Luckily for me, and perhaps for all of you, the droves of Colorado Homers that will soon read our blogs with regularity (count yourselves as the lucky few that were onboard early) are still in the process of forming. My last State of the Rockies was very unhomer-like following the Nugs loss and another disappointing effort by the Boys in Purple. I certainly will not guarantee that this type of venomous tirade (yes, that counts as venomous for me) will not occur again, but we’ll keep it to a minimum. Or at least to when several teams lose at the same time. Just wait until football season and the Buffs and Broncos lose on the same weekend, loads of fun around here!
Of course, that won’t be possible when the Donks run the table.
As of this writing, we sit in the our very comfortable spot of last place in the NL West. 11-17 is the number which works out to be roughly 64-98 regular season effort. Not good and certainly not close to my fabled 86 win prediction. So, dear reader and loyal Rockie fan, what must be done? Well, for starters, most sabrmetricians (those who study baseball statistics) would tell you that if your roster was good enough to be your roster on April 1st, it is still good enough on May 1st. Or May 4th for that matter. Small sample sizes are the scourge of any good statistician. So knee-jerk roster decisions are not a good idea, yet there has been a very active shuttle between the bullpen at Coors Field and Colorado Springs all season.
So where does that leave us? Uhhh, I’m not sure. And that’s what’s so troubling. I will stand by my prediction on this team. You would expect Holliday and Helton to cool off a little, but most of the hitters have underperformed badly. Francis settled down two nights ago with a great start and rumor has it that the young and talented right arm of Ubaldo Jimenez is ready to slot into the rotation for Taylor Buchholz until Rigo is back from the injury. The bullpen is a totally different story and in absolute shambles right now. Even the fiery Manny Corpas (my wife hates it when I say his name with a voracious Latin accent) blew a hold the other night in San Francisco.
So that’s what I would do. Put Buchholz back into long relief. See if you can get some decent innings out of Zach McClellan and Alberto Arias and Tom Martin until something settles around Corpas in the 8th and Fuentes in the 9th and Ramon Ramirez returns from the DL (deep breath). Also, bring up Ubaldo and plug him in the 5th spot of the rotation and give the kid some starts.
Lineup-wise, I like Holliday in the 3-hole and Helton has been great hitting clean-up. Atkins and Hawpe need to find their hitting shoes (and bats, while they’re at it) and get to rakin’. Sweet Willy is settling in to be exactly what we paid for, about a .280 hitter that’s dangerous on the base paths. If he can get that OBP up to .350ish, we’re cooking with gas from the lead-off spot. I love the move to put Tulo (heretofore, Homer Brainz’ favorite new player) in the 2-hole. He can hold that down until Kaz comes back. Hell, maybe he stays there and you move Willy to the 8-hole with Kaz hitting lead-off. Actually, that’s exactly what I’d do. Jamey Carroll, in my opinion, is the perfect 8-hole hitter right now, anyway. Iannetta just needs time. He has proven himself at every stop and has a dynamite (DYNAMITE! I say,) eye at the plate.
So here’s my lineup pre-Kaz:
CF Willy SS Tulo LF Holliday 1B Helton 3B Atkins RF Hawpe/Baker (yes, start the strict platoon. Right now) C Iannetta 2B Carroll
And upon Kazuo’s return:
2B Kaz SS Tulo LF Holliday 1B Helton 3B Atkins RF Hawpe/Baker C Iannetta CF Willy
Outside of those small tweaks and outright releasing LaTroy Hawkins, I would leave things basically the same. And that brings me back to the troubling thing.
Baseball, like football, has three distinct, moving parts. Starting Pitching/Defense. Hitting. Bullpen/Defense. Again, like football, if these parts aren’t in some kind of symbiotic relationship, two shaky parts will kill a great part. And one really shitty part can destroy two average parts. As a fan, it is downright maddening.
If you play golf, you know the exact feeling. How many times have you told your buddy, “I’m great tee to green, but I can’t putt to save my ass.” That’s our Rox right now. They’re nothing more than a weekend hacker that can only get one or maybe two of the pieces of the game going at the same time.
And I guess that a real manager could fix those things. Maybe we could ask Tony LaRussa or Joe Torre about that?
The SABR Corner with Brainz:
Every now and again, I will give you one of my little shortcuts to using Statistical Analysis in a reasonable way that doesn’t require you to be a mathematician. My first effort is one that I learned from old Baseball Prospectus writer Derek Zumsteg years ago. It involves walks and on-base percentage. A reasonable expectation of a “good” hitter is one walk per ten plate appearances. So, over the course of the season, we’d like to see 66 walks for 600 at-bats. If you’re getting that 1 per 10 ratio in place, it almost always ends up that a players OBP is 70 points higher than their batting average. It’s a weird statistical oddity, but you can do the math easily, backwards and forwards. So, again, going back to my Willy example from earlier, if Willy hits .280, his OBP better be .350 or he ain’t getting the job done. Simple, right? We’ll have other silly tips all year.