Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rockies News 11/23-11/29

It was a bit of a slow week around baseball, as the holidays are upon us and the winter meetings have yet to begin. So forgive (or perhaps embrace) the brevity of this post.

  • Trade rumors continue to swirl around Seth Smith, Ian Stewart, and especially Chris Iannetta. Iannetta is entering discussion because of the Rockies' purported interest in Reds' catcher Ramon Hernandez. If they make a deal for him, they'll be able to trade Iannetta for someone who might fill another hole. I don't want to lose any of these guys, so I hope these rumors are just that.
  • The only other thing worth mentioning that happened this week is that Eric Young Jr. was fired from the Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan League. Initial reports said the reason for the dismissal was a pattern of lateness. I have to admit, I'm among those who believed those reports when they were first released. Since then, EY has issued a statement explaining his side of the story. If it's true that he was late to the game because he was concerned for his family member's safety, I think he made the right decision, especially given the situation in Venezuela. However, I think this incident raised a bigger issue. I don't think that I was wrong to assume that EY had messed up at first. Though other players report that he is very prompt, he has had some attitude problems since joining the Rockies organization. He got better as the season went on, but it wasn't always clear that he realized how important it was for him to work to improve as a player, especially defensively. He can be very sensitive to criticism and appear entitled at times. I don't say all this to attack his character, but rather to point out that when a player behaves this way, others are less apt to give him the benefit of the doubt. It's unfortunate that the Bravos let him go, and I'm sure there is plenty of truth to his side of the story. I just want him to be a little bit more mature and have a stronger work ethic as a Rockie, so that if something like this happens again my instinct will be to leap to his defense. This time it wasn't.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rockies Retread - April 14, 1993

Sometimes it's hard to remember just what the inaugural 1993 Rockies were like. Obviously, they were not great, as is typical of expansion teams. And they finished 6th in the 7-team National League West, 37 games out of first place. But what were they like, really?

It turns out, they weren't all that different from the 2011 Rockies we know and (sometimes reluctantly) love. They got a lot of their wins via big innings and home runs. And they played terribly a lot of the time. Exhibit A: this game played at home against the Mets.

For starters, pitcher Bryn Smith lasted only 5 1/3 innings, and he walked (3) more batters than he struck out (1). He allowed a run to score before he recorded an out. He also allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. And when he was replaced in the 6th, the Mets had runners on the corners with 1 out. The Rockies lost 6-3 despite putting 2 men on in the bottom of the 9th.

And then there was the sloppy fundamentals. Shortstop Freddy Benavides and second baseman Eric Young both committed errors (EY perhaps giving fans a look at what it would be like when his son played 2nd in the future). And there were not one, but TWO baserunning errors. Andres Galarraga and Dante Bichette both got caught stealing 2nd, Bichette in a rundown.

But there was also that "couldda been a game changer" play, though it came too little too late to really change the game. In the bottom of the 8th, with Mike Draper pitching, Bichette, Daryl Boston, and Alex Cole reached on singles. And then EY came up with 2 outs and hit a bases-clearing triple. Jerald Clark killed the rally and ended the inning, but it was just that sort of thing that kept the Rockies from being a total dud of a brand new team. You could almost always count on the fireworks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekly Link Round-Up

Once your turkey has fully digested and you find yourself back in your cube far sooner than you wanted to be, here's some stuff to keep you from boredom!

  • As far as kidnapping and fatal stabbings go, this really hasn't been a good offseason. Let's hope we've already filled our quota for this kind of thing.
  • 10 things you didn't know, and really will be no better for knowing, about new Astros owner Jim Crane.
  • Historian John Thorn argues convincingly that no era in baseball is better than the one that took place when you were 12. I was 12 in Denver in 1995, so no wonder I love baseball.
  • Want to get away from Tim Tebow? Move to New York! Oh wait, just kidding.
  • Just when you thought Jose Canseco couldn't get any more charming ...
  • Christina Kahrl makes a convincing argument for how the extra wild card team in each league might leach some of the excitement out of the end of the season. I for one am a fan of one-game play-offs (obviously), but will they really be that much fun when they happen every year? And will teams in certain divisions play the whole season planning to win their LDS spot in the wild card play-off? Let's really really hope not.
  • Huston Street won't play for the Mets because he and Bob Geren are permanently on the outs. Also, I don't see Mets fans putting up with the drama Huston consistently brings, seeing as how they're still getting over K-Rod.
  • The first sentence of this makes me very afraid. Though I don't know why the Rockies would ever be asked to change leagues now that there's an even number of teams in both.
  • The Terry Francona story this season has been an interesting one. He was the one, if you forgot, who finally reversed the curse for the Red Sox and their fans, bringing them to two World Series titles in eight years. So the team suffered a pretty severe meltdown in 2011, but I just don't think Francona is to blame for that. Nevertheless, his 2012 option was declined. Meanwhile, Jim Tracy is off golfing somewhere, patting himself on the back for the Rockies' fourth-place finish. What a world ... though I would like to see Francona in the broadcast booth. Right now I'm not sure I want to see Tracy anywhere.
  • This year's big awards controversy: WAR seemed to receive far less consideration than more traditional stats like ERA and OPS. Or, why is the BBWAA still stuck in the dark ages?
  • Troy Renck talks about the possibility that the Rockies move Huston Street. Mostly I hate the thought of trading anyone, but it's much easier with a non-homegrown player, and in any case Street could be very valuable in bringing over someone the team needs a lot more.
  • Purple Row's Jeff Aberle does a very thorough job imagining the results of a Martin Prado or Grady Sizemore trade. Sizemore is a moot point, but this is a good piece with a lot of intelligent analysis about the Rockies' trade pieces.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: Vinny Castilla

The final Blake Street Bomber who dominated as a member of the Rockies' lineup back in the day is Vinny Castilla. Castilla was perhaps the least flashy Bomber, not as prone to towering home runs like Andres Galarraga or panache like Dante Bichette and Larry Walker. But he was solid and consistent. Plus he played third base, and we all know how hard it is to find a productive third baseman and get him into a Rockies uniform these days.

Castilla, like Bichette and Galarraga, was a member of the inaugural 1993 team. He's also hung around the organization longer than anybody else, returning to Colorado for a season in 2004 and a handful of games in 2006 before retiring. In his final at-bat with the club, he hit an RBI single. From Mexico originally, he's coached Mexican teams in the Pan American Games and in the World Baseball Classic. Currently he's a special assistant to Dan O'Dowd, so he's still an active member of the Rockies family.

Some other Castilla factoids: he started all 162 games in 1998, the only Rockie to ever do so (guess we're still waiting on our Cal Ripken Jr). His 916 career starts at third is a Rockies record. He and Todd Helton are the only Rockies with six seasons of 30 home runs or more. And he won 3 Silver Sluggers, more than any other Rockie besides Helton and Matt Holliday (who also has 3). He was a quality player, and I hope he'll remain part of the organization for a long time to come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rockies News 11/16-11/22

  • Ty Wigginton was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. All I have to say about that is THANK GOODNESS. No disrespect to Wiggy, but he was not really even a utility player. He was like a bench-warmer with occasional bursts of power. The power was nice, but his situational hitting was so bad and his defense was so lackluster that it really wasn't worth it. In exchange for him, the Rockies got cash or a player to be named later. I would've taken a couple of beers, so that's fine. And the Rox have a ton of options for the future of 3rd base (Ian Stewart, Brandon Wood, Chris Nelson, Jordan Pacheco, Nolan Arenado), and I prefer almost any of them to Wiggy.
  • Who's Brandon Wood you say? Good question. He was in the Pirates' minor league system until the Rockies plucked him out of it this past week. The assumption is he will compete for the third base spot, though he obviously has his work cut out for him with all those other guys. I really hope he doesn't get it. Then we've got a Wiggy at 3rd all over again.
  • This doesn't involve the Rockies, but free agent and former Rockie/Astro Clint Barmes signed a 2-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Rockies did give him a brief look this offseason, and I really wish they hadn't traded him in the first place, but he can be the Bucs' starting shortstop, and that's the job he deserves to have. As long as Troy Tulowitzki is a Rockie, nobody else stands a chance at short.
  • The Salt River Rafters won the Arizona Fall League championship, and Arenado was named the Most Valuable Player of the league. So that's exciting news for the future.
  • Most recently, the Rockies have been attached to Roy Oswalt, Orlando Hudson, Michael Cuddyer, and of course, Martin Prado, though there's no sign of forward movement on that deal. One guy who's off the table for us is Grady Sizemore, who tested the market and then decided to go right back to Cleveland where he came from. He signed a 1-year deal worth $5 million with them, and I am really glad the Rockies didn't spend that kind of money on a such a risky player. A possible trade that I REALLY like is Huston Street to the Twins for Carl Pavano. It could happen because the Twins' closer Joe Nathan just signed with the Rangers.
  • Perhaps the biggest news in all of baseball this week was the realignment. The owners have approved the sale of the Houston Astros, contingent upon their move from the National League Central to the American League West. Two new wild card teams will also be added to the play-offs going forward. I for one am in favor of this; the wild card gives teams like this year's champion St. Louis Cardinals a chance to overcome an unfortunate place in a strong division and make a run. What I don't like is the fact that 15 teams in each league means an interleague series going at all times. Interleague was a really cool and special thing when it started, but it's going to be much less exciting to watch teams meet in the World Series when they've already played in the regular season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rockies Retread - April 10, 1993

Most of the games I plan to highlight in this feature will have had some importance to the Rockies community, and it's hard to know on first glance how this one does. It was a win, but it was the team's second win as a franchise. I guess you could say it was also their first winning streak as a team, but is that really worth mentioning? It only lasted two games because they lost the following one.

There's nothing much to say about what any one player did in this game. David Nied, rebounding from his opening day loss to the Mets, pitched 7 innings against the Expos and allowed 4 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks. He posted a fat 4.50 ERA over those first two starts. Offensively, Andres Galarraga hit a 2-run home run and Joe Girardi hit an RBI triple en route to a 9-5 win for the Rockies.

But what's special about this game is kind of buried in the box score. The starting left fielder for the Expos was Lou Frazier, but in the 8th inning he was pulled for a pinch-hitter: Larry Walker. It was Walker's first career appearance against the team with which he'd win an MVP, and his first time making an attempt at quality contact in the hitter's paradise that was Mile High Stadium. So he hit a home run, right? Notched a handful of RBIs? Brought Montreal within a breath of taking the lead?

Nope. Swung at 3 straight pitches and struck out. Felipe Alou felt that he was most useful on the bench after that. He was replaced by another fielder in the bottom of the inning.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekly Link Round-Up

Everything I found worth reading around the blogosphere this past week.

  • I had to weigh in on Joe Paterno. Couldn't help myself.
  • I love this cute little bird on the Orioles new uniforms. It's adorably throwback. Unlike, say, the Indian on the Indians' caps. It's an enduring mystery to me that no one has managed to get that changed yet.
  • Matt Kemp is apparently worth a lot of money, but I think the more important issue is, are we going to have to put up with him being called KeMvP for the next 12 months? And is that going to be more or less annoying than Giants' fans constantly putting "World Champion" in front of their team's name for the past 12?
  • Ty Wigginton had a little too much fun while in Taiwan. Also, I'm not sure he's exhibiting a whole lot of self-awareness when he says he can use "a little help." Also, I'm not sure I want him in a bar drinking snake blood when he could be in a batting cage practicing not grounding out to the pitcher.
  • Sam Mellinger's post on his best day in baseball along with that of many others is a must-read. And it's impossible not to think of your own best day. I wish mine had taken place in a ballpark, but it actually happened in my New York apartment at around 2:00 a.m. local time, when Matt Holliday's face hit the dirt in front of the plate.
  • Wilson Ramos is safe after his kidnapping nightmare. Only good feelings about that.
  • Seedlings to Stars rates Tim Wheeler at #56 on their prospect list, not too shabby for a guy who was almost as good as Nolan Arenado in the Arizona Fall League.
  • This MLBTR bit on Carlos Zambrano is weird. We learn nothing from the quotes, except that Zambrano is very familiar with the days of the week and also with the location of this year's winter meetings. So that ought to reassure everyone.
  • Joe Soriano at Call to the Pen decided to hand out his own Gold Gloves, and to me this list is a bunch of randoms. There is just no way Jhoulys Chacin was "easily the best defensive pitcher in 2011." His superior numbers really don't tell the whole story of who he is as a fielder. Still, I will take that shout-out, as well as the more-deserved one Chris Iannetta got. And I will ignore the Troy Tulowitzki snub except to say Alex Gonzalez?????
  • The Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon, giving him the opportunity to stop playing for a nasty east coast team and start playing for ... a nasty east coast team. And now he's in the NL so we're guaranteed to have to see him every single season. Yay.
  • The latest on the Rockies' Martin Prado discussions with the Braves. It's really not any different from what we've been hearing this whole time. And honestly, I'd be shocked to see the deal get done at this point. Nobody else the Rockies have pursued "aggressively" has panned out yet (see Carroll, Sizemore).
  • I just do not get the Ryan Madson hype. I don't think he's that big of a deal. Although if the Rockies signed him, I'd still consider him the best offseason acquisition they've made in multiple years. But that's because Dan O'Dowd is terrible at making offseason acquisitions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: Andres Galarraga

Continuing our tour through the great Blake Street Bombers of old, today we come to the Big Cat, Andres Galarraga. In recent years, Major League Baseball's overseas operations have shifted more toward the Dominican Republic, but in the mid-'90s it was all about Venezuela, and that's where the Montreal Expos found him (good on the Expos by the way, seeing as how we have them to thank for Galarraga and Larry Walker).

There's no telling how good Galarraga's career could have been if he'd been able to stay healthy, but he was often injured. He was also not unlike our current Venezuelan star, Carlos Gonzalez, in terms of his lack of plate discipline. He was a power hitter who struck out a lot, which also inhibited his ability to put up good numbers. Still, he showed his potential in 1988 when he finally hit over .300 and slugged 29 home runs.

Galarraga signed with the Rockies as a free agent just before their inaugural season. Playing in the Mile High City helped him finally find himself, and he finished 1993 with a .370 average, good enough for the batting title. Galarraga's mark was also the best by a right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio in 1939. In his next three seasons with the Rockies, Galarraga continued to prove he was a power hitter supreme, hitting over 30 home runs in each of those years.

Galarraga's longest home run was a grand slam that occurred on May 31st, 1997, when he hit a 529-foot blast off Kevin Brown in Miami. I will never forget that day because it's also the day my family left Highlands Ranch, Colorado to move to Georgia. I was in our mini-van and my dad had hooked up a little TV with an antenna (for you kids, that's what we used before digital converter boxes became a thing) so I could watch the game as we left town. The image of that ball landing in the upper deck is burned in my brain.

The Rockies had to let Galarraga go after that season because he was old and Todd Helton was not. I was a happy kid though, because the Big Cat then signed with the Atlanta Braves, so he moved with me. He was nothing short of heroic in Atlanta, putting together two stellar offensive seasons that sandwiched a year of treatment for lymphoma. In 2000 he won The Sporting News's NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, which he also won in 1993. It's one thing to be the best comeback story in the league once, but Galarraga did it twice. Only five other players have done that.

Galarraga played for 5 different teams from 2001-2005, suffering a cancer relapse and attending spring training with the Mets anyway. He retired before the regular season began. He finished with 399 career home runs. He was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, the first Rockie to receive that honor.

I had a really hard time finding any recent news on Galarraga; at least, news that was written in English. As far as I can tell he lives in Florida, where he's hopefully enjoying his retirement and keeping cancer at bay. My reporting skills fail me beyond that. If anyone with a legitimate press pass or a better search engine can track him down, tell me where the man is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rockies News 11/9-11/15

  • The biggest news in Rockies land this week was free agent Mark Ellis's new contract with the Dodgers. It's good for $8.75 million over the next 2 years, with an option for a third. Ellis is worth at least that much, and the Dodgers desperately need someone like him (though where they're getting the money for this deal and the others they've made is a head-scratcher). But I think the Rockies should have fought harder for him. I don't even know what our infield looks like next year, and I had more hope for it with Ellis still a possibility.
  • Complicating matters is Ian Stewart. It's looking more and more like he will get an official last chance at third base this season, and if the Rockies take Prado they could very well put him at 2nd. This is more likely than it was last week now that Mark Ellis is gone. However, the Tigers are moving in as well, though rumors that the Braves are interested in Delmon Young appear to be false. If you can untangle all that and figure out who's going to wind up with who, you're a rock star.
  • Free agent Grady Sizemore is also on the Rockies' radar. I'm opposed to him as a viable outfield option, though. He's too fragile. We already have one outfielder who can't seem to stop breaking, and we really don't need another.
  • Juan Nicasio continues to make fantastic progress coming back from his neck injury. This is probably too much to hope, but what if he pitched for us opening day? The Rockies might finally get their own feature film.
  • This has nothing to do with the Rockies, but the Nationals' Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in Venezuela last week and safely rescued a couple days later. What a terrifying situation. I'm just really glad he's all right.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rockies Retread: April 9, 1993

After getting mini-swept by the Mets in their first two games as a franchise, the Rockies headed to Mile High Stadium for their very first homestand. Their first game there, against the Montreal Expos, was also their first win. I'm sure all the "thin air" talk began almost immediately, because the Rockies scored 11 runs after only managing 1 in their previous two games combined. However, only 3 of those 11 runs scored on home runs, one by Charlie Hayes with Dante Bichette on base, and a solo shot by Eric Young. And the Expos' defense helped out as well, committing 4 errors (3 by third baseman Frank Bolick).

The Expos scored 4 runs, 3 of those in the 9th inning with 2 outs when Mike Lansing went deep against Steve Reed. But otherwise Rockies' pitchers kept the ball in the yard, and held their own quite well against Montreal's offense. The winning pitcher, Bryn Smith, went 7 innings and allowed no runs on 6 hits. He only struck out 1, but he also walked none. He induced quite a few groundball outs and even got Moises Alou on a baserunning error when he tried to stretch a double into a triple. Maybe THAT's what the thin air causes.

The big story in this game was EY's home run, which he hit with a full count leading off the bottom of the 1st. So the first batter the new hometown crowd got to see from their team touched 'em all. I wish I could have witnessed that moment. EY went 4-for-4 on the day with 7 total bases. Now that's a lead-off hitter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly Link Round-Up

Some reading material for your work week. Enjoy.

  • Why do I feel like this article could also have been written about the Rockies?
  • Not-an-Astro-anymore Lance Berkman has strong feelings about the Astros staying in the National League. I really don't care whether Houston moves, though I can see the argument for the Brewers going over instead. They weren't in the AL that long ago after all. But it is a little hard to make a case for Milwaukee being a part of the AL West. Take it from someone who lives on the east coast and whose teams spends a lot of their time on the west coast. Milwaukee fans ain't gonna like it.
  • I don't really get the big deal about Yoennis Cespedes, but for some reason everyone seems to want to know about him, so here you go.
  • Dan O'Dowd is #13 on this list of longest-tenured major league general managers. Not sure if that's good or bad, but it is a fact.
  • I am totally okay with that Royals-Giants trade. Melky Cabrera is not going to improve the Giants' offense enough to make them contender-quality, and their rotation just instantly devalued without Jonathan Sanchez.
  • Bryan Rosa, on the other hand, is not okay with the trade. Can't say that upsets me in the least.
  • Jamie Moyer? Really? Well ... I guess beggars can't be choosers. Will there ever be a day when the Rockies won't be described as beggars?
  • No offense to Mickey Brignall, but if Grady Sizemore is such a good fit for the Red Sox, I think that means he's a terrible fit for the Rockies.
  • Whenever a major league manager's spot becomes available, the first person whose opinion I want is Billy Corgan's, obviously. I wonder what his thoughts are on Jim Tracy? And if he has any managerial ambitions himself, since I think I'd rather see how a Smashing Pumpkin handles the Rockies' lineup than see Tracy do it for another season.
  • I don't watch boxing, but I was tempted to watch the celebrity match last Saturday. Mostly because I've definitely wanted to punch both Jose Canseco and Lenny Dykstra, and the closest thing to that is watching them do it to each other. Unfortunately, Dykstra was too busy exposing himself or some such thing and didn't show up. So I didn't miss anything after all.
  • I love this Bryan Stow update even though the whole thing makes me so sad. Can we please all agree that there will be no punching, kicking, or otherwise injuring other fans at any games in 2012?
  • Jeff Aberle writes a way more thorough and entertaining article about the stupidity of the Gold Gloves than I was able to come up with. (P.S. Mostly unrelated comment, but does it drive anyone else crazy when people call them the "Golden Gloves"? Blech.)
  • This season recap by Rebecca Glass is very very well done, and brings to life the excitement of Wild Card Wednesday and the World Series especially. No mention of the Rockies anywhere, but I think that's for the best.
  • Cory Whitmer of Through the Fence Baseball managed to get Dick Monfort on the phone. The resulting interview is pretty good, though I'm at a loss to understand how Jim Tracy's "performance" was not addressed.
  • The Rockies could do worse than Josh Willingham. I don't think it will happen, but I'm just saying.
  • The Cardinals won the World Series by being the same team as the Rockies but playing better. Mark Townsend expounds.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Homegrown Homecoming: Larry Walker

Who doesn't love Larry Walker? Nobody, that's who. The mullet, the purple bat, the Canadian-ness, he's just everything you could ask for in a number 33. He's also the Rockies only MVP in team history, taking the honor in 1997. For that he has all my gratitude, since there's no way to know how long it will take Troy Tulowitzki to finally win his.

Naturally, Walker wanted to be a hockey player as a kid, but fortunately for us that dream was dashed pretty fast. Rather than a great drop pass, he had a great left-handed swing, and that swing carried him into the record books. He started his career with the Montreal Expos (that team that the Nationals used to be) in 1989, impressing people right out of the gate with his speed and power. He was a plum acquisition for the Rockies in 1995, given the Blake Street Bomb Squad they were building.

Walker played nine full seasons with the Rockies and part of a tenth. In his MVP season, he hit .366 with 49 home runs and 130 RBI. Yes, this was pre-humidor, but he also stole 33 bases. I always wondered how he could get up so much speed when his batting stance made it look like he was about to dislocate his hip.

I have a couple of especially treasured Larry Walker memories. I went to a pre-season exhibition game in 1997 and got to sit much close than I ever sat in a regular season game. At one point, Walker seemed to be looking in my direction, so my dad and I started waving. He waved back. I might have died in that moment, but I can't be sure. The other is from the 1997 All-Star Game, when Randy Johnson sailed a pitch over Walker's head and Walker responded by turning his helmet around and taking a pitch from the right side. That sense of humor and playfulness followed Walker throughout his career as a Rockie, though he never lost his commitment to excellence.

Walker's reputation as a Rockie is a tiny bit tarnished because in 2004 he started to complain about wanting to be traded. I can't really blame him, much as I wish he'd finished his career in Colorado. He wound up playing a season and change with the St. Louis Cardinals, but retired in 2005, just a year shy of the Cards winning a World Series. And hardcore fans probably know this, but others may not: prior to the St. Louis trade, a deal with Texas was in the works that would have made Ian Kinsler a Rockie. Hard not to speculate how that might have turned out.

These days, Walker is active in Canada's baseball programs, which is fitting since he's the best player in history from north of the border. He's in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (of course), but hasn't yet managed to make Cooperstown. He's only been on the ballot once, though, so hopefully it's just a matter of time. He still makes appearances with the Rockies organization, and has said that he'd most like to be remembered as a Rockie. I imagine that's the legacy he's stuck with whether he likes it or not, thanks to the MVP. And that's all right with me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rockies News 11/2-11/8

  • I neglected to mention some roster moves in last week's post, so I'll do that now. The 40-man roster is once again closer to 40 with the activation of Charlie Blackmon, Jorge de la Rosa, Jonathan Herrera, Juan Nicasio, and Ryan Spilborghs. This doesn't mean anything in terms of actual playing; all these guys could be put right back on the DL when opening day rosters are set if necessary (and this will happen for DLR and Nicasio). But it give us a clearer picture of how many current spots we have for acquisitions (3) and where everybody stands contract-wise. You can view the updated 40-man here.
  • A bunch of guys you haven't heard of declared minor league free agency last week, but a few guys you have heard of did as well. These include Willy Taveras, Eric Stults, Jose Morales, Jorge Cantu, Matt Daley, and Alan Johnson. I'm especially sad about Daley, who had a few stellar appearances out of the bullpen prior to meltdown and injury. I wouldn't mind seeing the Rockies re-sign him. Jorge Cantu, on the other hand, can go on his way.
  • Troy Tulowitzki won another Silver Slugger, so good on him for that. I like that award better than the Gold Glove since it actually seems to honor what it purports to. Aren't we lucky to have such a productive shortstop? If he's a Silver Slugger given his issues this season, imagine how much worse it could be.
  • There are a few trade rumors swirling around, most notably regarding Martin Prado of the Atlanta Braves and Jamey Carroll of the Dodgers. Carroll's name has been in the mix practically since he left the Rockies a few years ago. At least that's how it feels to me. I like Carroll just fine, he's a good guy, and he drove in the winning run in our play-in game. However, as I have said, I like Mark Ellis as our everyday second baseman and I'm going to get pretty stubborn about that. So head on back to L.A. Jamey. As for Prado, well, we need a third baseman. I wish it could be Ian Stewart, but we all know how that worked out in 2011.
  • Jim Armstrong was fired from his job at The Denver Post for betting on sports. That was really hard for me to stomach. Life's not fair, but that hits home pretty intensely when someone who gets paid to write about the team you spend hours writing about for free does something like this. I don't know Jim personally so I won't say any more about him than that. I hope he can find some resolution.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rockies Retread: April 5, 1993

April 5, 1993 was the Rockies' first game as a team. They played at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York, and the New York Mets were their opponents. The starting lineup from that day features some familiar faces: Eric Young led off and played 2nd base, Dante Bichette hit third and played right field, and Andres Galarraga was the clean-up hitter, playing 1st base. The Big Cat was the only Rockies hitter to reach base twice in the game, which Colorado lost 3-0. Charlie Hayes and Joe Girardi also started that day.

David Nied, the Rockies first selection in the expansion draft, started the game. He lasted 5 innings and allowed 2 runs on 6 hits, including a home run by Bobby Bonilla, of all people. (The Bobby Bonilla story is one of my favorites. He was patently terrible with the Mets and his attitude matched. Thanks to his contract, though, the team owes him a $1.2 million payout every July until 2035. Oh the woes of the Mets.)

Butch Henry pitched a couple of innings and allowed a run, while Gary Wayne pitched a scoreless 8th. Did you even remember those guys pitched for the Rockies? Call me a bad fan, but I didn't. I'll blame it on the fact that I didn't start following the team till '95, so anybody who played with them before then didn't really cross my radar. I think it's worth mentioning that Henry's full name is Floyd Bluford Henry. That just seems like something the world ought to know.

The Rockies lost their first game, but at least they weren't blown out. And you know what? Not a baserunning error in sight.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekly Link Round-Up

This feature appears on off days during the regular season, but I decided to keep it around during the offseason because it's really fun to spotlight the great stuff other writers are putting out there. Generally speaking, the articles I post here will have been published within the past couple of weeks, though in this post I'm going back a little further since I haven't done a link round-up in almost two months.

  • The media firestorm over some of the Cardinals' superstars leaving the clubhouse early and dodging reporters' questions after Game 2 was a little overblown in my opinion. David Schoenfeld elucidates the issue, and expands it to discuss the larger concern of team leadership. It's an interesting piece, though I could not disagree more with Jim Leyland's assertion of just what a leader does.
  • This has a picture of Charlie Blackmon so it gets automatic recognition.
  • There's an interesting phenomenon that occurs during the play-offs, where obscure players who probably aren't really that good have a couple of really good games and suddenly become superstars. Anybody can have a similar two- or three-game stretch of brilliance, but if they're unlucky enough to have it in the regular season, no one will care. Also, it's rarely sustainable (see: last year's NLCS and World Series MVP's Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria). This year's case in point is Allen Craig, whom you may vaguely recall as a guy who had one minute of fame before he was eclipsed by David Freese.
  • I dislike Fox's sports broadcasting all year round, but I have an especially strong distaste for it when the World Series has just ended and I've had to spend way too much time with it. So anybody who wants to make fun of anything they do is fine with me.
  • I don't think Troy Renck gives Mark Ellis enough credit for his contributions to the Rockies in the second half of 2011. IMHO, Jim Tracy couldn't get his act together long enough to make Ellis fit with the team. I guess we'll find out whether the front office wants to give the whole thing another chance.
  • Greg Stanwood's story on the Luis Terrero signing is worth a read if you know nothing about him, as I didn't. Bonus info on the Rockies' payroll situation for 2012. And Stanwood and I happen to agree on the guy the Rockies should be most aggressively shopping this winter. Don't hate us for it though.
  • I am so flsdkhjsdlkjad sick of Tim Tebow. But chances are you probably aren't, so just read this and leave me alone.
  • Let me be the first to tell you that the New York Daily News is not the most reputable source. But amid all this "beer drinking in the dugout/clubhouse" nonsense going on in Boston, it reported that Jason Giambi used to imbibe with Roger Clemens as a Yankee. I won't hold that against him since I don't begrudge him his doping past either, but ick.
  • Octavio Dotel continues to haunt the Rockies by being awesome as a Cardinal.
  • It's pretty craptastic that the Rockies' World Series legacy is the 15th best pitching matchup of the past 20 Game 1's, and that this guy, a good writer who I like, remembers our ace's name as "Josh Francis."
  • MLB Trade Rumors' piece on the Rockies' arbitration-eligible players. Considering how much drama surrounded each of these guys this year, it promises to be an interesting offseason.
  • Somebody needs to take away Frank McCourt's allowance. Seriously.
  • If you missed it, here's the post with my picks for the NL Player of the Year. I voted for the same guys (because voting for different ones seemed stupid) in my role as a contributor to the Fansided network, and here's the final tally for the network as a whole. My top 9 were the same as the overall, though in a slightly different order. And my #10 won 16th place. So I feel pretty good about those choices.
  • If you didn't read Mark Townsend's Detention Lecture to the Rockies, your life is incomplete. You know what, even if you did read it, your life could probably stand to be completer still. Read it again.
  • I haven't seen Moneyball yet, because I'm waiting until winter when I'm in the throes of baseball withdrawal and need a fix (desperately hoping it will still be in theaters when that moment comes). When I do go see it, I will be toting a copy of Andrew Fisher's article on the Rockies' connections to the movie, so I don't miss a single one.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Homegrown Homecoming: Dante Bichette

    The Homegrown Homecoming feature, which will appear on Fridays throughout the off-season, will spotlight a beloved former Rockie and, to the best of my knowledge, divulge his current whereabouts. Of course, you have access to all the same internet search engines I do, so I won't claim to have any kind of scoop on anyone. But I will do the searching for you and save you the trouble!

    There could only be one option to introduce this feature, and that's Dante Bichette. I don't know that any girl has ever loved an athlete the way I loved Dante Bichette in the mid '90s. I did not meet one single rock star or boy band member in that decade, but on November 18th, 1995, I waited in line for two hours at Gart Brothers to get Bichette's autograph. (November 18th is also his birthday, but I was way too shy and stupid to say anything about that.) He signed my 1993 Rockies inaugural baseball, and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

    Bichette began his career with the California Angels and spent a couple of seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers before being traded to the Rockies in the 1992 off-season. Apparently, the mile-high air was just what his bat needed. In the first five years of his career, he never hit more than 15 home runs. In his time with the Rockies, he never hit fewer than 20. His 40 home runs led the National League in 1995, and he also had the most RBI (128). I've never been able to forgive Barry Larkin for winning the MVP that year.

    Bichette was traded to the Reds and then the Red Sox in 2000. He was dealt to the Dodgers in 2002, but retired before playing a game with them. It's safe to say that his legacy is with the Rockies, and he'll always be affectionately remembered as one of the Blake Street Bombers.

    After a brief return to professional baseball with a stint in the Atlantic League, Bichette retired for good in 2004. He's still a significant part of the Rockies organization, helping out with fantasy camps and charity events. He's most recently been in the news because of his son, Dante Bichette Jr., who was drafted in the first round by the New York Yankees this past June. He's committed to playing for the University of Georgia (my alma mater! Woot!) but could be re-drafted after college. I would love it if he found his way to the Rockies at some point, but only time will tell.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Rockies News - 10/26-11/1

    This past week in Rockies news has been dominated by declarations of free agency, due to the deadlines set by Major League Baseball. Some notable moves that will affect next season's roster:

    • Aaron Cook declared free agency and the Rockies denied his 2012 option. This can only be a good thing in my mind. Though he may yet re-sign with the team for next season, his free agency gives both the Rockies and Cook the chance to shop around for better options. The Rockies desperately need to solidify their starting rotation, and they're in the market for a veteran pitcher, preferably a lefty. If they can find that pitcher, they can afford to cut Cook loose for good. I wish him well, but it's better for everyone if he moves on.
    • Jason Giambi will return to the Rockies in 2012. I like him with our team, but more because of his mental approach than anything else at this point. He has the right attitude about the game, and the clubhouse is sorely lacking in quality leadership. I think it's important for us to hold on to veterans like Giambi and Kevin Millwood (also a free agent) because they can teach the younger guys something about toughness and dedication.
    • Thrilling news about Juan Nicasio's recovery: he is making incredible progress and is already throwing off a pitcher's mound. This is stunning when you consider that less than three months ago he broke his neck on a pitcher's mound. I'm over the moon for him personally, that he's gotten strong enough to actually be doing athletic things, and that he's overcome whatever mental barriers might have prevented him from working on a mound again. It remains to be seen how it will feel for him to pitch in a real game, but I think he's much further along than we had any right to expect.
    • A few other things that happened in October: Kevin Kouzmanoff was released, and J.C. Romero and Mark Ellis also became free agents. I'm glad about Kouz, because the situation at third base needs to be addressed for the long-term, not with a mediocre stop-gap. I don't have any strong feelings about Romero, but I'd love to see the Rockies hold on to Ellis. He's a professional player and he proved very consistent both offensively and defensively in 2011. Second base is only slightly less of a worry than third, and bringing back Ellis could help considerably. Of course, much is dependent on Jim Tracy committing to Ellis as the everyday second baseman and putting him in the lineup consistently. And we all know how unlikely that is.
    • To the surprise of no one, Troy Tulowitzki won his second straight Gold Glove at shortstop last night. Congrats to him, but the only other thing I have to say is this.