2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Helton silences doubters but team needs to win homestand

    Mon, April 30, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    If there is one thing that is certain so far in the Colorado Rockies 2012 season, it is that Todd Helton is quieting the critics.

    On Sunday, after spending seven and a half innings on the bench, Helton pinch hit with the bases loaded and two outs. The Rockies’ hopes looked bleak, after another Johan Santana gem against them put them down 4-0. Helton got down in the count 1-2 before drilling a no-doubt grand slam that hit off the facing of the second deck to tie the game.

    Look around and the people calling for Helton to retire four long years ago are nowhere to be found. When the native Tennessean was struggling with a bad back, the only thing anyone said about him was how his best days were behind him. They complained about his contract and blamed him for the team’s failures.

    The doubters were sure that as Helton got older, he would never return to his previous form. The fact that he was only hitting in the neighborhood of 15 home runs per season discounted the fact that he continuously hit over .300 every year and played top-notch defense at first base.

    Helton’s blast left little doubt about how the lefty is feeling. Maybe the extra days off are paying off for Helton.

    Helton’s heroics were entertaining, if not nostalgic, once again reminding fans of just how good they have had it, being able to watch one of the best in the game every day since 1998. However, the heroics came in vain as the Rockies lost in extra innings, giving up a run in both the 10th and 11th innings.

    Three weeks removed from making excuses after another Rockies Sunday loss, Jim Tracy went against his core beliefs and decided not to rest all of his starters on Sunday. With a chance to win the series, Helton was the only regular who wasn’t a part of the lineup.

    It is interesting how the overwhelming reactions from fans seems to have forced Tracy’s hand. Based on his reactions following the Sunday game two weeks ago, the manager had zero intention of changing his mind, even coming close to disrespecting the fans when the notion was brought up by the media following the game.

    After Sunday’s loss, the argument could be made that Tracy was right. That despite a solid lineup, the team still scored zero runs through seven innings. However, the point couldn’t be more opposite. Giving Helton a day off is a good thing. Having him sit on Sundays is fine. If it keeps him healthy, and also provides an opportunity to use Helton for one at-bat when it is most important, as he was used on Sunday.

    The issue with Tracy’s normal version of Sunday lineups is that so manY of the regulars are on the bench at the same time that there is never an opportunity to use Helton to tie it or get back into the game with one good at-bat.

    How Tracy proceeds on Sunday’s should be interesting. Was giving in to fans something that was done for a couple of weeks to keep the critics quiet, or will the new system be kept in place.

    Despite a poor offensive showing, even with the majority of the regulars in the lineup, that shouldn’t be seen as proof that the lineup wasn’t to blame for Sunday shortcomings. Johan Santana was on his game. He extended his scoreless streak against the Rockies to 22 innings. Despite the Rockies seemingly incredible ability to make average pitchers look like Cy Young candidates, Santana was legitimate on Sunday. Sometimes good pitchers run into good hitters and win the battle.

    While the Rockies showed good character by continuing to battle back, even when they seemed all but dead, the team needs to pick things up in order to make the nine-game homestand a good one. The hot Los Angeles Dodgers head to town for three games and the Atlanta Braves heading to Coors Field over the weekend. Winning both series is the only way to make the home stand a successful one.

  • Chacin needs to bear down when facing adversity

    Wed, April 25, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    The Colorado Rockies played two games on Wednesday. In all, they scored three runs on eight hits. Usually, numbers like that would result in two losses. However, the Rockies found a way to win game one, thanks in large part to the legs of Eric Young Jr.

    In game two, the Rockies once again got to see the potential of their prized talent, Jhoulys Chacin. He pitched well into the fifth inning, but then hit the same snag that has been what seems like the final hurdle that Chacin needs to jump in order to be a true top-of-the-order starter.

    In the fifth inning, with one out, Carlos Gonzalez, known for his outfield prowess, dropped two fly balls in a row, resulting in the first two runs for the Pirates. Both balls Gonzalez lost in the afternoon sun. With the game starting immediately after game one, the shadows may have been different than usual, but both balls are typically caught by CarGo.

    After the dropped fly balls, Chacin gave up back-to-back home runs to Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez. The Venezuelan righty should have been on the bench, but ended up having to get two extra outs because of Gonzalez’s issues.

    So it seems like it is all on Gonzalez. He is to blame for the inning spiraling out of control. That is true, but the reality is, this is where Chacin still has to mature.

    Elite pitchers find ways to pick up their defenders. Obviously that can’t always be expected, but the goal is to minimize the damage. All too often, Chacin hasn’t figured out a way to minimize the damage, he has added to it.

    The ball that Jones launched over the right field wall was a change-up that registered 84 MPH on the radar gun, roughly four miles per hour faster than his typical change-up. Catcher Ramon Hernandez was also set up way outside, and the pitch tailed back across the middle of the plate. It was still down in the zone, but a lefty with power loves to see a pitch that is over the plate and still high enough to be called a strike.

    Alvarez’s home run came on a 3-2 pitch that was also low, but again, over the middle of the plate. Leaving a ball in that location, even being low, is not going to serve a Major League pitcher well.

    The two bombs gave the Pirates a 5-0 lead that was more than enough to secure the victory.

    Most will remember the two fairly routine fly balls the Gonzalez dropped in left field, and that was the big reason why the Rockies weren’t in the dugout. However, Chacin showed how vulnerable he still is.

    It is easy to forget that Chacin is still just 24 years old. He still has maturing to do. That game is certainly not on his shoulders, but the reality is, sometimes guys in the field aren’t going to make plays. A pitcher’s job is to minimize that damage.

    On Wednesday afternoon, it seemed like Chacin was unnerved by the mistakes and tried to over-pitch.

    Chacin has the chance to become one of the better pitchers in the league when he doesn’t get flustered by defensive mistakes, but instead bears down and makes pitches to get outs.

  • Rockies bullpen falters but that will happen; at least Cargo’s bat came alive

    Tue, April 24, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Former Colorado Rockies infielder Clint Barmes spoiled another great start by Jamie Moyer.

    The new Pittsburgh Pirate, struggling at the plate in the early going, promptly went 3-for-3 against the Rockies, including two doubles and the game-tying home run off of Matt Belisle in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Pirates went on to win the first game of the three-game set 5-4.

    It was one of those nights that just happens in baseball. As good as the bullpen has been for the Rockies, it is showing cracks.

    Rex Brothers, considered by many to be the closer of the future, struggled for the second consecutive outing. On Sunday he nearly cost the Rockies the game, giving up a walk and a base hit before departing in favor of Belisle.

    Brothers gave up two runs on three hits without recording an out. On Tuesday night it was Josh Roenicke’s turn to get the Rockies out of trouble. He was able to minimize the damage caused by Brothers, but after the Rockies took the lead in the top of the eighth, Belisle couldn’t keep his scoreless streak intact.

    It would be easy to lay blame on Brothers, who cost Moyer another win, but he is a young, hard-throwing lefty. He is going to have struggles. As much as this team went out and got veterans in the offseason, they still have their fair share of young players who are going to need to be afforded time to learn at the big league level. Brothers fits that mold.

    The Rockies offense bailed Brothers out, thanks to Carlos Gonzalez smacking his second home run of the day, but Belisle came in and simply didn’t look as sharp as he has.

    He missed location on Barmes, and as Rockies fans know, if Barmes gets a fastball he can turn on, he is dangerous.

    As good as Belisle has been for the Rockies, it almost seemed like he was due for a bad outing. On Sunday he got the Rockies out of a jam that included getting the three, four and five hole hitters out in consecutive order. On Tuesday he walked his first batter of the season and gave up his first home run since Sept. 6, 2011.

    There isn’t a single manager in baseball who wouldn’t be thrilled with Belisle’s performance, even with the clunker on Tuesday.

    The positive news for the Rockies came twice off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez. The slugger looked good at the plate for the first time since hammering Tim Lincecum on April 11. Having Gonzalez come to life at the plate could bode very well for the Rockies, who will need to sweep Wednesday’s doubleheader if they want to keep their series winning streak alive.

  • It’s way too early to give up on Fowler

    Tue, April 24, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    It’s April. Right now is the perfect time to jump to conclusions, get angry, or feel like your team is going to the World Series.

    Those feelings are all-too-often a mirage of what a team or player really is. Just ask the 2011 Colorado Rockies, who started 11-2 and looked primed for a World Series push.

    For every time someone says it is too early to jump to conclusions, another says that this guy or that guy needs to be shipped off to Triple-A, or called up to the big leagues. It is the nature of small sample sizes.

    The Colorado Rockies are starting to experience a few of those whispers. Tyler Colvin, a former first-round draft choice of the Chicago Cubs, has made some noise in his brief appearances both off of the bench and in the starting lineup for the Rockies.

    The lefty has swung a good bat for the club, proving to be a good pickup by Dan O’Dowd in the early going. In 31 at-bats, Colvin is hitting .323 with a double, a triple and a home run. He also looks comfortable in the outfield and possesses the ability to play first base. Needless to say, his early numbers have been impressive for the Rockies.

    His success, along with a slow start for Dexter Fowler, have led to whispers. Some are calling for O’Dowd and Jim Tracy to insert Colvin in left field and move Carlos Gonzalez to center field, placing Fowler on the bench.

    Looking at the early numbers, it wouldn’t seem to be a bad decision. However, it goes beyond April numbers. Despite the fact that Fowler is hitting just .222 (10-for-45) in the early going, he is showing signs of improvement.

    It may not be easy to see, but Fowler looks more comfortable at the plate. In years past, it seemed like he was worried about striking out, something he took quite a bit of heat for. From the left-hand side of the plate, he was susceptible to the inside slider, waving over it seemingly every time. This year, he seems more comfortable with the pitch, fouling it off more frequently, or laying off of it entirely.

    Again, the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Fowler. He has still struck out 14 times, an alarming amount, while taking only seven walks. Yet, despite a poor showing in spring training, he seems more confident on the field.

    It was well known that Fowler spent his winter in Las Vegas working out with Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki. He bulked up his arms, but almost certainly bulked up his hitting knowledge as well.

    Conversations with guys who have had success certainly helps from the confidence standpoint. However, theory and practice are two separate things. Fowler couldn’t put his new-found knowledge to the test until the season was under way. It will take time for him to become completely comfortable.

    Some would argue that Fowler has had multiple chances, and Fowler himself may agree with this. However, keep in mind how quickly the Rockies rushed him to the big league level. He never played a game above the Double-A level before making his debut, and then with it being a foregone conclusion that he would begin the 2009 season in Colorado Springs, Fowler surprised everyone by becoming the Opening Day center fielder.

    The reality is, Fowler never got the seasoning that he needed at the minor league level. The Rockies rushed him and he had to learn by being thrown into the fire. He has done a sufficient job, playing phenomenal defense while finding his way at the plate. The learning curve with the bat, however, is still going to take time.

    For the Rockies, it is nice to have a guy like Colvin ready in case he is needed, but the guy with the most talent is the guy who has been wearing a Rockies uniform since September of 2008.

    Fowler may have had plenty of chances, but he continues to improve, and I predict will still have a big impact on the 2012 Colorado Rockies.

  • O’Dowd’s moves paying off with Cuddyer and Scutaro

    Fri, April 20, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd takes his fair share of criticism from Rockies fans.

    Some of it, as he would probably admit, is deserved. He has made moves that have backfired. He has waited too long for prospects to develop, hindering their trade value.

    However, for the amount of criticism O’Dowd takes, he doesn’t ever receive praise for the good moves that he does make.

    After the most disappointing season in franchise history in 2011, O’Dowd faced a huge decision. The decision was one that would risk his job.

    Years ago, O’Dowd was part of a group that was convinced to build from within. He believed that having patience with a farm system was the way to go. The plan worked. As the youth movement that caused great pains among Rockies fans came full circle, rewarding the patience of a fan base and a front office, O’Dowd was proven correct.

    However, a few years later, the plan wasn’t working. The clubhouse had become content and stale. As much patience as the club had shown its prospects, those prospects clearly did not have enough pressure on them to perform. They grew content and lacked drive.

    The choice that O’Dowd made could not have been easy. Yet, he pulled the trigger.

    Instead of investing more time into the prospects who hadn’t reached their potential at the Major League level, O’Dowd shipped off the content players who lacked the hunger to maximize their talent.

    It certainly is still early, but the rewards of that decision are already becoming apparent.

    Two of the moves were to acquire Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro. Cuddyer came through free agency, and Scutaro through trade.

    On Friday night in Milwaukee, both players’ baseball savvy was on display. Jason Giambi looped a base hit into left field with the game tied in the top of the 9th inning. Eric Young Jr. pinch ran and moved to second base on a slightly wild pick off. Scutaro was at the plate and squared to bunt with the idea of moving the go-ahead run to third base with one out. When the second baseman couldn’t get the bunt down and was down two strikes, he wisely took the next pitch and drove it to right field, deep enough to allow Young to move up.

    Cuddyer, who was on the bench because of the foul ball he hit off of his big toe on Wednesday, stepped to the plate, hitting for Dexter Fowler. The former Twin looked calmly at the plate and instead of swinging for the fences, he drove a pitch back up the middle of the diamond, scoring Young from third base.

    Those two at-bats, along with Young’s speed, allowed the Rockies to win the baseball game. Of course, it is impossible to know what would have happened had O’Dowd not pulled the trigger on the moves. However, anyone who watched the Rockies in 2010 and 2011 knows that the majority of the time when the team found themselves in a similar situation, the batter’s swing got too big. Instead of allowing the pitcher to feel pressure, the batter tried to do too much. It all too often resulted in failure.

    Both Scutaro and Cuddyer took perfect approaches at the plate in the 9th inning. The professionalism that they displayed was remarkable, and exactly what O’Dowd was looking for.

    Their contributions go beyond Friday night. On Saturday, in the middle of a cold rain, Scutaro got hit by a pitch from Diamondbacks closer and, knowing he was the tying run, bounced up, clapped in the direction of the Rockies dugout, and sprinted to first base.

    Cuddyer has shown professionalism all month long at the plate. Instead of over-swinging, he is wearing out the right-center gap, drilling six doubles already. One of the most difficult things for a player to do is learn to go with a pitch and not roll over on it. Cuddyer shows exactly how it is done.

    For the criticism that O’Dowd takes, he has made some brilliant moves that have helped the Rockies be a better team. Instead of waiting for the next round of prospects to be ready in a couple of years, O’Dowd found a way to get veterans who know how to play the game. They may not make the Rockies favorites, but they might just put them in a place where they can surprise some people.

  • Tulo can’t let struggles affect his leadership

    Fri, April 20, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    In recent days, the question mark for the Colorado Rockies has swung from the starting pitchers, to the team’s best player. When people talk about the Rockies, they are asking what is wrong with Troy Tulowitzki.

    The answer to that question is complicated. Baseball is such a game of highs and lows. It is a game where physical talent can quickly be dwarfed by the mental side of the game. A player can forget how good he is in a hurry and start to believe that he doesn’t belong at that level.

    What is a concern about Tulowitzki’s struggles have been that it isn’t just limited to the offensive side of the game. He isn’t only struggling with the bat and still bringing his Gold Glove into the field.

    Tulowitzki has played in 11 games so far in 2012. He has committed six errors, matching his total for the entire 2011 season. He has committed two errors in a game twice, matching his career total. Everyone knows about offensive slumps, but defensive slumps seem a little strange.

    The shortstop has had his fair share of offensive slumps in his career, but what is concerning is that his defense usually puts him squarely on the top of the highlight shows at least once a week. Tulo’s defense never takes a night off.

    Occasionally, a player in the midst of a slump at the plate will bring that slump with him into the field. They will boot a ball, or make a bad throw because they are thinking so much about what is going wrong at the plate that they can’t focus on defense. However, the opposite rarely seems to happen.

    In this case, it seems like Tulowitzki’s defensive struggles have affected his ability to hit as well, the opposite of a normal slump.

    It all started on Saturday night in the windy, cold rain. After a long rain delay, the Rockies quickly squandered a 5-1 lead. In the process of blowing the lead, Tulo made two errors on routine throws to first base. Routine probably isn’t a fair description with the weather the way it was, but Tulowitzki clearly made concessions for the weather.

    Instead of picking up the ball and firing it to Todd Helton at first base, Tulo looked like he was worried about the ball slipping out, so he pushed it, almost shot put style on both errors. Both times Helton had to come off of the bag to catch the ball.

    The few fans left in the seats may have seen it, but the cameras didn’t catch something very important for those watching the shortstop.

    It was incredibly clear that the errors were eating Troy Tulowitzki alive. He was so upset about it that he almost couldn’t get in position to be ready for the next few pitches. He was staring at his cleats and kicking dirt. The disgust was so evident even from hundreds of feet away from him.

    It looked as if Tulowitzki was bound and determined to make up for both errors with one swing of the bat. Sure enough, in his next two times at the plate, he found himself waving at sliders in the dirt. His swings got bigger, and his plate discipline got smaller.

    The trend continued at the plate for the next three nights, which resulted in a dreadful 0-for-10 at the plate.

    Earlier in the young season, Tulo’s approach at the plate was something that Rockies fans could point to as an area of growth for their superstar shortstop. No longer did it seem like he was trying to yank every pitch deep into the seats. Instead, he was going with the pitch. In fact, on April 11th, Tulowitzki had three situations with a runner on third base and less than two outs. In 2011, it seemed like the shortstop never came through in those situations, always getting himself out. In all three of these situations, however, he worked the count, twice scoring runs on ground outs. The other time the run scored on a wild pitch.

    For Tulowitzki, his passion is his best friend, but it is also his worst enemy. Most would agree that Tulo is one of the game’s best players, not just best shortstops. Much of that is due to his determination and drive. It never seems like he is satisfied with where he is at. He is always looking to get better.

    With that drive, however, comes a lack of balance. He is always trying to do things better, so when things go poorly, he is even more motivated to fix them. Instead of trusting his skills to even the score, he tries to force it, as if he is trying to make up for the shortcomings.

    His greatest attribute also seems to be his greatest weakness.

    For Tulowitzki, he needs to learn how to turn the page. If he is indeed going to be the leader of this team, he needs to figure out how to be happy with a bad night that includes a team win. He has gone as far as admitting that in spring training. Instead of sulking, or being mad when he goes 0-for-4, he needs to be happy that the team won. Instead of being focused on an error, he needs to look at the final score and realize that his teammates picked him up.

    When he teammates see that, it will help them gain even more respect for him. It will show that he is a team player, and not just concerned with his own stats.

    That isn’t to say he can’t get mad when he fails. Tulowitzki needs to be himself. He is a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he does not need to change that. Instead, he needs to figure out a way to let himself get angry, but then turn the page and get over it. He must find a way to rest his mind from the traps of trying to be absolutely perfect.

    If Troy Tulowitzki wants the Colorado Rockies to be his team, he needs to figure out how to not let his ups and downs affect who he is as a leader.

  • Nicasio’s achievement might be bigger than Moyer’s

    Thu, April 19, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    A day after Jamie Moyer made history on the mound at Coors Field, Juan Nicasio accomplished something that should be getting just as much attention as Moyer’s accomplishment.

    Nicasio, still just eight months removed from breaking his C1 vertebrae after getting struck by a line drive, was brilliant for the Colorado Rockies.

    His line hardly reflected how good of an outing he actually had. In 6-2/3 innings, the righty gave up four earned runs on seven hits. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. He left the game with only two runs on the board, but was responsible for two runs that came across after Esmil Rogers took the mound.

    Throw out the numbers with Nicasio. He has three starts under his belt in 2012 and his second one wasn’t pretty. His 6.19 ERA doesn’t accurately reflect how well he has pitched.

    In his first start in Houston, he gave up just one run before in seven innings before a defensive miscue cost him a win after he had left the game. On Wednesday, he ran out of gas after pitching six beautiful innings.

    The thing that is quickly forgotten with Nicasio is that he was rushed to the big league level after the injury to Jorge De La Rosa. He never pitched in Triple-A and wasn’t going to be on the Rockies radar until September 2011, which would put him in a position to battle it out for the fifth spot in the rotation this spring.

    A normal prospect in his position would be fighting for a roster spot in spring. Throw in the fact that he was nearly killed on the mound, was a long shot to walk again, let alone pitch, and he comes back and is a shoe-in for the rotation speaks very highly of who Nicasio is.

    The most impressive part of the Juan Nicasio isn’t that he is back on the mound. It isn’t that he has defied the odds, it is the fact that he pitches with absolutely no fear. He has made it very clear that he isn’t scared to go take the mound after the injury he suffered. Most pitchers would say that, but their first few starts back, the panicked look is written all over their face. Not Nicasio, he genuinely has no fear on the mound.

    As far as the start on Wednesday goes, the most encouraging stat for the Dominican righty is not the win that came along with it, it is the zero that falls under the walks category. Nicasio attacked the strike zone and didn’t become a victim of the free pass as many of the other starters have struggled with early.

    For the Rockies to contend, many things are going to have to go right. Nicasio is a key to the whole thing coming together. He has to pitch above his experience level and above his pay grade for the team to have a chance. After a start like Wednesday’s, there is no reason to believe that he can’t be that guy for the club.

  • Moyer’s victory is testament to his toil

    Wed, April 18, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    It was a joke to many around baseball, and a rallying cry to many cynical Colorado Rockies fans. Jamie Moyer, approaching his 50th birthday, made the starting rotation out of spring training.

    Fans around the league mocked the Rockies for trying to get fans to come out to the game to watch the oldest pitcher in the game. Skeptical Rockies fans used it as an excuse to say that the owners of the club are cheap, something that many casual fans cling to.

    The cry was that the Rockies, who boasted about their farm system for so many years, were so depleted that they ended up going with a guy who was last in a farm system before the Colorado Rockies had ever been thought up.

    Throughout spring training, Moyer made statements that most passed off as typical athlete-to-reporter talk, half-truths that were enough to get the reporter out of his locker. He said that he didn’t care about becoming the oldest Major Leaguer to win a baseball game on the mound, he said that it was about contributing. Of course no one believed him. This is a kid’s game, in most people’s eyes the 49-year old was probably better served retiring and spending time watching his son play baseball at University of California-Irvine.

    The tears that Moyer shed in the clubhouse after the game with interviewers proved that this was about more than some silly record. Moyer said after the game, choking back tears, that this victory was as good of a feeling as his first one in the big leagues. He talked about how long the last year and a half had been, spending all of that time rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, when most around the game mocked him for even considering a return to the mound.

    There are certainly still doubters. There are certainly people who still think the move is crazy, but it doesn’t seem that Moyer has a problem with it. People have been doubting him his whole career. Over a decade before he was a 20-game winner the Cubs released him and asked him to be a coach. The then 28-year old stubbornly declined and opted to go out and win over 200 more wins in his career.

    Those who mock the acquisition are letting their cynicism blind them. Moyer may be exactly what the Rockies have been out to find for the past 20 years. He is someone who can actually pitch.

    See, Moyer doesn’t rely on the strikeout. He simply can’t. The lefty has never touched 90 MPH on the radar gun, and for the most part, his fastball is in the upper-70′s. Most high school games feature pitchers with fastballs moving with higher velocity than what Moyer brings to the mound.

    Those who don’t understand the game make fun of the Rockies for having such a soft thrower. The only problem, the very fact that Moyer has never possessed the ability to throw heat is the exact reason why he is such a good pitcher.

    Without having to rely on a fastball to blow by batters, Moyer has had to learn to hit spots. His just-above-battting-practice velocity means that he can’t afford to miss location, even slightly. Yet, with all of that against him, he has found a way to win 268 games at the Major League level.

    Many of the Rockies pitchers who have come before Moyer could learn a thing or two from him. Many of the young pitchers on the staff currently should be hanging around the southpaw like a crow hangs around a dumpster outside of a restaurant. If a guy with such little velocity can have so much success, imagine what someone with the talent of Jhoulys Chacin or Drew Pomeranz could do with some of that pitching insight.

    This move was no gimmick for the Rockies. Sure, it is an admission that the farm system isn’t where it needs to be, that the pitchers the Rockies have put their future into haven’t turned the corner, but it isn’t a gimmick move to make fans come and see the sideshow. This was a move made to help the Rockies win baseball games.

    For those who are still critics, consider that Moyer, in three starts, possesses an ERA of 2.55, good enough to be among the leaders in the National League.

    A win for the Rockies is good for the fans, but the win for Jamie Moyer is one that should be celebrated by everyone who has been told in life that they didn’t have the talent to do something that they loved. It is a testament to hard work and dedication.

  • Guthrie shouldn’t be ace; Rox need to win home series vs. Padres

    Tue, April 17, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    It is still early. There is no reason to panic.

    However, after 10 baseball games in the 2012 season, it seems as if the Colorado Rockies might think a little higher of themselves than they should be.

    In the midst of an offseason dedicated to rebuilding the clubhouse culture, the Rockies acquired right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie from the Baltimore Orioles. Guthrie was the ace of a struggling Baltimore staff over the past three seasons. While he led the league in losses in 2011, playing in the A.L. East may have skewed those numbers. He has long been viewed as a quality starter, despite poor records.

    The Rockies sold Guthrie to the fans as an “innings-eater,” a guy who would give the team seven innings every time he went out to the mound and make sure the bullpen was well rested. He has pitched over 200 innings in each of the past three seasons.

    Isn’t an “innings-eater” someone who should be occupying the fifth spot in the rotation rather than the No. 1 spot? An “innings-eater” is a guy who will win a few games here and there, but his job is mainly to be dependable enough to go out and give a decent start and give the team a chance to win in between the more dominant starters who can be depended on to win games.

    Rockies fans may remember a true “innings-eater” named Josh Fogg. The former Rockie perfectly defines a guy who is good enough to give his team a chance to win, but not nearly good enough to be considered an ace.

    Make no mistake, Guthrie is a talented pitcher. He knows what he is doing on the mound. The only problem is that an ace of a staff needs to be more than an “innings-eater.” Someone who is the ace of a staff is a guy who needs to make enough pitches to get out of innings when he gives up hits and either possesses the ability to strike batters out, or get double play balls on a regular basis.

    Through three starts, although a small sample size, it seems as if Guthrie might not be a fit as the ace of the staff. So far, he profiles more like Aaron Cook than someone who can lead a team to a playoff run in September. Cook had his dominant days, but generally gave up a bunch of hits and later in his career it was a flip of the coin whether or not he could get that much-needed out.

    To Guthrie’s credit, he managed to keep his pitch count low enough to get through seven innings. The bullpen was in desperate need for a night in which they weren’t required to pick up five or six innings. The reality is though, Guthrie must find a way to get ground balls, especially pitching half of his games at Coors Field, where the home runs will hurt a pitcher less than the huge gaps that a doubles hitter salivates at the thought of.

    It would be nice to mention something positive for the Rockies on Monday night, but it would take hours to mine a few solid details out of a game in which the club looked lethargic and were dominated by Cory Luebke, a good young pitcher, but someone that the club will have to regularly beat if they expect to be taken seriously in the pitching-rich National League West.

    Guthrie certainly wasn’t great, but it would have taken quite the performance for him to beat the Padres anyway. The offense scored one run. They looked confused at the plate, and the lack of energy was eerily similar to 2011.

    The reality for the Rockies is that if they want anyone to believe that they have a chance to contend, they must win games against bad teams. They cannot lose series to teams like the Astros and the Padres. Of course, even good teams lose a few series here and there to bad teams, but for the most part, when a good team runs into a bad team, it is very evident who is superior. They play all around better baseball and find ways to get the job done.

    If the Rockies can’t find a way to do that soon, they will be be trying to play catch-up all season long, something that this team doesn’t seem built to do.

  • Tracy’s Casual Sundays not working for Rockies, fans

    Sun, April 15, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Jim Tracy has a message for Colorado Rockies fans.

    Don’t buy a ticket on Sunday’s. In fact, don’t bother to even watch the game on TV, listen on the radio, or pay attention at all. There is no reason. There is no plan for the team to win the game. It is viewed as an exhibition game, giving non-starters a day to feel like they are getting a chance to play in a big league game.

    The latest example came on Sunday. Tracy took the momentum that the team had built up with two very impressive come-from-behind victories, and threw it away, allowing the Diamondbacks to have an easy victory.

    Tracy used the pathetic excuse of a team that was tired from a rain-delayed game from the previous night to roll out a lineup that is more fitting for Colorado Springs than any Major League park. Todd Helton, the hero from the previous two nights, was on the bench. Ramon Hernandez, the catcher who had homered in two straight ball games, on the bench. Marco Scutaro, the second baseman who inspired energy from the bench after getting plunked in the 9th inning on Saturday, on the bench. Dexter Fowler, searching for his swing and in need of consistent at-bats. On the bench.

    In all, five regular starters were out of the lineup as the Rockies weakly attempted to sweep their division foes.

    The most ridiculous part of Tracy’s decision is that it always seems to come at the expense of a pitcher who should understandably have an extra amount of nerves.

    Last Sunday, the JV lineup came at the expense of Juan Nicasio. The right-handed DominIcan was making his first start on the mound since taking an Ian Desmond liner off the head, causing him to fall and break his neck. Instead of honoring the hard work that Nicasio, who should never have been expected to throw another pitch, let alone pitch within a year of the accident, Tracy sent out a lineup that included his five least productive hitters.

    When Nicasio had still kept the team in the game, Tracy failed to put defensive replacements into the game to help secure it. The Rockies lost 3-2 on a defensive error by a catcher playing third base and an outfielder playing first base.

    In the most recent version, Tracy didn’t back up his rookie starter, Drew Pomeranz, who was making his first start for the Rockies all year long. While Pomeranz clearly didn’t have his best stuff, speculation could suggest that having the majority of regular starters out of the lineup might have led the rookie to feel that he had very little wiggle room.

    After the game, Tracy was asked about fans feeling like they got ripped off by going to a game without many of the stars in the lineup. Tracy seemed very defensive, saying that it this team has guys on it that need rest so that they won’t be completely burned out by August and September.

    The irony of Tracy’s words are that it certainly won’t matter how fresh the regulars are in August and September if the team hasn’t won enough games by then for it to matter. How many fans will care if Todd Helton is in the lineup on September 15th if the team is 15 games out of the race?

    Suggesting that players don’t take days off is slightly ridiculous. Of course a player like Helton, who will turn 39 in August, is going to need some days off along the way. However, take a look at his week. He had last Sunday off, played on Monday in the opener, had a scheduled off-day on Tuesday, was in the lineup on Wednesday, was off on Thursday, played Friday and Saturday, then off again on Sunday.

    Of course Saturday night was a very late game in the cold weather, so it could make sense for some guys to have Sunday off. The only problem is that this team is not a team that can afford to give any games away. This is a team that is going to have to claw and scratch for every single win. They simply do not have the luxury of giving games away.

    The other issue with the Tracy playing the non-regulars on Sunday is that the Diamondbacks had newly acquired Trevor Cahill on the mound. Coming from the American League, very few Rockies have seen him. Taking Sunday off means that players like Helton, Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez and Dexter Fowler will be starting from scratch the next time the Rockies face him, which will give Cahill a huge advantage the next time around as well.

    Tracy’s motives might be in the right place. He wants to keep his bench feeling fresh, and have at-bats so that when they are called upon, they are ready to go. The problem is that when a manager tries to keep 12 hitters fresh, he usually only accomplishes the opposite, and keeps them all from getting into a rhythm.

    If bench players know that they are bench players, and might only come in for a late-night pinch hit and the very occasional start, they can prepare for that. They can get in a mindset that they might only get a few at-bats a week and they have to get in the batting cages more often to keep themselves from getting stale. If they feel that they are going to get two or three starts a week, theIr routine gets out of whack.

    While fans feel frustrated by the continual lineup tinkering, Tracy continues to believe that what he is doing is best for the team.

    The only logical conclusion for fans is that they are going to have to live with these decisions, and hope that the talent on the field can win in spite of Tracy, instead of because of him.