Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Rockies' Worst Acquisition of the Off-Season

Yes, the trade of Jason Hammel (and Matt Lindstrom) for Jeremy Guthrie has been a disaster, but that's because Hammel has greatly outperformed expectations and Guthrie has completely fallen apart. The signing of Michael Cuddyer, though, has been awful, and will  continue to be awful for the next three years, and it was to be entirely expected.

It's not that Cuddyer is terrible; he's not destroying the team like Ty Wigginton did last year. He's even kind of fun to watch sometimes, since he comes out of the batter's box thinking double just about every time. He's just utterly pointless.

Cuddyer has never been a great hitter, or even a particularly good one. His career high in homers is 32, and other than that it's 24, so he doesn't have great power. He's never hit .300. He seems to have the reputation as an RBI man, but he's driven in 100 runs exactly once. His career high in OBP is .362, which is good but not great, and that was six years ago. It's been declining steadily ever since.

He does enough with the bat to be about average for a right fielder, although at the age of 33 he's not likely to get any better. In other words, he's not really an improvement over Seth Smith, who is both younger and cheaper, but the team was desperate to trade away over the off-season. So why did the Rockies feel the need to make Cuddyer the highest-paid player on the roster? Apparently, he has a great attitude. But I'd rather have someone with a great bat.

The announcers at this afternoon's game were talking about why Todd Helton has been on the bench, and pointed out that the team -understandably - wants to get Tyler Colvin into the lineup. Paraphrasing here, they said, "You can't sit Dexter Fowler, you can't sit Michael Cuddyer...." but why can't you sit Michael Cuddyer? Among the four most-regular outfielders, he's by far the worst hitter: CarGo has a .991 OPS, Colvin has a .983, Dexter has a .918... and Cuddyer has a .791. It's obvious who should sit, except he can't, because he's the highest-paid player on the team and the centerpiece of their off-season plans.

At least Jim Tracy has had the good sense to sit Todd Helton lately, but Cuddyer is terrible at first base. And if he barely hits enough to be sufficient as a right fielder, he doesn't hit at all like a first baseman.

And we've got Cuddyer for the next three years, blocking the way for young talent like Tyler Colvin and forcing the trades of people like Seth Smith. With that contract, he's not going to be tradeable, and he's not likely to be even sittable. What the Rockies, a bad team, need to do going forward is give young talent a chance to show what it can do in the major leagues, but instead, they're going to have an old millstone at right field and/or first base. Cuddyer is going to spend the next three years slowly draining wins away from this team.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sky Sox

Here's the lineup Jim Tracy trotted out against the Arizona Diamondbacks this afternoon:

LF, Eric Young: marginal major leaguer
CF, Tyler Colvin: marginal major leaguer
SS, Troy Tulowitzki: legitimate major league starter
1B, Jason Giambi: former great, now strictly a bench player
RF, Michael Cuddyer: legitimate major league starter
C, Wilin Rosario: rookie in his 20th major league game
3B, Chris Nelson: marginal major leaguer
2B, Jonathan Herrera: marginal major leaguer
P, Drew Pomeranz: rookie in his fifth major league game

So not counting the rookies, that's two legitimate major league starters. Poor Tulo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I've Given Up on Logic, and Now I'm Just Plain Bitter

Hey, Wiggy, are you glad you got put in the starting lineup last night so you could have an easy pop fly clank off your glove and lead directly to the Dodgers' only runs? Is that what it feels like to be a grinder? Would you have been pissed off if you hadn't been given the opportunity to blow the game?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ty Wigginton, Whiny Baby

There was a note in yesterday's Denver Post reading: "Ty Wigginton hasn't been the happiest man in the Rockies' clubhouse yesterday. He's a baseball lifer, a grinder. He will play just about anywhere on the diamond as long as his name is in the lineup."

Listen here, Wigginton, because there seems to be something you're missing, to wit: You suck. Yes, you've got a little bit of power, which is nice, but that's the only thing you bring to the table. You're hitting only .256, and you rarely take a walk, so you make an out far more often than anyone else in the Rockies' lineup. Remember how Dexter Fowler sucked so bad that he had to be sent down to AAA earlier this year? He's got 40 points of OBP on you. Against right-handed pitchers, your OBP is a pathetic .276, which is about the same as Aaron Cook's. Really, it's an upset that anyone ever lets you take the field against a rightie.

Your bat might be strong enough to justify a starting slot if you were some kind of defensive whiz at third base, but you are most assuredly not. You are, in fact, horrendous with the glove. They sometimes try to hide you at first base or left field, where your defense is still bad but at least not as noticeable, but you don't have enough of a bat to play those positions regularly.

You would make a nice bench option for a team with lefty-hitting regulars at first and third and the corner outfield spots, which is exactly what the Colorado Rockies are. You maybe would deserve to start on a bad, going-nowhere team that needed a little pop in its lineup. Maybe. Personally, since you're 33 years old and have zero chance of getting better than you are right now, I would look for a younger player before I gave you a start at any position at all, but hey, that's me.

But what you really should be is grateful that someone is letting you play major league baseball. Every day that your name is on the 25-man roster should be like Christmas to you. That's not good enough? You're going to pout and whine and make angry faces if you don't start? Because you're a grinder?

My goodness, the last thing this team needs is bad players who put their own needs ahead of the team. Let's hope that you've been in the lineup lately, Ty, not because you've been throwing hissy fits in the clubhouse when you don't get to play but because the Rockies are showcasing you for a trade out of town. It's about time you became someone else's problem.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Sorry I'm late getting to this, guys, but I've been out of town. I was sure that after Ubaldo's start in Tuesday, the ol' cowboy noticed that his ERA had dropped to under 4.00, but according to the stats that I can find, it's now at exactly 4.00. According to my figgerin', it had dropped to 3.97 before Dan Uggla hit his second home run. But then it went back over 4.

An ERA that starts with 3 looks a lot better than one that starts with 4. And since we appear to be following a noncontender, that kind of thing becomes more fun to track. If Ubaldo can retire a guy in his next start before allowing a run, it'll drop to 3.99.

The other thing I wanted to mention in regard to Jimenez is that I'm sure you've heard the trade rumors surrounding this genetleman, who is clearly the greatest pitcher in Rockies history. I understand that the Rox have to be open to offers, but if the Red Sox came calling, I'd ask point blank for Dustin Pedroia. When they say no, I'd say they should start building a package around Jacoby Ellsbury.

I'm not kidding. Just because Jed Hoyer thinks it's a privilege and an honor to get raped by the lordly Boston Red Sox doesn't mean we have to bend over too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Watching Ian Stewart

Since his recall from the minors, Ian Stewart is hitting .292/.370/.417. In his seven starts, he's only failed to reach base in one game. That's not great, but combined with the stellar defense he's shown, it's certainly good enough for him to keep his job.

Over that same time frame, incidentally, Ty Wigginton is hitting .217/.308/.217.

Dexter Fowler is supposed to be recalled from Colorado Springs today. Anyone who's been watching Ryan Spilborghs this past week has to have been reminded that Dexter is easily the best defensive center fielder in the organization. Even if he doesn't hit any better than he did earlier in the season, that makes Fowler a better choice out there than the likes of Cole Garner and Charlie Blackmon.

With Dexter back, and Carlos Gonzalez' return to the lineup imminent, the Rockies might actually put their best possible team on the field this weekend, which they haven't done for a long time. Watching the game last night, with Stewart and Chris Iannetta in the 7 and 8 holes, it occurred to me that this could be a legitimately good offensive team.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ubaldo Is Back

Everyone seems to be excited about Ubaldo Jimenez' outing last night in Washington, giving hope that he's ready to have a superb second half. But in actual fact, Ubaldo has been back for a while now. He's been every bit as great as he was last year eveer since the first of June.

That was the day Jimenez shut out the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. In his eight starts covering June and July, Ubaldo has a 2.52 ERA - which, you'll notice, is lower than his 2010 season ERA of 2.88, when he started the All-Star Game and was third in the Cy Young voting. In that stretch, he's struck out 50 and walked only 11 in 53 and 2/3 innings.

That excellence has been hidden by two things: First of all, he was so bad at the beginning of the year that it's taken a long time to bring his ERA down. It's now at 4.14, which looks pretty good for a Coors Field pitcher, but is far from excellent.

The other thing is that the Rockies continue not to score for him. The Rockies have scored three or fewer runs for Ubaldo in 10 of his 17 starts this year. That picks up the string from last year, when the Rox scored two or fewer runs for him in 8 of his 15 post All-Star game starts. That's the main reason he went 4-7 in the second half last year, and it's the main reason he's only 4-8 this year.