From a broken hearted fan

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We have gone through 4 months of baseball already. For those who have followed the Rockies, we’ve already seen some ups: the team started off better, we were fighting for first place for most of the 1st half, were contending in an already weak NL West division. Michael Cuddyer made headlines with his 28 game hitting streak. 3 of our players were in the All Star game, all as starters (Yeah, even Cuddyer started because he was the DH).

But the last two months have been dismal to the point of oblivion. After having a good April and May, things fell apart. Injuries start to plague the Rockies. It wasn’t as bad as last year, but it had an effect where every other day, the roster kept changing. But more importantly, we had some problems with pitching and offense. Our starting pitching in general was good, but when they were good, the offense was missing. And the offshoot where the offense was hitting (which seemed to be more and more rare each day), the pitching failed us. 3 of our starters died to the point where they were gone before the all star game (Francis, Garland, Nicasio), and the bullpen became more and more erratic. Yeah, I’m looking at Lopez, Ottavino, and even Belisle. Oh yeah, Matt Belisle, who was so reliable for us the last few seasons now had cracks as big as Texas showing up where his W-L record shows it. This really hurts the fans who really want to have hope for the team.

As fans, we could see this getting from bad to worse. Some of our favorite players disappeared as we were just trying to “improve our chances for contention”. Indeed, Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. were on that list. Those that replaced seemed to be retreads from around the league, and even in the Rockies organization for the 2nd time. We tried Roy Oswalt after Jeff Francis was ineffective, and his 4 starts were so ineffective that he ended up on the DL to this day. Then we tried to sacrifice our farm system. They proved not to be ready, and choked. At the same time, the distance in the division race gets longer and longer. Fans are getting disinterested. The clubhouse is losing its feel, as Arenado imitates Tulowitzki in throwing bats in anger after strikeouts. (Sorry, I think this stuff is like toddler tantrum ON the field.) Offense is getting worse… Defense is making more errors, and even the starting pitchers are melting down under this.

Surely, there are some bright spots. I still have to think that Cuddyer and Helton and even CarGo are good. Arenado is generally good defensively. But there isn’t much more good I can say. At the trade deadline, besides having a crummy trade market, we really couldn’t trade anyone because they were either locked up, or not valuable enough to trade. Yeah, if they wanted to contend, they needed a good homestand after the All-Star break to have a chance. It was mediocre, but still had a chance. I do say the final nail was Monday at Atlanta. With Hudson removed thanks to a former Rockie EY (probably one of the coolest players even in a dreadful situation), the Rockies were rockin’ Beachy as his first start back from the DL. Then they gave it all away and lost the game. This has to be a sad moment of this year.

While my girlfriend and I are always hoping and wanting to root for our home team, our home team gives us no incentive to root for them. If the same results seem to happen over and over as if we’re watching Groundhog Day, then what is the purpose of watching our team? When our team plays smart baseball, and is willing to put up a fight, bring it on. This is why I haven’t been motivated enough to write blogs about the Rockies. And, when that happens, fan base is losing. Please fix our team and show some more consistent action.

Baseball, National League, Rockies

Why I hate the media

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Well, I could have titled this as “Why I hate Puig”, but let me bring up the good news first. For you Rockies fans, the good news is that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales made the All-Star team as starters. Michael Cuddyer is also making the All-star team as a reserve. If he shows up as the (grumble) NL Designated hitter, I’d be even happier. But to have 3 Rockies players represent us in the All-Star game is incredible.

Of course, a lot of the rumbling is about possibly having Dodger rookie Yasiel Puig make the all-star team was going on during the voting. Then the rosters were announced, and the “final vote” players were released. These could possibly be called “second chance”, and Puig was on that list. Sadly, this is a travesty.

First of all, the media has its faults here for “selective choosing” players they want to focus on. In the past, you’d be lucky to hear them talking about Tulo for the Rockies… or if you went further back, you’d hear a bit about Walker, Bichette, Galarraga, and the Blake Street Bombers. (Of course, you’d usually hear the words “Coors Field” in a derogatory term for a decade after the humidor was introduced.) And that stereotype still exists: a ESPN writer made up a list of top 15 NL players, and no one on the Rockies were listed despite Tulo putting up great numbers, and CarGo is leading in home runs, and 2nd in hits. Fortunately, this is more of an exception than the rule, as writers are now realizing Coors Field is not as hitter friendly compared to opening.

Yet the media is dominating their efforts on Puig. He has been up only for a month, and talk was about him. Earlier I was among many who thought he should not be on the AS team because he had only been up for a month. It would have been unfair to other players like Cuddyer who have been playing since the start of the season. So, now a rookie who seems to be doing nothing but hit bombers to pitchers he sees, AND GETS INTO A BENCH CLEARING BRAWL is all the major media seems to care about. Sadly, his teammate, Hanley Ramirez, who has the same time and stats as Puig this year gets the big shaft. I’m sorry, I have a problem with this mentality. His numbers are not sustainable. And he still has not been up long enough to justify being on an all star team. Rookie of the year? I can see that, as well as MVP… but those take into account the entire year.

To my effort, I’d vote Freeman or Desmond before Puig. My 2 cents worth. And definitely will root NL again– not just for my favorite Rockies players, but in general. Go Rockies

National League, Rockies , , , , , ,

The story behind stats

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Several stats that have come into play have people talking. Such stats include LOB, RISP, K and BB. On a good day, where your team is winning, no one talks about these numbers. On a bad day, where your team is losing, these things get talked about a lot. Why? The Rockies have had plenty of streaks where the team loses, and it seems like they keep leaving people on base, but cannot capitalize on the scoring chances. Why does this seem to happen?

First of all, why do people keep mentioning these stats? Are they the culprit? No. Every team has to deal with these numbers. K (or SO) stands for strike outs. In each game, each team has at least 27 outs.* One of the ways to get out is to miss the ball on the 3rd strike. The only other way involves being out on the field, such as fly out, line out, force out, or tag out. BB stands for base on balls, or the traditional walk. When a pitcher gives up 4 balls, that’s when runners are getting on base. RISP stands for runners in scoring position, which is when a base runner is on 3rd or 2nd base. Yes, it is quite possible that a base hit to the outfield can score a man from either of these bases, whereas a man on 1st can only go as far as 3rd. And then there’s the LOB, standing for Left on Base. Many line scores on TV and all box scores include this to track how many runners are still stuck on base before the 3rd out of the inning.

But what good do these numbers do? Taken individually, they mean nothing. You can have days where the innings are full of crooked numbers, and still have high LOB and K’s. Or you can have a really bad day where the opposing pitcher is throwing a 79p perfect game. (for the record, all strikeouts would be 3 strikes/batter/inning, or 81p). Or you could have days where your umpire crew are Joe West, Angel Hernandez, Jerry Meals, and CB Bucknor to really f*** up your game. But that doesn’t have impact on the team. You have to look deeper into why more people aren’t scoring.

I know, we aren’t all MLBN or ESPN BBTN analysts. However, they may be on to something. Yeah, we all know players go through slumps during the season. It is after all a long 162 game season. But sometimes trends can be found. For example, if you have Michael Cuddyer (who has a 20 game hitting streak– Congrats!) gets a double, but the next batter, Carlos Gonzalez, gets a strikeout to end the inning (therefore increasing the LOB, RISP and K numbers). Now if this happens on a consistent basis, where Cuddyer goes 3 for 4 in his AB, and CarGo goes 0-4, that should be a telling sign. The analysts on the TV seem to have a clue on certain things. For example, I saw when they were analyzing Kemp’s swings, and pointed out his stance, as well as his hand grip were different when he was in a slump. Maybe he should look at more video for that matter.

Now, what the Rockies have been doing as a team is crazy. After going through a great April and a decent start to May, the whole team is slumping at the same time. Sometimes the pitchers were really that great, and those were the days that the Rockies struggled to get runners on the basepaths in the first place. But then there were the RISP problems that an ongoing issue. This is a big issue when the whole team seems to be playing like this at the same time. Considering that the team has huge potential for offense, and is in the top 5 when all pieces are in motion, this is what frustrates the fans most (never mind the pitching blowups we’ve had recently). While you can look at individuals and focus on their efforts, too many of the veterans are just trying to swing for home runs. The Rockies have gone through 3 batting coaches in 3 years (Baylor, Lansford, Bichette). At this point in time, no matter what batting coach you put in, it’s up to the players to want to correct it.

Now, I’m happy for today’s result, winning 7-1. But the team needs to be more consistent offensively, if they really want to play for postseason.

Baseball, National League, Rockies , ,

A tale of two teams

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If one has been paying attention to the Rockies this year, it’s been very tumultuous. It’s as if the Rockies have a Jekyll and Hyde complex. On the one hand, the Rockies are a good offensive team, hitting base hits and runs, and home runs. And on the other, the pitching can let the team down, igniting a forest fire on an extremely dry forest and hoping home is still alive. Nothing is more prevalent than this weekend.

I went to the Rockies game on Thursday vs. the San Francisco Giants. Bear in mind that the Rockies had a dry spell recently. But that day was supposed to be different. The bats came out early for a total of 6 runs in 2 innings. Our starting pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin is one of our better pitchers. But alas, he came unglued in the 4th, allowing 5 runs to cross in the 4th, and 3 more in the 6th to be what was a changing momentum. Nothing could be so frustrating to Rockies fans as much as that one game. In fact, we had lost our previous 9 games to SF before this one. So it was understandable that Rox fans would be so confused as to what to expect from our team for the rest of the year. Would we compete, or just write it off?

In many ways, this team had the same image as last year’s Rockies team. Last year, the team had a wonderful April, and then May was the worst in history. In fact, there were records set for losses on a certain day, and in general. Injuries piled on, and pitchers like Jeremy Guthrie failed. Players were traded, and then showed success on their respective teams–more than they did in Colorado. I would rather want to forget about that year. Although it’s usually too early to consider games or series being a “must win”, this one had that feeling from many fans–even from objective writers like David Martin (@RockiesReview). If the Rockies could not win the next 2-3 games with SF, it would be a sign not to take the team seriously.

The next two nights, Rockies seem to answer that question. For Friday’s game, a team that is up 10 runs with their opponent having 4 errors are two signs that a team should win. Of course, this is Coors Field, and anything can happen–and has happened before. The team did win by a score of 10-9, though it was nearly subject to throwing it away in the later innings. And now tonight, it was a clear 10-2 victory for the Rockies.

So while tomorrow is nowhere near the end of the season, it has a lot of feeling. Juan Nicasio has been flat out terrible in his last few starts, and this is our worst rival (if we had one). Now would be the perfect time for the Rockies to try to capitalize on the other team. I do believe that it’s not necessarily the score that determines it, but more on the play of the game. If Nicasio cannot pitch, he should be optioned ASAP. If the team makes errors, or has many batters going hitless, this is a concern. But if the Rockies can show some effort of competing, we do have a team worthy of watching. And it’s always better with a win. Go Rockies

Baseball, National League, Rockies

Rockies, one month later

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If one considers the first month of the Rockies to the expectations of the whole year, every critic (myself included) would have been bombed out of the water. The Rockies have come through with some good hitting, offense, and bases scoring. With the exception of the series at AT&T park, it was high rollers for the Rox. Lately, there have been some detours that have made an impact on the Rockies. In tonight’s game, I saw several gaffes that really impacted the Rockies. Part of them were in tonight’s game, but some of these issues are ongoing for a while. Let me summarize what I have seen:

* Pitching is a bit unstable. I need to clarify on this another time, but there are days where our pitching is rock solid, and then other days where the rock slides into disaster. For example, Jeff Francis, Juan Nicasio, and Wilton Lopez have had bad performances as of late. And then, while Chacin was on the DL, his replacement Chatwood was awesome.

* RISP and flopping on basepaths. The dreaded runners-in-scoring-position-leaving-them-stranded syndrome has been a chronic issue for the Rockies in past years, and this year is no exception. The Yankees game tonight has been especially tough when you waste 2 players (Tulo to pinch hit and get plonked, and Eric Young to pinch run for Tulo) in the same play.

* Lay off the Butterfingers®. This proved costly with Dexter Fowler making 2 errors in the same game, and Johnny Herrera failed to tag out a player because he opened his glove too soon.

* Knock off with the umpire bias. Tonight’s game was a low scoring game. Yet, when playing the Yankees, the umpires seem to have different rules in the 9th inning that overall affected the game play. The close call at 1st was ruled safe, even though replay had shown it was the 3rd out. The winning run was scored on this play. And on the first pitch from Rivera to Wilin Rosario, a strike was called, even when pitch f/x data and replays showed it was clearly a foot off the plate. Now, I’m not saying that balls and strikes should get reviewed, but the umpires need better accountability for such blatant calls.

* Get well soon. The injuries have been a mixed bag. In some cases like Helton and Tulo, not playing doesn’t help because the bench is short. Though Helton did join the DL as well as Chacin for a short time, it helped as Chatwood and others were able to produce results, and show the critics that the Rockies really have the depth.

Over the next week, I’ll talk a bit more on some of these qualities. and hope that the Rockies can prove they are certainly worthy of contender talks for postseason this year.

Baseball, Rockies

Opening day 2013

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It’s been hard for me to keep track of the Rockies during Spring Training. It also didn’t help that I was in the middle of moving. But It was also due to the Rockies doing little over the offseason to help assure us that 2012 was a fluke. Yet, some moves late in Spring Training might have helped changed things a bit.

Today was opening day, and the first real baseball game of the season for the Rockies. The show opened for business. Whether the Rockies, the front office, or the fans were ready or not, baseball was here. All of our expectations of doom and gloom were changed with a spectacular homer from Tulo and Cuddyer, and Chacin lasted 6 2/3 innings with 94p. A 3-1 game was looking good for us. And Weiss, unlike his predecesor, pulled Chacin at the right time.

Unfortunately, the bullpen was where it showed we needed improvement. This is unlike last year where our bullpen was pretty solid and a shaky starting rotation. Belisle only let one pitch in, and I wish he would have stayed till the 8th. Lopez not only let up 3 runs, and let the Brewers lead, but ruined Chacin’s good start. If it wasn’t for Fowler’s 9th inning tying homer, Lopez would have had the loss. Adam Ottavino ended up getting the loss in the 10th erroneously keeping the ball up on a sacrifice fly.

If you took the game as an insight to this year’s Rockies team, it looks like offense is going to be fine, except the one unnecessary out caused by the 3rd base coach. The starting pitching seems to be a good sign, so we don’t need to revert to last year’s crappy 4 man/75 pitch count rotation. If the front office can stay out of that, I’d be happy. Our bullpen pitching does need to shape up a bit, or else we will never reach .500 this year. Be prepared for a rocky ride, Rockies fans.

Since I’ve moved, I’m going to blog on a semi-weekly basis, I’ll try Monday and Thursday nights (after 9pm MDT.) until further notice. Take care.

Baseball, National League, Rockies

Welcome to 2013

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The leaves start to roll out its green leaves, the hot dog vendors start to grill their hot dogs and bratwursts, the crack of the bats make their first sounds, and Salt River Fields opens for business. Spring training has begun… and soon Opening day will be upon us. Baseball is back.

Yeah, it’s been a really boring offseason if you were a Rockies fan. The only breaking news was that Tracy quit and there was quite a soap opera until Walt Weiss was hired on as the Rockies Skipper. Unfortunately, the problems that plagued last year’s pitching was not addressed by the GM. Okay, I take for fact that injuries plagued the team last year. But for an organization that was panicked about pitching and altitude– even so much as to put in radical ways to change it last year, they did nothing to address it in the offseason. I’m very ashamed of this. This has led mostly to me being silent.

This year, I plan to blog again on once or twice a week during the baseball season. Since I’m in the middle of moving in with my girlfriend this month, I can’t promise being active until April. I don’t have a set schedule yet, but I look forward to announcing it by the end of the month.

But until then, enjoy the World Baseball Classic, and sing John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” during Spring Training.

Baseball, National League, Rockies

Tracy leaves

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Well, some breaking news. Troy Renck just reported that Jim Tracy resigns. To me, I feel bittersweet about it. On the one hand, I kind of wanted it, especially after last year. But I think this only highlights the root problem with the Rockies: the problem is further up.

Now, I’ve been advocating Tracy to be fired since mid-2011. He does have his faults, and I believe that if I could apply sabermetrics to Jim Tracy, he has a WAR of -5.00. WAR stands for “Wins Above Replacement”. So if we replaced him with a minor-league manager, that’s saying the minor league manager would give the team 5 extra wins than Tracy!!! That’s really sad to hear that. But why that many? Part of the problem is that Tracy misuses the double-switch. Also, pitchers are abused to either be out for too long, and he has been known to use favorite players more than others who deserve time. That was before 2012 came around.

However, the problems in 2012 go further up the chain. For even the faults that Tracy has, he has to work with the players he has on his active roster. And if we get players like Guthrie and Moscoso who can’t pitch, or players gone due to injuries, then what is any manager to do? One has to do the best he can. Until the front office starts to butt in and dictates how things are to be run. That’s where the real problem comes in. And to add insult to injury, this organization pulls a Walmart, and inserts an assistant GM in between GM and manager, and puts him in the clubhouse to watch Tracy like a hawk. Yeah, if I were Tracy, I’d walk away too. I don’t want to be micromanaged by some front office guy in a suit. That’s why I feel sad about this move.

I kind of expected this move to happen to be honest. With the initial delay after the Friday and Saturday meeting, I was surprised it would be announced today. Yet, with Tracy announcing it like this, it was like a laugh to the club, and also undermining how bad the situation really is. I fear that this means the management structure is only going to be worse unless we really get rid of the entire front office. That means O’Dowd, his assistants, and yes, Bill Geivett need to go. I think even the Monforts need to sell the team if they believe this model. This is a baseball club, not a factory industry. One needs to be competitive by putting out THE best product, and not use excuses. And sadly, I’ve heard more excuses this year than all the toilet paper I’ve bought in the same period. I guess I’m not wiping enough, or brown nosing enough.

Sadly, while Tracy has his faults, his leaving has given speculation as to how bad this organization really is. And unless change happens further up, I really seriously doubt this team will get better for years to come. The front office will probably promote Tom Runnels to the position, only because it’s an increase in pay. But not much more will come out it. This says how little I see happening from this team, and how little hope I have for our team. So long Jim Tracy, and thanks for all the fish. I shudder at the future.

Tomorrow’s column: Twitter awards for my baseball tweeps.

Edited 10-07-2012 09:08pm as the Jim Tracy link was not correct. The story has changed slightly since the original post.

Baseball, Rockies , , ,

The deathmatch of MLB

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The postseason has officially started, and the fight for survival has begun. The two wildcard games have happened, and we’ve seen our first casualities. While people debate the usefulness of a one-game wildcard, I think it’s shown its usefulness.

Let me start with the Rangers/Orioles game, as it’s the easier one of the two. Leading up to the game, the O’s were fighting to take the AL East, while Texas coasted in the AL West. Sadly, I was at work so I missed this game. But it sounded exactly like the Rangers ran out of gas. This does illustrate the importance of division and wild card games. If one is serious about competing in postseason, then earn the division when possible. O’s deserve to advance. Sadly, I think the Rangers may be shuffled up after this game.

The other game was more interesting. The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Braves at Turner Field. Sadly, I missed the earlier action (and I blame work/sleep schedule). But there was the 8th inning “infield fly rule” that made most of the action. To be honest, the game was not lost with this call, no matter how late or why it was called. The game was done with the Braves’ 3 errors and failure to score. In case anyone is concerned, the infield fly rule was created to protect the runners. It is also very specifically explained in the rules of the game. This isn’t like the balk rule (which is the most ambiguous rule in the books.) But for the fans to throw objects on the field I absolutely CANNOT endorse at all. That is very bad. The game was continued under protest, which was subsequentially denied by Joe Torre after the game (due to the situation of the game).

Sure, this might illustrate a potential pitfall of the one game affair. A bad call could ruin the game, just like the Monday Night Football game in the NFL that ultimately caused haste in signing the official refs back to the game. I don’t believe this was a bad call, though it was made rather late. The Braves still had runners in scoring position (RISP), which they could not capitalize upon. (This is why I shudder when I see RISP, after my Rockies game issues since 2011). They had 3 errors, and still could not produce. But right now, I think this 1 game matchup is proving great for MLB, the way it’s designed.

In other news, the Rockies cannot decide yet on the fate of Jim Tracy. Speculation has it that it will ultimately be up to Tracy whether he’s willing to work with the lesser powers he’ll have over the team. I may be a Rox fan and still support the team, I’ll support the players, and not the management/operations of the team.

American League, Baseball, National League , , , , , ,

Imperial march

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Catching this morning’s Denver Post about Geivett meeting with Tracy, I could start quoting Han Solo’s “I got a bad feeling about this” line.

Ironically, it does feel like Star Wars, where Dan O’Dowd is Emperor Palpatine, and Bill Geivett is Darth Vader. Sure, I think this type of meeting between GM and manager happens every year. But I believe publishing this in the Denver Post about the Geivett/Tracy meeting was either a) not needed or b) an ominous sign Tracy may see his last days in purple pinstripes.

A team that has already had its worst season on record, and is on the brink of setting the centurion mark of losses says it all. Who’s to blame? Players deserve some share, except those who are injured or remained injured for extended periods of play. Coaches deserve a bit more of the pie. But ultimately, the blame lies on the front office. In particular, it is Dan O’Dowd, and now Bill Geivett. We can blame O’Dowd first of all for his extremely poor choice in signings/trades, and a bad plan (or a lack of a backup) when the first plan fails. Secondly, I’m so sick of their excuses, especially of altitude. If altitude is the problem for pitching and even injuries (rolls eyes), I’d like to take these two up to the summit of Longs Peak, put a noose attached to a bungee cord, and push them off the edge. Whoops! That’ll solve the altitude problem. No, I’m serious: O’Dowd blames altitude for our pitching problem. Geivett blames altitude as part of the injury problem. Um hello? Did the Minnesota Twins have problems with their altitude last year? Injuries do happen, and some years it’s worse than others. It’s just something you have to adapt to.

I am getting disenfranchised with the PR and the front office with this team. Does Tracy deserve to stay? Probably not. But if he’s gone, it’s probably for the wrong reasons. Does Geivett deserve to manage? I don’t think so. But he may act like he’ll take over next year. Does the front office deserve to be flushed? HELL YEAH! But I don’t see that happening. I’d like to see Tracy gone, but also to remove O’Dowd and Geivett. They seem to not know Jack&&8482; about running a baseball team.

As I am watching the standings, the teams are just about decided, and the positions are pretty much decided. There’s still a couple positions not totally set, but it’ll require luck and fate for it to happen. I’m going to look forward to the NL Wildcard the most, because I still like the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals to an extent. Hell, I like NL over AL teams*.

I will be blogging when I want/can during postseason, though this is my last regular Rockies blog. What I will do is blog what I want during postseason, and definitely on Twitter (@druidlove). During the offseason, I’ll blog here on Rockies or baseball sporadically. My hockey posts I’ll have another blog set up for it, if they can ever get out of the lockout.

Baseball, Rockies , , ,