Friday, April 20, 2012

Colorado Rockies: Week Two

The Rockies can say that they're a .500 team after their nine game homestand. They went 5-4 against division rivals, and improved their record to 6-6 on the season.

Week 2 Notes:

Jamie Moyer, at the age of 49 years and 150 days, became the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record a win. He obtained the record by pitching seven strong innings on April 17 against the San Diego Padres. Hopefully he continues to break his own record throughout the season. Moyer is now 1-2 on the season with an ERA of 2.55 and a WHIP of 1.30. He is scheduled to start the first game in Pittsburgh on Monday, April 23.

Juan Nicasio recorded his first win since breaking his neck last season with a decent start against the San Diego Padres on April 18. He pitched 6 1/3 innings while giving up four runs on seven hits and no walks. He struck out five, but also allowed two home runs to Chase Headley. It wasn't a great start for Nicasio, but he did a good job of giving the Rockies a chance to win with their bats. He looks to continue to improve on Tuesday, April 24 when he starts the second game in Pittsburgh.

Troy Tulowitzki has committed six errors this season, which ties the total number of errors he committed all of last season. Tulowitzki admits that it's mental, and hopefully the off-day that he received on Wednesday night allowed him to regroup and relax. His fielding percentage is currently .905 and he's on pace to commit 88 errors on the season. This is the first time the Rockies have ever had to worry about Tulo's defense, so hopefully it's a fluke and not something that will continue to cripple Tulowitzki and the Rockies.

Todd Helton had back-to-back nights with game winning hits against the Arizona Diamondbacks. On April 13, Helton hit a two out double down the left field line to drive in a run and give the Rockies the go-ahead lead in the bottom of the eight inning. The Rockies won 8-7. On April 14, Helton delivered in the bottom of the ninth inning with a towering walk-off home run. Of course, he got the off day on April 15, and the Rockies lost 5-2.

Michael Cuddyer continues to lead the team in pretty much all of the offensive categories, and it's safe to assume that he feels comfortable hitting at Coors Field. He currently has a .370/.396/.696 line with 2 home runs, 8 RBIs, 8 runs scored, and 17 hits. He's currently day-to-day with a bruised toe.

Chris Nelson enjoyed the Rockies' first homestand of the season, going 11 for 25 with 3 doubles and 4 RBIs, which propelled his average up to .306 on the season. His stellar defense at third base coupled with his surprisingly strong showing at the plate is a sigh of relief after the third base controversy leading into the season.

The bench players, specifically Jonathan Hererra, Tyler Colvin, and Eric Young Jr., continue to produce and have been crucial to the Rockies' 6-6 record. Combined, they're hitting .409 with 2 home runs, 9 RBIs, 7 runs scored, and 18 hits in 44 at-bats.

Week Two Thumbs Up: Jamie Moyer

Week Two Thumbs Down: Troy Tulowitzki

Shout Outs: Ramon Hernandez and Esmil Rogers

Look Ahead:

The Rockies embark on a six game road trip to visit the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both teams are coming off series wins against NL West teams. The Brewers took two of three from the LA Dodgers, and the Pirates took two of three from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rockies will be reunited in Pittsburgh with their former manager, Clint Hurdle, and former infielder Clint Barmes. This is also a homecoming for Jim Tracy, who spent two seasons in Pittsburgh as their manager.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Colorado Rockies: Week One

The Colorado Rockies' are 2-4 in their first six games of the 2012 season. The season is young, but it feels old.

Michael Cuddyer is the obvious choice for the Colorado Rockies' player of the week. Not only is he producing without much help around him, but he's also showing a lot of heart and hustle. He's turned out to be a very nice pick-up for the Rockies, and I can only hope that his playing style rubs off on the other players within the next couple of weeks.

Juan Nicasio pitched very well in his MLB return. He threw seven innings and allowed only one earned run on five hits and one walk. It's a breath of fresh air to see Nicasio pick up where he left off after his very serious injury last season. He's worked very hard and has overcome a lot of physical and emotional pain to be where he is, and I'm glad to see him succeeding so far this season.

Other than Cuddyer, Nicasio, and the 17-8 victory over the San Francisco Giants, there isn't much else to be excited about. There are only things to be worried about.

I heard a commentator for the Washington Nationals say, "It's not a lot to ask a player to sprint down the first base line three to four times a game." Exactly right! Carlos Gonzalez is one of my favorite players, but if I see him jog one more time after either hitting a ground ball or after hitting a potential home run, I can assure you that he will quickly move down my list. Not only is that disrespectful to his team, but to every fan that's paying good money to watch him play baseball. Roberto Clemente once said, "I believe we owe something to the people who watch us. They work hard for their money. When we do not try one hundred percent, we steal from them." If that's the case, the Rockies are robbing us blindly. They need to be playing like the "Year of the Fan" actually means something to them.

On top of their lack of hustle, there's also their lack of defense. There have been two occasions now where a Rockies' outfielder, Dexter and CarGo, dropped a routine fly-ball due to a half-hearted effort. Defense used to be a top priority for the Rockies, and it was an enormous reason why the Rockies ended up in the World Series in 2007. They committed only 68 errors in an entire season, which ranks third best of All-Time in both leagues. The 2007 Rockies are still considered one of the best defensive teams of All-Time. After six games in the 2012 season, the Rockies are on pace to commit 216 errors by season's end. They would become the first MLB team since the 1963 Mets to commit over 200 errors in a season.

I'm a fan who will root for my team and their players, just as long as the team and players are putting forth their best efforts. I realize that slumps happen, but if they're happening due to lack of passion and hard work, then I believe it's only fair for fans to be worried and to call out their team. I'm worried, and I expect more effort from the Rockies.

Pluses: Michael Cuddyer, Juan Nicasio, Relief Pitchers (Exluding Chatwood and Reynolds), Eric Young Jr.

Minuses: Defense, Hustle, Clutch Hitting, Starting Pitching (Excluding Nicasio)

The Rockies host the Diamondbacks and Padres before heading to Milwaukee next weekend. This would be a good week for the Rockies to establish themselves as contenders, especially going up against last season's NL West winners and losers.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Preview of the Colorado Rockies' 25-Man Roster

Jim Tracy has set the 25-man roster, and Houston, I don't think we have a we? Let's take a brief look at the 25 guys who will be on the 2012 Opening Day roster.

C. Ramon Hernandez
  • Hernandez had a dismal spring offensively, but he caught 85 innings and only made one error while throwing out 66% of the base stealers. He'll be solid defensively and undeniably crucial to the young pitching staff, but his age will limit his innings.
C. Wilin Rosario
  • Rosario had a very impressive spring, leading the Rockies with four home runs, eight doubles, 43 total bases, and a 1.213 OPS. Rosario is currently ranked as the Rockies' number three prospect in their system, and should establish himself as the Rockies main back-stop this season.
1B. Todd Helton
  • Helton returns for his 15th season as the Rockies' opening day first-baseman. Helton crushed the ball this spring, with eight doubles, two home runs, ten runs scored, nine RBI, and an OPS of 1.179. It seems like Helton plans to either duplicate what he did last season, or actually improve on his performance.
1B. Jason Giambi
  • Giambi is back as the lovable back-up to the Toddfather. He also enjoyed a nice spring, with an OPS of 1.131 in 26 at-bats. This will likely be his last season, so expect to see him flexing up and swinging for the fences. 
2B. Marco Scutaro
  • Marco didn't hit too well during spring training, but he did get on-base a lot thanks to drawing 15 walks. If Marco can continue to find his way on base at the top of the order, then he'll have a solid season as the Rockies' everyday second-baseman.
SS. Troy Tulowitzki
  • Tulo will enter the 2012 with a chip on his shoulder instead of out of his elbow. Look for Tulo to establish himself as the best player in the league, and hopefully walk away with the hard-ware to prove it. MVP, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove.
INF. Jordan Pacheco
  • Pacheco looks to be in line to be the starting third baseman after his strong spring performance. He had a .339/.409/.508 line with 30 total bases in 59 at-bats. His defense is worrisome, but he'll hopefully get better with time and consistency.
INF. Chris Nelson
  • If Pacheco doesn't get the starting job at third base, then it's safe to assume that Chris Nelson will be the guy. His bat showed some life this spring and his defense is solid. He'll be a strong fourth infielder for the Rockies in 2012.
INF. Jonathan Herrera 
  • Herrera's been flirting with an everyday gig for the past few seasons, and it looks like he'll continue to only flirt. He had a strong start to spring, but petered out towards the end. He'll be used sparingly in 2012, unless there's a major injury to either Tulo or Scutaro.
OF. Dexter Fowler
  • Dexter is at it again. High expectations, but a very poor showing during the spring. His defense will be his major asset again this year, but if he doesn't find his swing within the first couple of weeks of the season, then look for Cargo in center with Tyler Colvin in left. If Dexter does find his swing and has a full season of playing time, then he'll win a Gold Glove and be finally be worthy of praise.
OF. Carlos Gonzalez
  • Expect big things from Cargo this year. He has two On-Base guys hitting in front of him with Tulo, Helton, and Cuddyer hitting behind him. He'll load up on ribbies and runs this year, with a moderate amount of stolen bases. Look for him to continue to flash gold out in left field. 
OF. Michael Cuddyer
  • Cuddy had an average spring training, with nothing spectacular and nothing to worry about. He'll be a great addition to the lineup, and he's going to wear out the gaps in Coors Field. He'll also be a great player to have as a utility player in case of injury or underproduction.
OF. Tyler Colvin
  • Colvin was the biggest surprise during the spring, hitting .373 with a team-leading 18 RBIs. He earned himself a spot on the team as the fourth outfielder, and will add a great left-handed bat off the bench. He's shown some power in his previous seasons with the Cubs, so hopefully he'll be able to utilize the Rockies' hitter friendly ballpark and not fall back into his 2011 struggles.
OF. Eric Young Jr.
  • EY2 has found himself back on the roster as a "super-utility" player, but mostly as a pinch-runner. He's the only player on the team that has a legitimate chance at 30 stolen bases, with pretty much all of the steals coming as a pinch-runner. He'll struggle to find playing time as the Rockies' fifth outfielder and third backup infielder. 
P.  Jeremy Guthrie
  • Guthrie will be the Rockies' opening day starter and looks to have his fourth straight season of 200+ innings pitched. He'll have a nice transition from the American League East to the National League West, but don't expect a CY Young performance out of him. Expect more of a .500 pitcher that will eat up innings and be the anchor in their rotation.
P.  Jamie Moyer
  • Jamie Moyer, the 49-year-old phenom, finds himself on the roster and as the number two starter in the rotation. It's already been a wonderful feel-good story, but the end might come sooner rather than later with the return of Jorge de la Rosa predicted for June. Moyer will be effective at times, but his age will eventually show. Expect a strong start, but a steady decline as the season progresses.
P.  Juan Nicasio
  • Talk about a come-back story. It hasn't even been a year since Nicasio broke his neck, but he's already back and pitching well. He had a decent spring showing, and is expected to pick up where he left of last season before his unfortunate injury. He'll battle Pomeranz for the team leader in strikeouts. 
P.  Jhoulys Chacin
  • Chacin has gone from predicted number one starter to the fourth spot in the rotation. He had a pitiful spring, and the Rockies must feel like it's more of a trend than a fluke, or maybe they're hoping for his Coors Field success to continue come April 9. Hopefully he can start strong like last season, but be able to finish it out this time around.
P.  Rafael Betancourt
  • Betancourt will attempt his first season as an everyday closer at the age of 36 (37 at the end of April). He knows how to get outs and pitch effectively, and he'll rack up well over 30 saves by season's end. The only thing that's worrisome is the extremely long 9th innings he'll be inevitably be orchestrating.
P.  Rex Brothers
  • Brothers has a lively arm and he's ready to unleash it on the league this year. He had 13.1 SO/9 last season and he followed that up with an impressive spring training this year. He'll be a reliable lefty out of the pen in 2012, but expect him to be closing games out by 2013. The next Billy Wagner anyone?
P.  Matt Reynolds
  • Reynolds is another lefty in the pen that can strike batters out, but he also struggles with keeping them off the base paths. He didn't have as an effective season as Rockies' fans and personnel hoped for last season, but look for him to take a stride forward in his sophomore season. He'll have close to 9 SO/9 with a WHIP around 1.2 and an ERA around 3.75.
P.  Matt Belisle
  • Belisle had decent season in 2011 and he should have another effective season in 2012. He's a reliable righty that should be able to hold teams in the 7th and 8th innings of games. He will look to decrease his Inherited Scored Percentage for the fourth consecutive season in a row (53%-27%). 
P.  Tyler Chatwood
  • Chatwood had a dreadful spring training that will hopefully check it's bag at the Opening Day door. He quickly went from starting rotation consideration, to bullpen consideration, to just barely making the roster. He's a ground-ball pitcher that wants to strike batters out. Instead of keeping the ball down, it's been creeping higher into the strike-zone and into the sweet-spot of hitter's bats. He needs to play to his strengths to have any success come Opening Day.
P.  Esmil Rogers
  • Rogers, once a promising starter, is now in the Rockies' bullpen. The Rockies continue to have faith in Rogers, even after having two back-to-back seasons of horrific pitching. This is a case where things can only get better...right? There doesn't seem to be any improvements from last season, so expect him to be sent down once Josh Outman gets over his bizarre injury (pulled oblique during a bout of vomiting).
P.  Josh Roenicke
  • Roenicke had a stellar spring training and earned himself a spot in the bullpen. He out-pitched Rogers and Chatwood and is now in a battle with them to stay on the Roster once Outman and Drew Pomeranz return. If he extends his spring training into the regular season, then he should have no problem. He'll pitch effectively and will prove himself as a solid right-handed option for the Rockies' bullpen.
Notable Players Who are Actually on the 25-Man Roster:

26. Drew Pomeranz
  • Pomeranz will start the season in Triple A, but only to pitch a game to make sure his thumb is healed and ready to go by April 15. He'll slide right into the fifth spot in the rotation and will have a breakout season. He was easily the best starting pitcher this spring for the Rockies, and will make all of the Rockies' fans and players forget about Ubaldo What's-His-Face.
27. Josh Outman
  • As stated earlier, Outman the hurler is out due to hurling. There's no timetable for his return, but he'll be sporting his stirrups on the mound soon. Expect him to steal either Chatwood's or Rogers' spot in the bullpen. After his return, expect a solid season out of him and a great fan following.
28. Jorge de la Rosa
  • Jorge is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he's expected back in June and is also expected to be plopped right back into the rotation. Barring any setbacks, de la Rosa should be back to form and should be able to get his expected 4+ ERA and 1.5 WHIP with 8 SO/9. His return will give the Rockies a mid-season spark that they might need.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Colorado Rockies' Best Offensive Seasons by Position

C. Chris Iannetta (2008)
.264/.390/.505, 18 Home Runs, 65 RBI, 168 Total Bases

1B. Todd Helton (2000)
.372/.463/.698, 216 Hits, 59 Doubles, 42 Home Runs, 147 RBI 405 Total Bases
Silver Slugger Award

2B. Eric Young Sr. (1996)
.324/.393/.421, 113 Runs Scored, 184 Hits, 53 Stolen Bases
Silver Slugger Award

3B. Vinny Castilla (1998)
.319/.362/.589, 206 Hits, 46 Home Runs, 144 RBI, 390 Total Bases
Silver Slugger Award

SS. Troy Tulowitzki (2011)
.302/.372./.544, 30 Home Runs, 105 RBI, 292 Total Bases
Silver Slugger Award

LF. Matt Holliday (2007)
.340/.405/.607, 216 Hits, 50 Doubles, 36 Home Runs, 137 RBI, 386 Total Bases
Silver Slugger Award

CF. Ellis Burks (1996)
.344/.408/.639, 142 Runs, 40 Home Runs, 128 RBI, 32 Stolen Bases, 392 Total Bases
Silver Slugger Award

RF. Larry Walker (1997)
.366/.452/.720, 143 Runs, 49 Home Runs, 130 RBI, 33 Stolen Bases, 409 Total Bases
Silver Slugger Award

P. Mike Hampton (2001)
.291/.309/.582, 20 Runs, 23 Hits, 7 Home Runs, 16 RBI
Silver Slugger Award

BOLD indicates league leader in the category

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jamie Moyer Aims to Make History with the Colorado Rockies

The year is 1986. Ronald Reagan is the President of the United States of America, with George Bush Sr. as Vice President. The average price for a gallon of gasoline is $0.93, and the population of the United States is 240 million people. The top grossing movie is Top Gun, and the lead actor, Tom Cruise, is an up-and-coming actor with Catholic beliefs. There are 26 major league baseball teams, with the best team being the New York Mets.

Fast forward to the year 2012. Since 1986, we've had a total of 12 years with a Bush as President. Gas prices have gone up $3.00 per gallon, and we've added 72 million people to the U.S. population. Top Gun is now considered a cult classic, and Tom Cruise is now a Scientologist who enjoys making Mission Impossible sequels, which there are three of now. There are now 30 major league baseball teams, with the worst team being the New York Mets.

Jamie Moyer's Rookie Card
A lot has changed since 1986, but there is at least one thing that remains constant, and that's Jamie Moyer. He's still a big league pitcher after all of these years. He made his major league debut on June 16, 1986, and his next scheduled start is on April 10, 2012. Moyer proved to everyone that he's still able to pitch, and with an unfortunate thumb injury to Drew Pomeranz, Jamie Moyer has found himself as the number two starter in the Colorado Rockies' rotation. This will be the 629th game Jamie Moyer starts as a pitcher, which will place him 15th on the all-time games started list in Major League Baseball history. If he wins the game, he will not only be tied with Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer with 268 career wins, which is 35th on the all-time wins list, but he will also become the oldest pitcher in Major League history to record a win.

Earlier in the off-season, right after the Rockies signed Jamie Moyer, I predicted the Rockies' pitching rotation, and I placed Jamie Moyer as the "pitching coach". I will be the first to admit that I was wrong, and I'm glad to see Moyer having a strong start to a welcomed comeback season. It's a bitter-sweet victory as a Rockies' fan, because on one hand I respect Moyer's ability to be successful at the big league level, but on the other hand this means that Moyer, a 49-year-old pitcher, has out-pitched at least a dozen pitchers in the Rockies' organization that are A LOT younger than 49. Tyler Chatwood, Guillermo Moscoso, Josh Outman, and Alex White all find themselves either as relievers or starting the season in Triple-A. They were all key returns for the many trades the Rockies made since the summer of 2011. Instead, the Rockies found success with free agent pitcher, Jamie Moyer, who's been pitching in the big leagues before a lot of these young pitchers were even born. Heck, Jamie Moyer's career is seven years longer than the existence of the Rockies' organization. Seven. The Rockies are entering their 20th season.

I hope Jamie Moyer pitches well for the Rockies in 2012, and I also hope that some of the young pitchers have taken note on how to succeed as a pitcher, even if the pitcher was born when the Texas Rangers were still the Washington Senators, and the president of the United States was John F. Kennedy.

Presidential First Pitches since Jamie Moyer's MLB Debut:

Ronald Reagan 1988

George H.W. Bush 1991

Bill Clinton 1993

George W. Bush 2001

Barack Obama 2009