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.

My biggest question is: WHAT THE **** IS HURDLE THINKING WHEN HE LEAVES COOK IN FOR THE EIGHTH?!?

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

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