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Colorado Rockies Take Tough Loss

Two games…that was two games.

The Rockies just dropped one of the most emotionally exhausting games I’ve ever seen, 12-11. Hey, it’s football season, so I guess they needed to have a football game score.

The big number now is 6.5 games. If the Rockies had won, it would have been 4.5 games. That’s how big it is to play the team currently in the lead of the National League wild-card race, the Philadelphia Phillies.

This was a makeup game from a rainout earlier in the season—a one-game home stand at Coors Field squeezed into a six-game road trip. The Rockies fly right back out to San Diego for a three-game series with the National League West-leading San Diego Padres.

I can’t imagine what the Rockies are feeling right now. I know how drained I am, and I’m not playing. But the Rockies have to win baseball games. That’s what winning teams do…they win. Pretty simple concept, but that’s where we are in the season.

Yeah, it’s tough for the Rockies to hit on the road. Yeah, it’s particularly tough for the Rockies to hit in PETCO Park. Yeah, it’s a tough week of travel on top of all that. Tough.

The Rockies have to win this series, if not sweep it. That’s it. No excuses are left. No room for errors. It doesn’t matter if Mark Belisle’s arm finally fell off in the seventh inning at Coors against the Phillies, or if Matt Reynolds finally proved he’s human, or if Joe Beimel still has whiplash from watching Chase Utley’s homer go out.

The Rockies’ new bullpen arm acquisition from the Boston Red Sox, Manny Delcarmen, met the team for the first time Thursday, and then he got a chance to show what he can do for the Rockies. Four runs on four hits and only one out in the seventh inning…he’ll fit right in.

“Not the way I wanted my first day to go, but I want to get the ball and get back out there,” said Delcarmen, who allowed Jayson Werth’s 19th homer on a bad change-up that tied it at seven (quote from Yahoo! Sports and the AP). Funny…I don’t have the same desire to see you have the ball.

Carlos Gonzalez should have been given two runs for his single-shot home run…that got out of there faster than the crowd after someone yells, “Cops!” at a backroom casino.

The clock is running out. Keep fighting, Rockies…I know I don’t have it in me after Thursday’s game. The good news: The Padres are only 3-7 in their last 10 games. A sweep of the Friars would put the Rockies only 4.5 games back in the National League West race.

This article also featured on The Rockies Reporter and on My Team Rivals: Rockies.

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For the Colorado Rockies, the Playoffs Start Now

That was a difficult series to take. With the win on Monday, the Rockies were riding high—3.5 games out of the wild card and gaining ground with a rare road win.

Two games later, and two close losses later…well, it’s not as happy times. There is no joy in D-ville.

The Rockies continue to be a tale of two teams with extremes I’ve never seen before. Home, they are a smooth team, with the best hitting numbers in the National League. On the road, they are one of the worst teams in the league.

Against the Giants, the Rockies scored only five runs in three games. Yeah, yeah, San Francisco’s AT&T Park is a pitcher’s park. But the Rockies make any fourth starter that you never heard of look like a Cy Young candidate on the road; the Rockies make AT&T look much tougher to hit in than it really is.

The Rockies had their ace Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound looking for his 18th win, and the last four times he’s started, the Rockies didn’t come through for him. This one wasn’t on Jimenez, who threw a complete game and only gave up two runs and struck out 10 Giants.

This one ended because of some crazy plays and some incredible baserunning aggressiveness, which you have to have when playing small ball. But it still ended up as a loss for the Colorado Rockies.

Another road loss. Another game where the Rockies couldn’t score.

The big question, are the Rockies done? Technically, no—which is great, as we are playing semi-meaningful games in September. It wasn’t that many years ago, before the Gen-R gang arrived, when the Rockies weren’t playing meaningful games in June. To be only 5.5 games out at the first of September is a good thing when you look at the big picture.

However, I’ve never seen a team that can’t score or win on the road actually make the playoffs. This Jekyll and Hyde syndrome the Rockies have this year is pretty extreme. Ultimately it’s too much to overcome. Every team drops off on the road. Hitting numbers and winning percentages go down on the road, and that’s normal. Not to the extreme of the Rockies have this season, though—that’s NOT normal.

One of the things many casual fans of sports usually miss and don’t fully grasp about baseball is the playoffs actually start in the regular season. The last month is actually the first round of the playoffs.

Where basketball and hockey have several teams making the playoffs, making the last couple of months just jockeying for seeding, baseball only has eight out of 30 teams making the actual playoffs, the lowest percentage of any of the major leagues.

The last month of baseball season is fun to watch and unique in sports. It’s one of the true charms that make baseball so great—and the Rockies are a part of it! If you look at the last month as the first round of baseball playoffs, the Rockies made it in…barely.

What do the Rockies need to happen to make a push and win some games? The pitching can’t miss a beat. Not a bad inning from anyone.

They also need a hitter to help out Carlos Gonzalez. You don’t have to be a genius to know that the Rockies have a problem with their lineup when Melvin Mora is the cleanup hitter.

Who steps up for the Colorado Rockies? I’m hoping that guy is Eric Young Jr. He’s the only major change in the Rockies lineup. If he can get on enough, I’m hoping he sparks the rest of the offense.  

Now they need to win some games on the road, or it will be all for naught. A key to winning baseball…score more runs than the other team.

This article is also featured on The Rockies Reporter and on My Team Rivals: Rockies.

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Colorado Rockies Fall Try-Outs Continue with Pitchers

The Rockies have swept the Atlanta Braves and now once again find themselves on the edge of the playoff picture only four games behind in the Wild Card Race.

However, it’s not all good news as reliever Manuel Corpas went down with an injury. Corpas will have an MRI done today, and the Rockies are hoping he won’t have to have Tommy John surgery. Yeah, it’s a bad injury whenever TJ is thrown out there.

When the major league rosters expand at the first of September, the Rockies will be adding several pitching arms. With position players it’s more about a try-out, for many pitchers it’s about getting in bodies and giving a break to an over-worked and injury depleted bullpen.

Previously I looked at the position players the Rox may take a look at, now let’s take a look at the pitchers, those hurlers on the mound that are now the most important position in baseball. Many of these are names we are already familiar with, but the Rockies will be trying to determine where these all fit in the future plans.


Starting Pitching

Ubaldo Jimenez: Jimenez of course will be back in 2011 and the Rockies have him under contractual control for three more years. He may be the only starting pitcher that doesn’t have questions the Rockies will have to evaluate besides how can they afford to pay him.

Jason Hammel: Hammel stepped up this year, and put up some impressive numbers. His stuff is not that great, but he pitched much more aggressively and threw strikes. Hammel has always been looked at as a back of the rotation starter, but for much of the season Hammel was the second best pitcher in the Rockies rotation (which is actually very telling as to why the Rockies are where they are now). How Hammel performs this last month may affect how willing the Rockies are to go after a starting pitcher in Free Agency.

Jeff Francis: Once labeled Jeff “Franchise,” his future is in question. Jeff had a terrible shoulder injury that in 2009 that was pretty severe—about as bad as you can get with out having to have major reconstruction surgery. Still it was an injury many guys don’t come back from at all. Jeff has spent time this year on the Disabled List and is currently on the DL right now. When Francis has pitched this year he’s been surprisingly good. His ERA of 4.56 is below his career ERA of 4.72. Also his Hits/9 HR/9 and WHIP are all below his career averages.

The question around Jeff (the Rockies have an option on his contract for next year at $7 million) is how well can he perform in the future. $7 million for one year isn’t bad for a No. 2-type pitcher, which Francis once was and could be again, but it’s way out of line for an injury damaged pitcher which Francis has been in 2010.

I don’t expect Francis to pitch again this year, unless the Rockies find themselves in a tight playoff race. I do expect the Rockies to re-sign Francis this off-season and even give him an extension, but that extension should be closer to $5 million per year for two years with a third year as an option.

Aaron Cook: Cook is the biggest problem in the Rockies organization right now for pitchers. He’s got one more year on his contract where he’ll make $10.6 million dollars in 2011 including the buy-out for 2012. That will make him the highest paid Rockie next year, tied with Todd Helton. He’s been terrible this year in the majors. I expect the Rockies to recall Cook from his injury rehab assignment, and give him some starts. They need him to perform well, to raise his trade value from near nothing to something, so when they trade Cook this off season, they don’t end up eating too much of his contract.

Jhoulys Chacin: He’s a top prospect for the Rockies. He has four-plus pitches. He’s not an over powering fastball guy, so he has to locate, but his performance for the Rockies in 2010 screams that he’ll be in the Rockies rotation for 2011 and beyond. More outings like Sunday against the Diamondbacks where he went seven and 2/3 giving up only three hits and shutting out Arizona, and he’ll be a great No. 2 pitcher behind Jimenez. Chacin isn’t on any try-out, he’s here to stay.

Esmil Rogers: Rogers has one of the top fastballs in the National League; however, that does not make a pitcher. So far Rogers has been more of a thrower than a pitcher. At times his stuff looks more like he should be a reliever or even a closer, but the Rockies have liked him as a starter. Rogers should get plenty of starts as the Rockies look to see if he will be in their rotation for 2011 or if he’ll be a major trade chip this off-season. Next year Rogers is out of options so the Rockies have this month to decide his future role with the organization.


Relief Pitchers

Samuel Deduno: Deduno is one of those pitchers who has had several starts and stops as he’s progressed through the system. He’s 27 now, and has been a starter in Colorado Springs, but he might be a long guy out of the ‘pen. He’s running out of time, but his numbers have been very solid for the the humidor-less Sky Sox with a 2.93 ERA in six starts with 29 K’s to only 18 walks. He’s on the 40 man. Expect to see him for a cup of coffee as he is on the 40 man roster. Deduno might log several innings as the Rockies give him a good look. Scouting reports project Deduno to be better suited as a reliever in the majors.

Franklin Morales: Yeah, that’s a familiar name. First called up in 2007, Morales helped the Rockies make the playoffs. This year he’s been working mostly in the AAA after starting the season with the Rockies. The Rockies hope he can be a closer, or at least a power set up guy. His numbers have been good in the Springs with a .286 ERA, and he’s walked only 18 in 28 innings which isn’t great, but it’s an improvement. His WHIP is 1.34. Look for Morales to get some work in late in games and even in pressure situations due to his experience.

Since teams always need left-handed pitchers that can throw it 95 mph, Morales has value. Now, we’ll find out if that value can be with the Rox or if it’s going to be with another team.

Edgmer Escalona: Escalona has been a work horse for the Sky Sox this year, logging in 63.0 innings in 51 games. Double E was a candidate to make the Rockies bullpen after a terrific year in AA, but Escalona’s numbers haven’t been great in AAA this year. The question will be whether he can improve his numbers from AAA once he has a humidor helping him out. He won’t be used in any tight situations though. I wonder if he can help the ‘pen out in 2011 or if he just hit his ceiling in AAA. I’m sure the Rockies would like an answer to that question as well.

Chaz Roe: Once a top pitching prospect for the Rockies, he’s logged the most innings pitched this year for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He’s been hittable in AAA with a WHIP of 1.62 and an ERA of 5.81. It will be interesting to see if Roe or Deduno gets a start during their call up. Like Deduno, I expect Roe to be added to the roster as he’s on the 40 man, and also like Deduno I expect Roe to be mainly used in September as a long man out of the bullpen. Roe is not the prospect that he once was and Roe is now looking to be future organizational depth at the starting pitcher or a B level prospect trade throw-in.

We should also expect to see Taylor Buchholtz (who is on an extended rehab assignment currently in AAA) back with the Rockies. With some roster juggling to get guys on the 40 man roster, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rockies, who really need bullpen help, to add a few guys like Al Alburquerque, or even 2009 draft pick Rex Brothers, both currently in AA Tulsa.


This article also featured on The Rockies Reporter, and My Team Rivals: Blake Street Baseball

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The Colorado Rockies Are Still Playing Meaningful Baseball

When I wrote my last article on how the Rockies were mathematically still in the playoff race with almost two months worth of baseball left, it seems many of my readers assumed that I was also inferring that I actually believed the Rockies were going to make up the gap.

I never said that’s what I believed, only that the Rox COULD make up the distance to either the NL West lead or the Wild Card lead. And there is a huge difference there.

There is also a difference in what I think will happen and what I want to happen. Of course I WANT the Rockies to make a nice run these last two months. I want the Rockies to finally put together all the areas of baseball and play solid consistent baseball. I’m the type of guy that stays until the end of every game. While there is still breath, there is still hope!

In fact what I believe will happen is what appears to be unfolding in front of our eyes.

If you look at the Rockies’ numbers, offensively they are fourth in the National League in Runs Scored, second in the league in Runs Batted In, third in walks/base on balls (for those that think the Rockies have no plate discipline…though they are also third in Strike-outs for those that think they have no plate discipline) and third in the league in team Batting Average and third in the league for wOBA.

It’s not the hitting. Or is it?

The Rockies have the highest batting average in the National League at home, but 15th, or next to last batting average on the Road! They have the most runs scored in the league at home, but 14th on the road.

These numbers aren’t surprising to anyone who has followed the Rockies this year. They have looked like two different teams on the road and at home. It’s normal to be better at home than on the road for any team, but the difference should not be as dramatic as it is for the Rockies this year.

Even historically the Rockies’ home and road splits have been bigger than the league on average. But they weren’t usually this huge. Critics that don’t follow the team always point to the altitude or to Coors Field falsely inflating numbers. I believe this argument is very short-sighted, and actually pretty shallow.

I think the reason for the Rockies splits being bigger than the league average is far more complex than “it’s Coors Field, LOLZ! All Rox players Sux!” But that is for another discussion.

In pitching categories, we find the Rockies are seventh in the National League of sixteen teams in ERA. Tenth in Runs Allowed, Tenth in Walks, but sixth in Strike-outs and fifth in the league in FIP.

In fact, in FIP the Rockies are ahead of the Giants, Cardinals, Phillies and Reds, all teams the Rockies are chasing for a playoff spot. Not great numbers, but not terrible.

In the Rockies’ defense, injuries hurt the Rockies’ pitching this season and set many players back. But injuries happen to every team, it’s no excuse.

Now, if you believe in the fairly speculative and subjective advanced fielding stats of UZR, the Rockies as a team are 12th in the National League, but UZR has always ranked the Rockies fairly low. RZR has the Rockies at eighth with ranking of 12 in OOZ which tries to measure fielding in a zone, and then range out of the zone. Mediocre to terrible numbers in fielding.

So a team with some of the best hitting numbers in the league, solid if not spectacular pitching numbers should be a playoff contender. So why does it feel and look like the Rockies are not?

This Rockies seem to be lacking “something.” What specifically this Rockies team is lacking, they have lacked all year, not just the last month. I’ve said several times this season the team looks heartless. There’s not much fight in them.

I believe the mix of players on this team is not right. They need a lead off hitter that can get on base. They need a clean up hitter that can drive in runs, in fact I think of the four corner positions, which are usually looked as run producing positions, the Rockies are terribly lacking with only one real player and that’s Carlos Gonzalez.

The only other offensive weapon the Rockies have besides Cargo is Troy Tulowitzki. Two bats are not enough to power an offense on a consistent basis.

The rest of the offensive numbers put up over the season have been from several players, but in streaks or spurts. Seth Smith, who was on fire in June and July, hasn’t had a hit in the month of August yet. Miguel Olivo has a batting average in August of .053 and he’s hit .379 at home and .187 on the road! Clint Barmes has been on a steady decline since a hot June, where he batted .313, to .271 in July, to .194 so far in August.

So, if you were wondering, do I think this Rockies team can make a playoff push, the answer is no, I do not.

I don’t think they have the overall talent or the heart to do so. The Rockies have too many holes in the line up, and are missing what I call the three-superstar core (they have two). They are far too inconsistent, and have not shown they are getting more consistent, but rather they are getting more inconsistent.

What I’ve always thought is that this team is pretty mediocre. They are an OK team, maybe even a good team. I’d say they are a better than average team. But that usually won’t get you into the play-offs. It gets you hanging around, without any real ability or over-riding talent to win enough games until the season just slips away and it’s too late.

Time and the calendar with eliminate this team as it does most good, but not good enough teams.

BUT….the off season is still almost two months away. There is still time. The Rockies are still mathematically in this. The Rockies have been a streaky team all year, with hot and cold streaks. A hot streak now, and the Rockies could be looking at the playoffs, (Yeah, a continued cold streak and they are making golf reservations).

Enjoy the gift of meaningful baseball games in August. The chill of fall will be here all too soon, and evenings at Coors Field will be gone, so go enjoy the Rockies. Enjoy baseball while you have it.

This article is also featured on The Rockies Reporter

and on My Team Rivals: Blake Street Baseball

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Is It Time to Bury The Colorado Rockies Season?

So are the Rockies done yet? 2-2 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, including a heart breaking home run walk off on Saturday night seemed to be the gut punch rip your heart out end of the season.

However, the Rox bounced back on Sunday with a win and split the road series at 2-2.

This Monday morning we find the Rockies in 3rd place in the NL West 6.5 games behind the San Diego Padres, and in 4th place in the NL Wild Card race at 4.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants. The first thing to notice here is both teams the Rockies are chasing for a playoff spot are both divisional rivals.

With the Phillies and the Cardinals ahead of the Rockies in the Wild Card race right now, the road to the playoffs might be easier going through the NL West. Mostly this is due to the multiplier affect of having teams between the Rockies and the Wild Card leader the Giants.

But it also has to do with the match ups. The Rockies have one game to play against the Phillies on a one game make up in Coors Field on Thursday September 2nd. The Rockies  close the season out with a 4 game road series in St. Louis.

The key to a play-off spot for the Rockies is they have to win more games than the Padres and Giants. The Rox have to catch them and pass them. And playing .500 crappy baseball like the Rockies have been lately won’t get that done…

Or will it?

Over the last 10 games the Colorado Rockies are 7-3. The Padres are 4-6 and the Giants are 5-5. So during this “down” period of this last couple of weeks, the Rockies have gained back 3 games on the Padres and 2 on the Giants.

That’s right, the Rockies are gaining ground on the teams they need to gain ground on. Sometimes perception isn’t reality in baseball.

If the Rockies can keep up this pace…they would pass the Giants and the Padres about the same time sometime the first week in September.

The Rockies still play the Giants 6 times this year and the Padres 6 times as well. The Rockies don’t have to sweep those 12 games, just win the series.

Right now, the Rockies are not out of anything. They still have all their goals still in front of them for the taking. As frustrating as this team has been this season, with all of its ups and downs, for the Rockies to make the playoffs, all they have to do is play like they did these past 2 weeks.

Yeah, getting their hearts ripped out by the Pirates….still is good enough. Struggling on the road, is still good enough. What we as fans struggle though and feel some times isn’t the full reality. If the Rockies do just what they have the last couple of weeks, they have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs.

As many times as I want to bury this team. They shouldn’t be buried or dismissed. They are still near the top in the NL in runs scored, and several hitting categories. The real weakness hasn’t been hitting, it’s been pitching. The Rockies need more consistent starting pitching, and they need more consistent relief pitching. Those are big issues to overcome, but the Rockies are far, from done.

What Rockies fans used to beg for was meaningful games after the all-star break. And that’s what we’ve got. The Rockies are in the middle of the playoff race and we have meaningful baseball games here in Denver in August. With just a small improvement on consistency and focus, the Rockies will be playing meaningful games in September, and maybe October.

What more do you want from the Rockies than that?

This Article is also featured on:  The Rockies Reporter

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MLB Trade Rumors: The Colorado Rockies Red Tag Sale Addition

The Rockies are reeling.

Eight straight losses in July will do that to a team. While the Rockies aren’t officially out of anything right now, they will have to have another miracle turn around and play-off run like they had in 2007 to make the playoffs.

But this team isn’t 2007. The 2007 Rockies had better starting pitching and one of the best defenses in the history of major league baseball. Where this team features base-running errors, fielding errors and a high strike out rate for its hitters.

So the Rockies find themselves in a very different spot now before the trade deadline than they were a week ago. Now, the Rockies look to be sellers, hoping to unload some pieces and maybe bring back a few younger players that could help the Rockies in 2011.

The list of reports saying the Rockies suddenly became sellers is pretty lengthy. Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies follows up on Ken Rosenthal report of the Fox Sports on the Rockies as sellers. Armstrong and Renck of the Denver Post , take a more middle ground .

I think the Rockies are done for the season. I also think the Rockies SHOULD be sellers now at the trade deadline as well as this off season. I’m not saying this team needs to be blown up, but like a backyard pool in the spring time, a layer of debris needs to be removed to get to a more promising team mix.

A look at those now holding up “For Sale” signs on the Colorado Rockies:


Aaron Cook

Cook as been terrible this season, and just Wednesday night failing to get out of the third inning giving up five runs on six hits. The Rockies would love to move Cook. However, Cook has another year on his contract at $9 million and if traded would get an additional $1 million. Cook’s performance and contract is so bad, that the Rockies would have to include a prospect along with Cook, just for another team to consider taking Cook off the Rox hands. Cook would clear waivers and would be available post deadline trade.


Jeff Francis

Jeff is coming off a terrible shoulder injury. He has one more year on his contract that would pay him $7 million dollars next year unless the Rockies buy out his contract. $7 million isn’t bad for a starting pitcher, but a starting pitcher that has performed like Francis has over the last three years is a bit much. Francis would be a type B free agent. He might actually have some value on the trade market.


Jorge De La Rosa

Jorge has been hurt much of the year. Last year JDLR had his break out season, and was more than a small reason the Rockies made the playoffs. The Rockies would like to re-sign him and actually think that his injury might keep his salary down to levels the Rockies could afford. However, of all three of the Rockies starting pitchers available, JDLR has the best stuff, and is last two outings have both been improvements, so it looks like he’s coming back to form after his long injury layoff which means he would have the most value and get the biggest return on a trade.

The Rockies can’t trade all three of these starting pitchers as they will have to have someone start games the next two months, but they could move two of the three. Moving either Francis or Cook, and replacing either one with Jhoulys Chacin actually improves this team right now.


Joe  Beimel

A veteran lefty out of the ‘pen and a solid consistent pitcher all around that is on a one year contract. A lot of teams could use him. The Rockies could replace him for the rest of the season with Franklin Morales. Expect Beimel to be traded. He also comes with cool bath robes and the best walk-in music of all time.


Rafael Betancourt

Has another year left on his contract. His ERA is now at 4.50, he has improved over the last couple of months. He was hurt and very sick battling the flu earlier in the season. The fact that he’s a veteran arm in the pen and with another year on his contract makes him very desirable to teams that are contending.


Manuel Corpas

He has one more year to go on his contract which has two additional option years. Corpas has been erratic his last two years. He spent a brief moment as the Rockies “closer” this year with Street hurt. I’m not sure he has value, but he’s got a Red Tag Sticker.


Todd Helton

Yeah, there is no way with his physical situation and his contract anyone touches him with a 10-foot pole, but if some one was crazy enough, the Rockies would move the Todd-Father.


Clint Barmes

Barmes is due to make about $5 million in his final year of arbitration. That’s pretty high for a guy that is looking to be a utility player for the Rockies next season. There are replacements at second in the organization right now, ready to play at a major league level, including Jonathon Herrera who has batted over .300 this past two months, Chris Nelson who tearing up Triple-A and is former first round draft pick and Eric Young Jr. who is finishing up his rehab assignment.

It’s doubtful the Rockies would go another year with Barmes to arbitration which makes him very trade-able right now. However, back up utility infielders that fade in the second half of the season aren’t in high demand, but he would help several contenders out there.


Brad Hawpe

One of the main reasons this team has failed to live up to pre-season expectations is the disappearance of Brad Hawpe. He’s only had six homers on the season this year with a slash line of .259/.337/.439/.776. He has an option on his contract next year that the Rockies won’t pick up. If Hawpe is traded that option becomes mutual. However, it looks like he will be a Type-A free agent which would bring back to draft picks, which might be reason enough for the Rockies to hang to him till the end of the year as that might be more value than another team would give.

Hawpe’s name has come up with the Chicago White Sox, and the Detroit Tigers, as well as the San Diego Padres. The level of interest to me is a little surprising, but the more I hear, the more I expect Hawpe to be gone.


Ryan Spilborghs: Spilly’s name is out there. I’m not sure why. Spilly is a nice fourth outfielder type and a great locker room guy. He loves Denver, and whenever he’s on FSN’s Rockies All-Access he talks about Denver, like it’s his home. He has one more year on his contract that will pay him about $1 million dollars which is a bargain.

With Matt Miller in Triple-A leading all of the Rockies organization in hitting, Spilly might be forced out for Miller. Spilly could be of interest for teams needing outfield depth and a right handed bat.


Eric Young Jr

I’ve not seen or heard his name listed as a trade candidate, but it’s looking more and more like EY2 doesn’t have a future with the Rockies. Squeezed and passed in the organization at second by Herrera and Nelson, EY2 is very expendable. He’s got a good bat, and amazing speed which gives him value, but he’s average to below average glove at second, and terrible defensively in the outfield which means the Rox have no idea where to play him.


Melvin Mora

The Rockies signed Mora this year to a one year deal. He’s not really a utility guy, and he’s struggled moving around to the various positions. He’s one the Rockies would give away. He’s not helping the Rockies right now, and won’t be here next year, even if Tracy is playing him nearly every day.


Not So Bold Prediction

The Rockies want to clear out the chaff and some payroll off next years team. But really, do contending teams want chaff for their playoff runs? Look for the Rockies to move one of their starting pitchers I’m predicting Jeff Francis, and one or two of their bullpen guys, particularly Joe Beimel. The Rockies would like to move more, but that might have to wait until the off-season for the tree pruning to happen.

This article also featured on The Rockies Reporter

And My Team Rivals: Rockies: Blake Street Baseball

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Colorado Rockies at the MLB Trade Deadline: Part Three, Position Players

This is the third of three articles looking at the Rockies at the trade deadline. The first one was on the bullpen, the second one was starting pitching.   This article will look at position players and offense. 

With the trade deadline coming up, teams look to improve and fill in holes in their lineups to make a playoff run.  Where are the Rockies at right now, and what do they need?  

After that terrible road trip last week, it was pretty obvious to many the Rockies are certainly lacking on offense.  They particularly are lacking with timely hitting with runners in scoring position.  The Rockies really need a right-handed bat, and one that could bat in the middle of the line up would be nice.

However, a closer look at the numbers will show the Rockies are in the top four of the National League in home runs (105), top three in runs batted in (447), and third in the league in wOBA (.332).  However, they are 13th out of 16 in the league in doubles, and third in the league with strikeouts. Offensively, it’s been a mixed bag for the Rockies this season, which makes it hard to figure out exactly what their needs are.

According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post , owner Charlie Monfort said or implied that the Rockies could add payroll for the right situation.

First base: The Rockies have a major hole here.  First base is traditionally an offensive position, and the Rockies have not had much production here.  Todd Helton has been non-existent this season, and is now on the DL. 

Filling in for Helton has been even older Jason Giambi—who was supposed to be back-up and pinch-hitter—and now under-performing Brad Hawpe.  Also playing first this year for the Rockies is anyone that walks by manager Jim Tracy’s door when he happens to be filling out his lineup card that day.  

The Rockies certainly need an everyday first baseman.  The question is, if Helton doesn’t retire, will he be a starter next year? Or would he take a back-up, bench role?  Do the Rockies bring in a starter type, or a back-up type?

Of the names out there, I’ve heard the Rockies have had interest in free-agent-to-be Adam Dunn, as has every other team in the majors.  The asking price so far has scared everyone away from the potential free agent.

Second Base:
Jonathon Herrera has been a surprise, and with Tulowitzki coming back to play shortstop freeing up Clint Barmes, the Rockies have plenty of depth at second, including Eric Young Jr, and Chris Nelson in AAA.  For some reason, though, many Rockies fans see second as a position of need.

Third base:
This isn’t a screaming need or a hole, with Ian Stewart playing at third.  However, the Rockies are starting to get to the end of their patience with Stewart.  He hasn’t developed much this year, and his production isn’t where they want him to be.  He has several mechanical flaws in his swing, and has laughable pitch recognition.

Stewart’s performance level is the type that doesn’t help the team much, but it doesn’t kill the team if the other positions were performing better. Stewart has 14 home runs and a line of .258/.343/.451/.794, but he does have 84 Ks on the year.  The Rockies would like to have a right-handed bat that could play third and platoon with Stewart, a left-hander.

The Rockies seem to really be interested in guys who can play various positions at a near starter type level.  Jim Tracy loves to mix and match, and play his entire bench (in every position conceivable).  The more positions a player can play, the more computations of lineups Tracy gets to pull out of his hat.  With questions at first and third for the Rockies, getting a guy that can play both would be nice.

Along those lines we have the two names the Rockies have been connected to the most, in Ty Wigginton of the Baltimore Orioles and Jorge Cantu of the Florida Marlins.  

Wigginton can play first, second, third, and some outfield.  The right-handed hitting Wigginton will be 33 this fall, and has one more year on his current contract, paying him only $3.5 million.  He’s had 16 home runs so far this year, and a slash line of .249/.326/.443/.768.

Jorge Cantu is also a right-handed hitter who is “listed” as being able to play first, third, and second.  However, he’s a terrible fielder with a UZR of -4.8, though RZR/OOZ has him slightly better at .672/24.

Cantu is a glorified DH, carrying a glove. He has 10 home runs so far this season, to go with slash line of .260/.308/.410/.718. Cantu’s contract will be up at the end of the season and he’ll be a free agent, so he’d would be no more than a rental.

The Rockies seem to be in love with Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla.  Uggla is 31 years old, and has 19 home runs this year with a .277 batting average.  He’s also a right-handed batter, which is something the Rockies need in their lineup. 

However, Uggla doesn’t want to move to either first or third, something the Rockies envision as he ages.  Uggla has one more year of arbitration and will be eligible for free agency in 2012.  The Marlins are also in love with Uggla and have no real desire to move him.

A new name that has popped up this week is Ryan Theriot of the Chicago Cubs.  He’s a middle infielder with some speed, having stolen 85 bases over the last four years.  He still has a year of arbitration left where he should make about $4 million, which is less than Barmes, who should make $5 million in arbitration next year.  

Why the interest in another middle infielders? Beats me, Chris Nelson is tearing it up in AAA and was a first round draft pick.  

Not So Bold Prediction:
This last two weeks left the Rockies as possible sellers or worse, in the vague middle ground, where they don’t know if they are buyers OR sellers.  Watch the news on Todd Helton.  If his back keeps him from joining the team this week, or at least going on a rehab assignment, the Rockies maybe forced to get a player that can play firstbase on a regular basis just to finish the season.  

This Article also featured on The Rockies Reporter.

And on My Team Rivals: Rockies Blake Street Baseball .

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Colorado Rockies at the MLB Trade Deadline: Part Two, Starting Pitching

This is the second of three articles looking at the Rockies at the trade deadline. The first one was on the bullpen, and the next will be position players/offense. This article will look at starting pitching.

The Rockies have been rumored to be looking at starting pitching at the trade deadline. Just to hear the Rockies as potential buyers is somewhat surprising.

Let’s look at the Rockies current rotation listed in order of ERA/2010 performance:

Ubaldo Jimenez : Has anyone not heard of Ubaldo’s amazing season? Ubaldo is the Rockies ace. He’s not going anywhere. However, he’s only had one quality start in his last six starts. I’ve heard some inside rumblings that Ubaldo is suffering from “tired arm” from his workload this season. Don’t be shocked if he needs to go on the DL for 15 days to rest.

Jason Hammel: Did you think at the beginning of the season Hammel would be a No. 2? Hammel has been the biggest surprise in the Rockies rotation. He has put up numbers of 7-6, 4.34 ERA, with a .277 Batting Average Against in 17 games started.

Hammel has had eight quality starts over his last 10 games, putting up a record of 5-3 with 4.34 ERA. His stuff is not that of a No. 2 pitcher, but he’s young and still on the upside, and could be a solid middle of the rotation player

Jeff Francis: Jeff is coming off a terrible shoulder injury that kept him out all of 2009. He’s been up and down this season—mostly down—but as of late, he’s been a little better, with two quality starts in this last road trip.

It was a terrible road trip, but you can’t blame the guy once known as “Jeff Franchise.” Jeff will be a free agent after this season. The Rockies do have an option year for next year for $7 million, but it’s doubtful they’ll pick that up.

Aaron Cook: Cook has been consistently inconsistent this season. A 4.78 ERA and a .282 BAA belies the fact that Cook has had only three quality starts in his last seven times to take the bump. Last week was a snapshot of Cooks year.

Against Cincinnati, he went seven innings, scattering six hits and giving up no runs. His next start on Friday and Cook couldn’t get out of the fifth inning, getting chased giving up five runs on nine hits and three walks.

Cook’s season would be acceptable if he were the No. 5 starter. But, Cook is one of the highest paid Rockies on the team, making $9 million this year, and has one more year on his contract when he will make $9.2 million in 2011 plus a $.5 million buyout. If traded, Cook’s salary goes up $1 million a year.

Jorge De La Rosa: If Hammel has been the biggest surprise, George of the Rose has been the biggest disappointment.

De La Rosa has only made seven starts this year while spending time on the DL with a torn tendon in his index finger of his pitching hand. Since coming back from injury JDLR has had three starts, and the first two were particularly offal, giving up seven runs in 4.1 innings in his first game off the DL, then following that up with 3.1 innings and another seven runs.

However, there was a glimmer of hope. In his latest outing, he had a quality start, going six innings and only giving up two runs and striking out eight against the Marlins. Jorge De La Rosa will also be a free agent after this season. I think the Rockies would like to re-sign him, but the injury throws his value on the open market into question.

Jhoulys Chacin: Chacin was called up to fill in for Jorge De La Rosa. As a starter he was solid, with the second best ERA as a starter for the team with 3.38. He was moved to the bullpen to make room for JDLR’s return, and Chacin was terrible in that role with a 6.32 ERA in the month of July.

That got him sent back to AAA, where he’ll go back to the rotation and prepare to be a rotation replacement in case of injuries. Chacin is a top pitching prospect, and should be a regular in the rotation in 2011, but he’s a rookie and rookie pitchers are inconsistent.

The rumors concerning the Rockies starting pitching are they want a quality starting pitcher. What I’ve heard from my sources at the Rockies and also out in the Internet rumor mill world, is the Rockies want a No. 2 type pitcher or better. Along those lines, the Rockies have been linked to a few of the biggest names for starting pitchers available in Dan Haren and Ted Lilly.

Dan Haren is strikeout pitcher, with at times overpowering stuff. He has 141 Ks on the year so far. But he has a 4.60 ERA and a .285 BAA. That’s not much of an improvement over Francis or Cook, and worse than Chacin. It’s nice to have had the Rockies associated with Haren though, before he was traded to the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles

Another name out there associated with the Rockies is Ted Lilly. Lilly is sinker-ball pitcher with the Cubs and for the most part sinker-ballers have good success in Coors Field. His record is only 3-8 this year, but that’s not a good stat anyways. His ERA is .388 with WHIP of 1.12. Lilly would be rental as he’s a free agent after the season.

Now, I had a source that told me the Rox were looking at Ben Sheets before his injury. Sheets had been getting better as the season has gone along, with seven quality starts in his last 10 starts going back to the end of May.

Sheets will be free agent after the season. However, he is now on the DL with an elbow injury, and is expected to miss a good chunk of time. Sheets has been a walking injury report over his career, and his latest setback doesn’t help his injury-prone reputation.

Are there pitchers out there who might be better than Cook or Francis? Yes. Would the Rockies be able to give up enough in prospects to get them. Again, yes. The Rockies have depth in a lot of positions to trade from in their minor league system.

Any move to upgrade over Cook or Francis will also, I assume, include Cook or Francis going back to the other team to free up a rotation spot. Cook’s salary and another year on his contract coupled with his performance leaves him un-tradeable. So we are really talking about upgrading Francis. And it’s Francis who just had the best week of pitching of all the starters.

Not So Bold Prediction : The Rockies won’t add a starter at the trade deadline. There are not many starting pitchers on the level the Rockies are wanting, and because of that their price in trade and contract will be so steep. I doubt if the Rockies will be able or willing to pay. The Rockies do have a major league level pitcher in Chacin in AAA in case of injury, so they do have depth.

However, expect the Rockies to be players in the offseason for a quality starting pitcher. If Helton retires and thus frees up salary, the Rockies could in for some top pitchers.

This article also featured on The Rockies Reporter.

And on My Team Rivals: Rockies Blake Street Baseball

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Ugly Road Trip for Colorado Leaves Rox Reeling

Well, that was and awful road trip. Two wins and nine losses is not the way to make a playoff run.

Not only did the losses mount on this road trip, but it’s the way the losses came that tear the hearts out of Rockies fans. A walk-off homer, a walk-off single, a 3-4 loss on Sunday after being up 3-2, and the game ending with Ian Stewart striking out LOOKING with runners in scoring position, as well as the winning run coming on a wild pitch where Rockies pitcher Rafael Betencourt failed to cover home plate.

It was a sloppy and heartless display of baseball this week by the Rockies. Where does that leave them? Fourth place in the NL West at 8 games behind the Division leading Padres, and fifth place in the NL Wild Card at 5 games behind the division rival San Francisco Giants. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 2 games ahead of the Rockies as well.

So, was that the season? Are the Rockies done?

In a word: NO. There are still 63 games left in the season to play. That’s a full 1/3 of the season. However, being behind so many teams in both the Wild Card and the Division makes the hill pretty steep to climb. Every team ahead becomes a multiplier in how many games a team is REALLY behind.

Teams don’t usually fall out of contention with one bad streak. They usually fall out of contention as the number of games left to make up ground get smaller, and smaller. The smaller the number of games left, the higher the winning percentage has to be to make up ground on teams ahead of them.

The Rox return to Coors Field with a home stand against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. The Rockies will get a bounce from being back home. They should get a bounce from playing beatable teams like the Pirates and the Cubs.

However, even dead cats bounce.

This team has yet to show in 2/3 of a season, what it takes to win.

They have yet to play full baseball game with solid starting pitching, solid relief pitching, solid defense, and good timely hitting. This team has done all of that individually in stretches, but not all at once for any length of time. Now Rockies fans will be hoping this team shows some heart, but all those areas together and start winning games.

Bottom line: the only way the Rockies are going to gain more games than the other guys.

Personally, I think this next week will give Rockies fans false hope, as ultimately this team is NOT talented enough to make the playoffs. That’s right, I finally said it. It’s not as talented as everyone thinks it is. They have no first baseman, no right fielder, and their center fielder and lead-off hitter can’t get on base and is totally lost being a switch hitter. And this is before you get to their third baseman Ian Stewart, who strikes out almost a full third of the time! (K percentage 2010: 28.9) and a Win Probability/Clutch rating of -.90 which is sadly embarrassing.

A stat I find especially telling is the Rockies team batting WAR for the season is only 10.0. Only two teams in the NL are worse: the Pirates and the Astros! That’s not the company the Rockies need to be in. I’m not a big fan of WAR, as I think it’s pretty subjective, but any stat that says your team is in a group that includes the Astros and Pirates is pretty telling.

One of the Rockies biggest problems is not having a steady lineup. This is due to the fact the Rockies have had a string of injuries to their front line players, but also some starters simply haven’t produced. But the real reason the Rockies haven’t had a stable lineup is due to the micro-managing and tinkering of manager Jim Tracy. I don’t even think that at this point he knows who his best players are or who is producing, or who to place in what spot either in the field or in the lineup. It looks to me like Tracy picks names out of a hat.

On the bright side, the Rockies will get Troy Tulowitzki back from the DL on Tuesday. Hopefully Clint Barmes will move to the bench where he belongs, and the Rockies continue to play Jonathan Herrera at second.

Barmes for the record did what is typical of Barmes, went on an amazing hot streak for a few weeks, only to totally lose it and go completely ice cold, looking foolish at the plate. Barmes is now batting just .185 over the last 14 days. His performance now screams backup player. Barmes is decent to even good over short periods of time, but he’s too streaky to be an everyday player. Hopefully the next time he goes crazy hot, I won’t buy into it being something real, like I did earlier when I said Barmes should be starting at third over Stewart.

Getting Tulo back will help. But is it too little, too late for the Rockies?

Article Also Featured on The Rockies Reporter

and My Team Rivals Rockies:  Blake Street Baseball

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The Rockies at the Trade Deadline: The Bullpen

The July 31st Trade Deadline is fast approaching. The Rockies after this last road series, are in need of help, and lots of it. Will the Rockies be serious buyers? Will they be able to upgrade their team for a 2010 playoff race? What areas will the Rockies be looking at? In the next week, I’ll write a series on the Rockies needs at the trade deadline. Today’s will be relief pitching, and later I’ll look at offensive/position players and another article will be starting pitching.

Right now the Rockies bullpen consists of:
Right Handers : Games IP ERA Batting Average Against
Matt Belisle          45 60.1 2.69 .237
Rafael Betancourt 41 34.2 4.67 .277
Taylor Buchholz     1 1.0 18.00 .400
Manuel Corpas     45 51.0 4.41 .244
Huston Street      14 15.0 3.00 .189

Left Handers: Games IP ERA Batting Average Against
Joe Beimel           43 29.2 2.43 .223
Randy Flores       39 22.2 2.78 .182

In AAA the Rockies also have some players like Matt Daley, Juan Rincon, Franklin Morales, Esmil Rogers, and Matt Reynolds that could help out in the ‘pen. Rogers is being used in AAA as a starter. Rincon has an ERA of 7.79. Daley, Morales and Reynolds are options, but Reynolds is not on the MLB 40-man roster so moves would have to be made to add him.

Names that the rumor mill has generated for the Rockies include:

Kevin Gregg , Toronto Blue Jays, 32 years old, Right Hander .382 ERA
Scott Downs , Toronto Blue Jays 34 Right Hander, 2.45 ERA 1.041 WHIP 3rd in the AL with 19 Holds for the Season
Evan Meek , Pittsburgh Pirates 27 Right Hander, 1.34 ERA 0.894 WHIP
Joel Hanrahan , Pittsburgh Pirates 28 Right Hander, .367 ERA 1.056 WHIP

If you’ll notice all of these are right-handed pitchers. Beimel and Flores have done there jobs as situational lefties. However, it’s the inconsistency of Manuel Corpas plus Buchholz looking shaky coming off Tommy John surgery the Rockies would like to upgrade.

Troy Renck of the Denver Post has said that the Bullpen is the Rockies main focus right now at the trade deadline, and their top priority is Kevin Gregg. He would also be the easiest and cheapest to get of those names besides maybe Hanrahan.

My personal choice would be Meek. Meek is a hard thrower with a fastball that averages 95.1 MPH this year. He also has a slider, a cutter and a curve-ball. In the past he’s thrown a Change-up, but according to Fangraphs he’s not thrown that this year. He’s also the youngest and because of that has the best contract.  All that gives him the highest price tag as far as cost of propects the Rockies would have to give up to get him.

But it looks like the Rockies will be going for the player that will have the most experience as a closer and that is Kevin Gregg.

Kevin Gregg came up through Angels system, and went on to the Marlins for 2 years where he was their closer, getting 61 saves over those 2 years. He was with the Cubs for one year, getting 23 saves before signing as a free agent with the Jays where he’s been their closer this season. Gregg has 37.2 innings pitched in 38 games with 22 saves. His ERA in 2010 is 3.82 which is below his career ERA of 4.08. For 2010 Gregg’s WAR is .4 which isn’t bad for a reliever.

Gregg features a fastball, that has averaged 92.5 MPH this year, as well as a slider/cutter that he uses a lot. This year he’s been throwing more of a straight cutter (31.0%) than ever before .

Kevin Gregg has a fairly reasonable contract. He signed for $2.0 million for 2010, with a club option after this year of one year at $4.5 million for 2011 or a club option of 2 years at $8.75 million. There is also a buy out of $750,000 in the 2 year option.

I find it interesting that one of the Rockies main targets is a pitcher with experience as a closer.  Street missed the first two months of the season with injury. He’s been decent since coming back, but he did have his first blown save this week, costing the Rockies a much-needed win. Street’s also not cheap having just signed a new three-year contract that will pay him $22.5 million including this year.

I get the feeling the Rockies are thinking about hedging their bets on Huston Street, if Street becomes an injury risk, a label that many have given Street before he came to the Rockies from Oakland.

What will it take to get Gregg? I never know, but you can expect a couple of prospects at least. The Rockies have several B Type prospects that won’t help the Rockies out much, but could have good careers with other clubs. Assume one pitcher and a position player from the Rockies.

Not So Bold Prediction: Kevin Gregg will be a Colorado Rockie by the end of the week.

This Article is also featured on The Rockies Reporter

and My Team Rivals: Blake Street Baseball

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