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