Tag: Denver

Daily Fantasy Baseball 2015: These MLB Advanced Metrics Can Make You a Winner

Fantasy baseball is often a game of mix-and-match when figuring out the right players to pick in daily fantasy leagues. One aspect of the game is often overlooked by a majority of fantasy baseball players and can help immensely in figuring out players to select.

While looking at too many forms of advanced statistics may do more harm than good, there is no doubt that some metrics are essential in helping a fantasy team win.

Here are a few key MLB advanced metrics to use in daily fantasy baseball leagues.

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Cardinals Trade Rumors: 5 Potential Deals to Shore Up St. Louis Bullpen

Last night against the Miami Marlins the Cardinals came back to win a game in which they trailed in the eighth inning for the first time this season. They were 0-26 in those situations until Monday night.

However, the Redbirds’ bullpen tried their best to punt the game to the Marlins in the seventh as Fernando Salas got just one out while allowing runners to reach second and third. Scatter-armed Eduardo Sanchez followed and walked three men in a row—the first intentionally with the other two coming Rick Ankiel-style.

The Cardinal relievers walked eight batters on the night in 10 innings.

Fortunately for St. Louis, Heath Bell and the Marlins’ bullpen have had continuing struggles of their own and blew a four-run lead in the ninth (but at least they forced the Cards to, you know—hit the ball).

Jason Motte was fortunate that Jose Reyes’ scorching liner to center was right at outfielder Shane Robinson to end a strange night of baseball.

While we give manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak a moment to wipe their brows, let’s look at five trades that would immediately help the Cardinals’ stressed bullpen.

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MLB Spring Training Is Over: The Game’s 10 Most Overrated Players

Everybody has their list.

They get a ton of attention and for this group, unwarranted. They’re overrated.

Which stats are the best indicators of being overrated?

OPS? WAR? Should an eye test be taken?

Potential sometimes cannot be judged on stats.

Let’s take a look at the 10 most overrated players in baseball.

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2011 NL West Preseason Preview: Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies (2010 record: 83-79)

Notable additions: RHP Matt Lindstrom, INF Jose Lopez, C Jose Morales, INF/OF Ty Wiggington

Notable subtractions: 2B Clint Barmes, RHP Octavio Dotel, SP Jeff Francis, 3B Melvin Mora, C Miguel Olivo

The offense:

Catcher: Chris Iannetta
Infield: Todd Helton (1B), Eric Young Jr (2B), Troy Tulowitzki (SS) and Ian Stewart (3B)
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez (LF), Dexter Fowler (CF) and Seth Smith (RF)

The Rox finished in third place in the NL West last year, but they could challenge for the division title this year. The key to the Rockies’ fate in 2011 is whether they learn to bring their bats to the ballpark when they are on the road, where they were a dismal 31-50 last year (largely because they hit 72 points less in road games).

Gonzalez and Tulowitzki are the heart of the Rockies offensive attack. This will be a big year for both players in terms of solidifying themselves among the elite offensive players in the game. Gonzalez had a breakout campaign in 2010, but needs to prove he isn’t a one-year wonder. Tulowitzki was relatively pedestrian throughout the majority of the year, but then had an extraordinary month (.303, 15 HR and 40 rbi over his last thirty games) to salvage the season.

The team needs Chris Iannetta, Todd Helton and Dexter Fowler to improve markedly if it is to make a run at the division title. I could throw Smith and Stewart on the list as well, but at least they provided a little bit of power last season, whereas the others provided little in the way of anything.

Iannetta was brutal last year no matter where he played. Helton performed well below expectations whether at home or on the road. Fowler was okay at home but was a non-factor in road games (he hit just .211 and compiled a .297 OBP away from Coors).

The organization is hoping that new hitting coach Carney Lansford will be able to make a significant impact on the offense in his first year in Denver.

On the bench, I like the acquisition of Wiggington, as he will provide some right-handed pop at the corners and enable Helton to rest periodically. I don’t believe Jose Lopez will contribute much to the team and expect he will eventually just serve as a backup for EY, though even that role could fall to Wiggington if Lopez struggles.

The pitching staff:

Rotation: Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge de la Rose, Aaron Cook, Jhoulys Chacin and Jason Hammel

Bullpen: Huston Street, Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Reynolds and Franklin Morales

Back in the day, you could count on Rockies pitchers to struggle at home while posting a pretty solid set of numbers on the road. Those days are in the past. Last season the club posted a better ERA at home (3.86) than on the road (4.04).

Jimenez had a brilliant start to the 2010 season, going 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA in the first half. He came back to earth in the second half, but still finished the year at 19-8, with a 2.88 ERA and 1.155 WHIP. De la Rosa likewise got off to a nice start, but injuries derailed him and he was largely ineffective when he returned.

The club must hope Aaron Cook’s performance last year was nothing more than a blip in his career progression, as his 5.08 ERA was more than a run higher than his average for the previous five years.

If the club is to improve away from home, better efforts from Cook and Hammel would go a long way towards achieving that goal: they posted 5.85 and 5.71 ERAs, respectively, in road games last year.

Felipe Paulino, acquired from Houston in the deal that sent infielder Clint Barmes to the Astros, is a dark horse to join the rotation this spring if any of the other starters should struggle or get injured.

The back end of the bullpen is very strong. Huston Street enters the season as the closer after posting 20 saves in 25 opportunities last year. The bullpen in front of him is deep and includes a solid veteran trio in Belisle, Betancourt and Lindstrom, who would be a tremendous addition if he can harness his stuff and remain healthy. The Rox potentially have one of the top bullpens in the league if everyone can stay healthy.

Prediction for 2011: 2nd place (87-75)

The Rockies spent a lot of money this winter, but it wasn’t in free agency. They opted to lock up Tulowitzki (6 years, $119 M) and Carlos Gonzalez (7 years, $80 M) to long-term deals. Those two guys, along with SP Ubaldo Jimenez, provide the core for a team that could compete for a division title this season.

As stated in the body of the article, the club’s ability to compete for a title will be predicated on its ability to compete tougher and win ballgames on the road. I expect some improvement in that regard in 2011, but not to the point where they will be able to overtake the defending world champions.


Top Five Prospects:

1. Tyler Matzek, LHP
2. Wilin Rosario, C
3. Christian Freidrich, LHP
4. Kyle Parker, OF
5. Rex Brothers, LHP

Matzek was the Rockies’ first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, when he was the top high school pitcher in the country. Some pundits believe he fell out of the top ten in the draft due to his pre-draft declaration that he was “looking for unprecedented money” to forego college. The Rockies opened up the vault and gave Matzek $3.9 million late in the signing period to join the organization.

He pitched for Asheville (South Atlantic League) last year and posted a 5-1 record with a 2.92 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. He was named the league’s No. 3 prospect (No. 1 pitching prospect) at the end of the year despite having suffered with a bout of biceps tendinitis.

He has four good pitches, but his low-90s fastball is clearly the strongest pitch in his repertoire (rating a “70″ on the scout’s 20-80 scale). His fastball sometimes hit 96 during his rookie campaign, but it would often touch the upper-90s when he was in high school. Scouts believe he has the potential to increase his velocity as he matures.

His secondary pitches are still a work in progress, with the slider being the most well-developed among them (rating a “60″ on the scouting scale). His curve ball is pretty good but needs some work. His changeup is furthest away, as the scouts say he slows his arm speed noticeably when throwing it.

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2011 Colorado Rockies: Projecting the Lineup

The 2011 Colorado Rockies have a lot of potential firepower in their mostly very young lineup.  Jim Tracy has yet to make a final decision on an opening day roster, but in looking at his spring training games so far, piecing a projected lineup together is getting a little easier.

The Rockies have a couple of the game’s hottest bats right now and this could be a breakout year for them, which in turn could lead to a very good year for the Rockies.  A few questions remain, but let’s take a look at what the Rockies lineup might look like on opening day.

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2011 Colorado Rockies Season Preview and Predictions

The Colorado Rockies were unable to make it back to the postseason for a third time in four years, as they finished 2010 third in the division with a record of 83-79.

The Rockies, however, have the pieces in place to make it back to the playoffs this season, as they have a ton of great players on the field and on the mound. Colorado should contend for its first NL West crown in team history.

Here is a closer look at the Rockies’ starting lineup and starting rotation for the 2011 season, plus our MLB predictions on where they will wind up the year in the NL West.


Starting Lineup

The Rockies have two of the best young players in the game in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. Both have what it takes to bring home the MVP award this year if they can stay healthy and Colorado contends for the division title.

Tulowitzki hit .315 with 27 home runs and 95 RBI. Gonzalez busted onto the scene to lead the NL with a .336 batting average, providing a lot of power with 37 home runs and 117 RBI.

The Rockies also have Todd Helton, who will continue to hit in the middle of the lineup. However, Helton will be 37-years-old this season and simply is not the player he once was.

The Rockies are also high on center fielder Dexter Flower and third baseman Ian Stewart. Flower led the majors with 14 triples last season and, at the age of 24, he still has a ton of room to grow. Stewart is also a young 26 and, while he hit only .256, he managed to hit 18 home runs and drive in 61 RBI.

Another guy Colorado would like to see improve this year is right fielder Seth Smith, who started off great but ended up hitting just .192 with five home runs and 14 RBI after the All-Star break.

The Rockies would also like to see better stats out of catcher Chris Iannetta and newly acquired second baseman Jose Lopez, both of whom had great 2009 seasons only to disappoint in 2010.


Starting Rotation

The Rockies appear to have their ace of the future in Ubaldo Jimenez who, in his breakout season, threw the first no-hitter in team history, going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA.  Jimenez gives the Rockies just what they have been looking for at the top of the rotation.

After Jimenez, the Rockies have a pretty good No. 2 starter in Jorge De La Rosa and an up-and-coming prospect in Jhoulys Chacin.

De La Rosa didn’t quite have the success he had in 2009, but should be able to bounce back this season. Chacin went just 9-11 but had a 3.28 ERA and 1.27 WHIP at the age of just 23, which has us thinking 2011 could be a breakout season for the youngster.

The back of the rotation doesn’t figure to bring the same punch. Both Jason Hammel and Aaron Cook struggled to get it going in 2010, and we have a hard time seeing either starter making a huge improvement.


2011 Projections: Second Place NL West

No question the Rockies have what it takes to win the West this year, and we would actually be shocked if they didn’t increase their win total from last season.  However, overcoming the San Francisco Giants and their top of the line rotation will be a difficult task.

The Rockies’ MLB odds to win the NL West this season are currently listed at +200.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Carlos Gonzalez: Why the Colorado Rockies Made a Mistake by Extending Him

Carlos Gonzalez had a breakout season last year, and Colorado Rockies fans are drooling all over themselves with the thought of having their young star around until at least 2017.

That became a reality today when the Rockies agreed to sign Gonzalez to a seven-year contract extension in the $80 million range, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post, via Twitter.

At first glance, it appears as though the Rockies got a great deal on a premium player, but don’t be fooled.

The Rockies haven’t had much success with long-term contracts, and Carlos Gonzalez has hardly proved that he is a premium major league talent. This could get, well, rocky.

Gonzalez, 25, came into his own in the outfield for the Colorado Rockies last season. The young left-handed hitter exceeded all expectations, posting an incredible slash line of .336 / .376 / .598, belting 34 home runs and driving in 117 runs.

Praised as a “five-tool outfielder” throughout his career in the minor leagues, he utilized all five of those tools in 2010, hitting for average, hitting for power, stealing 26 bases while being caught stealing just eight times and collecting eight outfield assists.

An impressive season, without a doubt, and at first glance, you can see why the Rockies have no problem paying “CarGo” over $11 million a year over the next seven seasons—but did they have to?

Acquired in the deal that sent former Rockies star outfielder Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics, Gonzalez played his first full season in 2010, appearing in 145 games in the Rockies’ outfield. In years prior, he played in just 89 games for the Rockies in 2009 and 85 for the Athletics in 2008 before he was traded.

Interestingly enough, Gonzalez has bounced around the minor leagues, even at a young age. After signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela, the D-Backs sent him to Oakland in the mega-deal that landed Arizona Dan Haren, and the A’s later sent him to Colorado for half a season of Holliday.

Don’t get it twisted—the Rockies are happy to have him.

With that being said, however, the young outfielder has accrued just over a year of major league service time. That means that without his extension, he wouldn’t have been eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. Even more interestingly, the Rockies could have had Gonzalez for at least one more cheap season. The outfielder isn’t even eligible for arbitration until 2012.

By most people’s standards, the Rockies jumped the gun on this one. Buying out a talented player’s arbitration years before they actually reach arbitration isn’t all that uncommon. What is rather surprising is that the Rockies are paying him $11 million a season without even fully knowing what they are getting themselves into.

If anything, you would think that the Rockies would have learned from their mistakes in the past, offering free agents long-term contracts without being fully aware of what they’re getting in return.

The first mistake came in the form of one of the worst free agent signings in the history of baseball, when the Colorado Rockies inked starting pitcher Mike Hampton to an eight-year, $121 million deal after the 2000 season, one of the most lucrative sports contracts of all time. (According to Wikipedia, it is now the 29th largest contract of all time.)

The deal, which would pay Hampton more than $15 million annually, was signed after he posted a record of 15-10 with the New York Mets the year prior to go with an ERA of 3.14. Though SABRmetrics weren’t used much back in 2000, if they had been, the Rockies may have avoided this fatal flaw, as Hampton’s 3.82 FIP may have raised a few eyebrows.

Regardless, the deal was signed, and Hampton disappointed more than a few people in the first year of his contract. He posted a record of 14-13 in his first full season with the Rockies, and his 5.41 ERA was among the worst of qualifying pitchers.

In recent years, the Rockies organization has made several adjustments to their ballpark to limit pitchers struggling like this, including adding the humidor, but in terms of performance, Hampton wouldn’t have been much better. His command was sporadic and his psyche took a nasty hit in Colorado.

The following year was even worse. He posted a losing record of 7-15 with the Rockies and an ERA over six in 30 starts. Just two seasons into their eight-year pact, the Rockies had seen enough. They would go on to eat a large portion of his contract and trade him to the Florida Marlins, along with Juan Pierre, for four players, including Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson.

The second long-term commitment the Rockies made was to longtime first baseman and face of the Rockies franchise Todd Helton. After a 2002 season that saw Helton post a slash line of .329 / .429 / .577, along with 30 home runs, the Rockies signed Helton to a nine-year, $141.5 million contract.

Unlike Hampton, Helton performed well over the course of his contract. He batted over .300 during the first five years of the deal, with his lowest home run total being 15, as he resorted to being more of a contact first baseman. He played above average defense and compiled 31.8 WAR through 2010.

The biggest flaw in Helton’s game has always been injuries. He missed significant time in 2008 with back problems and has missed time in every year since. It worried the Rockies enough to rework the back end of his contract, which would extend him two years at a lower salary and defer $13.1 million.

As time passes by, however, this seems to be the way the Rockies franchise likes to operate. In the 2010 offseason, they locked up the new face of their franchise, All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, to a 10-year, $157.75 million extension. Though it is unfair to judge an extension that has not taken effect yet, it is worth noting that the Rockies extended a player that they already had under contract until after the 2014 season.

So why was it unwise to agree to an extension with Carlos Gonzalez so prematurely?

The Rockies had time to wait on Gonzalez. Since he was not eligible for arbitration until after the 2011 season, they could have waited to see how he performed following his breakout year. If he regressed to normal, which seems likely at this point, judging from his astronomical highs in 2010, they may have been unable to extend him at a friendlier rate.

Scott Boras, Gonzalez’s agent, must have been thinking the same thing. Known for taking his players all the way through arbitration and into free agency, Boras jumped at the opportunity to get his client, an unknown talent in the outfield with great potential, security for the rest of his life.

In fact, if Gonzalez is able to maintain his success, he’ll be eligible for another huge deal when he reaches free agency again at age 32—a year older than fellow Boras client Jayson Werth, who just inked a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

Now that the Rockies and Gonzalez have agreed to an extension, they are in it for the long haul. Bill James projects Gonzalez to post a slash line of .308 / .357 / .545 with 28 home runs. However, to most baseball experts, James’ projections are compared to “best case scenarios,” and Gonzalez might not even perform that well.

He doesn’t have great speed but can steal bases, and he isn’t a great defender but isn’t a slouch in the outfield either. He could work on lowering his strikeout rate and raising his walk rate; patience at the plate has never been his forte.

When the ink dries on Gonzalez’ contract, the Rockies will have a large chunk of money tied up in a select group of players—Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Jorge De La Rosa, Aaron Cook, Huston Street and Gonzalez, with another potential huge contract on the way for young ace Ubaldo Jimenez. It wouldn’t have hurt the Rockies to wait Gonzalez out for a few seasons to see how he performs.

So even though Rockies fans should be glad to have a talent like Carlos Gonzalez around for the foreseeable future, you have to wonder whether he’ll ever be able to have another season like he did in 2010, and if waiting a few years would have saved the Rockies a few dollars. Only time will tell.

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Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Five 2011 MLB Surprise Teams

Now that the least interesting World Series in years is finally over, all 30 MLB teams can again have hopes and dreams for the upcoming season. Most of the 2010 playoff teams are again favorites heading into the off-season, but there is always yearly change in who makes the playoffs. 

The following list is mostly compiled of teams who were not competitive at all late into the year. The teams are in order of how much change their 2011 season will be from their respective 2010 seasons. A major motif for these teams is how their youth will take it to the next level.

Here are the teams that were considered afterthoughts in 2010, but who are going to surprise everyone in the 2011 season. 

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Jim Tracy Costs the Colorado Rockies When It Matters Most

Take off the purple-colored glasses for a minute. Forget about the magic of 2009. Forget about the past for a moment.

The Rockies had climbed back into the game on Carlos Gonzalez’s first career grand slam. With the score 8-6, Joe Beimel allowed Stephen Drew, a guy who seems to only hit against the Rockies, to hit a solo home run to right field to expand the lead to 9-6.

Anyone who follows baseball knows that if there ever was a must-win for the Colorado Rockies, Thursday was it.

Apparently Jim Tracy didn’t get that memo.

All of the talk recently has been about the Rockies’ burned-out bullpen. Well, don’t ask Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt if they are out of gas—they haven’t pitched since Sunday.

With the closer and setup man comfortably resting in the bullpens, newly acquired Octavio Dotel promptly served up a solo home run to Chris Young to open the bottom of the eighth, giving Arizona a comfortable four-run lead.

Hindsight is 20/20, but after the Rockies climbed back to within a run of the Diamondbacks in the top of the ninth, those tack-on runs that Arizona added in the seventh and eighth innings sure seemed important.

Shining brightly on the scoreboard for Tracy to see was the score of the Giants-Cubs game. It was clear that a loss would move the Rockies 3.5 games out of first place with 10 games to go. That means that even a sweep of the Giants wouldn’t even put the Rockies in front of them. That means that the Rockies effectively moved themselves from a contender into an extreme long shot in just four days.

When a game means as much as Thursday’s did for the Rockies, it must be treated like Game 7 of the World Series. Instead, Tracy treated it as just a regular season game in May. There is absolutely no sense of urgency from the man calling the shots for the Rockies.

Make no mistake—the bad calls didn’t start in the eighth inning for Tracy. Manny Delcarmen was summoned to pitch the sixth inning for the Rockies after Esmil Rogers had let things get out of hand. Since coming over from the Red Sox, there has been one thing that the right-hander has let everyone know: The trade did not affect his ability to miss the strike zone. He does that very well.

Delcarmen walked a man and gave up two hits and a run…a run that ended up being extremely crucial. He did this with Matt Reynolds, the reliever who has been extremely effective for the Rockies since they called him up in August, comfortably resting in the bullpen.

Someone needs to tell Tracy that the Rockies are 3.5 games behind in the NL West race. The way he is calling the shots, it looks as if he is nursing a four- or five-game lead.

Case in point is September call-up Paul Phillips making the start behind the plate on Sunday with a chance to sweep the Dodgers. Phillips is a good player; he has Major League experience and is not going to be in awe of where he is. That said, he spent nearly the entire season in Triple-A for a reason. He is the perfect example of a journeyman catcher.

Maybe it was coincidence, but in that game Rockies pitchers were charged with four wild pitches. One of those wild pitches allowed the leadoff hitter to get on base in an inning in which the Dodgers scored three runs with two outs.

There is no doubt that players have to rest. Miguel Olivo simply cannot catch every single game. Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt cannot pitch in every game. Todd Helton is another guy who cannot play every day.

However, with Jason Giambi going 1-for-8 since launching a walk-off home run against the Diamondbacks on September 12th, a game in which the Rockies were in a must-win situation was not the time to put him in the lineup.

The Rockies felt the effects of his poor defense when Jonathan Herrera made an errant throw in the fifth inning when the Diamondbacks put four runs on the board. It was a bad throw, without a doubt. However, Helton most likely at least catches the ball and keeps an additional run from coming across.

There simply is no sense of urgency with Tracy. It was not simply one situation where he could be second-guessed on Thursday; it was multiple times.

Mistakes happen. Every manager makes them over the course of 162 games. However, mistakes like Tracy continues to make are mind-boggling. Rockies fans are quickly understanding why Tracy was shown the door in both Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. He makes the same mistakes over and over and never takes responsibility for them.

For the most part, the Rockies’ postseason hopes are over. They essentially need to sweep the Giants in the weekend series at Coors Field and then lose only one of the remaining seven games. It can happen, but the odds of that are highly unlikely.

In fact, if the Rockies fail to sweep the Giants, they may as well pack it in. They need to gain three games in the standings, not one. Losing a single game to the Giants and their three best pitchers simply is not an option.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com.

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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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