Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dream Weaver

Do these Rockies remind anyone else of Earl Weaver's Orioles? Weaver, especially toward the end of his career, had a squadron of outfielder/DH types that Bill James called "rotating tribesmen," a notion that should be familiar to anyone following the Rockies' outfielders. The only true regular is Brad Hawpe, sort of like Weaver had Ken Singleton, and even Hawpe sits against lefties some. (He'd sit a lot more if the Rockies had more right-hand-hitting outfielders.)

Then you've got:

* Ryan Spilborghs as Gary Roenicke, the righthanded hitter who can play all three positions and has a broad range of offensive skills, although he's not outstanding at any of them. He's also kind of like John Lowenstein, in that both were thought to be Jewish, although Spilly isn't really.

* Dexter Fowler as Al Bumbry, the centerfielder/speedster.

* Carlos Gonzalez as Don Baylor, the speedy youngster expected to grow into his power. Yes, Baylor was really fast when he was younger.

* Seth Smith as Merv Rettenmund, a late bloomer who was just devastating for the 1970-71 O's, with walks, power and a .300 batting average, but then, sadly, fell apart.

Weaver of course was also famous for his low-average power hitters who could draw bunches of walks, meaning he'd have been delighted with the Rockies' pair of .228 hitters, Ian Stewart and Chris Iannetta. He also moved Bobby Grich from shortstop to second base, just like Clint Barmes, although unlike Grich, Barmes couldn't draw a walk if you handed him a pencil and a pad of paper.

Weaver loved his defense too, and these Rockies are quite good at catching the ball. When Stewart is in there, every infielder is solid or better, and only Hawpe is weak in the outfield. Yorvit Torrealba can't throw anyone out, but Weaver never cared about the stolen base anyway.

This kind of defense also helped the Orioles turn journeyman pitchers who can throw strikes into winners. "The only things we can't defend, in my opinion, are walks and a ball hit out of the ballpark," Tracy said in the Post today. Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson, meet Jason Marquis and Jason Hammel. This means that Ubaldo Jimenez is Jim Palmer, and Aaron Cook is Dave McNally. And Omar Quintanilla is Chico Salmon.

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