Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Important Announcement

Dear faithful readers,

I have made the very difficult decision to place this site on hiatus for the time being. I've been given the opportunity to take over as editor of Rox Pile, the Rockies site on the Fansided network. I've been a contributor at Rox Pile since early in the 2011 season, but will now be writing over there full time. One of the requirements now that I'm editor is that I don't write about the Rockies for any other site, so I can concentrate my energy over there. It has been a very productive and rewarding nine months for me here, and it's hard to let it go.

I sincerely hope that, if you haven't already been reading my work on Rox Pile, you'll follow me over there. I'll be continuing my Rockies Retread and Homegrown Homecoming series there, in addition to my Weekly Link Round-Ups. Once the season starts, you can count on my regular recaps there as well.

If you subscribe to my blog, please cancel your subscription and subscribe to Rox Pile instead. Also, if you link to my site on your own site, please change the url to Thank you so much for reading and interacting with me. Despite the Rockies' major failures in 2011, it was one of my most enjoyable seasons yet as a fan, simply because I have found such a great community to cheer alongside of.

See you over at Rox Pile!

Michelle (Rockies Woman)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rockies Retread - May 8, 1993

The Braves have long been a notorious foe of the Rockies. They always seem to pitch a little bit better than we can hit. Sometimes a lot better. They were the first team the Rockies faced in the play-offs, and they won the 1995 National League Division Series 3 games to 1. The Rockies didn't sniff the postseason again until 2007. And despite 2010's very exciting three-game sweep, during the final game of which the Rox overcame a 9-run deficit to win 12-10, Atlanta owns us. They lead the all-time series 96-59.

The first time we played them was in May 1993, a four-game series at Mile High which the Braves swept, outscoring the Rockies 46-22. And it wasn't simply because of their star rotation; the only recognizable name in the win column for that series is John Smoltz. The Braves' offense went nuts, tearing up the Rockies' pitching staff. David Justice had 10 RBIs in this series all by himself, and it raised his batting average from .198 to .234.

Perhaps the most embarrassing game in the series was this one on May 8th. The Rockies lost 8-7 despite the fact that only the losing pitcher, Scott Frederickson, gave up any earned runs. And there were 2 of those.

So what happened? Bruce Ruffin, the starting pitcher, didn't give up a single solitary run until the 8th inning. He was pitching a gem, a 4-hit shutout. He did walk 5, but hadn't allowed anybody to score when the 8th began. The Rockies were up 6-0. With 1 out, Otis Nixon singled and Mark Lemke walked. Willie Blair came in for Ruffin, who should have been in line for the win. And then the wheels came off. Jeff Blauser hit a grounder to shortstop Vinny Castilla, who should have turned an inning-ending double play. Instead, he dropped it, and everybody was safe. Ron Gant came to the plate. He hit a line drive to second baseman Eric Young. Not only did EY not make the play at first, he failed to make the play at the plate as well. Two errors were charged to him as Nixon and Lemke scored.

David Justice walked to advance Gant and Blauser and load the bases. There was still only one out. Blair was clearly not handling the traffic well. His response to the situation was to give up a pinch-hit grand slam to - who else? - Sid Bream. Just like that, the game was tied at 6 without a single earned run allowed by a Rockies pitcher.

Blair ended the inning without any further damage, but Frederickson would not be so lucky in the 9th. He gave up RBI singles to Blauser and Justice, which put the Braves up 8-6. Mike Stanton (not that Mike Stanton) came in to close the game. He nearly lost it when a 2-out single by Andres Galarraga scored EY from 2nd. But Dante Bichette grounded into a force to end it.

They say defense is the difference between a play-off team and one that goes home in October. As we all know, the 1993 Rockies did not go near the play-offs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weekly Link Round-Up

This round-up is both shorter (holiday weekend and all) and heavy on Michael Cuddyer reactions.

  • I've got a new writer at Rox Pile, Hayden Kane, who wrote a terrific post on why Cuddyer would be a good fit for the Rockies before the deal was done.
  • Hayden also wrote this follow-up post which is even better. Kid is gunning for my job. I just might give it to him if he keeps this up.
  • David Martin says the move reflects the Rockies' inability to lock a player into a single position. It's a keen observation.
  • Mark Townsend reminds us that we would probably react strongly to any big free agent signing, especially since they rarely happen, and that Cuddyer brings a lot to the team.
  • Heyyyyyyy Justin Klugh. You're officially my biggest writing crush of all time. And now you know. XOXO Rockies Woman.
  • The Indians should know better than to put Jose Lopez back on the same team with Ubaldo Jimenez. This is just a theory, but I'm pretty sure Ubaldo's implosion last year could be blamed on his proximity to Lopez.
  • I wouldn't mind it if the Rockies got Brad Lidge. At least we know the man can breathe above sea level.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: David Nied

David Nied's name will always be remembered by true blue Rockies fans. He was the first player to officially join the roster, taken in the expansion draft from the Atlanta Braves. He had made his debut the previous September, so when he came to the Rockies he had only 23 innings of major league experience. When you consider who the Braves had coming down the pipe back then, it's no wonder they didn't protect Nied in the draft.

Nied earned the opportunity to start the very first Rockies game on April 5th, 1993. The offense couldn't give him a single run, so he recorded a loss. And truth be told, he really wasn't very good. He managed only one winning season (9-7 record in 1994), and his ERA was below 4.00 only once: 1992, when he pitched in six games for the Braves. In '93 he issued 42 walks and only struck out 46. In his final season, 1996, he only pitched 5 1/3 innings, but he found a way to walk 8 guys in those innings. This is especially weird when you consider his stats with the Richmond Braves in 1992 (a team that also featured Tom Glavine and Kevin Millwood). His K/9 rate was 8.52 and his BB/9 rate was 2.36. Go figure.

So what happened to David Nied? How did he go from being the pitcher Don Baylor felt most confident about on opening day 1993 to disappearing into obscurity after appearing in just eight games in his final two seasons? Well, he mostly pitched at Mile High, and that turned out to wreak more than the average wear and tear on an arm. There's also some speculation that the premature birth of his son during the 1993 season proved to be a distraction to big to overcome. And he has said that he tried to come back too quickly following the 1994 strike, not conditioning his arm properly prior to pitching.

Nied was granted free agency following the 1996 season and signed with the Cincinnati Reds. But it was clear that he was shot, and he opted to retire rather than take a minor-league assignment with the team. He was supposedly happily married and living with his family in Dallas, though if Wikipedia is to be believed, he's now married to a former contestant from The Bachelor. And if you go to the website for the TV show Southwest Outdoors Report, there is a host mentioned by the name of Heather Cranford-Nied. And YouTube has a video of her performing her hosting duties. So there you have it. I prefer to remember David Nied as the first face of the Rockies franchise. We could have done far far worse than him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rockies News 12/14-12/20

There was only one piece of Rockies news that mattered this past week:

  • WE SIGNED Michael Cuddyer. There is still a lot of controversy (and a LOT of arguing) among Rockies fans about whether this was actually a good idea. I've already said what I think (that it was a good idea), so I'll just briefly highlight the pros and cons here. Pros: He hits for power. He has defensive versatility. He has play-off experience. He is a good guy. Cons: He was REALLY expensive. And he's not exactly a sure thing. Let's be optimistic though, guys. I've said this before and I'll say it again: postseason is not a possibility in 2012 unless a miracle happens with the rotation. It's overcrowded and underexperienced and it looks nothing like a play-off rotation. But it could in 2013, and by then Cuddyer could be helping to anchor a reinvigorated offense. This is all speculation, but so is everything you think too. That's why they play the games.
  • Okay, one more thing. We also signed third baseman Casey Blake to a one-year deal. I'm not a huge fan of Blake's and he visits the DL more often than I'm comfortable with, but he can play 3rd till Jordan Pacheco/Nolan Arenado are ready to take over and he's not a bad hitter when healthy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rockies Retread - May 4, 1993

We all remember those mid-'90s days at Mile High Stadium/Coors Field, when there was always a chance that balls would start flying out of the yard in unprecedented numbers. Shockingly, none of the records for combined home runs by two teams in a single game are held by the Rockies + somebody else. Still, there was something to that whole thin air/dry air/mountain-freshness-infused air notion that kept it from ever being just a myth. Fly balls travel a little further in Denver. And a little faster.

This game between the Rockies and Cubs was certainly a home run derby. The Rockies won 14-13, with a combined six home runs between the two teams. The Rox got things going after 4 scoreless innings, with back-to-back lead-off homers by Joe Girardi and Jerald Clark in the 5th. Charlie Hayes hit a 2-run bomb in the 6th, scoring Dante Bichette. The Cubs scored the first non-homer RBI when Mark Grace drove in Jose Vizcaino with a single. Grace contributed a 2-run single in the 7th, as did Willie Wilson, putting the Cubs up 5-4.

The Rockies answered that with a 6-run 8th inning. Poor Dan Plesac allowed those runs to cross the plate, though 2 were charged to Heathcliff Slocumb, who didn't record an out. Plesac intentionally walked Vinny Castilla and Eric Young to load the bases with 2 outs. Jim Tatum came to the plate, pinch-hitting for Alex Cole, worked a 10-pitch at-bat, and hit a grand slam.

The Cubbies weren't about to go quietly, though. Scott Frederickson, who had worked a scoreless 8th, came to the mound to try to finish things off and gave up back-to-back singles. Gary Wayne was called upon to get Mark Grace out, and he did. Then Darren Holmes came in to close it out. He walked Ryne Sandberg, then gave up an RBI groundout, an RBI double, and a 3-run home run to Sammy Sosa. Tied.

Things fell apart for Chicago in the 11th. Clark hit a 2-run double with 2 outs. Then Jose Vizcaino tried to go out on a short fly ball from Castilla and fudged the catch so bad that both Clark and Hayes (from 3rd) scored. Poor Chuck McElroy. Yeah, he allowed a few baserunners. But this loss can't really be blamed on him. If those unearned runs don't score, the Cubs win 13-12. Way to go Vizcaino.

The Cubs scored three more runs in that inning on, among other things, another homer from Sosa. But it wasn't enough for them to pull out the win.

And remember that thing I said about home run derbies at Coors? This one was played at the Friendly Confines folks. So there you have it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekly Link Round-Up

Stuff to read.

  • Is it just me, or did the Diamondbacks' rotation just cross the line from "good" to "others in the division better run for cover"?
  • Andrew Martin considers what the Rockies' recent moves say about the front office's attitude toward the players.
  • Seedlings to Stars thinks Drew Pomeranz is the 29th-best prospect in baseball.
  • James Loney rakes against the Rockies, but it turns out the breathalyzer rakes against him.
  • Jayson Stark insisted to us all that there was no way Albert Pujols would sign with someone before the end of the winter meetings. And then he did.
  • I am very definitively NOT a Braves, fan, but the guys over at Tomahawk Take have kind of been killing it lately. Fred Owens had the brilliant idea (which I will be copying at some point) to post a list of stats of Atlanta trade targets, minus the namesSo people could decide whom they'd choose without any of the prejudice that comes with knowing who a player is. Then he did a follow-up post revealing who each player was. It was awesome.
  • Old Time Family Baseball produced one of the best holiday gift lists I've ever seen. I personally need every single one of these items, especially that Jim Thome game, so Santa better get busy.
  • Juan Nicasio is my hero until further notice. Or more like forever.
  • The Mets have really rotten luck, and I think that's about 60% funny and 40% depressing. I realize it's a luxury to think it's even that funny, one that I wouldn't have if I were a dyed-in-the-wool Mets fan. But I will tell you that it totally cracked me up when I was at Citi Field last spring and the Rockies were sweeping the Mets in a 4-game series, and a bunch of guys wearing paper bags on their heads chanted "Fire Wilpon!" for at least a full inning.
  • Juan Marichal is going to have a chat with Ubaldo Jimenez to try to help him figure out what went wrong last season. In other news, Juan Marichal is awesome.
  • I can't think of many reasons to like the Red Sox, but I can think of lots of reasons to strongly dislike them. For starters, these.