Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Colorado Rockies' All-Time Greatest Position Players

Here's my attempt to list the greatest Colorado Rockies players of all-time by position. I took into consideration a player's offensive production, defensive capabilities, and tenure with the Rockies. Let's get this Blake Street party started!

C, Chris Iannetta
Colorado hasn't had a premier Catcher for more than a season or two at a time, but Chris Iannetta finds himself as the Rockies' All-Time greatest catcher based off of his tenure and semi-decent productivity. He leads all Rockies catchers in Hits (336), Home Runs (63), RBI (236), Walks (241), and he's 10th All-Time (any position) in Rockies' history with a .357 OBP. His high On-Base% is due to him being a magnet for pitches, being hit by 40 pitches while with the Rockies. He never blossomed into the catcher the Rockies hoped for, but hopefully he'll find more success with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Yorvit Torrealba
Torrealba brought a contagious energy to the Rockies' clubhouse when they went to the World Series in 2007. His defense and ability to call games were crucial to the Rockies' success from 2006-2009.

1B, Todd Helton (The Toddfather)

Of course it's Todd Helton. He's been the face and goatee of the Rockies for 15 seasons. Helton's been the Rockies' quiet leader since he took over at first base in 1998, and he is the epitome of Denver athletes. Well rounded would be putting it lightly. He's a 5-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover, and has won the Silver Slugger four times. He's the Rockies' record holder for Hits (2363), Home Runs (347), Doubles (554), Walks (1,256), and many, many more. Hopefully, the Rockies will be able to put a ring on his finger before his time is up in the Mile High City.

Andres Galarraga (Big Cat)
The original first baseman with the Colorado Rockies in 1993. He was a 2-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner while with the Rockies. He's in the top ten in pretty much all of the major offensive categories in Rockies' history. He also had one of the greatest stances to emulate.

2B, Eric Young Sr. (E.Y.)
The original EY! He quickly became a fan favorite in 1993 when he hit a leadoff home run in the first ever home at-bat in Rockies' history. Even though he showed a hint of power in that at-bat, E.Y. was known for his speed. In 1996, he won the Silver Slugger award and was selected to the All-Star team. He's the Rockies' all-time leader in steals (180), eighth in Batting Average (.295), fourth in On-Base% (.378), and tenth in Runs Scored (378). His son, Eric Young Jr., is currently in the Rockies' organization and continues to try to break into the big league club. Sorry E.Y.2, but your Dad's shoes are little in size, but big ones to fill. 

Clint Barmes
He was with the Rockies through thick and thin, and was as consistent as any player on the Rockies during his tenure. His consistency might not have always been great, but he was stellar defensively, and he provided undeniable leadership. He might have been Rookie of the Year in 2005 if he hadn't broken his collarbone while carrying deer meat up a flight of stairs.

3B, Vinny Castilla
Vinny! Vinny! Vinny! He's easily the best player the Rockies have ever had at the hot corner. He was a 2-time All-Star ('95, '98) and 3-time Silver Slugger winner ('95, '97, '98) while with the Rockies. He was a member of the "Blake St. Bombers" and proved to be a worthy member with three seasons of 40+ home runs and five seasons of 100+ RBI. After leaving the Rockies in 1999, he found his way back to the team twice, once in 2004 where he had a wonderful come-back season, and again in 2006 for his final MLB season. He will always be a fan favorite, and he continues to be dearly missed at third base.

Garrett Atkins
Atkins had four productive seasons with the Rockies from 2005-2008. He was fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2005 and followed that up by being 15th in voting for NL MVP in 2006. His career line while with the Rockies for a little over five full seasons was a respectable .289/.354/.457 with 98 home runs and 479 RBI.

SS, Troy Tulowitzki (Tulo)
Dun-Dun-DunDunDun-DunDunDunDun-TULO! It's not too early in his career to proclaim him the greatest shortstop in Colorado Rockies' history. He already has two Gold Gloves, which is one more than Neifi Perez, and one fewer than Todd Helton. No other Rockies' shortstop  has ever made an All-Star appearance, but Tulo has already made two appearances. No other Rockies' shortstop has ever won a Silver Slugger award, but Tulo already has two of those as well. Not bad for only being in the league for a little over five seasons. He's currently one of the best players in Major League Baseball, and he will continue to dominate his position and the game as a Colorado Rockie for the rest of his career.

Neifi Perez
Perez was a solid defender, with a career fielding percentage of .997 and a Gold Glove award in 2000. He was a free swinger with the ability to slap the ball all over the field. He will mostly be remembered for not being able to leave his cup alone during the games.

LF, Dante Bichette
Somehow, Dante Bichette was the sex symbol of the Rockies in the 90s. Was it the Mullet? Maybe. Was it his unorthodox fielding in left field? Possibly. Was it his ability to hit the long ball and then follow it up with an epic fist pump? Most likely. He was a four-time All-Star with the Rockies ('94, '95, '96, '98) and won a Silver Slugger award in 1995. He became a member of the 30/30 club in 1996 with 31 home runs and 31 stolen bases. He holds the single season hits record for the Rockies with 219 hits, and he's third all-time in hits for the club with 1278. He was definitely the life of the party in the 90s, and he brought an energy to Coors Field that will not soon be forgotten. Bichette does happen.

Matt Holliday
Holliday was a three-time All-Star with the Rockies and won a Silver Slugger three times. He was robbed of the NL MVP by Jimmy Rollins in 2007, the same season he led the Rockies to their first ever World Series appearance. Rockies' fans will always remember his game winning slide into home against the San Diego Padres in the 2007 Wild Card game as one of the greatest moments in Rockies' history. If Holliday would have had one more season with the Rockies, then he would have found himself at the top of the left fielders list.

CF, Ellis Burks
He had one season that catapulted him to the top of the list of Rockies' center fielders. In 1996, Burks led the league in Runs(142), SLG%(.639), and Total Bases(392). He finished third in NL MVP voting that season and won a silver slugger award. He also became the first Rockies' player to hit over 40 home runs and have over 30 stolen bases in a single season. His other seasons with the Rockies were decent, and he was a quiet leader and overall great teammate for the Rockies while he played in Colorado. He's still in the top ten of Rockies' career leaders in Batting Average(.306), On-Base%(.378), and Slugging%(.579). Burks went on to have a wonderful career after leaving Colorado, proving that he wasn't a product of the "Coors Field Factor".

Juan Pierre
If there was an award to go to the guy with the greatest work ethic, then Juan Pierre would have won that award every season he was with the Rockies. Even Todd Helton said that Pierre's work ethic put his to shame. In the little over two seasons Pierre was a Rockie, he accumulated 434 hits and 100 stolen bases. He's sixth on the Rockies' career leaders batting average list with a .308 average. Pierre is another ex-Rockies' center fielder that went on to have a very productive career.

RF, Larry Walker
Larrrrrrrrrrry Walk-er! If Todd Helton is the face of the franchise, then Larry Walker is the neck. He was the first Rockies' player to win a Gold Glove, and he's also the first, and only Rockie to win the National League MVP. He is the Rockies' all-time leader in Batting Average(.334), On-Base%(.426), and Slugging%(.618). He ranks second in pretty much every other offensive category, including Games Played, Hits, Runs Scored, RBI, Walks, Total Bases, Doubles, Triples and even Stolen Bases. He's the definition of a five-tools player, and he has the hardware to prove it, with five Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards while with the Rockies. He made four All-Star appearances, and he was the National League batting champion three times during his time in Colorado. He's one unforgettable player with one unforgettable walk-up song...All aboard! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Haaaa! Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay!

Brad Hawpe
Another home-grown product of the Rockies, Hawpe had a sneaky good career while he was with the Rockies. He clubbed 118 home runs, drove in 464 runs, and had a respectable .280 average while playing in Colorado. He made one All-Star appearance and had his best season in 2007, which helped propel the Rockies to their first and only World Series. He had his troubles defensively in right field, but he did have a knack for getting on base and is ranked 7th All-Time on the Rockies' career leaders in On-Base% (.374).

Honorable Mentions:
C.  Joe Girardi
1B. ...Jason Giambi?
2B. Kaz Matsui 
3B. Jeff Cirillo
SS. Walt Weiss
LF. Carlos Gonzalez
CF. Dexter Fowler
RF. Seth Smith

Any snubs? Anybody you think should be ranked higher or lower? Start the debate below in the comments section.

The most difficult position I had to decide on was left field, so I ask you, who do you choose as the Rockies' best left fielder of All-Time?

  • Dante Bichette
    Dante Bichette
  • Matt Holliday
    Matt Holliday
  • Carlos Gonzalez
    Carlos Gonzalez

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Good Bye, Casey "Blake St." (Rockies cut Casey Blake)

Casey Blake's bushy beard and too-good-to-be-true nickname couldn't save him from being axed by the Colorado Rockies. The 38 year old third baseman was released by the Rockies today due to his dismal Spring Training performance. Blake's departure makes room for players such as Jordan Pacheco, Chris Nelson, and Jonathan Herrera. I wish I could add Nolan Arenado's name to the list, but he also had a lack-luster spring and will probably end up starting the season in AA. Pacheco has had an explosive spring, and I would give him the initial shot to man the hot corner come opening day with Jonathan Herrera a close second. I would choose Pacheco over Herrera because of Pacheco's ability to draw walks and his improved plate discipline. Pacheco will fit nicely into the eighth spot in the batting order, and should be able to fine tune his swing with the amount a good pitches he'll see batting in front of the pitcher. The only concern with Pacheco is his defense, but it will be easier for him to grow at third base with Troy Tulowitzki backing him up to his left.

I'm sure Jim Tracy will have a three player platoon at the position, but I would much rather see someone get the shot and stick with them until either they falter, or Arenado proves that he's ready to take over the position for good.

In other news, former Rockie, Ian Stewart, is having a decent spring training with the Chicago Cubs and is set to be their opening day third baseman. The Cubs are raving about his defense and power. Stewart credits his recent successes on being allowed to play to his strengths (pulling the ball 450 feet), instead of being forced to hit the ball the other way, which is what Colorado coaches were having him do last season. I'm excited to see what Stewart will be able to do with the change of  scenery and confidence boost. I have a sneaky feeling that this will be the year that he finally breaks out and becomes the 30 homer/100 RBI guy that everyone expected him to be in Colorado.

  • Jordan Pacheco
    Jordan Pacheco
  • Chris Nelson
    Chris Nelson
  • Jonathan Herrera
    Jonathan Herrera
  • Brandon Wood
    Brandon Wood
  • Brendan Harris
    Brendan Harris
  • Nolan Arenado
    Nolan Arenado

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Colorado Rockies Statue?

The Milwaukee Brewers are immortalizing Bob Uecker with a statue at Miller Park, so it got me to wondering...who should the Rockies honor with a statue? As of right now, there's "The Player" at the home plate entrance at Coors Field. "The Player" honors Branch Rickey, who I personally adore, but I think we need to pick either a Rockies' player or manager to bronze next. Below is a poll with some of my ideas for the next Coors Field statue. Vote Now!

  • Todd Helton (Final out of 2007 NLCS game)
    Todd Helton (Final out of 2007 NLCS game)
  • Larry Walker (1997 All-Star Game)
    Larry Walker (1997 All-Star Game)
  • Dante Bichette (Fist Pump and mullet)
    Dante Bichette (Fist Pump and mullet)
  • Troy Tulowitzki (Might as well get a head start)
    Troy Tulowitzki (Might as well get a head start)
  • Matt Holliday (2007 Wild Card Slide, with interactive blood spurting from chin)
    Matt Holliday (2007 Wild Card Slide, with interactive blood spurting from chin)
  • Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle counting money
    Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle counting money
  • Don Baylor (Because he's a boss and would scare away pigeons)
    Don Baylor (Because he's a boss and would scare away pigeons)
  • Jim Tracy (Oh, wait...he already is a statue)
    Jim Tracy (Oh, wait...he already is a statue)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baseball's Indispensable Duos (MLB Network)

I recently watched an episode of MLB Hot Stove, and their discussion was about the indispensable duos currently in baseball. I have to say that I usually agree with the guys from Hot Stove, but this time I strongly disagree with their analysis.

Here's the original segment from Hot Stove:

As you can see, Larry Bowa picked Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, which is a valid pick, but if you remove those two pitchers, you're still left with Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, etc., etc. That's still a formidable team.

Mitch Williams, whom I usually always agree with, had a bizarre pick when he went with Miguel Cabrera and Jose Valverde. I'm sorry, but if you remove Cabrera and Valverde, you're still left with Justin Verlander, who just happened to be the American League MVP and CY Young award winner in 2011. Oh, and not to mention their newest addition to the team, Prince Fielder. Justin Verlander might not have had 24 wins if it wasn't for Valverde, but Valverde wouldn't have had even close to 52 save opportunities if it wasn't for Justin Verlander's dominance.

Ken Rosenthal, another guy that I absolutely respect, picked David Price and Matt Moore. David Price is the Rays' number two starter and Matt Moore has pitched 19.1 innings in the big leagues. If those two were removed from the Rays' rotation, they're still left with their number one starter, James Shields, and the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, Jeremy Hellickson. That's still a rotation many teams would envy. They also happen to have the best third basemen in Evan Longoria.

Now that I got that off of my chest, here are my top three picks for indispensable duos currently in baseball:

#3 Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero

  • Bautista turned into the most feared hitter in baseball over the last two seasons, and Ricky Romero is one of the most underrated pitchers in MLB. Bautista has the highest OPS in all of baseball in the past two seasons and the most Home Runs. He placed fourth and third in MVP voting in the previous two seasons, but I'm sure he would have back-to-back MVPs if he played for the Yankees. Ricky Romero improved his ERA, WHIP, IP, and Ks in each of his last three seasons. He was phenomenal last season in a tough AL East Division, finishing the year with a 15-11 record while posting an ERA of 2.92 and a WHIP of 1.138 in 235 innings pitched. If it wasn't for their presence, the Blue Jays' would have floundered in the AL East last season instead of having a respectable 81-81 record.
#2 Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez
  • Imagine, if you will, if you removed Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez from the Rockies and replaced them with average players. Who else is left on the Rockies who is under the age of 27 and has a gold glove and a silver slugger? Nobody. Both of them have already won a silver slugger award and a gold glove before the age of 27. Tulo and CarGo are undeniably the heart and soul of the Colorado Rockies. They must be pretty special players if they're both ranked in the top 15 of the 2012 Player Preview. The next closest Rockies' player in the rankings is Jhoulys Chacin at #146. That tells you right there how crucial this pair is to the Rockies organization. They're two of the most dynamic players in baseball and they deserve to be recognized as such. 
#1 Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw

  • Clayton Kershaw was last year's National League CY Young award winner and Matt Kemp was runner-up in the National League MVP voting. If that's not enough to make you two of the most indispensable players in baseball, then I don't know what does? Larry Bowa was close to picking this duo as his pick, but he went with the much adored Phillies' duo. Much like Tulo and Cargo, Kemp and Kershaw are young and proven players that aren't surrounded by a lot of help. If it weren't for this duo, the Dodgers would have had a record closer to 65-97 as opposed to their 82-79 mark in 2011.

Who are your picks for indispensable duos? Do you agree with the guys from Hot Stove, or do you feel like they missed some better duos?

The Rockies' Bash Brothers

Dexter Fowler won't be called lanky anymore, and Carlos Gonzalez will now be referred to as Large-O. The two outfielders put on a combined weight of 35 pounds during the off-season. That’s like adding another Eric Young Jr. to the team. Both players believe that the extra muscle and weight will help them better endure the wear and tear of the 2012 season.

Last season, Carlos Gonzalez admitted that he wasn’t physically or mentally ready for the 2011 season, which showed in his early season performance. As the season progressed, CarGo found his way back to his 2010 form, but a few unfortunate wall crashes placed CarGo on the bench with an injured wrist. Now, CarGo is physically and mentally prepared for the season and he looks to live up to his goal of a 40-40 season. The idea of 40 stolen bases might be more of a dream, but 40 homeruns seems like a certain reality.

Dexter Fowler always looked like a boy wearing his daddy’s uniform. His pants were baggy, his jersey was loose, and his hat always seemed three sizes too big. This isn't the case anymore. Dexter has put on 13 pounds, but has dropped four percent of his body fat. He credits his transformation to his off-season workouts with Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi. Those two guys as trainers give the Biggest Loser trainers a run for their money. Look for Dexter to have some added pop in his bat and more explosive speed on the base paths and in center field. Dexter's new found strength and confidence will limit his chances of getting weak knees during the season, both physically and metaphorically.

Look for Hans Fowler and Franz Gonzalez to become the best left-center duo in the game this season.
They're here to PUMP! YOU UP!