Monthly Archives: July 2011

No, Dan O. Don’t Let Ubaldo Go

Original Photo courtesy Rob Carr/Getty Images

Will Ubaldo Jimenez be a Rockie after the trade deadline? We should all hope so. (Original Photo courtesy Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Ubaldo Jimenez trade rumors are picking up steam in both the national and local media.

Troy Renck and Dave Krieger of the Denver Post have reported that the rumors likely don’t have deep roots and the Rockies are only listening to trade offers because it never hurts to at least pick up the phone.

Krieger reports that the Rockies would require a huge crop of players in a win-win situation to even consider a trade.

The reality is this: If the Rockies somehow shock the baseball world and trade Jimenez, they would be running this franchise into a ditch.

A true ace is an incredible commodity in Major League Baseball and make no mistake, Jimenez is a true ace.

At the beginning of this year, he wasn’t good. It’s as simple as that.

But I think the true Ubaldo is back.  Look at his numbers since June 1st:

  • Starts: 9
  • Record 5-3
  • ERA: 2.54
  • Innings: 59 2/3 (Just under 7 IP/Start)
  • Strikeouts: 54
  • Walks:13
  • Opponent Batting Avg: .241

In those three losses, the Rockies scored a total of five runs.

(Photo Courtesy of Robb Carr/Getty Images)

A true ace (above) is hard to come by. (Photo Courtesy of Robb Carr/Getty Images)

No, those numbers aren’t exactly blowing anyone away. But the point here is that after Jimenez’s early struggles (and he definitely struggled) he has been very, very good.

He’s been one of the best pitchers in the National League.

The people and fans that are looking for him to repeat the first half of 2010 (15-1, 2.20) are foolish.

That was legendary.

Historic.

Those words don’t get thrown around very often for a reason.

The Rockies don’t need that Ubaldo Jimenez. That Ubaldo Jimenez is gone. Pitchers like Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia have never been as dominant as that Ubaldo Jimenez.

What the Rockies need is the Ubaldo Jimenez who has electric stuff, a mid-to-high 90s fastball, command of four pitches and a hunger to dominate.

That Ubaldo Jimenez is alive and well.

The best part: Jimenez is a bargain (if not a downright steal) under his current contract, which runs through next season with a team option for 2013 and ’14.

Jimenez  is making $2.8 million this year. Last year, when he started the All-Star Game, he made $1.25 million.

Both team options would almost certainly be picked up, meaning Jimenez will likely be a Rockie for the next three seasons before becoming a free agent. This isn’t a Matt Holliday, take the money and run situation.

The Rockies are essentially out of contention this year. Regardless of their status as buyers or sellers as the trade deadline approaches, Jimenez should be completely off-limits.

Jimenez may be the most important player in the entire Rockies’ organization.

If Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd were to trade him, he’d be making a huge mistake, regardless of the players and prospects he would receive.

The good part is a trade is highly unlikely. The bad part is a trade is slightly, somewhat, a-tiny-bit possible.

Jimenez is simply too rare of a player to let pack his bags and continue his career– a most-likely brilliant career– for another team in another city.

Don’t do it, Dan. Don’t even think about it.

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Brian Wilson: Still a Douche

There was a time when I thought Brian Wilson was a breath of fresh air.

I liked the way San Fransisco Giant’s closer carried himself. I thought coloring his cleats with a Sharpie was pretty funny. His interviews with Jim Rome were good for a few laughs.

It didn’t take long to realize he was trying way too hard and needed to give it a rest.

Then he showed up to the ESPYs last night. He did not disappoint:

Frederick Brown/Getty Images

Brian Wilson reinforces his inner douche-ness. (Photo Courtesy Frederick Brown/Getty Images)

What a clown.

I understand that anyone whoring for attention will go all-out when they have the chance to walk down the red carpet. And I realize wearing this stupid costume helped Wilson build his celebrity even more, and might even lead to a dozen or so more endorsement deals.

I get it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Brian Wilson: Douche.

Rox Road Trip Looks Like a Season-Ender

Remember where the Rockies stood at the All-Star break last year? They were two games back in the division. They were ten games over .500.

They had won eight out of ten games. They had momentum.

Coming out of the All-Star break was a daunting 11-game road trip through Cincinnati, Florida and Philadelphia. They lost two of three in Cincinnati. They lost three of four in Florida. They were swept in four games in Philadelphia. They finished the trip 2-9.

Things went from concerning to downright disastrous in one road trip. They came out of the trip only three games over .500 and eight games back.

They could not recover.

The Rockies are in the midst of a tough road trip through Atlanta and Washington leading up to the All-Star break this year. They were just swept in four games in Atlanta.

Charlie Blackmon comes out of the game after fracturing his foot today in Atlanta. Things continue to go from bad to worse for the Rockies. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

There was certainly some bad luck involved with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez getting injured at the same time, but tough stretches are bound to happen at some point in a long season. Oh yeah, and Charlie Blackmon, your basic everyday left-fielder, fractured his left foot today too, putting an exclamation point on this nightmare of a series.

The Rockies left themselves no margin for error by heavily underachieving in the early going.

Coming into this trip Jim Tracy expressed hope that his team could tread water and not lose much ground. Those low expectations are not being met and the Rockies are fading into the realm of irrelevance.

Even if the Rockies take two of three from Washington (and really what have we seen the past four days that would give that indication?) they will finish the trip 2-5.

That’s not gunna cut it.

Today’s loss leaves the Rockies six games under .500 and eight games back in the division. It leaves fans questioning the team’s talent.

A tiny sliver of hope remains based on the first-place Giants showing no signs of catching fire and running away with the NL West, but hope for the wildcard is almost certainly gone (11 1/2 back of Atlanta after this debacle).

Just like last year, a tough road trip may have just buried the Rockies.

All-Star Rosters– Were the Rockies Snubbed?

All-Star game rosters are always good for producing a slew of arguments among fans. A few quick thoughts on the National League selections, which were announced Sunday:

It’s too bad for Rockies fans that Jose Reyes clipped Troy Tulowitzki in the fan voting as the NL starting shortstop. Usually this is where I would complain about East-coast bias or how stupid fan-voting is, but in this situation I’m keeping my mouth shut.

Reyes is having the better year and deserves to start. He leads the NL in batting average at .354 (that’s 82 points higher than Tulo). Reyes also has 30 stolen bases. Reyes and Tulo are two very different players, but Reyes has simply had a better first-half.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jose Reyes has been the best shortstop in the National League this season. Even better than Troy Tulowitzki. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Huston Street is a snub, but finding a spot for him on the roster would be near impossible. Of the other relievers selected, Heath Bell and Eric Clippard are the sole All-Stars on bad teams and Johnny Venters is probably the most nasty lefty in the league.

Call me a homer, but I would have taken Street over the other reliever selected, Brian Wilson and his creepy, over-the-top, painted beard. Both closers have 24 saves, but Wilson has blown four saves to Street’s two. Rockies fans complain about the baserunners Street allows, but Wilson has 22 walks to Street’s six.

I think, and correct me if I’m completely out of line, but Wilson’s celebrity persona coupled with his manager picking the teams may have helped him earn a spot. Simply put, Street and Wilson are having very comparable seasons, and Street never had a chance.

Looking at the starting pitchers on the roster is a little weird. National League manager Bruce Bochy selected eight starters. Six of them are either the Phillies or Giants. That’s just stupid. Those staffs are very strong, but three starters from each is simply unnecessary. Tim Lincecum is 6-6. All-Stars should not be 6-6.

Jhoulys Chacin had a decent chance to make the squad but his hopes took a major hit when he got lit up in his last start in Wrigley. Right now he’s 8-5 with a 3.10 ERA. Chacin is second in the league to Tommy Hanson in opponent’s batting average. He owns one complete game shutout and is the main reason the Rockies are at all relevant.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Should Jhoulys Chacin should have been an All-Star? Probably not. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Chacin has a had a very nice season but the truth is, his numbers aren’t as good as any of the starters selected, save Lincecum, who was selected because he’s Tim Lincecum (same reason as Wilson).

So for Rockies fans, there’s not a whole lot to be upset about. Tulowitzki isn’t starting, but he got beat out by someone who’s having a better year. Chacin was close but probably didn’t quite deserve the nod, and Street is a minor snub.

Rockies Mid-Season Review

The Rockies reached the half-way point of their season with a disappointing 10-inning loss to the White Sox on Thursday. They sit 3 games under .500 at 39-42 and are in third place in the underwhelming NL West, 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants. Here are my grades for the Rockies with 81 games to play:

Offense: C-

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Todd Helton has been one of the few bright spots for the Rockies' offense throughout the year. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The lineup has been Swiss cheese throughout the year. Superstars have struggled. The big hit has been in witness protection. The consistency of Todd Helton and Seth Smith has been a bright spot, but a single player has yet to carry the offense for a stretch of games.

Dexter Fowler failed to improve. Ian Stewart is stuck in the mud in Triple-A, his career taking a huge step (or maybe like five huge steps) backwards.

Jonathon Herrera and Chris Nelson are providing no production at second base. The Jose Lopez Experiment was more like The Jose Lopez Prank.

Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez seem to have their worst days behind them, but the offense still struggles to string together quality at-bats over the course of a game.

Bottom Line: In most offensive categories the Rockies rank in the middle of the pack in the NL (8th in avg., 5th in runs), but the eyeball test says very few pitchers fear this lineup.

Starting Pitching: B-

Adversity hit the rotation on Day One when Ubaldo Jimenez was lit up on Opening Day. That game set the table for the ace’s first couple months. He hit the DL in April, and in doing so taught me what the hell a “cuticle” is. When he returned his velocity was down, his split-change was pedestrian, his command was flaky, and most notably, his confidence disappeared.

Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Ubaldo Jimenez had a very rough start to 2011 (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

When Ubaldo was at his worst, an absolute bomb was dropped on the rotation. On a cold, rainy afternoon, Jorge De La Rosa, the lefty with the 95 mph fastball and Lincecum-like changeup, tore his labrum. Tommy John. Out for the season, maybe longer.

Still, for the first couple months of the season, the rotation was keeping this team in games. That starts with de facto ace Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin-The-Machine has been just that in the first half, carrying the rotation on his 23-year-old shoulders. It will be interesting to see if he can sustain that burden as the long season wears on.

Jason Hammel has been much better than his 4-7 record suggests. Juan Nicasio has shown flashes of promise, mixed with stretches of cringing. Aaron Cook has returned and been mediocre. I believe Ubaldo has returned to his status as one of the best starters in the game.

Bottom Line: The non-Ubaldo-or-De-La-Rosa rotation overachieved in the early-going. Moving forward, another arm, preferably a lefty (I like Wandy Rodriguez) will be needed to contend for the playoffs.

Bullpen: B-

Huston Street is the best closer in the game at angering fans while earning a save. When “Hate Me Now” starts playing at Coors, it’s time to buckle your seatbelts and hop on board the Huston Street Roller Coaster. (Honestly though who doesn’t like roller coasters?) Street is not a conventional, blow-you-away closer but nobody should complain about converting 23 of 25 save opportunities.

The heart of this bullpen is the Matts. Belilse, Reynolds, and Lindstrom have all been serviceable major league relievers. They’re good; they’re not great.

Lindstrom and his 97 mph heater seem to have wrestled control of the 8th-inning role away from Rafael Betancourt, who is getting hit way harder than the past couple of years.

Felipe Paulino seemed to lose about 12 games in 7 days in early May. He is gone. Fans can be thankful for that.

Bottom Line: The bullpen has been solid. The relievers have proved they can get some big outs, but have been far from dominate.

Overall: C-

Expectations were high. Everything seemed to be in place coming into 2011. Things just haven’t come together. Thus far, this team has to be viewed as a serious disappointment. Last year the Giants won the West with a 92-70 record. For the Rockies to reach that mark this year they have to go 53-28 in the second half. That’s 14 (FOURTEEN!) games better than they did in the first half.

Bottom Line: The Rockies aren’t out of it (who is before the All-Star break?) but they have yet again dug themselves into a considerable hole that will be very tough to climb out of.