've embarrassed yourself and you've embarrassed your fans with that performance.

All of the Rockies problems were on full display today. Lacking of clutch hitting, sloppy defense, and Franklin Morales were chief among those problems, but it's not just those. The list is disturbingly long, and Dan O'Dowd will have his work cut out for him trying to piece this thing back together.

Too many questions. Too many guys took large steps backwards in their development. Too many guys lacking in physical and mental toughness. Not enough attention to detail and fundamentals.

It's ugly, and it's not easily fixable.


The pain ends.

Esmil Rogers vs Jeff Suppan

Check out my Dear John Letter for Big League Stew

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Another Day, Another Clunker

Before I get worked up or start saying things about a completely meaningless and unimportant baseball game, I want to send along the very best wishes to Miguel Olivo.

That is one of the scariest things you'll see on a baseball field. One blow to the head is nothing to take lightly. Then you think back to the collision with Tulowitzki on Sunday and how Olivo needed a couple days to recover from that shot to the head. Two blows to the head (including one with a bat) in five days is something I would say is potentially serious.

Here's to hoping he'll be okay, that he's getting the best care (which I fully believe he is in St. Louis.), and that he'll make good decisions about his health now and in the future if this becomes a reoccurring issue for him.

Thank goodness this thing ends on Sunday.

Seriously, if this season had another week or two left, I'd be concerned the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros would end up with a better record. This team has simply checked out.

I wish (for their sake) I could come up with an acceptable excuse for what we're seeing, but it's at the point now where I just shake my head in embarrassment.  Thankfully no one outside Colorado is paying attention anymore. If they were, I would have a difficult time trying to explain why this is happening.

Chris Carpenter shutting you down is one thing, even if you didn't exactly battle at the plate as I would expect you to, but following that up with this effort against Jake Westbrook is awful. Have some pride.

On a positive note: Jorge De La Rosa pitched well again. Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera are still doing their thing. Annnnddddd... that's about it.


Ubaldo Jimenez goes for #20 against Kyle Lohse.  

Remember folks, that's an early start for all of you in Colorado.  First pitch is 11:10.  

Lineup Card: Rockies @ Cardinals

Three to go.  I wish I could say I'm sad the Rockies season is ending, but the team itself doesn't too interested in making the games worthwhile viewing, so whatever.  Three games to go.  

Rockies Lineup (83-76)
  1. CF  Fowler
  2. 2B  Herrera
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Helton
  6. 3B  Mora
  7. LF  Spilborghs
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P     De La Rosa
I like Jonathan Herrera very much, but I thought we were giving Chris Nelson a look-see here.  Why not, I don't know, let him play 2-3 days in a row, get in a rhythm, perhaps establish something close to a routine.  How are we getting a good read on him when we aren't affording a real opportunity?

Cardinals Lineup (83-76)
  1. 2B  Greene
  2. CF  Mather
  3. 1B  Pujols
  4. LF  Holliday
  5. RF  Craig 
  6. 3B  Feliz
  7. C    Pagnozzi
  8. SS  Ryan
  9. P    Westbrook

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Money & Time Well Saved

I hate to say it, but I'm glad I didn't commit any time or money into making the drive to St. Louis this weekend.

It looks like all the Rockies were willing to invest was the time and energy it takes to get on the plane.  Anything beyond that is too much to ask at this point.  What a shame.  I thought this team had pride, but I think once you have to question a team's pride more than five times in a season, it's probably not there.

Some of the player's have it, don't get me wrong about that, but not nearly enough of them do to make the team competitive in the face of adversity.  Not enough pride, too much apathy.

As David Martin said in his recap, I hope they find enough motivation within themselves to at least help Ubaldo Jimenez out on Saturday.  That would give all of us something to feel good about as we head into what will be the most important winter of the Dan O'Dowd era.

I do need to acknowledge Dexter Fowler for notching 14 triples.  To me anything over 10 is astonishing, even playing in Coors Field, and especially when you spent a good month in the minors.  Great accomplishment for him.  Hopefully he comes back next year looking to use the gaps to his advantage again, and who knows, maybe 20 triples are within reach.

Also, nice work by Manny Delcarmen, Edgmer Escalona and Samuel Deduno out of the bullpen.  If the offense had actually decided to work some ABs and put a little pressure on Chris Carpenter, the door for a comeback would have been open thanks to their fine work.


Jorge De La Rosa vs Jake Westbrook

Could this be Jorge's final start with the Rockies?  Only his agent knows.

Lineup Card: Rockies @ Cardinals

Back in business tonight.  I was away last night working on a couple writing projects that I hope you will enjoy in the coming days.  

Rockies Lineup (83-75)
  1. CF  Fowler 
  2. 2B  Nelson
  3. LF  Spilborghs
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Helton
  6. 3B  Stewart
  7. C    Iannetta
  8. RF  Smith
  9. P     Hammel 
My early thoughts and prayers are with Jason Hammel's arm as it appears to be one bad pitch away from falling off.  Hang in there, arm.

Cardinals Lineup (82-76)
  1. 2B  Schumaker
  2. RF  Craig
  3. 1B  Pujols
  4. LF  Holliday
  5. CF  Rasmus 
  6. 3B  Feliz
  7. C    Pagnozzi
  8. SS  Ryan
  9. P    Carpenter

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Going Out With A Thud

The Colorado Rockies decided to say good-bye to their home field and their fans with their worst home series of the season -- a sweep at the hands of their division rivals from Los Angeles.


This was another tough one to sit through as the Rockies did more to beat themselves than the Dodgers did to beat them. Oh sure, Matt Kemp provided the power that sent a Jhoulys Chacin pitch over the wall for a Grand Slam, but it was the Rockies sloppiness that made it possible.

And it's not just the sloppiness of the fielder in this case. Yes, that's a play Ian Stewart has to make every single time. But guess what? He didn't make it this time (and at the time there was no damage done). So now you have a young pitcher in a situation where he has to pick up a teammate. How does he react?

He walks Loney, which is sloppy on his part. I understand the frustration and refocus factors, but he has to make pitches there. He gave the AB completely away. He then allows the Grand Slam to Kemp. He just couldn't collect himself in time to stop the bleeding.

Like Esmil Rogers, you take the good with the bad with a young pitcher. Chacin has shown far more good than bad so far, but there are still significant hurdles for him to get over before you can truly feel good about him as your #2 starter, which is where Chacin is likely to be slotted next spring.

He'll get there eventually. I have no doubts at all about that.  I wouldn't even be surprised if he reached #1 status in the next 24 months, but there's a ways to go in many respects.

We all beg Dexter Fowler to hit more balls on the ground. Today. Dexter hit two on the ground about as hard as one can hit them, with nothing to show for either. Just stick with that approach, Dex, the hits will come. And maybe if you just hit them a little softer... or even bunt once.

That Tulo guy does alright though doesn't he? We saw the frustration shine through again at the end of last night's game, but he impressively shook it off to give his team a big game today. 4-for-4, a walk, and 4 runs scored. I think that's good enough.

Other positives: Ryan Spilborghs took advantage of his start as well with three hits and a couple RBI.

Franklin Morales, Manny Delcarmen, Edgmer Escalona and (the returning) Matt Daley each threw a scoreless inning of relief, which allowed the Rockies to crawl back into the game. Well done by those four.


Jason Hammel vs Chris Carpenter

I can't wait to see what we'll get from the Rockies in St. Louis. If these last ten games are any indication, and I don't see any reason why they would not be, then you can probably feel free to plan something else with your time. Maybe get some yard work done or something, unless you really really really need one last baseball fix before it's gone.

PS: Wouldn't it be something if the Rockies did a reverse 2007? Loss 13 of their last 14 instead of winning that many. Could happen.

Rock Solid Recrap: Goodnight Everybody

Of course I'm not going anywhere, but the Rockies 2010 playoffs hopes were officially put to bed on Tuesday night.  

I've already said plenty about what I believe got to the Rockies to this point, so I'll spare you another rant by taking a quick look at tonight's proceedings before slipping into a temporary baseball depression.

I told you we'd see a lot of Jim Tracy and Joe Torre tonight.

This could very well prove to be the final Jeff Francis start at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies.  If so, he'll be leaving Coors with an awful taste in his mouth.

Regardless of what happens (I have no idea how it will play out), Jeff has been through the ups and downs with us over the past few years, and he has earned my respect.  He suffered through a couple of those leaner years.  He was the starting pitcher in the Rockies first World Series game. Then the injuries overwhelmed him and left him a shell of the reliable starter he once was.

He was never a true ace type, but Jeff Francis at his peak behind Ubaldo Jimeenz and Jhoulys Chacin would have made the Rockies a really damn tough team to beat.  It would be a pipe dream to hope he could be that guy again.  It may even be far-fetched to say he'll register a 20+ start season again in his career.

I wish him all the best in whatever happens.  If he's back as a low-risk, high-reward guy next spring, I'll be pulling like hell for him to be healthy and be effective.

Tonight was a good night for Esmil Rogers (4 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K) as he looks to regain some lost confidence.  Of course it would have been impossible to not take a step forward after his last two outings.  But still, you take the good with the bad with a young, developing arm.  Rogers will be a wild card heading into 2011.

Huston Street has been throwing with side pain.  I guess that explains why we didn't see him in some situations that made sense for him.

Chris Nelson's started quickly with a double, run and a fancy play at 2B.  The rest of his evening was very quiet.  We're all curious to see what he can offer over these last five games, but I hope he doesn't end up putting too much pressure on himself.

Good night at the plate for Dexter Fowler.  A mere double shy of the cycle.

Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Helton and Melvin Mora each contributed a pair of knocks.  No surprises there.


Jhoulys Chacin vs Clayton Kershaw

The final home game of the season and the final start for Chacin.  I couldn't thing of a worse way to end the home schedule than being swept by LA.  That's a hideous thought.  Please don't let that happen!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Dodgers

Six games remaining on the schedule.  Let's try to make at least a couple of these fun... please?

Rockies Lineup (83-73)
  1. CF  Fowler
  2. 2B  Nelson
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 3B  Mora
  6. 1B  Helton
  7. LF  Smith
  8. C    Iannetta
  9. P    Francis
Eric Young joins Jason Giambi on the list of Rockies done for the year.  He's suffering from pain in the leg he missed months with earlier in the season.  That doesn't sound good.  Clint Barmes is also away from the team with his ailing father.  We wish Clint and his family nothing but the best during these difficult times.

With misfortune comes opportunity, so we'll be seeing a lot of Chris Nelson at 2B the final week.  Looking forward to seeing what he offers.  We do he's fast and can steal home on confused Reds relievers.  

Dodgers Lineup (76-81)
  1. SS  Furcal
  2. 2B  Theriot
  3. RF  Ethier
  4. CF  Kemp
  5. 3B  Blake
  6. 1B  Loney
  7. LF  Johnson
  8. C    Ellis
  9. P    Kuroda

Rock Solid Recrap: Dead Team Walking

The reality of the Rockies situation seems to have settled in on the players.  That said, I was at least expecting energy and urgency tonight as Ubaldo Jimenez went after win #20.  

Not to be.

Ubaldo was fantastic.  Aside from a shaky first inning that saw him lacking in command and luck, he did everything he could to give the offense a chance.  All they needed was one good inning, one crooked number on the board.  Unfortunately, all they could muster was a Carlos Gonzalez solo HR into the center field forest.

Very disappointing.

But then you look at Roy Halladay out there for the Phillies taking matters into his own hands.  He pitched a complete shutout tonight to notch his 21st victory.  The win also clinched Philadelphia the National East title.  That just shows that there is still a wide gap between the tier Ubaldo stands on, and the tier reserved for Cy Young candidates.

The Offense

This was the third time the Rockies have seen Ted Lilly since August 19th.   He shut them out in LA on that date.  The Rockies came home to rough him up not long after.  Tonight looked exactly like the first time.

They had no answers whatsoever, and that's disturbing to me because like I said, they've seen him a lot in a short period of time.  I don't know that there's anything he was doing tonight that they didn't see the first two times, but they were never able to make adjustments.

I don't think you can put everything on the hitting coach, the hitters have to take their own mental notes and adjust on the fly, but it's maddening how lost the offense can look on any given night.

Maybe Don Baylor isn't as awful at his job as it sometimes appears, but maybe his message (whatever it is) isn't fitting this team either.  You can't overhaul the entire lineup, but I think the Rockies would be foolish to not consider a change at the hitting coach position.  And to be perfectly honest, his return would put a significant dent in my optimism for 2011.

Once-In-A- Season Events

I counted three of them tonight between the Rockies game and Monday Night Football.

  1. Ryan Theriot walked on four pitches.
  2. Robbie Gould missed a FG.
  3. Franklin Morales received a standing ovation.  And it wasn't just because he was leaving.  He earned it.  


Jeff Francis vs Hiroki Kuroda

Of course you know this means the offense will give Francis 7-8 runs of support.  Unfortunately, he'll probably need all of them.  Expect to see a lot of Jim Tracy and Joe Torre.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Dodgers

Tonight is all about one man and one goal.

Ubaldo Jimenez.

20 Wins.

I know the win stat doesn't mean much to a lot of people.  I understand why that is.  But it's still a milestone to get there.  It's still significant.  So if and when this is accomplished, it should be recognized and even celebrated.

Rockies Lineup (83-72)
  1. 2B  Young
  2. CF  Fowler
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. C    Iannetta
  6. 1B  Helton
  7. LF  Payton
  8. 3B  Herrera
  9. P    Jimenez
Chris Iannetta gets a rare start with Ubaldo on the hill.  I guess Miguel Olivo's bells are still ringing after a rare catcher/shortshop collision on an infield popup.  

Dodgers Lineup (75-81)
  1. SS  Furcal
  2. 2B  Theriot
  3. RF  Ethier
  4. 1B  Loney
  5. CF  Kemp
  6. 3B  Blake
  7. LF  Oeltjen
  8. C    Ellis
  9. P    Lilly
Of less significance to us, a loss for LA would clinch a losing season.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: That'll Just About Do It

Even though I have been bracing myself for this moment since the Pittsburgh/New York road trip, it is still difficult to admit the 2010 Rockies won't be getting over the hump.

See... I can't even spell out the proper words here. I guess I'll save those for when it's official.

I admire the heart this team has shown to rise from the dead on more than one occasion. I stand it awe of the other-worldly seasons turned it by our three legitimate superstars. At the same time, when I look at those two factors, it just makes everything all the more frustrating. The Rockies were better than the results will show.

This team wasn't missing much. I know a lot of folks look back at the trade deadline as a missed opportunity. Maybe it was, I can't say for sure. But I do believe they could have and should have won with the group they had.  It just never all came together for a prolonged period of time like we saw from May 28th until the end of last season.

Injuries, inconsistencies, lack of fundamentals (who saw that rundown today?), poor decision making in the dugout and on the bases, lack of urgency in the early months.

There were so many things this team did wrong, yet somehow they found themselves well over .500. Looking at the standings, I don't feel like the Giants or Padres stood in their way at all.  The only thing stopping the Rockies was themselves, and far too often they couldn't out of their own way.

Today was pretty simple, though. Matt Cain overwhelmed the Rockies from start to finish. He allowed an infield single to Jay Payton and a 2-run HR to Melvin Mora in the 8th inning. There was a walk and an error earlier, a Carlos Gonzalez single in the 9th, but the Rockies mounted no serious threat to even knock Cain from the game. It was complete and utter domination.

And it came at a time when his team absolutely needed it.

Jorge De La Rosa wasn't awful himself. He started slow, but bounced back to get the Rockies through six innings and within hopeful striking distance.

The decision on Jorge in the off season will be an interesting one. For the money he's likely to be demanding, I think I would rather have a guy that I know will be efficient. The five walks today are just not good enough. Though he has improved greatly from when he was acquired, I'm not sure Jorge can be the guy we saw late last season consistently.

What happens there will all depend on what he asks for and how the Rockies view him. But you already knew that, and I think we all already feel certain he'll price himself out of range.

I hear Cody Ross likes the city of Denver. You know, I kind of like Cody Ross, too. It doesn't matter which uniform he wears, he always has a monster game and series when he visits. He plays all three outfield position (though not always smoothly). I don't know, the Rockies could do worse for a platoon partner with Seth Smith should this be the off season Ryan Spilborghs is traded.

I have no knowledge that he will be traded. Just thinking out loud.


Ubaldo Jimenez vs TBD

Ubaldo goes for his 20th win. That gives us all something to look forward to. Of course in the back of my mind I wonder if he does with number 20, will this be his final start of the season. I guess we'll know all the answers soon enough.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Giants

Rockies were in full on survival mode last night.  Too late?  Very likely, but it's not too late to take the Giants down to Baseball Hell with us.

Rockies Lineup (83-71)
  1. 2B  Young
  2. 3B  Herrera
  3. CF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Giambi
  6. RF  Spilborghs
  7. LF  Payton
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P     De La Rosa
Giants Lineup (87-68)
  1. CF  Ross
  2. 2B  Sanchez
  3. 1B  Huff
  4. C   Posey
  5. LF  Burrell
  6. RF  Guillen
  7. SS  Uribe
  8. 3B  Sandoval
  9. P    Cain

Rock Solid Recap: Satisfaction

To quote one of my favorite people on Twitter...

@Townie813 That is without question the most satisfying #Rockies victory of the season. For so damn many reasons.
Amen to that.

I have to start by giving Jason Hammel credit for attempting to pitch through his dead arm. It may not have been the smartest thing for him to do, or for the Rockies to allow him to do, but they almost had no choice in the matter. His performance was lacking, his guts were not.

The last 48+ hours have been a nightmare for Esmil Rogers. I don't know what has gone wrong there. It may be a confidence issue. Possibly a mechanical issue. Whatever the case, there's no reason to be concerned about his long-term outlook, but it doesn't look like he'll be a positive factor the final week. Disappointing, but understandable for a young guy.

Huston Street has been located. He was found alive and well in the Rockies bullpen tonight. He then went on to pitch two scoreless innings and found himself in the win column.

The Rockies offense was sensational tonight.

The usual suspects were involved...
  • Troy Tulowitzki: 4 hits, 2 doubles, home run, 5 RBI, walk-off hit. (webgem)
  • Carlos Gonzalez: 3 hits, 3 runs, scored the game-winner.  (webgem)
Had to squeeze those webgems in there somewhere.

And the veteran role players were involved as well...
  • Jay Payton: 2 hits, triple, run 
  • Melvin Mora: 2 hits, double, triple, 2 RBI.
In the span of four hitters in the 5th inning, those four men tripled, tripled, homered and then tripled, in four consecutive plate appearances. If anything deserves a "That Was Awesome" chant, that inning was it.

I even have praise for Jim Tracy tonight. Real praise, as I thought he managed almost every situation appropriately. Unfortunately he didn't get what he needed from Rogers again, but all the other buttons pushed made sense.

Now I have some fake praise. Warming up Franklin Morales in the bottom of 10th was his best strategic move of the season. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki looked out there, saw that, and made damn sure we never saw an 11th inning. Excellent piece of managing right there.


Jorge De La Rosa vs Matt Cain

The Rockies will attempt to keep their fading playoff hopes alive... or at the very least play a roll in keeping the Giants from getting there themselves. I'd much prefer the former, but would learn to savor the latter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Giants

Tonight sure does have all the makings of something interesting happening now doesn't it?

The best way for the Rockies to defend themselves?  Win.  That's it.  Just go out there tonight and beat the Giants.  Score more runs.  However they handle it from there would be their problem, not ours.  

Rockies Lineup (82-71)
  1. 2B  Young
  2. LF  Payton
  3. CF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 3B  Mora
  6. 1B  Helton
  7. RF  Spilborghs
  8. C    Iannetta
  9. P     Hammel
Giants Lineup (87-67)
  1. CF  Torres
  2. 2B  Sanchez
  3. 1B  Huff
  4. C    Posey
  5. LF  Burrell
  6. RF  Guillen
  7. SS  Uribe
  8. 2B  Fontenot
  9. P    Zito

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Giants Play Better, Win

Amazing isn't it?

Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants came into Coors Field, pitched nearly perfect baseball, and won a baseball game. Who would have thought the Rockies would allow such a thing to take place, especially with their season hanging by a thread.

There's no sense talking about the big picture right now. Too depressing.  So let's look at some positives and negatives from this evening,

Positive: Jhoulys Chacin continues to prove himself. He's already on the cusp of top of the rotation status, and I think (hope) he will only get better as he develops better command and better pitch efficiency. When that happens, the Rockies 1-2 punch could rival any 1-2 combo in the league.

Negative: Chacin made one mistake tonight, which was sadly one more mistake than he could afford. Tim Lincecum was just better on the stage, and that's why he has two Cy Young Awards at home next to his other valuables.

Positive: No base running errors.

Negative: Only two base runners.

Positive: Jim Tracy managed a clean game.

Negative: Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson were so good that it didn't matter.

Positive: Ian Stewart returned to the hot corner.

Negative: Only because Melvin Mora's pregame meal didn't agree with him.

Positive: Ummmmm... Matt Reynolds!

Negative: Huston Street received his 5th consecutive day off. And this rate we won't need him again until early July 2012.

Positive: From all accounts the fireworks show after the game was spectacular.

Negative: The in game show sucked.


Jason Hammel vs Barry Zito

So I guess that means Zito will be the one mouthing "Bleeping juiced ball bullbleep" under his breathe when the Rockies mount an offensive rally. Looking forward to that.

Lineup Card: Rockies vs Giants

Here's to hoping Jim Tracy can find a role for his closer and setup man tonight.  Preferably it'll be in those exact roles, but down a run or two might not be the worst spot either.

Rockies Lineup (82-70)
  1. 2B  Young
  2. CF  Fowler
  3. LF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Helton
  6. 3B  Mora
  7. RF  Smith
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P    Chacin
So much for the prevailing thought that red hot Ryan Spilborghs would receive another start.  

Giants Lineup (86-67)
  1. 3B  Fontenot
  2. 2B  Sanchez
  3. 1B  Huff
  4. C   Posey
  5. LF  Burrell
  6. RF  Guillen
  7. SS  Uribe
  8. CF  Ross
  9. P     Lincecum
If you haven't heard, Pablo Sandoval has been demoted to a bench role for the Giants.  Mike Fontenot takes over at 3B and the lead-off spot in the order. 

Rock Solid Recrap: How Not To Manage A Must Win Game

This was awful. The way Jim Tracy handled the game tonight was embarrassing and bordering on asinine. You can't label a game a must win (which it was) and then turn around and manage like it's April 27th.

Why the hell are you saving Betancourt and Street and Belisle and Reynolds?

For what?

For when?

For who?

This was a game you absolutely had to have, and here are the arms our genius manager used.

  • Franklin Morales 
  • Esmil Rogers (he actually made sense in his role, but was left out there to die. No excuse for that.) 
  • Manny Delcarmen 
  • Joe Beimel 
  • Octavio Dotel

Either that's a manager saying I don't believe my offense has what it takes to turn this game around, or he's just clueless. Either freaking way, he didn't give his team the very best chance to win a must win game tonight.

Inexcusable. Unconscionable. Downright hideous managing.

Because guess what? His team had fight in them tonight. His team battled their asses off to turn an 8-2 game into one run, one swing from taking the lead game. Not just one swing, but on two separate occasions they were mere feet or inches from taking the lead.

Yeah, I know Jeff Francis didn't give the team as much as they needed. Yeah Rogers didn't pitch well. The entire team obviously needed to play better tonight, the entire series, and at various points throughout the season, but if Tracy had just used the best arms he had available to keep the game from snowballing in the 6th-8th innings, the results could have been so much different.

He failed at his job. Miserably. No excuse.

He failed his players. He failed the organization. He failed the city of Denver and the state of Colorado. And above all he failed the diehard Rockies fans.

His legacy in Colorado will not be all the "Tracy is My Homeboy" nonsense that followed 2009. He was merely along for that ride just like the rest of us were.

His legacy now is how he unsuccessfully managed arguably the most talented roster in the NL (for sure the division) into a longshot playoff hopeful.  A no doubt 95 win caliber team is very unlikely to even reach 90.

This tweet by Joe Sheehan last night will be forever remembered by me because it tells the story so well.
@joe_sheehan There's an alternate universe in which Jim Tracy retired before the season, the Rockies hired [anyone else] and went 98-64. #rockies

Of course now they will sweep the Giants and the Padres will manage to lose two of three over the weekend to make the final week interesting again. But even then it won't matter because as much heart as this Rockies team has -- and they DO have heart -- they don't have a brain in the dugout.

If they only had a brain.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies @ D-Backs

-- Joe Sheehan No Likey Jim Tracy (Bugs & Cranks)

Well let's see what Jim Tracy has in mind for us tonight as the Rockies attempt to avoid an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Rockies Lineup (82-69)
  1. 2B  Herrera
  2. RF  Spilborghs
  3. CF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Giambi
  6. 3B  Mora
  7. LF  Smith
  8. C    Iannetta
  9. P    Francis
Well, it's nice to see Chris Iannetta is healthy and in the lineup tonight... if for no other reason than there was no way Jim Tracy could have justified playing Miguel Olivo again after some of that defense we've seen from him in this series.  

Diamondbacks Lineup (61-91)
  1. SS  Drew
  2. LF  Roberts
  3. 2B  Johnson
  4. CF  Young
  5. 1B  LaRoche
  6. 3B  Reynolds
  7. C    Hester
  8. RF  Gillespie
  9. P    Kennedy

Rock Solid Recrap: Time To Refuel?

I never really fully appreciated how long a baseball season was until just last season. Seriously. I just never fully comprehended how long six months of baseball was because It was the first time as a fan that all 162 games had meant something to me.

1995? Nope, that was a strike-shortened playoff run.

2007? Nope. I wasn't all in with the Rockies in 2007 until September. Sure they had hung around on the fringe of playoff contention most of the season, but we'd never experienced the things we've experienced since, so my focus wasn't as intense.

2008? We should have been, but that thing went belly up quickly.

2009 it finally happened. I finally experienced the ups and downs of the chase, the catch, the pass by, the being caught and passed again, and the recapturing and holding on.

It was exhausting for me as a fan emotionally and mentally. Fun as hell, but you feel it when you find yourself waking up on short rest night after night for that many months. One can only imagine how much it catches up to the players and coaches. And then you factor in the physical toll it adds on them.

So now you come back in 2010 thinking you know what to expect. You think you can pace yourself, maybe not expend so much energy early because you understand how much you'll need later, and then you find yourself dropping games to teams you should be dominating.

Suddenly you're 7-8 games back leading up to the all-star break. You make a strong push then to get within two. Now you've seen how quickly and easily you can make up ground, so you put things back in neutral to save some gas.

Next thing you know you're down 11 games on August 22nd.

Now you have to put your pedal to the metal for five weeks straight. .

That works perfectly for three weeks... and then you just flat run out of gas. It doesn't make a bit of difference how much you saved earlier, because you needed to use so much of it so quickly, that it's all just gone before you hit the finish line.

Is there time for a refueling? There is, but whether or not it matters depends on how wisely the Giants, Padres and Braves have managed their fuel tanks. Do they have enough to get to the finish line, or will we see them tank it in the final laps?

Good lord I'm comparing baseball season to a Nascar race. Clearly I'm running on fumes as well.


Jeff Francis vs Ian Kennedy... Kennedy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies vs D-Backs

Three keys for tonight.

1.  Ubaldo needs to be Ubaldo

I get the sense the offense is going through a scratch and claw phase right now where nothing will come easy.  That leaves Ubaldo with little margin for error.

2.  Better ABs from Dexter Fowler

For the offense to scratch, claw, or attain any type of success, they're going to need more from the top.  I didn't like the poor swings from Dex in hitter's counts last night.  I hope that's cleaned up this evening and he's willing to take a walk when the pitcher is willing to give one.

3.  Rested Bullpen

Two full days off for everyone but Matt Reynolds.  If needed, these guys have to come in and shut the door.

Rockies Lineup (82-68)
  1. 2B  Herrera
  2. CF  Fowler
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 3B  Mora
  6. 1B  Helton
  7. LF  Spilborghs
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P    Jimenez
Diamondbacks Lineup (60-91)
  1. SS  Drew
  2. CF  Young
  3. 2B  Johnson
  4. 1B  LaRoche
  5. 3B  Reynolds
  6. C    Montero
  7. LF  Allen
  8. RF  Parra
  9. P    Lopez

Rock Solid Recrap: Snakes Make Awful Pets

Because there's always a chance they will jump up and bite you on the ass if you're not paying attention.

For about 7 innings on Tuesday night, the Rockies looked like a team that wasn't paying attention.

It looked like the team we saw far too often during the every month not named September.

The urgency appeared to be missing. The confidence we saw in LA Friday and Saturday was definitely missing. Plate discipline never made an appearance. That surely wasn't aided by an inconsistent strike zone, but that's also a hat tip to Joe Saunders for being around the plate all night.

The only thing that wasn't missing was bad Rockies base running. But that's only because they didn't have actual base runners very often.

So yeah... bad night at the yard. Bad night at the yard in Arizona. Bad results from all over the baseball world unless you're still holding on to Wild Card hopes. Bad Bad Bad.

I did like what I saw from Jorge De La Rosa though. He did his job. He kept a good offense down. He chewed up seven innings. He deserved a much better result in terms of the W, but overall everyone should be thrilled with his performance.

Generally when a pitcher only makes two mistakes in seven innings (like DLR tonight) things will work out, but that's not so much the case when the mistakes come on back-to-back hitters and your offense never shows up to support you.

And that really wraps up tonight's game. I could go in depth on specific ABs and openly ask why Dexter Fowler continues to put bad swings on pitcher's pitches in hitter's counts, but it's late and I don't want to throw another pen behind my desk. I'll just leave it alone and look ahead to...


Ubaldo Jimenez vs Rodrigo Lopez

The term "must win" seems to be fitting in this spot.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies @ D-Backs

Here we go.  13 games in 13 days to decide the fate of the 2010 Colorado Rockies.  

Standing in the way first are our old rivals from Arizona.  The D-Backs aren't quite the team we expected them to be after 2007, but one look at the lineup below tells you how dangerous they are.  Despite the relatively easy sweep at Coors Field recently, I'm not anticipating Arizona laying down and making things easy here.

Rockies will need good pitching and sustained offense if they want to leave Phoenix in a good position.  I truly believe anything less will leave us frustrated like we were Sunday in LA.

Rockies Lineup (82-67)
  1. CF  Fowler
  2. 2B  Herrera
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 3B  Mora
  6. 1B  Helton
  7. LF  Payton
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P     De La Rosa
Tracy playing the experience card again tonight with the Mora-Helton-Payton combo.  I'm not opposed to that based on what we've seen so far from Payton.  Very professional approach with solid results. 

D-Backs Lineup (59-91)
  1. SS  Drew
  2. LF  Roberts
  3. 2B  Johnson
  4. CF  Young
  5. 1B  LaRoches
  6. 3B  Reynolds
  7. C    Montero
  8. RF  Gillespie
  9. P    Saunders

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rock Solid Recrap: Can't Get Over The Hump

The Rockies had an opportunity to apply more pressure to one NL West leader, while pulling even with another.

Unfortunately they allowed what should have been a commanding 6-1 lead in the early innings deteriorate into a devastating 11 inning loss.

The Rockies did what I figured there were due to do to Clayton Kershaw. As great as Kershaw has been, he will always mix an erratic start in there every 3-4 weeks. It just hadn't happened in the Rockies favor yet... until today.

They took advantage early.

Three runs in the first. Three runs in the second.

Then they stopped taking advantage.

And then they basically called it a day at the bat rack.

It would have been nice if they had continued applying pressure because Jason Hammel looked like a tired man on the mound. Actually, aside from Jhoulys Chacin yesterday, the entire rotation has looked shaky at best this week. Even Ubaldo was battling for every last out.

Looking at this objectively, I have to tell you I'm very concerned that all of these of high stress innings and pitches over the past three weeks will catch up and play a major role in these last two weeks. There's almost no way around it. These guys are human out there and the mental and physical stress of having every pitch under the microscope is taxing.

So now you have to wonder where will the innings come from if Hammel is tired. If Francis isn't effective. If Ubaldo is wearing down. It's a dicey situation, and it won't get any easier against a D-Backs lineup that is dangerous.

On the bullpen. I felt like they did a solid enough job and Tracy did an okay job piecing it together. Unfortunately, the Rockies two best relievers were each touched for a run, which left him with nothing to choose from in the extra frames.

And yes, that's correct, Matt Belisle and Huston Street each allowed one run today. But guess which one will get raked over the coals?

I'm not saying Matt Belisle should, or Huston Street shouldn't, but it can't be one and not the other. Sorry.

There were other things in extra innings that were frustrating. Jim Tracy not sac bunting with EY is among the dumber things you'll see. Tie game, on the road, you play for a run. It's that simple. Bunt EY. Maybe he beats it out anyway and you have two runners on. Do something to increase your chances to take a lead.

And then there was the blown call at first base.

Yeah, it undeniably cost the Rockies the game in that half inning, but the game should have never gotten to that point. An umpire should never blow a call that easy, but good teams should never blow 6-1 leads to teams that quit weeks ago.

Beyond that, I didn't have a lot of faith in the offense scratching out another run, so I honestly don't feel IT cost the Rockies the game. I feel like the Rockies did it to themselves, and that their inevitable demise happened a little sooner than it was supposed to happen.


The Rockies have an off day to travel and sort out a game plan for the final 13 games.

The rest of us will attempt to go through our usual Monday routines while anticipating Tuesday night's first pitch.

You thought the nine day wait for the World Series was excruciating? I got a feeling these next 48 hours will make those nine days feel like the best 10-15 minutes you've ever had in your life. Maybe knock that down to five minutes for the ladies out there.

Lineup Card: Rockies @ Dodgers

Sweep LA!  Sweep LA!

Rockies Lineup (82-66)
  1. CF  Fowler
  2. 2B  Herrera
  3. LF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 3B  Mora
  6. 1B  Giambi
  7. RF  Spilborghs
  8. C    Phillips
  9. P     Hammel
Dodgers Lineup (72-77)
  1. SS  Furcal
  2. CF  Kemp
  3. RF  Ethier
  4. LF  Gibbons
  5. 3B  Blake
  6. 1B  Loney
  7. 2B  Theriot
  8. C   Barajas
  9. P    Kershaw

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Without Visual Aids

I saw nothing of today's Rockies game. 

You didn't either.

It sucked.

But given the results, I wouldn't change a thing!

I can't wait to see where Troy Tulowitzki's two home runs landed. Yes, the big man launched two more this afternoon off of Dodgers starter John Ely. That raised Troy September numbers from ridiculous to other worldly. Hell, just in his last three games he has totaled 5 homers and 13 RBI.

That sick enough for you?

If not, just imagine how the numbers would have looked had he connected with the bases loaded in the 8th inning. Oh well, can't hit'em all out. And that's okay when you have Todd Helton and Melvin Mora (4 hits, 5 RBI) behind you cleaning up.

Jhoulys Chacin threw a career high eight innings today. All eight of them were goose eggs. He did only strike out two while allowing nine hits, but again, goose eggs in the run column. Well done by the ace-in-training.

Well, without having seen the game I can't go into too much more detail about things I liked. I do like looking at the boxscore and seeing two walks next to CarGo's name though. Especially now that Tulo is hitting everything in sight out of sight.

Hell yeah CarGo, if they aren't challenging you, let the big man do his thing. Your runs scored will start adding as quickly your RBI total.


Jason Hammel vs Clayton Kershaw

Rockies are long overdue to knock Kershaw upside the head. Yeah, he's currently pitching maybe the best he ever has in his career, but the Rockies have seen him so much it only seems logical that they would figure something out and put a few dents in his ERA.

That, or Jason Hammel pitches the game of his life. I would accept either or both.

Lineup Card Rockies @ Dodgers

As I said last night, the Dodgers need a lot of help from the Rockies just to be competitive in this series.  Today, let's give them nothing.  Make them earn every damn thing they get, because I don't think they're good enough to  take what they need.  

Rockies Lineup (81-66)
  1. 2B  Young
  2. CF  Fowler
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Helton
  6. 3B  Mora
  7. LF  Spilborghs
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P    Chacin
Dodgers Lineup (72-76) (via @truebluela)
  1. SS  Carroll 
  2. 2B  Theriot
  3. RF  Ethier
  4. 1B  Loney
  5. LF  Gibbons
  6. CF  Kemp
  7. 3B  Mitchell
  8. C    Ellis
  9. P    Ely

Rock Solid Recap: Talent & Guts

The Rockies have both in abundance.

They just have to make sure they back those up with intelligence. They have to play smart, or those traits will be offset.

Tonight the Rockies came dangerously close to allowing something silly to wipe away all the good they had done in other portions of the game. A key base running error by Eric Young stands out. Jim Tracy pushing Ubaldo Jimenez seemingly past his limits would be another.

These are the type of things that have cost the Rockies several winnable games in 2010, but thankfully they ran into a Dodgers team that needs a lot more help than the Rockies were willing to give.

@RockiesReview Honestly, I hate when Ubaldo pitches. I get so nervous. He's the best the #Rockies have, but I feel like getting wins is crucial with him.

Tonight was as nerve-wracking as it gets. Ubaldo didn't have anything close to his best stuff again. But somehow, some way, with his back against the wall, and with his intestinal fortitude being continuously challenged by a very loyal and trusting manager, Ubaldo Jimenez found a way to get six more outs than I honestly believed he had in him.

If Tracy had pulled him in the 5th, I wouldn't have complained. In the 6th, wouldn't have complained again. Especially since Tracy allowed him bat with two on and two outs in that inning. I don't like giving away scoring chances. Not on the road. And especially not when the pitcher you're allowing to bat for himself is battling for every pitch.

It worked out in the end. It worked out because Ubaldo Jimenez has talent and guts.

Does any one professional baseball player symbolize talent and guts better than Todd Helton? (Highlight)

He's not the baseball player he used to be, but he's still the man he always was. You just can't write him off. The second anyone tries to, he fires back. The second Mark Kiszla writes nonsense about him, he collects three or four hits.

He's a winner. He knows how close this team is to getting over the hump. If there's even just an ounce of gas left in his tank (I assure there's more than that), you can bet he's going to get the most out of it, because he knows how much his team needs it.

If I had to single out one more player tonight not named Troy Tulowitzki (Highlight), I would think long and hard about selecting Melvin Mora (Highlight), but in the end would have to select Matt Belisle.

What onions it takes to come in to a bases loaded situation to face two hitters that have taken you deep in that situation before, and to retire each without any damage being done.

The Rockies owe so much of where they currently sit to Matt. They simply wouldn't be here without him. That's not hyperbole, that's fact. He has been the glue that has held everything together, when it so easily could have fallen at any point during the last three months.

Dump truck.


Jhoulys Chacin vs John Ely

I'll just say this...

The Dodgers showed tonight that they need a lot of things to go their way just to compete. Show up tomorrow and give them nothing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lineup Card: Rockies @ Dodgers

The Rockies are fighting to survive in 2010.  

The Dodgers are already looking ahead to 2011 (Joe Torre out, Don Mattingly in).

The Rockies have to take advantage of this dead team walking.  Get them down early and hope they fold like they did last night against Jonathan Sanchez and the Giants.  I'm serious, those hitters looked like they wanted nothing to do with standing in there against a hard throwing lefty.  I doubt they would look anymore forward to taking ABs against Ubaldo down by 3-4 runs.

Gets on these guys.  Stay on them.

Rockies Lineup (80-66)
  1. 2B  Young
  2. CF  Fowler
  3. RF  Gonzalez
  4. SS  Tulowitzki
  5. 1B  Helton
  6. 3B  Mora
  7. LF  Smith
  8. C    Olivo
  9. P    Jimenez
Dodgers Lineup (72-75)
  1. SS  Furcal
  2. 2B  Theriot
  3. RF  Ethier
  4. 1B  Loney
  5. LF  Gibbons
  6. 3B  Blake
  7. CF  Kemp
  8. C    Ellis
  9. P    Kuroda

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If Jeter's A Cheater, Then So Is Clint Barmes

Lots of people on their high horse today over the Derek Jeter HBP that wasn't really a HBP. All of the venom is directed at Jeter, who acted as if he was struck in the arm by a pitch when replays clearly showed it hit his bat, while almost no one is pointing out another moment of incompetence by an umpiring crew.

It's all on Jeter. Derek Jeter is just so evil for doing something each and every quick thinking athlete would have done in the same situation.

Heck, even the Rockies Clint Barmes would "cheat" to get an edge for the Rockies. I don't recall any Rockies fans being angry over this play that stole a victory over St. Louis last September.

There are four umpires out there. It's on them when these calls are missed. No baseball player is going to make a call easy for them if there's a way to gain an advantage for his team. For people to act like what Jeter was some sinful act that ruins the integrity of the game... it's just stupid.

I'm sure the majority of it has to do with Jeter being Jeter, and Jeter being the captain of the Yankees, but seriously, the Rockies aren't above doing the same thing. No team in Major League Baseball is above doing the same. Players don't tell an umpire they were out when they know a call was missed.

It's just the way it goes. Play on.

And you know what? The Rays did play on. They bounced back and found a way to win the game. That's how you play the damn game.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rock Solid Recap: Alive And Well Enough

Thanks largely to Troy Tulowitzki.

(RBI Single) (Home Run #1) (Home Run #2)

Troy Tulowitzki is a strong man. Strong enough to put the entire Rockies franchise on his back and carry them towards the finish line.

The numbers are sick.

10 HRs in 13 games. The franchise record for a single month is 12. He already has 11 in September... and there are still 13 games left in the month. 27 RBI in his last 15 games.

He is not of this planet right now. Maybe he never was, but he certainly isn't now.

Oh, and yeah, he's still the best defensive shortstop in the National League.

As seen in the highlights above, Tulo did the bulk of the heavy lifting this afternoon. He did have some assistance though.

Jorge De La Rosa saw his value rise one more time with 7 1/3 innings of what ended up being five run baseball. (Joe Beimel served up a three-run to Adrian Gonzalez that inflated DLR's solid line.) Just getting into the 8th inning after this recent string of poor starting pitching was a major relief for Jim Tracy and his taxed bullpen. So statline aside, DLR was a winner in my eyes just based on that.

He was also rewarded with a stat W as Huston Street closed the door in the 9th.

You know what Carlos Gonzalez did today?

He broke another bat. He collected a couple knocks. He drove in two more runs (106). And he also scored a pair of runs.

But you already knew all that was going to happen before the game started.

Something I didn't know was going to happen? Jay Payton going 3-for-4. With Troy Tulowitzki cleaning up everything in front of him, and Miguel Olivo doing nothing behind, Payton didn't score or drive in a run, but THREE hits. Awesome story. And hey, good gut feeling by Jim Tracy to put him in the lineup today.

But then with Jonathan Herrera, we can't give Jim Tracy credit for playing a gut feeling, Instead we can openly question why Herrera doesn't play more. Many fans have been clamoring for just that, and Johnny didn't disappoint us today. Three hits (two singles, double), two runs scored and competent defense at the hot corner.

A professional pain in the ass offensively that can be play three infield positions. Yeah... no value in that guy.


Day off! I'm taking it right along with them! We'll chat at you folks again on Friday night.