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Tag:Rockies
Posted on: March 8, 2010 2:37 pm
 

Preseason Power Rankings

 

1.  Yankees

The best got better this off season, upgrading CF with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and adding another solid pitcher to their rotation with Javier Vasquez.  The World Series is theirs to lose.

 

2.  Angels

The Angels have quietly been one of the best teams in all of baseball in recent years and this year should be no different with their core players returning along with new additions Joel Pineiro and Hideki Matsui.

 

3.  Phillies

The NL champs return largely in tact with a new ace Roy Halladay at the top of their rotation.  They should be one of the best offensive teams in 2010.

 

4.  Red Sox

The Red Sox upgrade at SS with Marco Scutaro and strengthen their rotation with John Lackey.  They are doing their best to keep up with the Yankees but it may not be enough.

 

5.  Dodgers

The Dodgers retained all of their arbitration eligible players keeping together a group of emerging stars that has gelled well since the 2007 season.  If Manny Ramirez can find his 2008 form the Dodgers should contend for the NL pennant.

 

6.  Cardinals

The Red Birds resigned the top free agent position player Matt Holliday, keeping protection in the lineup for Albert Pujols. 

 

7.  Mets

The Mets were one of the most disappointing teams in baseball last year, however with key players returning from injury and off season additions Jason Bay and Kelvim Escobar the Mets look like they should be back in good form. 

 

8. Rockies

The Rockies have been the little team that could over the past few seasons.  They have done more with less than most other teams.  They have one baseball’s best short stops in Troy Tulowitzki and a very consistent pitching staff.

 

 

9. Mariners

The Mariners enter the 2010 season with arguably the best pitching 1-2 punch in all of baseball with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, and off season free agent acquisition Chone Figgins, along with the incomparable Ichiro gives them a very speedy top of the lineup.  The Mariners could surprise a lot of people this season.

 

10. Rays

While the Rays feature some of the league’s best young talent with players such as Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Jason Bartlett, they will need their pitching to be stronger this season if they hope to compete.

 

11.  Twins

The Twins have one of the top three players in the game at a position that is the thinnest of any in the game.  They have five other batters that will hit above .280 and the amount of left handers in their lineup will give most team fits.  But none of that will matter if the pitching rotation cannot hold up their end of the bargain. 

 

12.  Braves

The Braves will again be relying on their pitchers to keep them competitive, as they don’t quite have the bats that their fellow NL East teams have.  Like the Rockies, the Braves don’t have a lot of household names in their rotation but they produce consistent outings and give the team a chance to win.

 

13.  Giants

Another team with a very strong 1-2 punch in their rotation, the 2009 wild card runner up has improved offensively with 1B Aubrey Huff and OF Mark DeRosa.

 

14.  Tigers

The Yankees got Curtis Granderson and the Tigers ended up spending $13 million on Johnny Damon for the last leg of his career.  That’s why the Yankees are the Yankees and the Tigers are the Tigers.

 

15.  White Sox

The South Siders lost a little power by letting Jermaine Dye go, but Juan Pierre should be a suitable replacement.  If Jake Peavy can stay healthy they should contend for the AL Central.

 

16. Rangers

A young team with a lot of talent the Rangers could find themselves contending for the AL West.

 

17.  Cubs

The Cubs suffered from a lot of injuries and underwhelming performances from key players.  With Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano healthy again the Cubs have reason for optimism.  But then again, Cubs fans are optimistic every year.

 

18.  Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks will need Brandon Webb to resemble his old self if they are to compete, but a few off season moves should help their offense.

 

19.  Marlins

The Marlins are unimpressive on paper, outside of a few players, but the perennial team of prospects always seems to keep themselves in the playoff hunt deep into the season even with one of baseball’s lowest payroll. 

 

20.  Brewers

The Brewers lost Ben Sheets but added a few reliable leftys with Doug Davis and Randy Wolf. Combined with the offensive upside of a lot of their young players the Brew Crew has the potential to make a run in 2010.

 

21.  Reds

The Reds probably won’t be winning the World Series this year, but with young players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Johnny Cueto they should at least be fun to watch.

 

22. Indians

Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo will be the highlights on this team with low expectations.

 

23.  Blue Jays

The Blue Jays enter the 2010 season with Shaun Marcum as their ace, a far cry from Roy Halladay, who at least gave them a chance every fifth day.  The Jays are nothing more than a sparring partner for the Yankees and Red Sox.

 

24.  Orioles

Miguel Tejada will be one of the few veterans on a team that features youngsters Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis.  The Orioles should finish considerably better than the 64 wins they had in 2009.

 

25. A’s

The bright side for A’s fans is there are not a lot of players left that Billy Beane can trade away.  On the other hand, Rajai Davis better hope that he’s renting.

 

26. Astros

The Astros will need Roy Oswalt to pitch like he used to if they hope to compete.

 

27.  Padres

Look for Adrian Gonzalez to be wearing a Red Sox uniform by August.

 

28.  Nationals

This probably won’t be the year that the Nationals climb out of the NL East basement, and unfortunately like the AL East there are a few teams in the division that can spend far beyond the Nationals’ means, but with Ryan Zimmerman developing into one of the better third baseman in the game, Stephen Strasburg in the pipeline, and a few reliable veterans on the team don’t be surprised if the Nats make a run in the not too distant future.

 

29.  Royals

The Royals have Zack Greinke and uh...and uh…and uh…another long season ahead of them.

 

30.  Pirates

The Pirates have been one of the worst teams in baseball for nearly two decades.  They have not had a winning season in 17 years, the longest losing season streak of any team in the four major sports.  They have finished last in their division 10 times.  They trade away any and all of their top players and prospects at every trading deadline.  This year should be more of the same.  But Pittsburgh has won two Super Bowls and a Stanley Cup within the last five years so I guess there has to be some cosmic balance.

Posted on: February 10, 2010 11:29 am
Edited on: February 10, 2010 11:32 am
 

NL West Preview

The football season has been over for two days now, the Super Bowl has been rehashed and discussed to the point of nausea. Meanwhile, the baseball teams are checking the oil and tire pressure on the team buses and getting set to head out to Florida and Arizona.  That's right, pitchers and catchers report one week from today.  So how will this year play out?  Will it be the usual suspects contending for the World Series?  Probably.  But recently there have been a few dark horses that have found themselves in the mix.  Who will be this years Rays or Rockies, which team with a sub $100 million dollar payroll will find themselves toe to toe with the big boys? 

Below are snapshots of the 2010 versions of the five NL West teams, the much underrated division that has produced the NL wild card 3 of the past 4 years.  And looking at the make ups of these teams it looks like it will be another close division race and not surprising if the wild card team was again one of the five.

So here is the tylenol for your football hangover, the NL West preview.

Dodgers

The Dodgers lost a few key players this off season including 2B Orlando Hudson, OF Juan Pierre, and LHP Randy Wolf, while remaining relatively inactive in acquiring new players.  This could be in part that a number of their younger players were arbitration eligible and received huge pay raises.  While losing Juan Pierre shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Dodgers crowded outfield the loss of Hudson and Wolf leaves them thin at 2B and in their starting rotation.

The infield of the Dodgers features James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Russell Martin at catcher.  In 2009 Loney had the highest average of the five with .281; Casey Blake had the most home runs with 18.  They should see improved production from Blake DeWitt, who will put up decent power numbers but not a great batting average, and both Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin will probably increase their batting averages around 10-20 points.

The outfield is made up of Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier, three players who could all realistically hit 30 plus home runs.  Matt Kemp is an emerging star who hits for average, has 30 home run 30 stolen base potential, and is solid defensively.  Andre Ethier put up a respectable .272 batting average and equally respectable 31 home runs last year, and while he might not be the natural talent that Kemp is he is a very solid player and will probably improve his average slightly while retaining the same power numbers. 

Manny Ramirez was one of the leagues most feared hitters as recently as last April, but after serving a 50 game suspension for a banned substance he struggled to find his old form.  He began the season strong, hitting .372 in April, but in the following months he saw his average drop considerably, hitting only .255 with 10 home runs after the All Star break.  It remains to be seen if Manny will return to his old form or if last season was the beginning of the end. 

The starting rotation will consist of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda.  All three had decent ERAs but none had more than 12 wins last season.  Chad Billingsley will probably improve his numbers some this season, most likely reaching 15 wins and lowering his ERA slightly. 

Relievers George Sherrill, Ronald Belisario, Jonathan Broxton, Ramon Troncoso all played a part in the Dodgers having one of the strongest bullpens in the league last season.  They will be hurt, however, by the loss of Guillermo Mota who pitched the fourth most innings in relief for the Dodgers in 2009 and posted a 3.44 ERA.

Rockies

The under the radar Rockies have been the NL Wild Card team two of the past three years and will look to finally grab the division title in 2010.  The team lost 3B Garret Atkins and starter Jason Marquis while remaining relatively quite on both the trade and free agent fronts.

The infield is made up of Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart, and Chris Iannetta. at catcher.  Todd Helton remains one of the most reliable hitters in the game and

Tulowitzki is proving himself as an elite SS.  In 2009 he hit for a .297 average and 32 home runs, the most of any SS in baseball.  On top of his offensive prowess he also remains one of the better defense players at his position. Stewart, a high end prospect, should have a better batting average this season with similar power numbers.  Chris Iannetta has the potential to be a strong offensive catcher but hit only .228 last season.

Brad Hawpe, Carlos Gonzales, and Dexter Fowler will be chasing the balls in the rarified air of the Rockies outfield.  In 2009 Hawpe hit .285 with 23 home runs, Fowler hit .266 with 27 stolen bases, and highly touted prospect Carlos Gonzales appeared to be finding his pro form, hitting .284 with 13 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 278 at bats. The Rockies also have Seth Smith to fill the outfield, who is capable of posting respectable numbers.  Look for similar production from the Rockies outfield, with possibly some increased production from “CarGo.”

The Rockies starting rotation is probably the most consistent 1-5 in the division and will have most of the same faces returning with Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, and Jason Hammel.  The team will miss 15 game winner Jason Marquis, who followed the money to Washington, but it does have Jeff Francis returning from injury.  While the staff may not have any household names they do get the job done, with De La Rosa, Jimenez, Cook, and Hammel all posting sub 4.50 ERAs in 2009, and De La Rosa and Jimenez both winning 15 games.

The Rockies bullpen saw almost no movement this off season, which is an area they could have improved on as they finished the 2009 season with the fourth worst ERA of all NL teams.  They will again rely on closer Huston Street to come up big in the final inning while Manny Corpas, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Daley, and Franklin Morales will be used in middle relief.

Giants

The Giants are probably built more on pitching than any other team in the division.  In 2009 they had the second best ERA among relievers in the NL and tied for the second best ERA among starters.  Conversely on the offensive side they were fourth worst runs scored.  They did see some movement to try and bolster their offense with the signing of INF/OF Mark DeRosa and 1B Aubrey Huff.

The Infield sees the return of Pablo Sandoval, who had a great 2009 season, batting .330 with 25 HR.  Joining Sandoval will be SS Edgar Renteria, newly acquired Aubrey Huff at 1B, 2B Freddy Sanchez, who was acquired at last seasons trade deadline, and C Bengie Molina.  Huff and Renteria will look to bounce back this season and could potentially improve their averages between 20-30 points.  

The outfield will also look to improve offensively, with Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, and Nate Schierholtz all producing very mediocre numbers in 2009.  DeRosa does give them versatility however, as he is capable of playing 1B, 2B, and 3B in addition to the OF. 

Regardless of any improvements seen offensively the Giants will be heavily leaning on their pitching staff, which includes Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez.  Lincecum and Cain were fantastic last season, posting a 2.48 and 2.89 ERA respectively.  Zito and Sanchez also contributed with sub 4.30 ERAs.

The dominant bullpen of the Giants suffered some losses with the departures of Justin Miller and Bob Howry.  Howry pitched the third most innings by a Giants reliever in 2009 and had a 3.39 ERA.  The bullpen retained notable pitchers Jeremy Affeldt, Brandon Medders and closer Brian Wilson.

Padres

Somewhat expectedly the Padres had a very quiet off season.  They traded Kevin Kouzmanoff and signed Jerry Hairston Jr, but other than that no notable moves.  The Padres are a team of players little known outside the San Diego area. 

The infield will be made of 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B David Eckstein, SS Everth Cabrera, 3B Chase Headley, and C Nick Hundley.  Adrian Gonzalez led the team in every major offensive category last year, including batting average with .277. No other infielder hit over .270 or more than 12 HR.  Although no one outside of Gonzalez has any power potential, Cabrera will look to have between 30-40 stolen bases.

The outfield has Kyle Blanks, Tony Gwynn Jr, and Will Venable.  None of the young players played a full season last year.  There is little power to speak of, but Kyle Blanks has the potential to hit 20 homers.

Chris Young, Kevin Correia, Mat Latos will make up the front end of the rotation. Latos could eventually be top starter but none figure to have any significant impact in 2010.

The Padres bullpen is most likely the strength of the team.  Closer Heath Bell had 42 saves in 2009 and Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, Edward Mujica, and Joe Thatcher all had very respectable ERAs. The bullpen, which ranked sixth in the NL for ERA last season, is returning for the 2010 almost completely in tact.

Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks were probably the busiest team in the NL West, and with good cause, they finished dead last in the division last year.  They made the biggest splash being part of a three team trade during the winter meetings and later signed a few notable free agents, resulting in one time fan favorite Eric Byrnes being designated for assignment. 

The Diamondbacks infield will welcome new acquisitions 1B Adam LaRoche and 2B Kelly Johnson as they join 3B Mark Reynolds, SS Stephen Drew, and C Miguel Montero.  This is a much improved infield from last season, both offensively and defensively, as LaRoche provides a solid glove and consistent bat at a position that has been a long time liability for the team.  Kelly Johnson is coming off a forgettable season in 2009 and the Diamondbacks will look for him to return to his 2008 form.

The outfield will remain somewhat similar to 2009, with Chris Young and Justin Upton returning to their spots.  Conor Jackson, who missed most of the 2009 season with illness, will return to LF where he played much of the time in 2008.  Jackson is a consistent .280 hitter when healthy and the team will need his reliable bat if they are to compete for the NL West title.  Filling in when the need arises will be Gerardo Parra, who is coming off a very nice rookie season where he hit .290.  If Chris Young continues to struggle like he has the past two seasons look for Parra to get a large chunk of the playing time. 

Their pitching staff will look considerably different after losing middle of the rotation man Doug Davis to free agency and trading former first round draft pick Max Scherzer.  Meanwhile, they acquired Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to fill in the rotation and will have Brandon Webb back from a season long injury.  If Brandon Webb can pitch like he has for most of his career the Diamondbacks will have one of the strongest front ends of the rotation of any team with the one two battery of Dan Haren and Webb. 

The Diamondbacks bullpen is an area of concern for the team and one that cost them many games in 2009.  The bullpen’s collective ERA last season was 4.61, third worst in the National League behind only the Pirates and Nationals.  It may not be a coincidence that those teams, along with the Diamondbacks, made up the three last place teams in the three NL divisions.  The bullpen did add Bob Howry and Aaron Heilman to try and cure some of its woes, but if they get the same inconsistent performances from the rest of the pen as they did last year it will be of little help.

Posted on: August 19, 2009 1:28 pm
 

Jamie Moyer Lights Out

The Diamondbacks were again dominated by a 46 year old pitcher who tops out in the low eighties. In 2009 Jamie Moyer has a 0.00 ERA, 2 wins in two games, and a total of 8 hits and 10 strike outs in the 12.2 innings he’s pitched against the Diamondbacks.  This utter and complete domination is juxtaposed to his 5.22 ERA against the rest of the league.  He pitched one game against the Diamondbacks in 2008, 7 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, and no walks.  With his complete and utter domination of the Dbacks the past two years it was no surprise that Moyer was called upon in the fourth inning to relieve Pedro Martinez. 

If not for a lead off homerun by Stephen Drew the Dbacks would have been shutout and managed only 3 hits.  Not that 1 run and 4 hits are much better.  This was the team’s third disappointing game in as many days, who also featured lackluster performances in their games against the Dodgers, Sunday, and Braves, Monday.  The post game press conference again showed a subdued AJ Hinch reclining in his chair casually dismissing the team’s poor play.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised though.  Sunday’s loss against the Dodgers happened after they had won the first two games of the series.  For the past two years the Diamondbacks have consistently mailed in the third game of a series after winning the first two.  Monday’s game was a makeup game that took them across the country for a day game less than 24 hours after they finished their previous one.  Last nights game was picked up after an hour rain delay, and traditionally the Dbacks lose almost every game after a rain delay.  Or it could be the team is just wearing down, they’ve only had one day off since July 31. 

What ever it is, they’ll need to get over it.  Their remaining schedule doesn’t get any easier and includes multiple series against the Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies, all teams that will surely be making a post season push in the coming weeks.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 3, 2009 11:09 am
 

The Real Moneyball

The trade deadline has passed, effectively ending the hopes of many teams for another year as they come to the realization that they are better off dumping their players than trying to compete.  The Pirates, as usual, traded anyone of any value.  The Orioles, Indians, and A’s were also again on the seller’s side of the ledger.  The rich continued to get richer, with the Dodgers acquiring George Sherill, the Phillies dealing for Cliff Lee, and the White Sox getting Jake Peavy.

It is obviously frustrating for fans of teams like the Pirates, who continually give away their players year after year, but it is also frustrating for fans of teams competing with the trade deadline gluttons.  If you are a fan of a mid or small market team that is in the division race but not necessarily a buyer, and a rival team gets an impact player at the deadline, it is very deflating.  Especially when they seem to do it every year, as is the case for the Red Sox and Dodgers.

In the AL Central the Twins are only two games behind the Tigers, who just obtained Jarrod Washburn, a great addition to their rotation.  Meanwhile teams like the Rockies, Rangers, and Twins are forced to stand pat and try and wedge their way into the playoffs with what they have.  They compete every night and battle all season only to have the teams around them get a giant shot in the arm with two months to go.

It is fortuitous that baseball has the wild card though, because it does give teams in secondary markets an opportunity to make the playoffs.  Right now there are no division leaders that are in mid or small markets, and no division leaders with a payroll below $100 million.  In 2008 there was only one smaller market team that won their division, the Tampa Rays; the other division winners were representing Chicago, Philadelphia, and LA. 

In addition to every division being led by a $100 million team, there is only one $100 million dollar that is even under .500, the Mets.  The $100 million dollar teams include the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Angels, Phillies, Astros, White Sox, and Dodgers.  The statement the rich got richer definitely rings true, as six of those teams made major acquisitions

If you don’t think that money equates to winning consider this.  Four of the past five World Series have been won by teams in the $100 million club.  It doesn’t mean that the team who has the highest payroll always wins, but it does mean that to win you do have to pay.

Posted on: July 15, 2009 11:31 am
 

25 Reasons Baseball is Better than Football

1. Baseball players who are not on the field are in the dugout leaving the fans with a view of the game.  Football players who are not on the field are standing on the sidelines leaving the fans with a view of their backsides.
2. Baseball on the radio is far more enjoyable than football on the radio. 
3. Baseball has a statistic to analyze every aspect of the game and determine the effectiveness of the players. 
4. Baseball players are required to play offense and defense.
5. Baseball parks are characters; football stadiums are clones.
6. There are only two ballparks that use artificial turf, next year there will be one, and none in the United States. 
7. Baseball requires the leading team to give the opposition a chance to comeback.  Football allows the team to sit on the ball and run the clock out.
8. The baseball season is broken into mostly three game series.  It’s like having a micro playoff series twice a week.
9. Baseball’s playoffs are decided by a series, ensuring the better team will always prevail. 
10. Baseball is built on accuracy; if a pitch is off by the slightest amount it can cost a team the game.  Football is built on force.
11. Baseball is a game of anticipation; football is a game of instant gratification. 
12. Vin Scully.  Anybody in football come close?
13. The baseball season has two distinct acts and a short intermission in between the two.  The football season just runs together.  
14. Baseball still uses wood bats. 
15. The oldest football stadium is 52 years old.  The oldest ballpark is 97 years old.
16. Baseball has a two seam fastball, four seam fastball, splitter, changeup, curveball, slider, sinker, and knuckleball; Football has a spiral. 
17. Baseball requires runners to be within a six foot base path.  Football requires them to be within 160 feet between the sidelines.
18. Football has TV timeouts.
19. You get to keep score in baseball.
20. A baseball game can be infinite.  A football game is limited to 60 minutes.
21. In baseball once a player goes out of the game they don’t get to come back in.
22. Baseball has Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  There is no song dedicated to football.
23. When a player signs a five year contract in baseball, they do not come back the next year and demand a new contract threatening that they will hold out of spring training.
24. Baseball’s records can be retrieved from memory; football’s records need to be retrieved from an almanac.  
25.  People actually watch baseball’s All Star game.

Posted on: June 23, 2009 10:50 am
 

NL Best

In April the rest of the league looked at the National League West and scoffed.  Of course the Dodgers were developing an enormous division lead, look who they play against.  The Rockies have no pitching, the Giants have no hitting, the Padres are a mess, and the Diamondbacks lost their ace opening day and couldn’t put up more than two runs a game during the month of April. 

 

So the Dodgers rolled, arguably the best team in baseball.  They could hit, they could pitch, and they could do no wrong.  Then the Giants slowly crept into the picture, steadily gaining ground and improving their record.  Their pitching has been among the best in baseball, ranking third in ERA.  Matt Cain is proving to be dominant with adequate run support for the first time in his career, and since his early season guffaws Tim Lincecum has returned to Cy Young status.  

 

Now it is the end of May, and the NL West had one great team and one good team with the other three in shambles.  The Diamondbacks had already fired Bob Melvin, and with an 18-28 record the Rockies followed suit and relieved Clint Hurdle of his duties May 30.  Typically firing a manager midseason will have marginal success.  It is largely an aesthetic move to appease the fans until the team can get more permanent repairs in place.  However, since firing Clint Hurdle the Rockies have gone 19-5.  They were hitting .239 in May, and are now hitting .294 in June. They have also lowered their ERA 1 run since the move, going form a 4.44 ERA in May to a 3.44 ERA in June.

 

Here we sit, 23 days into June, just a few weeks before the All Star break, and suddenly the hapless NL Worst is not so hapless.  The NL West is the only division in the National League to have at least three teams with a .520 win percentage or higher, and one of only two in all of baseball.  There are three teams that rank in the top eight in runs for the NL, Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers and Giants rank 1 and 2 in National League ERA.  They are also the only division to have three teams with winning interleague records.

 

Perhaps it is time for a new moniker.  Perhaps the NL Worst is now the NL Best.  And perhaps it is time for the rest of the nation to start giving the NL West its due.

 

 

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com