Welcome to the 60th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we’re happy to see the last snow of the season melt away and finally yield to summer. Big post this week. Let’s get into it.
Jordan Lyles has come out of nowhere to save the Rockies’ rotation. (Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)
We’re at the quarter-post! And the Rockies are still good! That’s cool! Exclamation points!
The Rockies have played 40 games (in 42 days) and are 23-17, good for second place in the National League West. At this point, they’re generally considered surprise NL West contenders and are being recognized as one of the better teams in baseball through first quarter of the year. Raise your hand if you thought you’d read that sentence a month and a half ago.
Because Rockies fans are wired a little differently, I get the feeling everyone is just waiting for the inevitable collapse. So should we expect this team to keep winning? Will the positives to continue? Will the problems be fixed?
3 things that have gone well:
1. Troy Tulowitzki has been the best player in baseball by a laughable margin. He’s been really good on the road (.901 OPS) and just silly at Coors Field (1.775 OPS, which is… like, comical). As I said last week, if he stays healthy, the Rockies have a shot to make the playoffs.
Is this sustainable?
Tulo’s current pace is absolutely not sustainable. That would result in the best season anyone has ever had (I’m assuming, although maybe some of those Bonds ‘roid years would be comparable). Anyway, he won’t continue to be statistically 127 percent better than the average MLB’er (wRC+ of 127, hooray advanced stats!), but he will be an MVP candidate and, it looks like, the best player in the game (if healthy). Offensively and defensively, what we’ve seen from Tulowitzki has been special. I hope you’re appreciating it.
2. Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and Justin Morneau have all been really, really good. Blackmon has the 2nd highest OPS in the league at .998, which is kind of unbelievable after 40 games. Morneau is 7th (.949). Arenado is hitting .341 since April 9th. These three have made the Rockies’ offense the deepest, most dangerous in the game.
Is this sustainable?
I think so, yeah. Some slippage should be expected, but I think these three will continue to be very productive hitters all year. Blackmon was a surprise, but he’s hitting over .350 with 145 at-bats. He’s not going to fade away. Arenado is only going to get better as he becomes more disciplined at the plate and learns to draw more walks. Morneau will benefit from the return of Michael Cuddyer, which will allow him to sit a few games vs. lefties and keep him fresh throughout the year.
3. Jordan Lyles has been a savior. The Rockies are 6-2 in games he has started. . Since April 19th he’s 3-0 in five starts with a 1.85 (!) ERA. Most impressive: In three starts at Coors Field, where people are supposed to hate pitching, he’s 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA (!) and a WHIP under 1.00.
Is this sustainable?
Sure. He won’t keep his ERA under 2, but Lyles has mastered the official recipe for success at Coors Field by inducing a crapton of goundballs. If he keeps the ball on the ground, he’ll be fine all year.
3 things that have gone wrong:
1. Injuries to the starting rotation.
The team’s best starting pitcher last year was Jhoulys Chacin. He did not make his first start until May 4th. That was a big blow to the rotation. Tyler Chatwood, the team’s third best starter last year, missed his first few starts, then made four starts, then left a game early, then was day-to-day, then was put on the 15-Day DL, then was moved to the 60-Day DL. Who knows if he’ll pitch again in 2014? This is a big blow to the rotation. Brett Anderson, perhaps the team’s most important offseason acquisition, made three starts before breaking a finger and landing on the 60-day DL. This is a big blow to the rotation.
Is this fixable?
Hard to say. One has to figure that at some point such significant time lost to such significant pitchers will catch up to the Rox. And it still might. But so far, Franklin Morales has filled in admirably alongside the aforementioned Lyles. If either Anderson or Chatwood comes back and is effective, that would be a big lift in the middle of summer. Also, fireballer Eddie Butler could make an appearance in the bigs within a couple of months.
2. The struggles of Carlos Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa. Coming into the season, a reasonable argument could be made that these are the two most important players on the Rockies’ roster. So it’s pretty remarkable the Rockies were able to maintain a winning record with them starting the year with serious struggles. JDLR started 0-3 in four starts with a 7.86 ERA. Through April 28th, CarGo was hitting .232 with a .283 OBP. Those numbers are pretty horrible.
Is this fixable?
Already been fixed, bruh. In the Rockies’ last 12 games Gonzalez is hitting .327 with a .978 OPS (and that includes going 0-10 in Cincinnati). As we all assumed, It was just a matter of time before Cargo busted out of that long slump. De La Rosa is 4-0 in his last four starts with a 2.63 ERA and flashes of ace-like dominance. These guys are just fine. That storm has been weathered.
3. Injuries to Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario. (More Injuries!) Cuddyer slammed into a wall one night and left the game. It was a concerning moment, But he started the next game… aaaand then was hurt running down the first base line. He was day-to-day. Then he landed on the 15-Day DL. His 15 days were up 11 days ago and he still hasn’t played. Rosario has the flu or something and is also on the DL. As Drew Goodman seems to say on every Root broadcast, that’s about 50 homers and 200 RBI sitting on the bench. (They actually combined for 41 and 163 last year.)
Is this fixable?
So far, the Rockies have somehow weathered this storm as well, thanks mostly to Blackmon, Arenado and Morneau. I’m confident both Rosario and Cuddyer will return in the near future and have productive seasons that make the Rockies’ lineup even more outrageous.
So, yes I think the Rockies can keep winning. There’s still 122 games left so we need to be reasonable here, but the Rockies are a good team. They ought to be a good team throughout the year.
Dawn Madura/The Coloradoan
Kapri Bibbs went undrafted over the weekend. He left school after his sophomore year. So naturally, now he’s taking a lot of crap for making a stupid decision. This reaction is expected and not without reason. No doubt, countless Rams fans are left shaking their heads wondering what their offense would have looked like with Garrett Grayson handing to Bibbs for another year (or two).
Of course, Bibbs signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent, so he still has a shot to make an NFL roster.
But Bibbs is far from the only underclassmen wondering if he made a bad decision. His situation is not unique and requires a little perspective.
Dennis Dodd explored this epidemic Monday. Among some of the more notable quotes from his piece (just one from a number of different sources devoted to this topic):
Perhaps the most overlooked story of draft weekend, though, was record unemployment. That came after a record 98 underclassmen declared for the draft resulting in a record 36 such players going unselected.
That’s a failure rate of almost 40 percent.
It’s happening more than ever. Way more.
To put the fallout of the college dropouts in perspective, this is the 25th year since the NFL welcomed underclassmen. (The rule actually says players are eligible for the draft three years past high-school graduation.) Almost 10 percent of all underclassmen left undrafted in history (36 of 378) were passed over last week.
For further perspective, the average for the past 24 years has been 14.2 undrafted underclassmen per draft. That number increased last week more than 2 1/2 times.
The reason for all this change:
For the fourth consecutive year there were a record number of early entries. Just about everyone saw it coming. Ever since the last collective bargaining agreement instituted a rookie salary cap three years ago, it’s largely become a chase for that second contract. The thinking is the quicker a player gets to that second (uncapped) deal the quicker he gets paid.
Bibbs probably made the wrong call, but there are three dozen other underclassmen left lamenting a changing system. There’s plenty of blame to go around on this trend and most of it should certainly fall on the shoulders of the players themselves. But that said, I have to think the players are just taking advice from people they trust. And those people are chasing their cut of a paycheck.
Bibbs thought the time was right and he took his shot. He missed horribly and now he might be kind of screwed. But I have a hard time putting all of the blame for Kapri Bibbs’ situation on Kapri Bibbs.
On to the weekly departments…
Tweet of the week:
I have a lot of issues with this tweet. The official account of the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! sent this one out as Johnny Manziel was waiting a surprisingly long time to be selected during the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. Maziel is a polarizing figure (I think he’s awesome; you probably hate him) and the number one source of conversation for this year’s draft. He was sitting in the New York green room being shown on TV every few minutes looking awkward, bored and sad while waiting to hear his fate.
Naturally, the Twitterverse was having a blast making fun of the guy with hashtags like #BeforeMazielGetsDrafted trending worldwide, which is fine and fun. But for the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! to jump in and try to capitalize on the guy’s long night to gain some (15,000) Retweets of their own was pathetically unprofessional
I’ve mentioned before that I’m very much in favor of official Twitter accounts being more original, trying harder, having more fun. But to openly taunt one of your newest employees for the sake of some social media publicity is a horrible look.
Maybe the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE! should stick to what they’re good at, like denying and blatantly covering up their role in the cause of serious disabilities in hundreds of employees.
Stud of the week:
This gentleman in the white shirt should probably be considered a douche for completely failing to pay any attention at all while sitting in the front row at a professional baseball game. But let’s pretend this genius that came about 2 inches from his death is just really badass. Like he knew he was safe in a Matrix-y kind of way. Check out the casual head turn at the last instant that saved his life. Like he’s saying Why are you people freaking out? The ball is clearly going to hit that open seat. Idiots. That’s pretty studly. Seriously, this dude could have literally died. What a horrifying GIF. But being completely oblivious to your surroundings in dangerous, life-threatening situations can actually be considered studly. I guess. Dude is one cooooool cucumber.
Douche of the week:
I can’t decide if Yasiel Puig is a douche or not. I feel like a lot of his douchier antics are born out of a lack of preparation for fame in the United States, which isn’t really his fault. Either way, he thought he got all of this one. Not quite. This is legit.
Picture(s) of the week:
I thought these two pictures the Rockies posted of Coors Field yesterday were pretty wild. They were posted (and presumably taken) about eight hours apart (On May freaking 12th).
A couple links worth sharing from the past week:
This is the only NFL Draft analysis you need to read. It’s so very spot on.
Clay Travis on the self-righteous internet mobs becoming a problem is thought-provoking.
The newest artist renderings of the coming Colorado State on-campus stadium are awesome.
Speaking of Johnny Manziel, this Grantland piece on the developments of his Thursday night is really fun and well done.
And some other fun stuff (all baseball apparently).
Wowzas in me trousers! We have a new “Bad British Commentary”! These videos are absolutely hysterical.
A few weeks ago I spent quite a bit of time on Bartolo Colon. I said we will see him again in this blog, and he came through with another helmet-losing swing this week! YAY!
Old fat dudes trying to hit professional pitchers should be required in every baseball game.
This is pretty much Vin Scully in a nutshell. It would be real awkward for anyone but the Dodgers’ broadcasting legend to say these things.
And finally, old ladies are awesome. Reaaaalllly old ladies throwing baseballs in an old-timey manner on Mother’s Day are reaallly awesome.
Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.
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