Friday, January 28, 2011

Moe Belismel tag team broken up

The righty-lefty Rockies reliever tag team I affectionately named Moe Belismel (Matt Belisle & Joe Beimel) is no more. We figured the day was coming when Troy Renck stated the Rockies had no interest in bringing Beimel back, but after the surprising return of Jason Giambi a couple weeks ago, it was worth waiting for the official word.

The word is now official.

Joe Beimel is headed to the new Coors Field East in Pittsburgh.

Much dismay is now ensuing amongst Rockies fans. I understand it to an extent. I liked Joe. Didn't love him, though. His value in the Rockies community is a tad inflated due to the simple fact his name isn't Franklin Morales. Plus the ladies think he's cute and he entered to a kick ass song.

I'm more concerned with the pitching and business side of it. Thankfully the Rockies are too.

There is definitely risk in putting so much stock and faith in a less experienced Matt Reynolds and a roller coaster ride like Morales, but tough decisions have to be made somewhere. And I'm sure the Rockies feel like their right-handers, especially at the back end of the pen, are plenty capable of retiring tough lefties. That's why each of them is making pretty decent coin.

-- In other news... The Rockies have signed OF Willy Taveras, IF/OF Alfredo Amezaga, and C Chad Moeller to minor league deals with invites to spring training. In addition, they have shipped RHP Ethan Hollingsworth to Oakland for AAA RHP Clayton Mortenson.

If I had to venture a guess, I would say Amezaga has the best chance to do something meaningful for Colorado this season. It would take injuries and such, but he has always been an O'Dowd guy and reports are the Rockies came away from his workout at Arizona St. impressed. The fact that he can play three infield positions and the outfield certainly helps his case.

@PoseidonsFist (Andrew T. Fisher, Purple Row) set the over/under at negative three for number of games Willy Taveras would start for the Rockies in CF this season. I'll still take the under there.

-- Rockies avoided arbitration with Ian Stewart on Thursday.

I would hope so. Stewart knows what's at stake this season for him personally. He knows Ty Wigginton, Jose Lopez and Joe Crede are coming to camp. He's heard the far fetched Michael Young rumors. Wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to get hung up over $450K difference in arbitration offers and allow bad feelings to come into play.

Simple advice to Ian going forward... not that he needs it.

Go out on the field, hold off the competition behind you, play at the level we all mostly believe you're capable of playing, and you'll make up whatever money you feel like you're giving up.

I believe Ian Stewart can do it, too. I just doubt Jim Tracy will have the patience to let him play through his slumps, especially with the new options at his disposal.

-- Jim Tracy... Still the two scariest words that come to mind when I think about the 2011 Rockies and how far they can go.

Will he learn when to get out of the way?

Will he learn when to press buttons?

Will there be enough healthy relievers left standing in September?

Will there be lineup stability?

I'm crossing my fingers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A thought or two on Jay Cutler

Because everyone and their mother has offered their two cents. I've offered many tweets on the situation since Sunday, but allow me to just say this.

I'm not what you would call a Jay Cutler fan. I think he's rubbed a lot of people (myself included) the wrong way with his attitude in the past. I'm positive he thinks he's a bigger deal than he really is. He's not an elite NFL Quarterback, but then again not many are.

None of this has anything to do with what occurred on Sunday.

Jay Cutler suffered a Grade 2 MCL tear during the second quarter of the NFC Championship Game. He played one series before halftime on the bum knee. He had the knee worked on at halftime. He played one series in the second half and was removed from the game by his coaches and team medical staff.

He did everything he could to be there for his team. He did his job, although not very well during the time period he was healthy in that game, and then the coaches and trainers did theirs. It's really no more complicated than that.

But that doesn't stop the parade of bloggers/writers who allow the emotions to overtake their sensibilities and the fans/players with meatball mentalities who think football is a real war and football players are real heroes from ripping him apart. It's amazing how many of these people exist.

Not amazing, actually. That's a positive word. It's disappointing and downright scary how many of these people exist.

Joking about his toughness. Fine, whatever. That comes with the territory. It's the people who can't separate sports from real life, who dead seriously believe that Jay Cutler quit on his team that scare me. It's the ham-n-eggers outside Soldier Field that burn his uniform that scare me. Some of these people have kids. Does that not scare you?

And then you have the vengeful bloggers, writers, analysts and players who hate Jay Cutler with an unhealthy passion. Whatever he did after sustaining that injury, these people would have twisted his actions to reflect poorly on him.

Cutler is removed from the game by the coaches and medical staff = he's a coward and a quitter.

Cutler stands on the sidelines with crutches = he's a drama queen.

Cutler is allowed to play through the injury and hurts his team = he's an egomaniac.

I promise you these people would have found a way to smear his name. It wasn't about truth or reality, it was personal. These people, especially the football players, fit my definition of cowards and tools far more than Cutler does.

Jay Cutler proved his toughness to me. He's a lot of things I don't like, but I promise you he's not a quitter.

I watched every damn play of every Bears game this season. I saw the shit-kicking he took every week. I watched him play a quarter in New York with a concussion. I watched him pick himself up every time he could and go back to the huddle. He never quit.

Why would he take that pounding all season only to quit now, in the biggest game of his life? It's illogical and it's bullshit. If he was the man these people want and need you to believe he is, he wouldn't have played that entire meaningless game in Week 17 at Green Bay. A game in which he was pummeled relentlessly.

It's bullshit he has to deal with all this backlash, but at the end of the day, maybe it's just what he needed to help him grow up on and off the field. And wouldn't it be ironic if the people who so desperately want to tear him down actually assisted in that process.

The way he responds to this situation is what I truly believe will define him. I don't know which way that will go, but I think we're about eight months away from having a really good understanding of the heights or depths of Jay Cutler's character and his potential on the field.

I think I like Carney Lansford

I knew I respected Lansford for his past successes on the field, but two paragraphs in Dave Krieger's column this morning made me think I'm really going to like him as the Rockies new hitting coach.

From the Denver Post.
"When I came up as a rookie in 1978, Don Baylor took me under his wing and taught me how to play the game of baseball the right way — old school-type baseball. So I have nothing but respect for him," Lansford told me.
Don was an awful hitting coach.

I'm sorry. Helluva guy. Helluva player. Terrible hitting coach to not be able to get more out of the talent he had to work with. Guys were actually regressing to the point of no return if a change wasn't made.

Now the good part.
"But my approach is totally different. Don was a pull-type hitter. I like my hitters to use the entire field. In my opinion, that makes them much tougher outs. Nobody likes home runs more than me, but trying to force a home run, trying to swing for a home run every at-bat, doesn't work. What it does is make you very easy to pitch to."
Amen. A hitting coach that understands the basics of hitting.

I don't know how many times myself and other Rockies fans pointed out Colorado's inability to use the whole damn field. It seems like such a simple and obvious approach, but the 2010 Rockies lost sight of that time and time again, leading to several extended offensive slumps that sabotaged their season.

Lansford has identified this problem. It probably didn't take him long to do so thanks to the miles of ugly video tape Rockies hitters left behind. He understands what needs to be corrected. Now we all have to hope he can recover and reprogram these young hitters.

Chris Iannetta. Ian Stewart. Seth Smith. These guys don't need to be pull conscious to park balls in the seats. They just need to take what they're given, drive it where it's meant to be driven, and watch the stats pile up.

Singles. Doubles. Triples. Sac flys. Walks. Those aren't bad either. Just don't open yourself up to being that easy out the Rockies were far too often in 2010, especially in money situations.

It may take awhile to see positive results, and even longer to see them sustained on a fairly consistent basis, but just reading what I've read here gives me a lot hope that this offense won't underachieve again.

This offense can and will be dynamic if Lansford can successfully flush out Don Baylor's philosophies.

I believe it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good week of signings for O'Dowd

-- I like the Joe Crede signing quite a bit, although he's an extreme longshot to make the opening day roster. Of course I said nearly the same thing initially about Jason Giambi, but now it has become quite apparent there's a plan in place that accomodates Giamib's inclusion.

-- Crede can really help the Rockies somewhere down the line if he proves to be healthy in spring, and is willing to spend some time in the minors if he doesn't fit on the opening day roster. He'll probably need that time anyway to knock all that rust off. That won't happen in six weeks of spring training after sitting out a year.

At his best he'll provide excellent defense, moderate power for a corner infielder, a low average, but a fairly low strikeout rate. You're not going to hand him a full time job, so you can plug and play him to his strengths, while keeping him fresh.

From all accounts (mine included) Crede is a quality guy as well. He has a lot to prove to the baseball world and to himself, so that's a really good low risk signing if you ask me.

-- I'm opening my eyes to what the Giambi signing means. I'm really cool with it realizing he won't be playing defense much, if at all. Jose Lopez and Ty Wigginton can undoubedly play first base and account for all innings Todd Helton doesn't play, which I expect to be a significant number.

What it means is the Rockies will go with four outfielders. That's cool too... but as I pointed out the other day, Fowler and Gonzalez have to stay healthy. Those head-on wall collisions can't happen. If you get in a position where one is day-to-day, you're down to three outfielders, and your defense could be a problem.

But hey, it's worth the risk if you really believe in what Giambi can give you in his limited role. The Rockies clearly believe. I have no issues with that. He wants to be here. I love that. Go get'em, Jason.

-- Troy Renck has more details on the Giambi contract. (Denver Post)

-- Covered the Lindstrom signing the other day.

-- 24 days until pitchers and catchers report!

-- 36 days until we see the Rockies on the field against an opponent.

-- 41 days until we start complaining about spring training being too long.

-- 69 days until Opening Day.

-- 70.5 days until Jim Tracy exhausts the entire bullpen. (Ubaldo's going the distance on opening day... I hope)

And so on...

Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If the Rockies are going to carry four true outfielders

Which would have to be the case to make room for Jason Giambi on the Opening Day roster, and seems more likely than I anticipated if you're to believe what Troy Renck wrote in his blog yesterday, then THIS needs to stop happening.

And so does THIS.

Appreciate the effort, but can't afford the bone bruises and rib cartilage rearrangement in 2011. Bottom line.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Busy Monday in Colorado

The Colorado Rockies have had a busy off season, and that continued on Monday with another surprising re-signing and a new deal for a reliever they acquired last month.

The Rockies official Twitter feed reported a little after noon that the Rockies were bringing back 1B Jason Giambi on a minor league deal. Jon Heyman added that if Giambi makes the Rockies opening day roster, he'll be guaranteed $1 million.

Before people get too excited, that's a very unlikely scenario. Barring a Todd Helton injury in spring training, this is simply an insurance move and a favor to Giambi, who was nothing short of outstanding in his role as a pinch-hitter and mentor for the Rockies the past season and one month.

However, this move could benefit Colorado a little more if Giambi performs well in the spring and allows them to move him to the American League for a minor piece that helps their 2011 cause or a low-end prospect.

It's really a low risk move with absolutely zero downside. If he doesn't fit (most likely scenario) or doesn't play well, you let him walk and lose nothing.

The other reported signing, a two-year deal with reliever Matt Lindstrom with an option for 2013, has a little more risk involved. Lindstrom was acquired from Houston last month to improve the bullpen depth and give them another experienced late inning option.

The new deal covers Lindstrom's final two arbitration years, along with the option to retain him in his first free agent year.

This is obviously an attempt by the Rockies to achieve stability in their bullpen the next two years. The risk there is the possibility for chaos if one or two of these guys locked in beyond 2011 falter this season.

We'll see what happens in this particular case. Lindstrom is coming off a down year and there a number of concerns surrounding his health and his command.

Who knows, we may have more Rockies news by the end of the day. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 14, 2011

No Rockies on Sunday Night Baseball? No problem!

-- Was I surprised to see the Colorado Rockies weren't included in the initial Sunday Night Baseball scheduled released by ESPN?

Honestly, yes. They may not come from a big market, but there is finally some legitimate star power on the team that the entire country seems interested in seeing. Match them up with the Giants or Cardinals (Gonzalez vs Holliday), and I could easily see fans tuning in for that.

Was I disappointed they weren't included?

Hell. No. The more I can avoid ESPN the better!

Early ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Schedule

-- In reference to the Rockies recent signing of reliever Sean White -- in addition to their earlier trade for Jose Lopez -- I read a comment on Twitter that said the Rockies will soon acquire every player from the Seattle Mariners that their fan base hates.

That's impossible. There's not enough room in the Rockies organization to fit 90% of Seattle's 40-man roster. Seriously. That's a mess up there in Seattle. Aside from that, ever heard the phrase one team's trash is another team's treasure?

Maybe it doesn't go exactly like that, but Dan O'Dowd has made treasures out of trash before. I'm sure there's not a day that goes by where he doesn't thank the Kansas City Royals for Jorge De La Rosa. Or the Cincinnati Reds for giving up on Matt Belisle. Maybe he'll be thanking the Mariners times two in a few months.

-- The Rockies also signed Claudio Vargas to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. You won't find a better male figure skating name than Claudio Vargas. I think I'll judge his ST outings on a corrupt points system.

-- Congratulations to Jeff Francis on landing in Kansas City with a guaranteed one-year/$2 million deal. Not a bad deal at all for him considering what he's gone through.

I read on Rotoworld right after that Francis will immediately become the Royals ace. I LOLed for a few seconds before the realization set in that that wasn't a joke. I wish him well regardless.

-- Dexter Fowler tweeted on Tuesday that he was hanging out with Andruw Jones and talking to Jones about playing outfield with the Rockies. Okie. Does this mean Dexter isn't a big fan of Ryan Spilborghs, who would likely be moved to make room for Jones if he were pegged to make the roster?

Not likely, but I honestly wouldn't mind an upgrade over Spilly as the Rockies 4.5ish outfielder. Andruw Jones, however, wouldn't be that upgrade at this stage of his career. I actually wanted Cody Ross way back in August, before he turned into Andruw Jones circa 2005 in the postseason.

That version of Jones I would gladly take... or Ross for that matter.

-- I was so happy going into the Carlos Gonzalez press conference I could have hugged a Scott Boras. Then Scott Boras started talking and wouldn't stop talking so that feeling quickly passed.

Like I said last week, though, feel free to hug a Monfort or an O'Dowd.

-- Good piece by Rox Girl over at Purple Row on the Rockies Rocky Mountain Way of doing business.

-- And finally this week, congratulations to Drew Goodman for being named the Colorado Sportscaster of the Year for the 8th time! He beat out another tough field that included... we'll get back to you on that.

In the meantime, we're awaiting word on the Montana Sportscaster of the Year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RSR: Carlos Gonazalez New Contract Edition

A special off season Rock Solid Recap a day after Carlos Gonzalez reportedly agrees to a 7 year/$80 million contract. Includes random thoughts on things other than baseball.

-- I'm blown away by how calmly, smoothly and easily the Rockies have taken a potentially chaotic and disastrous off season and turned it into an overwhelming success. All those questions we feared we'd be asking when spring training rolled around have not only been answered, but answered with a resounding "relax, we know what the **** we're doing".

-- Is Scott Boras getting soft, or is Carlos Gonzalez proving to be another of those rare superstar athletes that can think for himself?

Knowing the answer to that question, how much more do you love and respect CarGo?

And how much quicker do you want to be rid of the Carmelo Anthony headache?

-- Here's CarGo with a Chihuahua on his lap.

-- Sorry Teboners, little Timmy is never going to own the city of Denver the way John Elway did. That has more to do with the prolonged presence of Mr. Tulowitzki and Mr. Gonzalez than it does Tebow's shortcomings as a pure NFL Quarterback, but both are factors to be sure.

-- The next time you see a Monfort in public or at the ballpark, please resist the temptation to take a running leap into their arms, but do shake his or her hand.

-- The Tulowitzki and Gonzalez contracts do not guarantee success or championships. What they do is promise relevance on a national scale - something Colorado has yet to experience in nearly two decades despite a World Series appearance - more appeal to future free agents, and a good foundation to build upon for over half a decade.

That works for me.

-- I'm talking directly to Ian Stewart right now.

How much are you worth?

How good can you be?

I'm dying to find out.

-- That aside, I really enjoy following Stewart, Dexter Fowler and Eric Young Jr. on Twitter. They all seem like really good guys and I hope all three cement themselves as Rockies in 2011 and beyond.

-- There's a girl with fangs on The Bachelor. So the answer is yes, that show can get worse.

-- Things I learned reading Bleacher Report yesterday...

Carlos Gonzalez doesn't have great speed and he isn't all that great a defender.

Apparently he's a rich man's Brad Hawpe.

-- I look at the Denver Nuggets roster and can only identify one player I believe San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich would take on his team. That one guy is Aaron Afflalo. The only problem is San Antonio already has a better version of Affalo in 2nd year guard George Hill.

-- I'm still worried about Jim Tracy's ability to manage a bullpen. And by worried I mean positively frightened.