2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • If sticking with pitch-limit plan why not go all out and hire only relievers?

    Fri, August 31, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Sorry Rockies fans, it looks like you are stuck with it.

    Despite the public outcry, despite the national experts’ mockery, despite conventional wisdom suggesting it is a bad idea, and despite mixed results at best, the Colorado Rockies announced this week that they would stick with their paired-pitching experiment into the 2013 season.

    The quasi pitching system has been anything but a success. The limited amount of better pitching that the Rockies have seen could easily be correlated to Bob Apodaca being moved to a different spot within the organization rather than their crazy pitching experiment.

    However, Dan O’Dowd, seemingly shooting for the next Hollywood movie made for him, has deemed it a success, telling Troy Renck of the Denver Post that the club will head into 2013 using the system. However, there will be a twist. Instead of four starters with three “piggy-back” relievers, there will now be an equal number of “piggy-backers,” meaning the Rockies can pair a righty with a lefty, guaranteeing awkward match ups for the opposition.

    Hand this much to the Rockies, they are trying. The issue, however, is that they are trying too hard. They are so desperate to figure out how to win at Coors Field that they have begun to over think it. Instead of pushing better development and better fundamentals, the Rockies have stretched their thinking to believe that they have to come up with a convention-defying theory in order to win.

    The reality, however, is that the way the Rockies are going about exploring their theory simply won’t work. Starting pitchers will hate it. They must be nearly perfect in order to qualify for a win, and ERAs will be bloated due to a lack of innings.

    The other issue that won’t work is the bullpen. The Rockies have been extremely fortunate to have three quality relievers who have been able to shoulder huge loads for the club out of the bullpen. Without the work of Josh Roenicke, Matt Belisle and Adam Ottavino, this team would be in huge trouble. Those three relievers have absolutely nailed down the backside of many games and have been O’Dowd’s saving grace with his theory.

    When push comes to shove, the Rockies may think they are headed down the right road, but there will be many speed bumps along the way. Good luck luring a free agent pitcher to Denver. Coors Field already had a bad reputation, but many pitchers were willing to give it a try. Now, the chances of a starting pitcher, regardless of quality, coming to Coors Field are slim. If a free agent has an offer from the Rockies, and even one additional team, he is likely to take the other offer simply because of the weird situation in Coors Field.

    Young pitchers aren’t going to want to spend the first few years of their careers, when they are establishing their value, pitching three to four innings on average and never winning games. Their agents will be screaming for a trade.

    So, if the Rockies are set on defying traditional baseball, they need to go all out.

    The Rockies should simply ditch the idea of a starting pitcher. Instead of having four starters and four “piggy-back” relievers, the club needs to sign only relief pitchers. They should carry 12 pitchers, with each pitcher going one, possibly two innings per game, and giving at least three pitchers the day off. This system guarantees off days for a quarter of the bullpen on any given night, and allows the flexibility for a manager to mix-and-match every single inning. If there are two lefties coming up in the second inning, the lefty specialist can be used at that point.

    If the idea is that a pitcher starts getting hit hard the third time a batter sees them, then why even let it get close? Maybe the batters shouldn’t see that pitcher even twice.

    The move would allow for a happier pitching staff. Relievers are less focused on quality starts and wins than a starting pitcher, and are conditioned to throw one inning per game. If one reliever can’t get through his inning, the next guy can come in and finish off that inning, and get through his, then be guaranteed the next day off.

    If the team wanted to, they could carry 13 pitchers, giving relievers a little more time off, and putting a buffer in the bullpen if someone needs to come in for a one-batter match up late in the game.

    Using nine pitchers in a game may sound crazy, and it is, but the reality is, what the Rockies are doing isn’t fair to starting pitchers, and it isn’t fair to relievers who are forced to throw day-in and day-out for multiple innings.

    If the Rockies are going to do something unconventional, they should go all out and give free agents a reason to be a part of the plan.

  • Rockies need to get starting rotation to meet potential by 2013

    Wed, August 29, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    It was ugly. It was a reminder of everything that is wrong with the Colorado Rockies. Then suddenly it looked like the Rockies would overcome everything that was so ugly.

    Dreams of a sweep ended quickly when the Dodgers put up six runs in the 3rd inning. However, the Rockies mounted an impressive comeback, plating seven runs in the 8th inning only to fall short, losing 10-8 on a hot afternoon at Coors Field.

    The early part of the game was exactly what has hurt the Rockies in 2012. Starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz was great in the first two innings, requiring just 24 pitches to get through the first two frames. As good as the first two innings were, the third was equally as bad. Six Dodger runs came across in the inning and the Rockies were dead in the water.

    Pomeranz, the crown jewel in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, has shown flashes of the ace that is somewhere within him. In between flashes of brilliance, however, the lefty has struggled mightily. His usual struggle comes from a lack of control, walking batters. Wednesday afternoon’s struggles came from lack of command, but not from outside the strike zone.

    The line for Pomeranz isn’t great. Four innings pitched, five earned runs on six hits, four strikeouts, no walks and a home run given up. However, his defense didn’t help the situation. The scoring in the 4th inning started when Jordan Pacheco dropped a line drive hit by Mark Ellis. Later, Ramon Hernandez couldn’t block a wild pitch, allowing another run to score. Of course, the wild pitch falls on Pomeranz’s shoulders, but the veteran catcher could have helped him out. The scoring was capped when Hanley Ramirez took the lefty deep. Pomeranz then went on to retire four of the next five batters.

    The Rockies would have had a chance, but after a phenomenal relief performance by Adam Ottavino, rookie Will Harris loaded the bases in the 8th inning, then gave up a grand slam to A.J. Ellis, giving the Dodgers a 10-1 lead.

    The June 2012 Rockies would have folded. That team is nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the Rockies fight back. They don’t give up, regardless of the opposing pitcher, the score, the field or the situation. These young Rockies, brought up to replaced the injured veteran Rockies, show an incredible amount of heart. Josh Rutledge added two more hits in his storybook rookie season, DJ LeMahieu went 2-for-5 and Chris Nelson went 3-for-5 as both infielders remain too hot to remove from the lineup.

    The reality is, the Rockies are a bad team. They will finish the season in dead last in the National League West, and they have to make huge changes in philosophy if they want to be respectable in 2013. However, the base is there. The heart and energy behind this young team is ready to win games. The reality is, the success or failure of this franchise hinges on the success of the pitching staff. The talent is there. Pomeranz, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood and eventually Jorge De La Rosa should be good enough to keep the offense in the game long enough to win on most nights. No one is going to argue that a rotation comprised of five of those young men is great, but they should be willing to acknowledge that it is good enough to throw strikes and get outs.

    The issue will be whether or not the Rockies have the right people in place to develop that talent. If they have the right personnel in the front office to impart confidence into those young pitchers, and the ability to allow the talent to develop and find the patience to believe in their young pitchers and allow them to pitch deep into games.

    If the Rockies can find a way to get their starting rotation to pitch up to their potential they could find themselves back in the race in 2013.

  • Opponents and their fans must be thinking, who are these guys?

    Wed, August 29, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    The Colorado Rockies continue their charge. On Tuesday night they soundly defeated the team that has made the most headlines over the past week for the second night in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    The Rockies won 8-4, soundly defeating Chris Capuano, a pitcher who dominated them less than three months ago. The crazy part of the Rockies’ sudden resurgence is the fact that they are doing it with players who most fans didn’t know would factor in to the 2012 season.

    The lineup didn’t include anyone with the last name Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, Helton, or Cuddyer. In fact, the lineup only had three people who were on the Opening Day roster. The reality for the Rockies has been the fact that these young players have been more exciting than the veterans who aren’t in the lineup.

    Josh Rutledge, the future second baseman who is manning shortstop while Tulowitzki rehabs his groin, continued to show that he is for real. In the first inning he nearly hit a home run to straight-away center field. The ball hit off of the top of the wall, as center fielder Matt Kemp ran full speed into the wall for the second consecutive night. Rutledge ended up with a triple, his fourth of the season, and scored the first run of the game.

    It almost seems as if everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop for the shortstop. He has been so good that it continues to seem like he is due for his first big league slump. A slump that brings his batting average back to normalcy and gives him a good, solid reminder that hitting in the big leagues is much more difficult than he is making it look.

    The slump, however, continues to elude him. While waiting for the slump, it has been easy to forget that the Alabama alumni was playing in Single-A Modesto one year ago. His progression has been nothing short of phenomenal and his emergence is a shining light in a very dark tunnel for the Rockies.

    In addition to Rutledge, Wilin Rosario continued to crush the ball. He capped his 3-for-4 night with a no-doubt home run down the left field line and into the first section of seats. The home run was the 23rd of his season, putting him just two home runs shy of the Rockies rookie record for home runs in a season.

    The catcher’s offensive prowess has been well documented. In any other season he is the hands-down Rookie of the Year in the National League. The issue for his candidacy in 2012 is that he is going to be compared to both Bryce Harper, the biggest hype machine the game may have ever seen, and suddenly dominant Diamondbacks rookie Wade Miley, who has come out of nowhere to have a rookie year that will garner him Cy Young votes. The Arizona rookie has 14 wins and an ERA below 3.00 in a park that is widely considered hitter friendly.

    Tyler Chatwood was able to pick up a win, using 80 pitches to get through five innings. The outing was by no means a dominant one. He was constantly battling with runners on base. He walked three Dodger batters and gave up five hits. He was able to control the bleeding, however, giving up only two runs.

    The impressive inning for Chatwood came in the 4th. Chatwood gave up three consecutive hits to load the bases with no one out. The Rockies were staked to a 4-1 lead, but that was looking like it would be a short-lived lead.

    Chatwood, instead of succumbing to the pressure, got Adam Kennedy to ground into a double play, scoring one run, then walked AJ Ellis to put opposing pitcher Chris Capuano at the plate with two outs. Capuano struck out and Chatwood escaped with only giving up a single run in an inning that looked like it would chase him from the game.

    The Rockies are looking like they are climbing out of the hole that they dug through the first four months of the season. They are fun to watch again. The young players are looking very good and they play the game the right way.

    The fear is that the resurgence will numb the pain that came with the failures of the season. The fact is, this 2012 season has been an absolute disaster and should not come and go without serious consequences. Despite the recent success, the sobering reality is that the team is still 22 games under .500, and six games out of fourth place in the National League West behind the hapless, identity-confused San Diego Padres.

    The success is fun to watch, but there must be consequences for a lost season. The excitement of August simply overwrite the disappointment of the first four months. The damage has been done, and action must be taken.

  • Young Rockies provide hope for this, next season

    Wed, August 29, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Most baseball fans don’t know the names of the majority of the guys in the starting lineup for the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

    The Rockies were supposed to be the other team in the continuing Los Angeles Dodgers celebration tour following their acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and the injured Carl Crawford. The young Rockies, coming into their own, spoiled the party, putting up an 8-run 8th inning en route to a 10-0 victory.

    The calendar flipped from July to August and suddenly the Rockies are playing good baseball. They aren’t getting lucky. They are playing fundamental baseball, moving runners over, hitting the ball to the right side, taking good at-bats, and, most importantly, throwing strikes.

    The Rockies’ young players have added a new dynamic to this team. For whatever reason, Colorado is now playing with confidence, hitting to all fields, and playing the game the right way.

    The score doesn’t do the game justice, which was in doubt when Jeff Francis got two outs with the tying runs in scoring position in the 5th inning. Francis pitched like the veteran that the club hoped for when they picked him up in June. He went five strong innings, striking out six, while only giving up three hits and one walk.

    Beyond Francis, the young lineup set the tone from the very beginning of the game. Spoiling Josh Beckett’s Dodgers debut only took two pitches. That is when Tyler Colvin, Dan O’Dowd’s best offseason acquisition, crushed a pitch deep into the mezzanine level in left-center field. After the home run, Beckett settled in, giving up only a lone run in 4th inning before Josh Rutledge chased him from the game with a pinch-hit single to center field that scored Chris Nelson and pushed Jonathan Herrera to third base.

    There was no one offensive hero for the night, despite the Rockies putting up 10 runs. Chris Nelson made a case for himself, coming up a home run shy of the cycle and scoring three runs on the night.

    DJ LeMahieu also continued his torrid pace. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, making the Ian Stewart trade to the Cubs that brought both Colvin and LeMahieu to Denver look even better for the Rockies. His continued good play is going to make for an interesting 2013 spring training in a battle for roster spots.

    Nelson wasn’t the only Rockie to post three hits, Herrera also added three hits of his own, and missed a fourth when Matt Kemp had him played perfectly on a line drive up the middle.

    The only young Rockie that didn’t have a hit going into the late innings was catcher Wilin Rosario. After three strikeouts he wasn’t getting in on the action. That changed when he smashed a riding fastball deep into the bullpen. The home run was Rosario’s 21st of the season. He is now just four home runs shy of the Rockies rookie home run record set in 1998 by the great Todd Helton.

    The amazing thing about Rosario’s accomplishment is how few at-bats he has taken in order to hit his 21 home runs. The catcher, playing part time due to being a rookie and as a concession to his legs, only has 306 plate appearances. Consider the fact that most everyday players finish a season with somewhere between 600 and 700 at bats, the number of home runs by Rosario becomes even more impressive.

    As bad of a season as it has been, the Rockies will have a big debate as they head back to Scottsdale in February. With LeMahieu showing that he is capable, both at the plate and in the field. With Jordan Pacheco hitting like crazy and becoming a far better defender as the year has gone on, and Nelson finally realizing his potential and having no options left with Herrera, there should be a fierce battle for roster spots.

    Of course, for Rockies fans, the best-case scenario is a bunch of talented baseball players fighting it out for jobs. It means that even if there has to be a couple of odd men out, the team is that much better and puts very good players in bench roles, which gives the club great options and depth.

    The Rockies now have 52 wins. They need 11 more wins to avoid the dreaded 100 loss mark. They also need 16 wins to avoid their worst season ever. If they continue to play the way they have been since August began, neither of those numbers should be unattainable. Even suggesting that this team wouldn’t lose 100 games two months ago was laughable. They were well on their way to futility and being the embarrassment of the league.

    The young Rockies who are contributing are making it seem that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for this franchise.

  • Going back to five-man rotation is good, keeping 75-pitch count is not

    Thu, August 23, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    These Colorado Rockies are looking more like a good team than a team that was on a collision course with 100 loses less than two weeks ago.

    On Thursday afternoon in New York, the Rockies completed a four-game sweep of the Mets, their second in as many years. They won in a different fashion to complete the sweep, winning 1-0 in a rare pitchers dual.

    The Rockies win spoiled a phenomenal Major League debut from Mets starter Collin McHugh. The rookie baffled Rockies batters for seven innings. He gave up just two hits, walking one and striking out nine. It would have been a more memorable debut, however, if the Rockies pitching hadn’t have been just as tough.

    Starter Tyler Chatwood, despite not giving up a run, was lifted after three innings. Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, Will Harris, and Matt Belisle combined for six shutout innings in relief, giving up one hit apiece.

    Despite the success of McHugh, the Rockies pitching staff kept the team in the game long enough to scratch a run across. That run came in the 8th inning, when Tyler Colvin drilled a triple to center field, barely getting over the glove of Jordany Valdespin. Immediately following, Chris Nelson trickled a grounder past a drawn-in infield for the game’s only run.

    The Rockies got their sweep, making them winners of 11-of their last-16 games, including winning 7-of-10 on the road. Suddenly, with the team playing much better the thoughts are moving to how quickly the Rockies can return to contention. Is this a team that can return from the depths of despair that they have experienced in 2012 and suddenly be a contender in 2013? That remains to be seen.

    The news of the day, besides the Rockies sweep, came from the dugout before the game. Rockies manager Jim Tracy announced before the game that the club will return to the conventional 5-man rotation. It sounded like the first step toward rationality that anyone had heard from the Rockies since they announced the hair-brained idea. However, the happy news was quickly squelched when Tracy announced the next part.

    A four-man rotation is done, but the starting pitchers will still be limited to 75 pitches. The logic makes no sense. The idea behind the pitch limit previously was that if the starters were going to be going every fourth day, they would need to not throw as many pitches so that they would be fresh for their next time out.

    Suddenly with a five-man rotation, the pitch count is still in effect. What that says is that the Rockies are more convinced of their theory that a pitcher gives up more runs and hits the third time through the order than they are that a pitcher needs to not be worn out to pitch.

    However, the bigger message that the Rockies are sending their starting pitchers is that they have to attack the strike zone. The message is a punitive one. It is a statement that there will be consequences for walking batters and that the starting pitchers cannot be lackadaisical about the way they throw their pitches.

    The problem is that these are mostly young pitchers. The idea that these pitchers are walking batters because they don’t want to throw strikes is simply ridiculous. The young pitchers are doing everything that they can to be successful in this league. The Rockies starting pitchers are also dealing with the fact the their front office continually tells them that not only is pitching in their home park next to impossible, but also that it will eventually hurt their arm.

    These are the types of actions that hurt the team more than any other. The young pitchers need to be building confidence. It is difficult enough to pitch at the big league level. There is enough that a young pitcher has to focus on. The last thing that they need to think about is whether or not their manager is going to come yank them out of the game for walking a few batters or giving up a few hits. They need to be given the room to grow up at the big league level and figure out how to win.

    The Rockies are playing well. However, the dark rain cloud that hangs over the teams success is that the guys pulling the puppet strings are not putting this team in a position to win. That must change in order for the team to have success.

  • The drive to avoid 100 losses continues apace

    Thu, August 23, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    The Colorado Rockies, the team that went into August as just a few games better than the lowly Houston Astros have suddenly found their stride. The Rockies took their third straight game from the New York Mets 5-2 on Wednesday night.

    Colorado, with the win, has won six of their last nine games on the road, a place where even the best Rockies teams have struggled. The Rockies have a rare opportunity to sweep the Mets in a four-game series for the second time in as many years.

    Matt Harvey thoroughly dominated the Rockies for the Mets. He struck out nine in his six innings of work, giving up only one run. With Harvey dominating, the Rockies were given a break when he was replaced by Ramon Ramirez in the 7th inning.

    Ramirez is a very good late-inning reliever, but the Rockies seemed to have his number. Wilin Rosario, who would have far more attention had Bryce Harper not made his big league debut, and the Rockies not been so far out of the race, launched a moon shot down the left-field line. The ball sailed so high and so close to the line that the questions were both whether it could be foul, and whether it would make it to the seats. It did both.

    With the long ball, Rosario now has 20 home runs in his rookie campaign. His progression on the offensive side has been remarkable. His defense has been shaky, at best, but the reality is, for him to be hitting 20 home runs in his rookie season is impressive. Also to be considered should be the fact that Rosario never played at Triple-A. Even more impressive is that no one can get away with calling the Dominican a Coors Field hitter. Before his 1-for-3 performance on Wednesday, Rosario was hitting .261 on the road as opposed to .237 at home. He now has eight home runs on the road and 12 at home.

    As bad of a season as it has been for the Rockies, Rosario has been a bright spot. The only knock against Rosario is the fact that his defense struggles. His offense has more than balanced out the poor play behind the plate.

    The Rockies got another very good start from Jeff Francis. The lefty, after a brief bump in the road, has once again proven himself to be a good pickup for the club. As weird as the 75-pitch piggy-back system is, Francis seems to be the perfect fit for it. His five innings on Wednesday kept the Rockies in a position to be able to win. He gave up one run, a sacrifice fly in the 1st inning, then settled in for four more solid innings. Francis struck out four and walked two in his five innings that ended in a no-decision.

    Games like Wednesday nights are games that the Rockies usually lose. They looked lost at the plate against Harvey. The right-hander looked great. He throws in the mid-90′s with little effort, and his ball has run on it that makes him tough for both right-handers and left-handers to hit.

    However, the team continued to battle and when they got Harvey out of the game, they took advantage of the Mets bullpen. Some of the reason the Rockies seem to be playing well is that they are playing with a little more aggressiveness on the bases. Usually Jim Tracy’s aggressive base running ends with the contact play, the ill-conceived idea that a runner at third darts home regardless of where the ball is hit. Rockies fans have seen that play backfire time and time again, watching the likes of Todd Helton get thrown out by 30 feet when a tapper is hit back to the mound.

    On Wednesday, though, Tracy pulled the trigger on a suicide squeeze when Tyler Colvin was at third base and DJ LeMahieu at the plate. Colvin took off for home and LeMahieu got the perfect bunt down. Ramirez tried to sweep the ball to the plate with his glove, but whiffed, allowing LeMahieu to get to first and the run to score.

    That type of aggressiveness is what causes good things to happen. It forces the issue. Of course it has the chance to blow up in the team’s face, however, it gets things in motion and forces the opposing team to make plays. It is different than the contact play because it controls the batter as well as the runner, it doesn’t just hope that the batter will hit the ball to the right spot.

    The Rockies continue to roll. Despite the season being lost, the more wins that the team can collect, the lower the likelihood that they will lose 100 games for the first time in franchise history.

  • Chacin outing very encouraging, team trying hard not to lose 100

    Tue, August 21, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Suffering Colorado Rockies fans were reminded on Tuesday night why they had so much hope heading into the 2012 season.

    Jhoulys Chacin returned from a nearly four-month absence due to injury and looked like the Chacin that the Rockies thought was going to be their future ace before he became the first of many head-scratchers that the Rockies have encountered in this failed season. Tuesday saw Chacin help the Rockies to a 6-2 victory.

    Chacin pitched brilliantly. He gave the Rockies six innings, giving up just one run on four hits. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out two. The return to the mound had Rockies fans wondering what might have been had the Venezuelan been healthy all season long.

    The right-hander had his good stuff on Tuesday, baffling Mets batters all night long with a slider that had as good movement as the Rockies have seen since he made his debut in 2009.

    Chacin was good, but for a while it looked like he might get a no-decision, at best. In fact, Mets starter Chris Young was perfect through five innings. The game was getting to the point where fans had to start wondering if they were witnessing something very special. Instead, DJ LeMahieu removed all doubt, hitting a single back up the middle to lead off the 6th inning, removing all doubt.

    With the perfect game over, suddenly the Rockies had figured out Young. Jonathan Herrera followed with a sharp single to right field, then Chacin laid down a sacrifice bunt that Young airmailed to first base, allowing Chacin to be safe at first and bringing LeMahieu home and moving Herrera to third. Following the error, Charlie Blackmon looped a single into left field, scoring Herrera and planting Chacin at third. Suddenly the Rockies went from blowing a great return outing, to having a commanding lead. By the time the inning was over, the Rockies held a 4-1 lead.

    There are many reasons why the Rockies have under-performed. However, the biggest reason for the club’s lack of success has been their starting pitching. Therefore, the injury to Chacin hurt the club more than anything else in 2012.

    If Chacin had been healthy, would the Rockies have had enough of a stopper to keep them respectable for a little while longer? Would Chacin have been able to stop the bleeding every fifth day and save the bullpen from all of the innings that they have been forced to eat? Almost certainly the Rockies season wouldn’t have put them in a position to contend, but possibly a quality starter mixed in to the failure that has been the Rockies would have put them in a much better position.

    Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Assuming the Rockies would have been a better team with Chacin is just that, an assumption. The season remains lost, despite some recent encouraging play.

    With young players getting the majority of the playing time, and the team suddenly surging, the question remains for the Rockies, why does the recurring theme continue to play out that when there is nothing left to play for, the Rockies suddenly start to play like they have to win every game.

    Is it a culture issue? Have Dan O’Dowd and Jim Tracy created an atmosphere where the pressure to win is so great that the team plays tight? Is there an amount of over thinking that makes the team get inside their own heads before they ever take the field?

    Whatever the reason, once again the Rockies are playing well when the pressure is off. The good news for Rockies fans is that every night that the team picks up a win, the less chance there is that the franchise will shed its title as one of two teams that has never lost 100 games.

    The Rockies look for the series victory on Wednesday night in New York.

  • Spring has sprung for Rockies, who must act looking forward to 2013

    Tue, August 21, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    As much heat as Dan O’Dowd takes, there is one thing that is certain. His trade of Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to the Chicago Cubs for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu was a huge win for the Colorado Rockies.

    On Monday night, the Rockies got another huge game from Colvin. The 26-year-old recorded two of the Rockies’ six hits on the night. He also was the first to conquer one of the National League’s best starting pitchers in RA Dickey. The knuckleballer owned the Rockies lineup until Colvin came to the plate in the 5th inning and launched a knuckleball deep into the upper deck at Citi Field. The bomb tied the game at one and gave the Rockies hope.

    Colvin recorded his second hit in the 9th inning, pushing Dexter Fowler to third base and setting up a Ramon Hernandez RBI immediately afterward as the Rockies added an insurance run.

    The Rockies were in need of someone to step up and lead the offense. It seems that anyone who has contributed to any sort of success on this team at the plate has found themselves either on the disabled list, or available only in emergency situations. Joining the long list of injured Rockies includes Eric Young and Josh Rutledge. Michael Cuddyer also finds himself back on the disabled list after re-aggravating his strained oblique on Saturday night.

    Colvin not only contributed offensively, he played well at first base. He snagged a Jordany Valdespin smash down the first base line in the 8th inning, collected himself and threw to Matt Belisle covering the bag to barely beat the runner. The out ended the Mets threat in the 8th inning when the Rockies held a one-run lead.

    The lineup for the Rockies consisted of only three players who were in the starting lineup on Opening Day in Houston. As the injuries have mounted for the Rockies lineup, the team is in desperate need for some of the young hitters to step up and fill the gap of the veterans who are on the disabled list. With the pitching situation, the Rockies don’t have the opportunity to not score runs. That means the guys called up from the minors really need to play above their pay grade.

    On the mound for the Rockies, Alex White was solid. He only made it through four innings, throwing 83 pitches, but he only allowed one run. He struck out four and walked two, which led to the high pitch count. White is improving, but throwing just four innings isn’t going to impress anyone.

    At some point, the Rockies need to decide if they are helping their young pitchers improve, or if they are hindering their development with their 75-pitch, 4-man rotation theory. Two days in a row, the Rockies got similar performances from both of their young starting pitchers in White and Drew Pomeranz. Their inefficiencies hold them back. However, if they were able to hit the 100 to 110 pitch mark, would they start pitching better? Would they not have the overarching feeling that they only have 75 pitches to get the job done and feel the pressure of having to be perfect in order to record a win?

    The goal for the rest of the Rockies season is to see who is good enough to stick around, who needs more time in the minors, and who needs to find out if they can be valuable to another organization. It is also a time where the Rockies need to overemphasize that winning is important. They need to avoid the 100-loss mark, and make it a goal to stay as far from that number as possible.

    The reality is, spring training has started for 2013 for this Rockies franchise. They get the opportunity to prepare for 2013 for far longer than most teams. Because they have been so bad, they get an extended look to see where they need to get better, and what parts are good enough. They must take advantage of this time and fix the things that are broken.

  • Arenada should be good, but don’t forget about Pacheco

    Mon, August 20, 2012 by admin with no comments

    The Colorado Rockies have known who their third baseman of the future is since the MVP award for the Arizona Fall League was handed to Nolan Arenado last fall. The talk won’t quiet down about when it will be the right time to get him to the big leagues.

    However, that call to the bigs has been delayed. The delay is courtesy of often-forgotten third baseman Jordan Pacheco.

    The New Mexico native was supposed to be a stop-gap. He was drafted as a second baseman, moved to catcher, then moved to third base after finally getting comfortable behind the plate. He was supposed to be a utility infielder, a guy who could come in and play first or third base, or even catch if need be.

    That was the plan for the Rockies. Pacheco has shown that the Rockies plan for him didn’t line up with his plan for himself.

    Early in the season Pacheco showed the ugly signs of never playing the hot corner. He looked like an absolute liability. He left fans hoping that Arenado’s stint in Double-A Tulsa would be a short one, making his big league debut some time in June.

    As the season has gone forward, Pacheco has done nothing but get better defensively, and more importantly, he has done nothing but hit.

    On Sunday, the stop-gap rookie improved his batting average to .312 with a three-hit performance. He is leading all rookies in batting average in 2012.

    In a season full of disappointments, the bright spots have come from the younger players. Pacheco is at the top of that list. He is the latest example of a guy who no one thought would be good enough to be more than a utility type of player, but is showing that he belongs in the big leagues, and that he belongs in the everyday lineup.

    His home run on Sunday, a 2-run shot that gave the Rockies the lead, and was good enough to give them the victory, was just his second of the season. If there is a complaint about Pacheco’s game, it is that he doesn’t hit for enough power to play third base. Traditionally, corner defensive positions supply the bulk of a team’s power.

    The fact that Pacheco is more of a doubles hitter and not a home run hitter should be thrown out the window when considering his role moving forward. The fact is, a team shouldn’t care where the power is coming from on the defensive side of the field as long as it is getting supplied.

    When healthy, Troy Tulowitzki can be penciled in for 25 home runs before the season even begins. Essentially, he is a shortstop who is providing third base type power numbers. So if the shortstop provides third base power numbers, shouldn’t it be acceptable for the third baseman to provide shortstop power numbers?

    Of course, every team would love to have both. Every team would love the opportunity to couple a hitter with big-time pop at third base when they have a hitter like Tulowitzki at shortstop. However, the reality is, most teams would also love to have a third baseman who isn’t intimidated by even the best pitchers, and in his rookie year shows the ability to hit well above .300.

    The reality is, everyone still thinks that Pacheco is simply a place holder for Arenado. The reality should be the opposite. Pacheco has shown that he can play the position and hit for high average. Maybe it is time to start considering Arenado for a position switch of his own. Maybe Arenado would make a good first baseman and be able to replace the aging Todd Helton.

    Whatever the circumstances, whether Arenado comes up and proves he belongs at third base shouldn’t change the fact that Pacheco has shown that he can play, and that he can hit extremely well. He needs to have a position found for him, because his bat could be a very important part of the Rockies lineup moving forward.

  • Rockies are afterthought during Broncos exhibition; need to make offseason moves

    Sat, August 18, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    It was the “other” game in Denver on Saturday night.

    It is sad when the Colorado Rockies, two years removed from a chance to steal the show in Colorado, are an afterthought compared to a Broncos preseason game, one in which the starters were done by half time.

    This is the time of year when fans should be paying attention to the Broncos in the background, knowing that the games a few miles away at Sports Authority Field don’t mean as much as the one being played at Coors Field.

    However, that simply isn’t the case for the Rockies. Their games have been an exercise in futility since the beginning of June.

    With Peyton Manning taking center stage in Denver, the Rockies have been relegated to the little brother who only needs gets attention every now and then. Frankly, they have done that to themselves.

    With the attention off of the Rockies, the reality is, they have suddenly become more interesting to watch. The young players have started to make an impact. Wilin Rosario went 2-for-4 with a double and a single. The only reason the single didn’t go for his second double of the night was because third base umpire Dan Belino got nailed with the ball as it was screaming down the line.

    Although his second half hasn’t been as good as his impressive first half, Tyler Colvin is still making an impact. He recorded three hits on Saturday night, including three RBIs, two of which came in the 9th inning with two outs.

    The Rockies should be an interesting team to follow through the offseason. They seem to almost be back in the mode that they were in around 2006 when a fresh group of prospects began to make a splash at the big league level. Of course, no one is saying that the Rockies are going to make a surprise trip to the World Series one year from now, however, they seem to have the talent to make a quick turnaround.

    That turnaround could be greatly aided by the moves that the front office will either make, or chose not to make in the offseason. Will they retain Dan O’Dowd, and ultimately Jim Tracy, or will they make a change at the top, which would ultimately lead to a new manager, and a new way of playing baseball, being put into place.

    This team is starting to discover an identity. It is encouraging to see, especially considering how bad things have been in 2012. The reality is, the Rockies are in a huge hurry to have nearly everyone forget that 2012 existed. However, it may have been necessary to send this team in the direction that they need to go to be the most successful in the shortest amount of time.