Rockies Magic Number

Monday, April 09, 2007

You're breaking my Tuscaloosa Heart, boys.

Over the offseason, most Rockies faithful and then the occasional bored ESPN analyst (who am I kidding, they still ignored Denver) made thee healthy claim that the Rockies have a lineup that can contend with any lineup in MLB. During winter, I'd make claims that the Rockies DO have a shot at the division, but it was all gonna come down to Pitching again.

I think Aaron Cook heard me.

Cook scattered 5 hits through 9 innings, giving up the Padres' first run on a solo shot from Jose Cruz, Jr that bounced off the top of the wall about 6 inches in.

And yet, Cook is probably feeling like we're in 2006 again. Cook went through the season with one of the lowest run support tallies in all of baseball, and it resulted in a 9-15 record for Cook and a frustrating end to the season.

If this is what we are to expect for the season, expect to lose Cook. I wouldn't want to play baseball under these conditions. If Francis and Cook are going to get paltry run support all season, and pitchers like Fogg and Lopez are going be carried into winning records, then why should we try and make a winning team based off of pitching? Why not just recreate the Blake Street Bombers again, in their entirety, including 24 run games and #1 pitcher's ERAs above 5?

Anyhow, back to the game.

* If this is the season we're gonna get from Cook, then we at least know that the top of the rotation is rock solid. Perhaps contract extensions (long ones?) are in order.
* Error-free game!


* Hawkins. He gave up 2 consecutive hits in the 10th, one of which I'm not overly surprised by (I'm pretty sure Greene would be getting these hits off of Koufax the way he's batting this spring), and the other was a huge disappointment. Kouzmanoff's barely brushing the ball thus far this season, and last year he only mustered a .214 in his first stint in the Majors last year with Cleveland. Where does he get off making clutch hits like this? I mean, the pitch wasn't even terrible, he kept it down in the zone, and Kouzmanoff just kinda golfed it past a diving Helton (by the way, good to see him dive for a ball). I guess Hawkins wasn't even the worst part, it's just frustrating to see him giving up another game.

* Managing Decisions. Most of the game - not so bad. Not entirely sure about starting Finley, but when him and Willy are both competing for "Who can be the worst leadoff hitter", it's difficult to place blame in this situation. But the decision to put Hawkins in with the game on the line, not so much. How many games do we need to see him in this season? Does it really need to be 83% of them? Because he's on pace to pitch 108 innings in 135 games, and I really don't think we need to pitch someone who's supposed to be a sharp setup man like this. If Hurdle doesn't flex the rest of the bullpen, we'll have pitchers like Buchholz and Affeldt just getting rustier and worse with a lack of work. And does this sound familiar to LAST season? Pitchers (Fuentes) not getting enough work because the games were either tied or blowouts? Clint, pitch your pitchers or they're all going to leave after this season.

* Finally, THE BATS.
Words cannot describe the disgust. I'm not coming out suggesting that we should have lit up Jake Peavy, I'm saying we could have at least capitalized a BIT on baserunners. Let's break it down.

- First inning, one out (Finley, go fig), Kaz Matsui singles, and is then advanced on an Atkins groundout, only to be stranded by Helton looking at a 3rd strike.
- Second inning, Hawpe had a 1-out single, and was left looking on a flyout and lineout from Yorvit and Tulo.
- Jump to the 4th. Atkins singles, and then is advanced by consecutive groundouts (productive outs, boys?), until Hawpe decides to punt a 2-out single into center, scoring Atkins from 3rd. Hawpe was left out there.
- Jump to the 7th, Peavy's last inning. Bases loaded after Peavy issued a walk to Cook, and Ol' reliable Steve Finley grounds out to end the inning.
- The bullpen entered in the 8th, and simply leveled the Rockies for the remainder of the game.

Call me crazy, but judging by Finley's track record this season...maybe a PH would've been in order? By the name of Jeff Baker? I mean, as delicious as John Mabry's 3 PH outs have been, let's go with who produces. Bases Loaded, late innings, I would fear Jeff Baker almost more than anyone else in the lineup.

Blame it on PetCo. I'm not going to say that this is the way the season's going to end up. I'm not going to say anything beyond who's hitting well now until May.

Today, Jeff Francis will lead the Rockies in an attempt to foil another NL West Home Opener as the Rockies bring a 3-3 start into Dodger stadium. Dodgers' FA acquisition Kevin Schmidt will take the mound for the Blue in what will hopefully prove to be a futile effort from the Dodgers.

Until next time, Rockies fans!



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