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.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sorry, Charlie, Again

Gentlemen, it's time to admit the obvious: Charlie Blackmon, who is scheduled to lead off for the Rockies this afternoon as they likely get swept by the Braves in Atlanta, is not a major league player. Blackmon now has exactly 100 plate appearances in the majors, and he's hitting .250. And batting average appears to be his strong suit: Among his 24 hits are just two extra-base hits, and he's walked just three times.

So his on-base percentage is a pathetic .273, and his slugging percentage is a feeble .292. Among all the Rockies who have 100 plate appearances this season, both those numbers are the worst, save for the now-released Jose Lopez. Dexter Fowler had a disastrous start to the season - yet his 2011 OPS is 100 points higher than Blackmon's.

How bad is Blackmon's .564 OPS? Among National League qualifiers for the batting title this year, only one player has put up a worse mark: Ian Desmond, shortstop for the Washington Nationals, is a tinch behind at .558. The worst OPS for a left fielder is the one recorded by Raul Ibanez of the Phillies, whom everyone agrees is toast - and it's more than 100 points higher than Blackmon's. And of course, Blackmon has the benefit of playing half his games in maybe the best hitter's park in baseball. In road games he is 3 for 41 with no extra-base hits and one walk. That's an .073 average, and a .168 OPS.

Yet this fellow is leading off and playing left field for the Rockies at Turner Field this afternoon. I would hope that this is purely a result of Carlos Gonzalez' injury, except that Blackmon has started 24 of the 28 games the Rockies have played since his callup. If the Rockies have any prayer of getting back into the race, when CarGo is ready to go again at full strength, Charlie Blackmon will be back on the Sky Sox.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Watching Ian Stewart

Watching Ian Stewart hit, even I get nervous for him, thinking that he's got to do something big RIGHT NOW or else he's gonna get sent back to the minor leagues. At the same time, watching Ian Stewart hit, I see the ball just jump off his bat and think that the Rockies need this guy hitting, in the big leagues, if they have any chance of getting back into the race.

Then I see him effortlessly line a shot foul into the upper deck down the right field line, then effortlessly shoot a double off the center field fence, all off one of the best pitchers in baseball, and I think there's no way the Rockies would be stupid enough to send him back down.

And if the team is indeed out of the race, why are we futzing around with Ty Wigginton anyway? Wigginton's future contains nothing but mediocrity. Ian Stewart's future could very easily contain a couple of 35-40 homer seasons.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Slap in the Face

With Carlos Gonzalez banged up after running into the centerfield wall on Sunday, the Rockies called up outfielder Cole Garner from Colorado Springs as insurance for the next few days. Garner is no prospect - he's 26, more of a corner outfielder than anything else, and is hitting .340 in AAA but everyone hits .340 at the Springs.

Mostly, I think this is interesting for what it says about Dexter Fowler. Dexter has hit like crap at Colorado Springs, just .197, which suggests that either he's a) hurt, b) totally messed up with his swing, or c) pissed off about being in AAA. It's probably some combination of the three. But if Carlos Gonzalez can't play, the Rockies have no true centerfielder on the major league roster, which makes it most significant that they wouldn't bring Fowler up.

Personally, I disagree with that decision; I would bring Dexter up, and tell him he's coming off the bench till he can show that his head is screwed on right. But this organization has clearly soured on him. I'll bet you this: One of our two AAA big-leaguers, Dexter or Ian Stewart, has played his last game for the Rockies. But I won't tell you which one.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Make Up Your Mind, Already

The trade for Mark Ellis was probably overdue, given that the Rockies' second base situation has been in such disarray for so long. Consider that of the four players who've seen significant time at second for the Rox this year, three are no longer with the team, including Jose Lopez, who was released, and Eric Young Jr. and Chris Nelson, who are now in AAA. The sole survivor of that unholy tetrad, Jonathan Herrera, has an OPS of .624.

So Ellis' arrival was welcome, but that wasn't the only thing to like about the move. What impressed me was that the Rockies immediately demoted both Nelson AND Young. They could have farted around with this a little, said they'd give Nelson some time behind Ellis to try to break him in. But no, they were very definitive about it: Mark Ellis is our second baseman. (It helps that he started out as a Rockie, as I write this, at 6 for 9 with four doubles and a homer.)

That's the way to run a team. You decide who the best players are, and you put them in the lineup. Of course, sometimes you make a mistake, and convince yourself that Charlie Blackmon is one of your best players, and then you got trouble. But in this instance, well done, boys.