Wednesday, June 20, 2007

State of the Rockies #8...the line for the bandwagon starts here

Hi Friends -

In case you haven't noticed, I am either a notorious liar about when I'm going to post a blog, or I'm just lazy. It's the latter. I swear.

I just watched OUR Colorado Rockies beat the Yankees for the second night in a row marking their 5th straight series win, and their ninth straight without losing. Read that last sentence again. NINE STRAIGHT.

Since Kaz Matsui returned from the DL (and no, I don't think that it's because of him, but it coincides with our low point of the season, 18-27) the Rox are 19-7. Son of a bitch, that is seriously cool.

I really can't stand Roger Bailey and Jeff Huson on the FSN team, but Bailey nailed it when he said, "The Rockies are the best team in baseball right now and that's hard to believe and hard to say!" Amen, brother. That's right, best team in baseball, folks.

If you are like so many Rockies fans in the area, like JT here at Colorado Homers, just let their past transgressions go and jump on board; this team is for real. I don't know if they're going to make the playoffs or not, but I think even the casual sports fan has to acknowledge that they're playing with a different set of testicles this season. How about Matt Holliday, think he's trying to impress some east coast all-star voters right now? Jeff Francis marched out to the hill tonight and dominated the vaunted Yankees line-up for 7 innings and struck out a career high, 9. That's stuff that the old Rox never did. Those kind of performances were reserved for Broncos and Avalanche players around these parts. And god bless Josh Fogg. What an effort.

For those of you that don't believe in team chemistry, you have to start to wonder when Fogg goes out and pitches his ass off for 7 big innings in game one of this series after beating Curt Schilling the other day and many purple pinstripes are following his lead. He is one of the most respected players in the Rox clubhouse, and he's a fifth starter.

You also have to love Ryan Spillborghs being on the team for good. I was a big supporter of Steve Finley in spring, but things have been much better with Spilly around.

I really, REALLY like this team. It's gonna be a fun summer on Blake Street. Knock on wood.

How about my top 10 prospects, you ask? Well, keeping things easily manageable for me, let's start with the list and we'll profile one at a time for nine blogs, starting now.

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Ian Stewart - 3B?
3. Greg Reynolds - SRHP
4. Frankie Morales - SLHP
5. Ubaldo Jimenez - SRHP
6. Casey Weathers - Closer
7. Juan Morillo - RRHP
8. Brandon Hynick - SRHP
9. Chaz Roe - SRHP
10. Josh Newman - RLHP

I have no real method other than I combine what the player is currently doing in his season statistically, based on what I know about the guy from scouting reports, add in what his minor league career looks like, accounting for his age and combined with my own guess as to what kind of impact player he might be and...voila! My top 10 list of prospects.

Let's profile Josh Newman. Newman was a 19th round draft choice from Ohio State. He is also a relief pitcher but not one that profiles as a closer. So what, I like him anyway and he comes in at number 10. He's 25 years old and having a great year at Colorado Springs. He's 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA and has 30 K's vs. 13 walks in 29 innings this year.

Newman is tough on lefties and I think will be called up the next time the Rox need specific help for their bullpen. He is very tough to pick up and shows great command. He was an all-star last year with Tulsa setting games up for Manny Corpas and will likely fill that type of roll eventually in the big leagues.

Relief pitching is very important in the big leagues and I am loathe to pay people for these services. I think this is a position that should be addressed in every draft and a focus of the minor league organization. The failure rate on relievers with Newman's kind of consistency is pretty low and it is very cost conscious to constantly grow your own middle relief.

The Rockies have proven many things over the years, but the need for a good bullpen and solid middle relief is a staple.

Newman will see Coors Field no later than this year, likely as Tom Martin's replacement as a lefty specialist.