Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rockies Treading Water

Nearing the end of April the Rockies have a fairly solid 11-10 record. They're treading right around .500 but have to fight to stay there until the team regains its health. Coming into the season, the team was touted for its depth. With new injuries to Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel and Brad Hawpe, (and 3 key players on my fantasy team... all in one weekend!? WTF!), in addition to the demotion of Chris Iannetta, The Rockies have some serious holes that this depth needs to fill. They have some questions, but they have some answers.

Questions for the Rockies:
Will Clint Barmes learn how to hit?  After watching most of every Rockies game this year, I have trouble racking my brain to come up with any quality at bats Barmes has had. Granted any professional player is going to run into a ball, but Clinton (my name for #12) continues to swing at low and away sliders and 'cover' the plate by swinging at pitches 3-feet out of the zone. Todd-Father covers pitches that could be called for strikes; Clinton covers pitches that could be tallied as wild pitches. But Clinton has positives: he's still solid on defense, and isn't afraid to take one for the team.

Will Chris Iannetta earn his contract? The guy touted to posses a great arm, call a good game and have the Hammer of Thor as a bat is now riding the bus in triple-A. I don't know what his deal is. He hit the first walk-off home run I have ever witnessed in person, yet can't read the location of a fastball out of a pitchers hand. Jim Tracy thinks it's in his head, and I hope so. But then again, Miguel Olivo is looking sharp.

Answers for the Rockies:
Cha-cha-cha cha cha-cha cha cha cha-cha cha TULO... now featuring a good April! Watch out Mr. Pujols, you may not earn all the first-place MVP votes this year (don't get me wrong, The Machine will win, machines always win). I fear the day when Tulo finds his home run stroke, and single handedly picks the Rockies up during a time where their pitching may begin to struggle (the bullpen looks fantastic, but I want to wait and see if their stellar ERA is inflated by cleaning up Jason Hammel's frequent blow-up starts) with a bunch of young guys coming in to fill the holes. Anywho, Tulo is hitting .325/.374/.458 (average/on-base/slugging). His slugging numbers should improve as he continues to crank out doubles and starts bashing more homers. 

Ian Stewart is quietly having a tremendous start to his season. With a batting clip of .310/.398/.594, he has clearly listened to the guidance of hitting coach Don Baylor. Apparently he has shortened up his swing coming into this season, but my untrained eye still sees a guy who has a looping, swing for the fences type swing. Whatever his swing looks like doesn't matter, so long as he hits the ball hard.

Cargo batting 5th? If the Rockies want to play little EY at second base while Barmes figures out what he's doing, I am a big fan of seeing CarGo in the 5-hole. Obviously this is Hawpe's spot in the order when he comes back, but CarGo can mash the ball from this spot in the order. Does he ever seem to have a bad day?
above: is he back?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

And we're off... enthusiastically

The next six months will be a blur. As all baseball seasons progress, the fan enters three levels of enthusiasm. To start, we have the April hype. This stage involves fantasy drafts, opening day sellouts (even in Pittsburgh) and outlandish expectations for every team. Once we progress a couple weeks and start to notice trends, some will make outlandish predictions. There will be random teams and players that surprise us and writers will proceed to write them in (opposite of write them off). But we fans can't help ourselves... Carlos Gonzalez has a .533 batting average and an OPS of 1.133; MVP! MVP! Let's look at the standings on May 1, 2009 and see if we can grasp where the season was at at that point. Four-of-six division leaders on that date (Blue Jays, White Sox, Mariners & Marlins) missed the playoffs. The Rockies were in last place in the NL West, and the eventual AL West champion Angels were 4-games under .500. As far as I'm concerned, April is just an extension of spring training. But is that going to stop be from attending a bunch of Rockies games this April? Hell no! The point is that what happens in April doesn't really matter, but it is great to have baseball back.

The second level of enthusiasm is when the calender officially turns to summer. Hockey and basketball have crowned their champions and the general sports fan starts turning towards baseball. And for the Rockies, this means that they will finally kick it into gear and play to their potential. This is the time of year people start using phrases like "potential MVP candidate" and "this guy was in double-A to start the season and now he's raking in the majors." The transition into summer is appreciated by many fans because they can go to night games wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops. And yours truly appreciates it especially in 2010 because he can spend $6 for a beer at Coors Field. Summer has become my favorite time of year specifically because of baseball. It's like a friend that is there every single day to keep you company. Sometimes they make you mad. Sometimes they make you happy. And sometimes it's raining outside so your friend can't come over and play.  You start to depend on having a baseball game on TV or the radio every day... baseball, my anti-drug.

The third level of enthusiasm comes comes at the end of the season, obviously, and contains all the jubilation of the playoff push and playoffs themselves. At the end of the season, I have people telling me, "Oh, I thought the Rockies sucked this year." My reply is usually, "No, we were solid all year, have you even been watching?" Many people don't understand the satisfaction of making the playoffs after you have been watching the team the WHOLE year. When the Rockies clinched last year, I felt like I had succeeded as a fan. I stuck with the team through an underwhelming '08 season, then saw them flourish in '09 (and don't ask me if I jumped on the bandwagon in '07, I was before. I've kept tabs on the Rockies throughout there existence, and became a religious fanatic in 2006. Yes, only four years, but you have to start somewhere, okay!?). The routine in September borders on insanity for many fellow baseball fans. I check the standings every hour just in case I misread it the last time. Then clinch day comes; it comes for all teams in some form... the clinch of playoffs, or the clinch of elimination. Happiness mixed with sadness. Where did the season go? That's all for now. GO ROCKIES!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MLB and Rockies Preview Podcast

Listen up! In this week's podcast, we three -myself, Kieran and Brewster- attempt to make complete sentences to explain our joy entering the 2010 baseball season. An extensive Rockies conversation is near the end, so I won't feel hurt if you fast forward to the good stuff.

or click here