Monday Morning Manager – 4/9/07

Since I last posted, the Rockies lost the last two games of their road series in San Diego, each by one run. My biggest problem or objection was with the way that the pitching was handled in the late innings of those games.
On Saturday night Josh Fogg looked fairly strong. Fogg’s a battler, but how often is he going to take the Rockies into the seventh and only allow one run. He gave up the solo shot to Russel Branyan in the fourth, but that was one of the few really bad pitches he made all night.

After Fogg comes out in the seventh with one out and one on, Affeldt lets the Padres tie the game. His only job is to get out left-handers in the late innings of games, and he couldn’t even get that done. This mistake isn’t really on Hurdle, because Affeldt’s job is to strike out left-handers, and get us into the eighth so Hawkins and then Fuentes can come in and sew the game up. Jeremy Affeldt has devastating stuff, with a huge curveball, and a four-seam fastball that can touch 95 or 96 when he’s really bringing it. He pitched great Friday night, but he just didn’t bring it on Saturday. Sure Corpas gave up the winning run, but if Affeldt sets down Brian Giles and Adrian Gonzalez, we can go to Ramirez or Copas in the eighth with a lead, or even let Fuentes go for the two-inning save.

On Sunday afternoon, Aaron Cook had one of the best performances of his career. He two-hit the Padres through seven innings, and just looked absolutely on top of his game. He was getting up early, and he had his sinker working, which resulted in a ton of groundball outs.


Cook had thrown great to that point, and if it had been a 4 or 5 run lead, he should’ve gotten a chance to finish the game. However, we were only up one run in a road division game, that we could have used a win in. (I don’t think you can win the division in the first couple months of the season, but you can definately lose it.) Our two young guns in the ‘pen, Ramirez and Corpas have both been throwing fairly well, excluding Corpas’ performance Saturday night, and if I’m managing this team I would hope I would think to question how much more Cook is really going to give me. I can’t believe Hurdle didn’t pinch hit Baker or Mabry in the top of the eighth with two runners on. I think Clint Hurdle is a great human being, and I have absolutely no qualms with his character. However, because of his apparent aim to let his starters go as far as they can, even in close games, I am nervous for the rest of this season. We have the talent to compete in the NL West this year and even we don’t win it we can win the Wild Card. But if we have a manager who is constantly go for broke in the late innings and let his starters finish games, that will be the difference between winning 85-90 games and making the playoffs, or winning 70 games and finishing as the laughingstock in the National League once again.

I made a joke about finiding statistics to support giving O’Dowd and Hurdle two-year contract extensions before the season in my first post, and I just plain haven’t been able to. I think this game shows why the Monforts should have waited at least until mid-season to evaluate Hurdle’s performance and then begin the conversation about whether or not to give him a new contract, and if they decide to let him go at the end of the year, throw as much money as is legal at former Rockies catcher Joe Girardi. Hurdle was a great batting coach when that was his only responsibility, but I’m just not sure he has what it takes to win with this team.

We’re putting up Francis against the Dodgers and Jason Schmidt today at 2:10 mountain time, and I hope we can put something up against a team that has taken 14 of our last 17 matchups. I can’t believe I didn’t get to the problem of Taveras and Finley teaming up to hit 3 for 28 out of the lead off spot so far this season, so instead I’ll leave you with my lineup today if I’m Hurdle.

1 – Jamey Carroll, CF
2 – Kazuo Matsui, 2B
3 – Garret Atkins, 3B
4 – Todd Helton, 1B
5 – Matt Holliday, LF
6 – Brad Hawpe, RF
7 – Troy Tulowitzki, SS
8 – Chris Ianetta, C
9 – Jeff Francis, P


Saturday Night Fever – 4/7/07

So Wednesday was get out of town day for the Rocks, and they definately came through with an offensive explosion to end the series with a bang. The game was fairly close, with the Rockies up 4-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. A huge offensive inning followed, and we ended up going into the ninth with a an 11-2 lead. Fuentes was warming up, and we were thinking he’d have his first save opportunity of the season, but he ended up sitting down after the runs started pouring in, and Rockies fans got to see Taylor Buchholz in action for the first time this season. He gave up a couple of cheap runs, but at that point the game was pretty much already in hand.
A few quick observations from the game:
– Rodrigo Lopez looked very solid. He had a 6 pitch first inning, and made probably one bad pitch all day, which Eric Byrnes took deep .
– The offense finally put together a good inning and showed the type of threat the should pose night in and night out. If I’m a pitcher (especially one from the National League West) that has to go against that lineup on a night when they’re on, I might pee my pants.
– Hawkins didn’t scare me the whole inning he pitched for the first time in three games.
– Carroll looked solid, and hopefully while he’s playing the super utility role he’ll get to start every few games.
– I hope Ianetta will be able to keep it together and play well. but if he struggles for more than a couple days it looks like Torrealba will definately be able to fill in and hit well.
– Lastly, Baker has a chance to go for a pinch hit cycle the next game he gets into. (Baker just plain looks awesome at the plate, and I definately don’t mind having a backup outfielder who can mash as well as the starters.)

I’d like to take a moment now to touch on last night’s game. I didn’t get to see a whole lot of it, (The restaurant I was at had one small tv at the end of the bar, but they decided Braves-Mets was a whole lot more worthwhile. I mean we are still in Colorado after all. Makes total sense to me…) but Hirsh definately had a strong season debut. His final line was something like 6 2/3 innings, 8 strikeouts, 6 hits, and one bad pitch which Termel Sledge took yard in the fifth.

Hirsh struck Adrian Gonzalez out on an absolutely filthy change in the top of the fourth. He looked really solid tonight. I can’t say how well he’ll pitch the rest of the year, (being as this is the first time he’s gotten lots of playing time in the bigs) but if he throws close to how he threw last night we will definately have a have a very solid rotation. Both Hirsh and Lopez located very well in their first starts, threw first pitch strikes, and really didn’t mess around. It’s only been one start for both, but I’m very psyched on both decisions as it currently stands.

– Taveras can’t get a hit to save his life, but when he gets on he looks: probable to steal a base, and virtually a lock to score a run.
– Holliday is definately hot right now, and he’s showing the form that made him an All-Star last year.
– Matsui went 3 for 4 on the night, and his first three hits were two infield singles and a triple. He’s definately bringing the speed on the basepaths we need from our early hitters, and unlike Taveras, he’s making contact and getting on base every game.
– Hawkins is starting to look like he might be able to set things up for Fuentes without blowing too many games in dramatic fashion, like opening day. (I’ve still got my fingers crossed on this one, and I definately need to see him pitch some more, but the last two games he’s looked solid.)
– My last observation on the game concerns T-Rex, or as he’s known to baseball fans outside of Colorado, Brian Fuentes. My roommate told me when I walked in today that the reason he ran in on Mike Cameron and hit him, and gave up the two run homer to Khalil Greene, was that three runs was much too easy for him. He needed to give himself a challenge, and he definately settled down and put down the last three batters in a row. I know I was definately never worried after the home run, because he has shown over the past two years that he is a monster in the ninth inning.

Anyways, to wrap up tonight’s entry, game time is in about 30 minutes, and I’m super excited. Will Fogg be able to keep pace with the two new entries in rotation? Will our offense be able to get to Wells? (We know he won’t be drunk since he has been recently been diagnosed with diabetes.) The word’s just coming out that Baker will be making the start in right in place of Hawpe, and I’m definately excited for his first start of the season.

Next post hopefully coming soon.

The Rooks Came Through-4/4/07

What a way finish last night. I think that has to be one of the most exciting endings to a Rockies game that I’ve attended in person. As my friends and I were walking into the stadium last night all anyone could mention was how excited they were to be back at one of the best places in the world to see a baseball game, Coors Field.
Taveras got on and stole a base, eventually getting driven in by Holliday who seemed ready to drop out of his slump. Francis pitched pretty well, only getting hit hard in the fourth when he gave up two runs, but it seemed like he couldn’t get into a solid rhytym. Maybe it was the weather? It had to be around 40 degrees with a breeze for most of the game. It wasn’t optimal baseball weather, but I think one of the guys sitting in front of us summed it up best when he said “at least we’re not shoveling snow off the seats.”

The game went late with the rookies all playing pretty well. Baker pinch hit for Francis in the sixth, got a double and is now 2 for 2 on the season. Tulo and Ianetta both lined out a couple times but they came through when it mattered (we’ll get to that in a second) and both Corpas (The Panimaniac) and Ramirez tossed another scoreless inning.

Fuentes looked good, even getting a strikeout when he threw in the top of the ninth. Kim looked good for the first two batters, then walked one and hit one and luckily got out of the inning only giving up one run. Hawkins really didn’t look solid. I feel like he can bring the heat and throw the fastball, but it seems like he can’t really locate it and I think he was lucky to not give up another rally last night.

After Kim gave up the run to put Arizona up 3-2, it was maybe 40 degrees and we were among maybe 2,000 people still at the stadium. (Remarkably, there was a solid group of about 25-30 people sitting in the Rockpile right up until the end. Helton and Holliday both got on with singles, and super utility man Jamey Carrol got on the field for the first time this season, pinch-running for Helton at second. Hawpe hit into a double play, but Carrol was able to advance to third. Now there’s two outs, we have a runner on third, and up comes our rookie shortstop to face Arizona’s closer who struck out the side in the ninth the previous night. Tulo works the count for a couple pitches and finally connects. He drives it to deep right field, and it ends up hitting Eric Byrnes in the heel of the glove. (None of us realized this until we called a friend after the game) Tulo slid into second with an RBI double that scored the tying run. Ianetta steps up to the plate, and the few people remaining are pumped. My friend Zac called Ianetta with the walkoff in the bottom of the ninth which didn’t happen, but he had another chance to put it away with Tulo on second. Ianetta laced a ball between third base and short, and Tulo strode in to score, beating the ball home by three or four steps. The only way this worked was the smart baseball play Ianetta made by sliding into first. The throw was over the first baseman’s head and he got pulled off the bag, almost made the tag but Ianetta got in and the game was over. The Rockies had won their first extra innings game of the season. The team caught up with Tulo at home plate and celebrated for a few seconds before heading for the locker room to get out of the cold. My friends and I went crazy, even high-fiving a bunch of Coors employees on the way out of the stadium. The win made the long cold walk back to the car completely worht it.

In conclusion, our leadoff, third and fifth batters are 3 for 27 after the first two games, and Taveras has like six strikeouts. The good news is our 6,7,8 slots have been solid so far, and I think we’re all confident Atkins and Holliday will come around. Taveras could be splitting time with Finley in center soon, but we’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. I think the starting pitching will be fine, and I look for our pitchers to be throwing even better in a couple of weeks when there won’t be a night game at this temperature.

First Post Ever

I’ve never written a blog or done anything like this so we’ll see how it goes. My main goal is to keep whoever is reading this informed about my opinions on the team who will someday be known as the greatest baseball organization in the world.
Five things I noticed about yesterday’s game:
– The young guns in the bullpen pitched pretty well with both Corpas and Ramirez putting up a scoreless inning on 12 pitches.
– Hawpe made contact and ended up with three singles and a couple RBI, but he couldn’t come through with one out, Helton on second, and a solid chance to tie the game or at least knock Helton in.
– The jury is still out on LaTroy Hawkins. I’m not super confident I have faith in him, but it’s also possible he did just make a bad pitch to Byrnes and he’ll rebound from this and start to pitch well. I’ll give him a couple more outings before I judge him either way.
– Taveras needs to be able to make contact with the ball and get on base, no more bunting on an 0-2 count.
– Holliday looked like he was just trying too hard, I have a feeling he’ll find his groove, and that it will be sooner rather than later.

I will be at the game tonight, and am looking forward to getting out to the ballpark for the first time this season. Here is something to chew on before first pitch tonight, which is at 6:35.
– Hurdle will be serving his one-game suspension for his role in the incident which ended up with Francis hitting Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.
– Will Holliday and Atkins be able to get on the scorecard for something besides an error today?
– How will Francis look after signing that big-money extension?
– Can Helton continue his career BA of .519 against Livan Hernandez?
– Will Taveras be able to make contact with the ball?

Hopefully i’ll get some answers and the Rocks will knock a win out. Coming up in the next post, I will try and find some statistics to support giving O’Dowd a two-year contract extension before his supposed make or break season (in terms of getting his contract renewed). I know it will be tough but I’ll see what I can find.