Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April Review and Player Rankings

May 1st already. Man, the days and weeks fly by when baseball season is in full swing.

Welcome to my own odd look back at the Rockies month of April. I actually used to do a variation of these monthly reviews back when I covered the Rockies for Bugs & Cranks circa. 2007-2009, and had some fun with them, so I've decided to bring them back and have some fun again in front of my new/old audience.

Here we go.

April Record: 11-11

Swing Games: Tommy Lasorda always said "every team wins 60 games and losses 60 games. It's what you do with the other 42 games that counts." We'll call those swing games, or to break it down even further, the ones you really wish you'd won or easily could/should have lost, but didn't.

By my count, the Rockies played six of those "swing games" in April, and managed split them right down the middle.

The win over Arizona was my favorite. I'll highlight why in a moment. All three losses were equally disappointing because they all contributed to a losing series against a team the Rockies needed to beat.

Highlight of the Month: By far, Todd Helton's walk-off home run vs. Arizona. That was a game the Rockies had well in hand before a rain delay halted their momentum. After the delay, the Rockies played some ugly baseball and were on the verge of an awful loss until Helton's towering drive plopped down perfectly just inside the foul pole and just over the wall.

Start of the Month: The Rockies didn't get an abundance of quality starts in April, but the one that stands is Jamie Moyer's seven strong innings against the San Diego Padres on April 18 that entered him the history books. (Read the Recap)

Changes I would make: I think the Rockies need to seriously consider moving on from Chris Nelson. I know it would be ideal to wait until Nolan Arenado is ready to make that move, but Nelson's inability to hit on the road and inability to hit right-handers is really bogging down the bottom of the order when he's playing and doesn't give Jim Tracy a worthwhile bench piece when he isn't.

An offense/defense platoon with Jordan Pacheco and Jonathan Herrera is the short term route I'd go to replace Nelson. Then when June 1st rolls around, I'd make the call to Tulsa and get the Arenado Show on the road.

Also, I might look at starting Tyler Colvin at first base every couple weeks just to get him in the lineup more often and to get him more comfortable there.

Former Rockies of the Month: Has to be a tie between Jason Hammel (3-1, 1.73) and Matt Lindstrom (0.00 in 9 2/3 innings).

April Player Rankings: When compiling my rankings I like evaluate everything — offense, defense, pitching, baserunning, poise, consistency, intelligence and ability to change a game — without the aid of any really fancy numbers. Yes, those always prove useful to some degree, but never tell the whole story and don't always reflect my perspective, which is what drives this blog.

Anyway, enough with the prelims. Here's your first rankings of 2012 (which include every player to have appeared in more than one game during April).
  1. Todd Helton
  2. Carlos Gonzalez
  3. Michael Cuddyer
  4. Rafael Betancourt
  5. Eric Young Jr. 
  6. Jamie Moyer
  7. Ramon Hernandez
  8. Juan Nicasio
  9. Matt Belisle
  10. Dexter Fowler
  11. Matt Reynolds
  12. Troy Tulowitzki
  13. Josh Roenicke
  14. Tyler Colvin
  15. Jonathan Herrera
  16. Jhoulys Chacin
  17. Rex Brothers
  18. Marco Scutaro
  19. Esmil Rogers
  20. Jeremy Guthrie
  21. Wilin Rosario
  22. Jason Giambi
  23. Edgmer Escalona
  24. Drew Pomeranz
  25. Tyler Chatwood
  26. Chris Nelson
  27. Jordan Pacheco
— Michael Cuddyer was leading the way for most of April until Todd Helton claimed the top spot with his dramatic Sunday grand slam and some fantastic defense. Carlos Gonzalez also surged ahead with a hot finish to the month.

— Eric Young Jr. in the Top 5?  Not bad for the guy I figured would be the first one out the door. Sure he only played 11 innings in the field this month, but no one could argue the impact he made with his wheels. He should be considered a vital weapon until further notice.

— Troy Tulowitzki is a notorious slow starter at the plate but that isn't the main reason he falls outside the Top 10. It's actually his six early errors in the field.

— I'm not going to lie, Edgmer Escalona was penciled in at 27 right up until his scoreless outing on Monday.

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