:: Saturday, December 09, 2006 ::
The Colorado Rockies haven't been busy this offseason, instead letting the rest of the league engage heartily in kind philanthropy for marginal talent. 2007 promises to be a season of reckoning for Dan O'Dowd, Clint Hurdle and crew, Charlie Monfort makes that clear in today's Rocky Mountain News.
:: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 ::
Will the team matter? It's hard to say. Right now, I think we have the second best squad in the division, but the Dodgers are a good pace ahead. Visit my blog at Purple Row for more Colorado Rockies discussion.
:: Bran 2:42 PM [+] ::
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the Marlins are a model of pitching efficiency, and Josh Beckett's performance last night was true to that assessment. I don't know what we could have done much different once he started to get going. Today the Rockies try to come back and even the series versus the Marlins' least effective starter thus far, Al Leiter, while we'll be using our own least effective starter to date, Joe Kennedy. If this year's results are all that we use to measure things, this one could be a slugfest. If last year is taken into account, the scores might be a bit lower.
:: Monday, April 25, 2005 ::
A farm update:
Sam Deduno threw eight more K's last night for Asheville against four walks in a win, if he can get control, maybe we can hold out hope that one day we'll have a rotation as good as the Marlins'. Chris Nelson is back, and after an 0 for 2 night his batting average is down to an even .100. Don't worry too much yet, he has so few at bats that a hot streak can bring it up really quickly. Cold streaks can change batting averages fast too, this early in the season. Chris Ianetta's at Modesto is down to .190 after a pretty good opening. Matt Macri meanwhile is going the other direction lately and is finally coming around to what we expected from him. Seth Smith (2 for 4 last night with a double) is hopefully over his own slump and can catch up to Macri soon. Jud Thigpen remains the top offensive performer on that team. Ian Stewart should be back as early as this week. The Rockies have a lot of pitching talent on that team, but outside of Sandy Nin and Ubaldo Jimenez, little polish. Nin should be called up to Tulsa soon, Jimenez maybe a little later.
As far as the Drillers go, the outfield remains the team's strength as far as prospects are concerned. Albeit Ryan Spillbourghs, Jeff Salazar and Tony Miller all still have weaknesses that they need to work on before moving to the next level. Jayson Nix is still batting only .200 after 70 AB's. I think it might be time to close the book on him as a part of the Rockies as well. I wouldn't be surprised to see him used as a part of any forthcoming trades we make. With Aaron Miles doing a decent job for now, Matt Macri has a little time to develop into our future at the 2-bag.
I hardly look at Colorado Springs' results at all anymore. Outside of two position players, Ryan Shealy and maybe Choo Freeman and the two pitchers mentioned above, Hampson and Esposito, I don't see much future for the rest of that roster at the major league level, That said, the two stories of our Spring Training -both NRI's signed to minor league contracts- Tim Olson and Eddie Garabito, continue to play very well and are begining to change my mind on that. Either one has more power than Miles and might be better fits at second in Coors Field. Should we actually trade Aaron (right now, he's the player we seem to be shopping the most outside of Preston Wilson) I think Garabito or Olson would be able to step in and surprise us. Jorge Piedra has returned from his ten game suspension with a lot of intensity, something to prove it seems. Watch him this year.
:: Bran 5:05 AM [+] ::
The off day after our latest bullpen miscue allows me a chance to do some exploration of baseball theory, but first a recap:
:: Sunday, April 24, 2005 ::
When I left off yesterday the Rockies had a slim five to three lead heading into the sixth inning. Francis got through that with no further damage and handed the ball over to Brian Fuentes, who made it through the seventh before hitting J.D. Drew to lead off the eighth. Hurdle then called for Byung Hyun Kim to come on and then the wheels fell of and by the time the dust settled we had snatched another defeat from the jaws of victory or whatever other cliche you want to use that you haven't already worn out in the first few weeks of this season.
I don't care, honestly, about the loss. Okay, I lied. I care a bit, but this game was a definite positive for our team and let's face it, we weren't going to run the tables on the Dodgers this season anyway. The negatives were clearly centered around Kim's performance, but we knew we were getting damaged goods in the trade with Boston, so we can't expect much from this particular reclamation project right away anyhow. If we really were expecting a significant and quick improvement, then suddenly I have my doubts about the wherewithal of the pack of jibbering emus who are apparently running things in the front office. Ryan Speier? He's earning his stripes too, he couldn't bail out Kim and might be on his way to Colorado Springs soon, but I see progress. And then there's Scott Dohmann who came on and pitched a scoreless ninth, and now I'm thinking we really aren't that far off.
Our starting pitching is solid, though not very deep and vulnerable should somebody get injured. Our offense is young but it's coming together with the exception of catcher and probably third base (even there, our anticipated starter hasn't played yet, so why worry?). Yes we have issues with the way the lineup is constructed, and maybe a few other calls by our increasingly defensive manager, but these are all small and easily rectified problems. The bullpen however, is a big issue, and looking at its makeup (as of this posting, the way the season has gone there's no guarantee it will be the same tonight) its not hard to see why:
Chin Hui Tsao - unproven, but young talented and looking alright so far
Fuentes- proven effective, consistent for a couple of years plus now
Dohmann - was effective last year, but bad start has hurt his development and thus the jury's still out.
Bobby Seay - injured, but looked good in his brief appearances with us. Still, he has the specter of being a prospect bust in the Devil Rays system hanging over his head.
Jose Acevedo - a rare veteran acquisition, not that it means much, Cincinnati was willing to give him up for Allan Simpson. He had a rough outing and hasn't seen much action since. Formerly a starter, might be the best option should someone go down if management has lost confidence in Jason Young's ability.
Kim - Has had glimmers of hope but mostly has looked terrible thus far. Remember Charlie Sheen's Wild Thing character in Major League? If only this were Hollywood, things really would turn around quickly, and Kim would be a major hottie. Too bad he's not and they're not going to.
Speier - Started off okay but has been roughed up. A rookie who's impressive minor league resume might not mean much if he can't duplicate that success in the majors.
Marcos Carvajal - Our still unscored upon active Rule 5 pick, but Hurdle's picking his spots very carefully. Before this year Carvajal pitched only three innings above the Sally League. His day of reckoning is coming, beware.
So there we have it, our rubber band bullpen. The problem with youth movements in the pitching staff is that they get really ugly when they're this young and you can't tell how long it will take for them to finally come together. So sit back and enjoy the process, I say, we're only one and a half back of the Yankees, after all. Things could be worse at this point of the season.
:: Bran 8:52 AM [+] ::
In the top of the third already, Jeff Francis is in a little bit of trouble with two on and JD Drew at the plate. That pop out to short center, where our short centerfileder, Clint Barmes caught up to it, preserves the lead. In the bottom half of the second, Aaron Miles swung at the first two pitches he saw and ended our own threat just as benignly. Miles had a profile up at mlb.com yesterday, before he went zero for five. His free swinging is contagious, the Rockies' here in the bottom of the third again gave the opposing pitcher a four pitch inning as even Todd Helton only saw one pitch.
:: Saturday, April 23, 2005 ::
Miles still hasn't drawn a walk, and the article above seems to miss the point that even though his average is higher than most of his NL peers, he actually gets on less frequently than all but a handful. Meanwhile, our pitchers, aren't getting the idea either. Today with Brad Penny, and then continuing tomorrow with his former Marlin teammates, will show a different example of pitch efficiency. Penny still only has thrown sixty-two through four innings (5.167 ptches per out) and this kind of deep start is what to look for when judging pitchers at Coors, more than other more traditional standards. Getting outs, and getting them quickly is the key. How is Jeffrey Franchise doing? Despite not getting through a single inning cleanly, he now through five innings has thrown only 80 pitches, for a slightly higher 5.333 clip. He's been aided by a superb defense, but he's not doing bad at all.
:: Bran 1:51 PM [+] ::
A little after I state that there hasn't been much chaange at the top of the draft board, I read ESPN's Peter Gammons' article that has one GM predicting the first six picks going this way:
1 Arizona - Justin Upton
2 KC - Alex Gordon
3 Seattle - Luke Hochevar
4 Washington - Troy Tulowitzki
5 Milwaukee - Ryan Zimmerman
6 Toronto - Ricky Romero
Which leaves Cameron Maybin floating down to Colorado at number seven. Maybe Dan O' Dowd was that certain GM and this is wishful thinking. Romero and Tulowitzki seem particularly high. I know Ricky's season has pushed him up the draft charts but at #6, with Maybin, Mike Pelfrey and Jeff Clement still available? I don't see it. The only reason would be that Tulowitzki figures to be an easier sign than Mike Pelfrey and both Washington (for this year at least) and Milwaukee have to be strict with their pursestrings. Still, if Maybin does slip it will be the latest in a string of first round steals for our team. Honestly, Clement's going to be a steal if he goes to eight or lower. Pelfrey I'm still not sold on, and maybe that's why he's slipping, he has great stuff, but the road to heartache is paved with raw pitchers who never quite get where you want them to.
Speaking of drafts, is there anything more boring than watching the first round of the NFL draft? Fifteen minutes per selection? Come on, this thing drags out more than Stewardship Sunday at church...
when there's a Rockies game on...
and you're a pagan sunworshipper.
Anyway, I digress. O' Dowd in the same article quashed the Todd Helton to Baltimore rumor that was started by that column I pointed out the other day. It was a silly rumor anyway, Baltimore doesn't have enough to make a trade for Helton justifiable in the first place let alone enough to make him want to play there. As far as I know that is, which honestly isn't much in this case. The Angels on the other hand... Nah, I'm joking I hope Helton stays on until we win our first two World Series in 2008 and 2009 (we'll narrowly miss in 07 after a heartbreaking loss in the NLCS to the Brewers, the subsequent Milwaukee vs. Minnesota World Series will nearly destroy baseball)
:: Bran 2:26 PM [+] ::
Jason Jennings' milestone night, tying Pedro Astacio for winningest Coors Field pitcher ever, came at a fantastic time and the fact he made a complete game of it (allowing the bullpen a night off) should pay benefits for the remainder of the homestand as long as none of our other starters implode early. The Aaron Miles walk watch continues, but going four for five still trumps getting a free pass, and Brad Hawpe and Cory Sullivan are beginning to look like early candidates for "The best rookie overshadowed by the performance of one of their own teammates" award handed out each year by the greater Poughkeepsie Athletic Club.
:: Friday, April 22, 2005 ::
Meanwhile, two things - today's NFL draft and last night's watching Jeff Weaver suffer at our expense reminding me of his unsigned little brother, made me think that maybe it's time to update my draft board, but honestly not much has changed, the top six players all remain the same and almost in the same slots (Alex Gordon has been getting more mention as a probable top three pick, at least by BA) and the wild cards are still those two unsigned 2004 picks, Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew (Drew signed the other day with an independent Northern League club, but still seems likely to sign with the D-backs before June).
As far as rumors go, I have heard that the Rockies are looking close at some pitchers, Luke Hochevar, for one, even scouting Utah high school left handed phenom Mark Pawelek (I think everybody's scouting him though) but I doubt it means anything as far as what direction they'll take with the seventh pick. Pawelek last I heard was expected to go a bit lower, and pitchers usually get more scrutiny anyway because their skills don't always show up the first time you see them. These two pitchers do have at least some history pitching at altitude, and though that line of reasoning didn't exactly work with Scott Elarton, Chac' is still working out fine for us. The philosophy of the last three years of taking the best available player works fine for me so long as Bill Schmidt continues to make the call, but I understand the desire to leave no stone unturned.
Tonight might actually be a rare Coors Field pitcher's duel, Odalis Perez had a couple of great outings at Coors last year and is 3-0 on the season thus far. He'll be matched up against the aforementioned Shawn Chacon who in his two games has looked more solid than he has since the first half of 2003 despite the fact that he has no wins to show for it. Tonight will be another good test, and hopefully our bats and bullpen will back him up this time.
:: Bran 9:42 AM [+] ::
Yesterday, the Rockies lost in a game I expect to be more typical of the season than the first two weeks have shown, one promising with glimpses of the bright future, but ultimately a letdown due to inexperience and inconsistency. Our offense played hard for four innings commanded the plate and getting solid contact, but when the Phillies' pitchers started to adjust by expanding their targets, except for Brad Hawpe, we couldn't answer. The fifth and sixth innings went by so fast I thought the team was worried they were going to miss their flight and the last three weren't much better. Meanwhile, Joe Kennedy once again showed the price of needless walks in the fourth, walk, home run, two points. Rinse. Repeat. That sequence from the Phillies in the bottom of the fourth where they worked the count and got on, to the top of the fifth where it took four pitches by Jon Lieber to get through the inning (Hawpe singled on the first pitch but the double play two pitches later erased him) is the best illustration of why they won and we lost.
:: Thursday, April 21, 2005 ::
Tonight we face the division leading Dodgers back at home and if we continue to hand out walks but not get them in return it will be a long series.
I've been delayed on the farm report for a couple of days due to other things. The fact taht Baseball America has no Rockies' in even their honorable mention for the Prospect Hot Sheet should help tell you how the far has started. Several of our top position players have yet to look that good, luckily there are only a couple - Jayson Nix (does he still count?) and Matt Macri that have really struggled. Both have been solid on defense if that counts for anything (it should).
As far as pitchers, Juan Morillo has been shelled a couple of times, but don't discount him coming back strong. Ubaldo Jiminez has shown signs of a bad winter conditioning program but alson signs of the skills that make him the Rockies top pitching prospect now that Jeff Francis has arrived. However on the good front, Dragon Lo and Samuel Deduno have been excellent thus far, and last year's seventh round pick Jake Postlewaite has also looked strong in the Sally league, though he and to some extent Deduno are a bit old for that league and need to show the same stuff against more advanced competition. Lo on the other hand is just nineteen and yes this is his second year at Asheville, but he's showing the promise that made the Rockies spend millions four years ago to bring him out of Taiwan.
Tonight my spouse and I sleep in separate bedrooms until Sunday, I hope I'm the one at the end who gets to say "It's okay honey, maybe they'll win a couple next time, for once."
Kidding about the bedroom part, but all the rest is true, later
:: Bran 3:23 PM [+] ::
Sorry for the somewhat doubled post if you were reading this morning, I think I lose posts and then mysteriously they appear later after I post a rehash. I deleted one and am counting the days to when I move to my fancier new digs. I will keep you informed on that as well. Now for a little mailbag action (very little, my mailbag is quite small usually)
Google searches have uncovered numerous hits telling me that the Rockies were going to a 4-man rotation last year. How did that turn out? I would be very interested to know. Is there an archived post addressing this on your blog?
Hmm... no I don't mention it in May, no, not June either... no, that's odd, I don't see one mention of a four man rotation in my blog. you would think if the Rockies had really been serious about experimenting with one of the sacred cows of baseball that I'd have mentioned it. Yet you're right, googling the word four man rotation shows that the Rockies seemed to make a big PR move shouting out "Hey look at us we're, trying the four man rotation!"
Sadly, mystery caller, the Rockies were pulling your leg. Though some team should try to do this soon, as Baseball Prospectus' Rany Jazayerli points out the Rockies are probably the worst choice to start the experiment with. What brought on the move? Last year out of the gate in April they were confronted with the sad reality that they only had three somewhat decent starting pitchers in Jason Jennings. Joe Kennedy and Shawn Estes, a number five starter who was suffering a Coors meltdown in Scott Elarton, an over the hill situational guy in Jeff Fassero, and a Denny Stark, who was awful and getting worse. Nobody wanted to trade for Stark, and there were no ready starters available. The Rockies had Jason Young and Aaron Cook in the minors, but weren't sure if either of those two could hack it any better than Stark did. So they made the decision, release Stark, and announce a four man rotation. And they tried it, once through with decent results before mother nature stepped in and bad performances by Jennings and Elarton threw a wrench in things.
A rain out forced a double header one day during a stretch of thirteen straight in early May meaning that if they stuck with the four man, somebody would have to pitch on two days rest. meanwhile Elarton continued to get hammered, and needed to get out fast, so they let him and made the call to the Springs where both Young and Cook were pitching well. Now the Rockies had to unexpectedly coddle young arms, plus they wanted Jennings to get over his struggles so by extending his schedule they figured to give him more time to fix things. Cook worked out very well, Young did not, but a month later the Rox picked up Jamey Wright to fill that last slot in what was in fact a five-man rotation for the remainder of the year (later when Cook went down with blood clots in the lungs, Jeff Francis took his spot and Fassero filled in every so often)
The question brings up an interesting philosophical point. I actually think the Rockies have had the most success when they have gone the other way, six or even seven starters - three or four regular 30 start pitchers and three to four swing guys who can work in both the rotation and long relief (their lone playoff appearance had Kevin Ritz starting 28 and no other starter reaching 20, but eight pitchers with at least nine starts). The Rockies wanted Darren Oliver to work in this role but he declined and bolted for Arizona. The problem obviously becomes one of ego, starting pitchers seem to have this feeling of entitlement. Hopefully Jose Acevedo doesn't have the same chip on his shoulder, last night's trouble notwithstanding, he seems to be an ideal candidate for that role as well as Jamey Wright. When Aaron Cook returns later this year it will be interesting to see what direction the Rockies decide to take.
:: Bran 9:47 AM [+] ::