Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Thoughts On Rockies Opening Day Loss To Brewers

1. Give Wilton Lopez a fair shake: Denver sports fans aren’t the most forgiving people when professional athletes struggle wearing their team’s uniform or decide to skip town for greener pastures, but it’s only one outing. Ugly, horrendous and disastrous, yes, but still only one outing. The Rockies brought Lopez in to be their 8th inning guy (if you hate set roles in the bullpen, I understand but we'll have to cover that later) and one magnified bad outing on opening day isn’t going to change that. Nor should it. 

2. It wasn’t Walt’s fault: Yes, Matt Belisle only threw one pitch in the game. (It was a damn fine pitch, too.) But when you spend all spring establishing roles you don’t just change them on opening day for no reason. Belisle did his job. The 8th inning is entrusted to Lopez. Everyone on the team knows this. Why would you then change that for the sake of changing it on opening day? There’s no logic in that. Lopez had done nothing yet to lose the role coming in, so you roll with him as planned.

Did Weiss stick with him too long? Maybe. Maybe he should have had Rafael Betancourt or someone else ready. That could have worked. And maybe next time he will. But you can’t panic and stray from the gameplan on Day 1. Especially when you're a BRAND new manager just establishing yourself. That’s not an impression you want to leave on players because they‘ll start second guessing him quickly.

When Walt Weiss feels like he needs to change a player's role, I don't think he'll hesitate to do it. It's just not going to happen in the middle of Game 1.

3. Jhoulys Chacin: The offense packed a nice punch. That was encouraging. Of course we also had a lot of the same lousy base running and poor execution in run scoring situations, but the potential to score runs in bunches will be there. I have little doubt about that.

As good as that was though, I think we all had to be pretty pleased and encouraged by Jhoulys Chacin’s performance. Granted, it could have ended up a lot different had Milwaukee not made three strange outs on the bases, but he looked great once he settled down and those middle innings into the 7th were fun to watch. If we could just get him to bottle that up and hold on to it, we’d had no worries at the top of the rotation.

But it’s one step at a time, so we’ll say he moved forward here and leave it at that.

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Few Rockies Predictions For 2013

Well folks, it seems I've been busier than even I anticipated I'd be since the beginning of the year so I didn't even have a chance to weigh in on spring training. I don't think there was much to talk about anyway aside from maybe Tyler Colvin getting shipped to minors after a rough, rough March. I probably wouldn't have reacted that way, but after seeing how lost he became in 2011, I guess I see the Rockies reasoning. I just hope he gets it together quick. 

Yorvit Torrealba beat out Ramon Hernandez. No surprise there.

They inked Jon Garland. Big fan of that move.

Aaron Cook is back on a minor league deal. That's fine.

The rest of the starting pitching has been all over the map. Duh.

Todd Helton looked like his old self over the past week. That's always nice to see.

But that's all behind us now. It's time to look forward, which is what I intend to do here with a few predictions. Just remember... these predictions won't matter a week from now and will likely be forgotten six months from now. Unless they're correct, of course.

Wins: 73

Some people think they can get to .500 this season. ESPN's Keith Law says 53 wins. I'm going in between with a learn towards optimism. They're going to struggle to pitch again, and they probably won't succeed within the division, but a healthier season should eliminate some of the misery.

All-Stars: If Dexter Fowler isn’t an all-star, we’ll all be complaining that he should have been. I think he finally breaks out. Meanwhile, Troy Tulowitzki is a given and Carlos Gonzalez should be, too.

Team leader in wins: Jon Garland... even if he’s traded in July or August. I'm thinking 11-12.

Team leader in saves: Rafael Betancourt... again, even if he's traded in July or August.

Aaron Cook starts: Too many. Guessing 8-10. The Rockies will go through starters quickly I'm afraid.

Todd Helton's numbers: .280, 10 home runs, 55 RBI in 92 games. Wouldn't be a bad way to go out.

Wilin Rosario home runs: 27

Wilin Rosario: passed balls: 11

Date Nolan Arenado arrives: No sooner than June 15 and no later than July 15. He’ll be a breath of fresh air.

Walt Weiss status: He'll earn a second year. I assume he'll get it, too, but I'm more certain he'll earn it than receive it.  

Public Enemy No 1 (AKA the Frankin Morales/Felipe Paulino/Esmil Rogers/Jeremy Guthrie on the team): Hands down this will be Chris Volstad. Rockies fans tend to sour on new guys quickly and I'm afraid Volstad will make himself an easy target.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Plan For 2013

Stunning how little significant activity we've seen from the Rockies this offseason, isn't it?

Well, unless you consider the Manny Corpas signing on Wednesday an impact signing, which of course it isn't. But hey, I like Manny a lot and will always appreciate his efforts from the days before Jim Tracy blew his arm up, so I can't complain about it and certainly hope it ends up working out better than expected.

Anyway, the blog certainly won't be as silent as it has been during the offseason once spring training gets underway, but it also won't be as active as past seasons. That's because other writing opportunities and work assignments will require a lot of attention, making it increasingly difficult for me to write recaps - or recraps - after each game. 

Honestly, I'm very proud of the fact I haven't missed a single recap since the blog opened three years ago and have been able to offer something resembling a fresh take every time, but to be at my best here and to be at my best elsewhere, I'll need to change things up and take a different approach to the site. What that means exactly is still up in the air, but you'll still read plenty of thoughts from me in one form or another. That much is guaranteed. 

I look at the changes two different ways. 

1) The games I am able to watch live I will actually be able to watch intently instead of half-watch and mostly listening while preparing my recaps. 

2) It will allow me to be more of a fan and actually interact with other fans on Twitter during games.

I'm actually very excited about both of those things, and feel the changes will help keep my perspective fresher and my sanity more completely intact.

The former far more likely than the latter, obviously. 

So that's where we are right now. 

Players rankings, screen grabs, lineup cards and all the other fun things will remain. Dissecting of Walt Weiss press conferences may become a thing, too, depending on how overwhelmed he becomes by the unfortunate circumstances he's been placed into. 

It will likely be another mostly frustrating, often painful season, but we'll still try to make it as fun as possible, since that's kinda the point of the game anyway.

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Matt Reynolds Trade Thoughts & Links

Regardless of size or significance, every single trade a team makes in this social media and blog driven world is met with reactions (often overreactions).

Here's mine to the trade Colorado Rockies made on Tuesday, which sent left-hander reliever Matt Reynolds to the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 24-year-old corner IF/OF Ryan Wheeler.


I always liked Matt Reynolds for his durability, versatility and the fact he attended the same high school as my cousins in St. Charles, IL. I also realize the importance of left-hander relievers, but he's totally replaceable, just as most bullpens arms are. Not that the Rockies have or will acquire upgrades, but there's a better chance of stumbling in production in middle relief (see Josh Roenicke and Adam Ottavino) than any other position.

That said, I'm not so sure we're getting a meaningful piece back here in Ryan Wheeler. It's a little frustrating, too, because it seems like Reynolds would have been more valuable in a package for something a little more significant. This one has the feel of the typical Rockies trade that doesn't maximize the value of the talent involved and ultimately turns into a throwaway, but it will certainly take time to figure that out for sure.

In the meantime, here's a little taste of the Diamondbacks perspective on Wheeler courtesy of the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro:

The Diamondbacks likely were willing to trade Wheeler in large part because of his perceived defensive shortcomings. Scouts have had concerns about the big-bodied Wheeler’s mobility at third base for years now, and Wheeler has worked hard to try to become more agile. 

But defense and athleticism seem to be turning into an enormous factors in most Diamondbacks acquisitions lately, so it’s not a big surprise that they don’t view Wheeler as their archetypal third baseman. 

The other question with him is whether he’ll be able to hit for enough power in the majors; he’s more of a natural opposite-field hitter, and the Diamondbacks’ coaches were working with him this season on pulling the ball more regularly, driving it with more authority. 

He’s headed to the best hitter’s ballpark in baseball, so we’ll see if he’ll be able to hit enough to make up for whatever defensive shortcomings may exist. 

The other thing is, he has a tremendous work ethic and makeup, so there’s little question he’ll put in the time and effort to improve.

It sounds like there's some work to do here on both sides of the field, but based on that information I'm going to guess the Rockies will give Wheeler a long look at first base this spring.


Speaking of trades, Chris Jaffe over at the Hardball Times posted a couple recent historical items on the Rockies, including the Mike Hampton-Juan Pierre deal from 2002.

10th anniversary of a big Marlins-Rockies trade

He also has a post up discussing the expansion draft from 20 years ago.
Good stuff, as always, from Mr. Jaffe and his crew. 

I also came across a year old interview with Dante Bichette's wife, Mariana, where she discusses her role as a baseball wife and mom.

Mariana Bichette Interview: Meet a Real Life Baseball Mom and Wife

More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Celebrating The Hire Of Dante Bichette

Dante Bichette was my favorite player growing up. There really wasn't a close second, though Vinny Castilla would have been the choice until Todd Helton came along. 

With that out of the way, I've obviously been hoping for many years that Dante would be back in the Rockies fold in some capacity before all was said and done. That it's happening now as the hitting coach is really very exciting.

Forgot the fact that this coaching staff could be in place for just one season — that won't be the case because they will inevitably improve with better health, and ownership will be convinced things are headed in the right direction regardless of the truth — I'm just happy to have a guy in place who truly understands the unique situation he's walking into, and can draw on past experiences to aid his teaching.

But as I mentioned on Twitter after the announcement was made...
Don Baylor had experience at Coors Field, too, and seemed to struggle putting gameplans together for Rockies hitters. What that means, if anything, I honestly don't know, but he's done at least a decent job in Arizona and obviously knows hitting, The sure difference, though, is with Bichette you have a guy who has stood in that batter's box at Coors Field hundreds of times, has made his own adjustments on the road, and has his own feel for the proper mental approach.

That's a positive step up.

Despite some really ugly swings when his best guess was wrong, Bichette also had great instincts.

But Bichette's greatest quality was that he never gave away an at-bats, especially with two strikes. Bichette, for my money, is the best two strike hitter in last 20 years. As great as Helton is in the same situation I'm not sure he ever surpassed Bichette. I don't care how wrong that is, either, because it's money.

But the reason Bichette and Helton excel with two strikes is because they value each and every opportunity they get. They make the adjustments they need to on the fly just to prolong an at-bat and maybe capitalize on a mistake. That really is and was the art and beauty of their game. Now, when you hear and read scouting reports for Dante Jr. and even Beau Bichette, you know it's either in the genes or Senior is really good at getting his message across.

Bottom line, under Bichette, there will be no excuses on offense. He will have them prepared as best he can. He'll send the right messages. You can bet he's going to have them watching a lot of video. And it wouldn't surprise me if their first assignment at spring training is reading The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams.(Dante read that book countless times throughout his career.)  It will be up to the players to listen, learn, adjust when necessary and execute.

Now we just need to find a pitching coach/director/instructor/whatever that can boast the same experience and success from the pitching side of things. Sadly, that guy isn't out there, but I'm feeling really good about the lineup.

Oh, and let's also trade for Dante Bichette Jr. just to cover all the bases here.


More Rockies thoughts await you if you follow me on Twitter: @Townie813 & @HeavenHelton