Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Links and Things: Some fluff and a lot of love for Juan Nicasio

We're getting ever closer to actual game competition... but we're not there yet, so you'll have to settle for mostly fluff, preview and why Jim Tracy sucks articles again in this week's links.

For example: Can Guillermo Moscoso make the Rockies opening day rotation? Purple Row examines.

Hey, that article is a lot more fun to read in February than it is in November, so it definitely could be a lot worse.

More links!

-- In a guest piece for Blake Street Bulletin, David Martin writes about Jim Tracy's inability to find answers during the disastrous 2011 season and his extraordinary ability to dodge blame from the Rockies front office.

You can usually find David over at Rockies Review.

-- Here's an awesome umpire's eye view of Jhoulys Chacin pitching to Michael Cuddyer on Monday courtesy of the Denver Post.

-- Fluff: Troy Tulowitzki played high school baseball against Jeremy Lin's brother! Denver Post

-- For those wondering, Ian Stewart advanced in the 1st round of the Chicago Cubs 64-man NCAA style bunting competition. He'll square off against Starlin Castro in round two, and is an early 8.5 point favorite. Muskat Ramblings

Honestly, if I had seen the brackets before the competition started I probably would have picked Ian to go far on the position player side. When asked (or attempted on his own) Ian showed himself to be pretty effective when squaring around and pushing the ball down the third base line.

I'd have to check (maybe later... or never), but I believe he had 2-3 more bunt hits than home runs last season. Impressive! Of course I know without question that I had the same number of bunt hits as Ian had home runs last year, so maybe that's not impressive.

-- Should the Rockies have signed Yoenis Cespedes instead of Michael Cuddyer? Blake Street Bulletin

Interesting question. But not really a fair question.

Cespedes may indeed prove to be the better player in the long run (he'll always be younger), but the Rockies couldn't afford to wait around to see how that sweepstakes played out. So under the circumstances, targeting and signing Cuddyer is the easy and correct call. Under different circumstances (if both players were available at the same time), sure, you'd put more thought into moving on Cespedes, but it is what it was, and what it was was not all that realistic.

-- In a must read, Curtis Seidle tells us why Juan Nicasio is his new favorite player. Rox Pile

Curtis, I am right there with you. Few players have earned my respect and admiration as quickly as Juan Nicasio did last season... and that was BEFORE the devastating and potentially career-ending injury that he suffered on Aug. 5th. To see how he's battled back from that and to hear about the positive attitude he's maintained throughout the entire recovery process just takes that admiration to another level.

It's exactly like the situation when Aaron Cook returned from the blood clots in his lungs a few years ago. My admiration for him went to another level, and despite his struggles at the end in Colorado, I never stopped supporting and pulling for Aaron. I guarantee that's how I'll feel about Juan, regardless of where this comeback takes him.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Carlos Gonzalez? Also ready for 2012.

Earlier int the week we confirmed that Todd Helton is indeed ready for the 2012 season.

Now, we can also confirm that Carlos Gonzalez is ready for the 2012 season.

Good lord.

Thanks again to Troy Renck for taking great photos down in Scottsdale.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How I'm viewing the Jim Tracy and Dan O'Dowd's handshake deal 24 hours later

After thinking about Monday's news of a handshake deal between general manager Dan O'Dowd and manager Jim Tracy -- which according to O'Dowd extends Tracy's contract "indefinitely" -- for the past 24 hours, I've come to the conclusion that this indeed is not as scary it seems for Rockies fans.

Yes, the words are most definitely ominous...

"Basically what I am saying is that I should never have this conversation with you again," O'Dowd said. "To say it extends just beyond 2013 would not do justice to Jim. It could be until he's using a cane and having trouble getting onto the field. Quite honestly, it can be for whatever number of years Jim wants it to be for."

... but as Logan Burdine pointed out in his column on Blake Street Bulletin.

"The first thing that needs to be pointed out here is that there was no actual extension. He didn’t get a raise. He didn’t get more years. All he got was a vote of confidence from the GM. In the world of sports, a handshake agreement is worth about as much as a Zimbabwe Dollar. All of this is a little weird and probably unnecessary, but firing Jim Tracy, if deemed necessary, will be just as easy as it was a week ago."

It's always good to sit back, calm down and take a deeper look to find a better perspective. That's exactly what reading Logan's piece today helped me accomplish.

Tuesday Links and Things: The boys are back in Scottsdale

It's over. Our long winter without baseball (and shockingly with little snow here in Illinois) is over. Over the past few days, Rockies pitchers, catchers and eager position players have reported to Salt River Field at Talking Stick in Scottdale, Arizona, which means we can now officially welcome you to the 2012 baseball season.

Naturally, the question that follows that declaration is what will the 2012 season bring for the Colorado Rockies.

Success? Disappointment? Further embarrassment to build on last season's embarrassment?

Well, honestly, I have no idea. I just know that a slow start could lead to some very interesting, if not desperate decisions in the early going. That's regardless of the recent handshake deal between Dan O'Dowd and Jim Tracy that extents the skipper's contract for an 'indefinite' number of years. Then again, a good start could just as easily lead to another poor finish. Or for the first team in franchise history, we may actually see them play seven good months in a row!

But don't hold your breath on that one.

Anyway, it's a bit too early to worry about all of that. All we really need to worry about these first few days of camp is keeping everyone upright and healthy. And in other cases, making sure those returning from injury suffer no setbacks. So basically, yay baseball is back! But yeah, the real interesting stuff is still a good 7-10 days away.

I think we can handle it.

And just because the first few days of camp are slow and filled with stories about who's in shape, who's not, and who's hair looks the dumbest, doesn't mean there aren't a few interesting articles and updates to check out. Here are a few from the past week.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I think Todd Helton is ready

And if Todd Helton's ready, then I'm most certainly ready!

Stay tuned to Heaven & Helton all throughout spring training for roster and game analysis, as well the usual nonsense and maybe a little bit of fun, too. If the team allows it, that is.

Photo H/T: Troy Renck on Twitter

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Remember the day Neifi Perez donned a catcher's mask?

Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times does. In fact, Jaffe penned a fun — or maybe more accurately for us, painful — article on the game this morning to mark it's 5,000th day-versary.

Yes, it really has been that long, but it honestly seems like it was last year that I was listening to the fading signal of 850 KOA on my little hand held radio. Same as I did when Hideo Nomo tossed his no-hitter at Coors Field. Same as I did when the Rockies scored 11 runs in the seventh inning to rally past the San Diego Padres.

Thank God for satellite TV and internet streams.

Anyway, I'll let you venture over to Jaffe's article for all of the details, but not before pointing out the irony of Rockies reliever Jerry Dipoto being right in the middle of the wild half inning that decided that game. Of course he's now the general manager of the Angels, and if his first winter is any indication, he's going to continue helping the Angels for a long, long time.


Hardball Times: 5,000 days since bizarre ending to Rockies-Angels game

Tuesday Links and Things: We got drama

I love how Dan O'Dowd is trying to change the clubhouse culture to be something more positive and professional... and then he says the following to the Denver Post last week.

"I would say he could have worked a little harder this winter. I am not really happy about that," O'Dowd admitted. "I don't think it will be an issue by the time we get to camp. But it has to get to a point where he has maturity and discipline and realizes that this in his career."

I've liked or understood pretty much everything O'Dowd has done this offseason... but not this. Going public with these concerns/criticisms is completely unnecessary and really just plain silly. It's the type of thing that has absolutely no business leaving the clubhouse, and can actually go a long ways towards harming the developing relationship between the rebuild clubhouse and the front office. Not saying it will, or that the players will play with any less passion if they take offence to O'Dowd's confrontational quotes, but it's not the right message to send.

O'Dowd has to know better. He has to chose his battles more wisely than this. Calling out Ian Stewart after you've given him several chances is one thing. To call out Jhoulys Chacin this forcefully is another thing completely. It's regrettable. And to do so without having first visualized and/or communucated with Chacin makes it regrettable and embarrassing.

And sure, it's possible O'Dowd's concerns prove valid. We all understand how badly the Rockies need Chacin to be in shape and performing at his best. We also understand how that O'Dowd might need Chacin to be better than his best to keep his job, so it's perfectly fine for him to be concerned. But there were better, far more simple ways to handle this. Like, say, a face-to-face conversaion in his office after making an evalation for himself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rockies fans to rally for Tom Helmer

When Tom Helmer broke the news that his contract with Root Sports has not been renewed on Tuesday, Rockies fans instantly went into shock. Thirty seconds later, shock turned to anger. And now, a full 24 hours later, their anger has led them to organizing a Save Helmer rally set to take place this Sunday afternoon.

First and foremost, I would encourage fans to simply support Helmer as he comes to terms with the unfortunate circumstances, and then searches for his new gig (which he should have little to no trouble finding). But I also have to say it's pretty cool to see Rockies fans come together to show support for a guy whose passion for the game of baseball, for the Rockies organization, and above all, for the city of Denver, has been obvious since he debuted on the air six years ago.

If the cause means that much to you as a Rockies fan and/or a resident of Denver, then the place to be is the Blake Street Tavern at 2 pm on Sunday.

You can head over to South Stands Denver for more information.

I wish you all well on your peaceful mission to save one of your own. It may not be enough to rectify this situation, but your passionate plea should teach the suits and ties at Root that their audience won't be content with whatever they're being fed. Yes, you have eyes and ears that mean dollars to them, but you also have a voice. Let the them hear that voice loud and clear.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Links, Things and Another Trade

Dealin' Dan was back in action on Monday, acquiring 32-year-old right-hander Jeremy Guthrie from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Heaven & Helton favorite Jason Hammel - he was a good #4 or #5 start dammit, and that's all I ever asked him to be - and reliever Matt Lindstrom.

The Rockies then avoided arbitration with Guthrie, inking him to a one-year deal worth $8.2 million.

It's another trade that has stirred up quite a bit of debate among Rockies fans and bloggers. The concern, as usual, is whether or not Guthrie - a flyball pitcher - represents a good fit in the hitter friendly Coors Field.

Obviously a high flyball rate is a scary stat to bring with you to Denver, as is the fact that rate has led to at least 23 home runs allowed in each of his first five full seasons. But that hardly predicts impending disaster, or even poor results with a switch to the National League. In fact, I don't think there's any reason to believe the number of home runs he allows will jump significantly, if at all, against the inferior lineups of the National League West, regardless of where he's pitching the majority of his games.

When I look beyond the numbers, I see a tough pitcher that has more than held his own against the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays lineups. When I bring the numbers back into focus, I see a pitcher that posted an ERA under 4.00 in three of those five seasons. He lost a lot more than he won because the offense and defense supporting him were pretty dreadful, but the home run ball never killed him in Baltimore. It won't kill him in Denver, either, as long as he keeps the bases clean.

Unless Guthrie loses his edge, which is certainly possible when you go from facing those lineups four or five times each, to cycling through the Giants, Padres, etc., I think he'll prove to be an unspectacular, but solid #2 starter in the National League.