Posts Tagged ‘Huston Street’

Huston Street, Colorado Rockies Far Apart On A Contract?

January 19, 2010

Update

According to FOXSports.com’s Tracey Ringolsby, the Colorado Rockies and closer Huston Street have come to an agreement on a three-year, $22.5 contract. There is also an option for a fourth year.

It’s good to see the Rockies and Street come to an agreement. $22.5 million is pretty close to what Street and his camp were asking for over a month ago. As I wrote in my original post below, this is a pretty fair deal for someone of Street’s caliber.

The Rockies are locking up a lot of talent and should be a contender in the NL West for years to come.

Original Post

According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, the Colorado Rockies and closer Huston Street are far apart on a contract extension. Street is a free agent at the end of the 2010 season.

Olney is hearing that Street’s camp is asking for a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $24 million. If the Rockies and Street can’t come to an agreement, they would consider trading Street at the 2010 trading deadline in July.

There are a couple of elements to this, so let’s take a look at each one individually.

Street is looking for a contract extension

First, I don’t think Street’s camp is asking for anything outlandish. Three-years and $24 million for a pitcher like Street is not like signing Carlos Silva to a four-year, $48 million contract.

According to Fangraphs, Street pitched like a $7 million pitcher for the Rockies in 2009. In 2009, Street’s actual salary was $4.5 million, so asking for $8 million a year is a very reasonable demand.

Also consider that Billy Wagner at 39, just got a $7 million contract from the Atlanta Braves and Trevor Hoffman at 42, received an $8 million contract from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Street is still only 26-years-old and should be entering the prime of his career.

Second, let’s say the Rockies and Street don’t come to an agreement. Are they really going to trade him in July if they are in the middle of a pennant race?

That would be an extremely tough call for GM Dan O’Dowd. I fully expect the Rockies to be a contender in 2010, so that will be interesting. Obviously if the Rockies are not in contention, then trading Street becomes a lot easier.

Third, I wonder if the O’Dowd wants to see Street have two good years in a row before he looks to sign Street to an extension. Street has a 2.55 ERA in odd years and a 3.52 ERA in even years.

If history stands true, then Street should have a down year in 2010.

Lastly, if Street leaves in July or at the end of next year, who will be the Rockies closer going forward. I might be good at predictions, but even I don’t have the answer to that one.

The Rockies don’t have a suitable replacement on their roster as of right now.

One name I would look out for in the future would be Rex Brothers. Brothers was one of two first-round picks for the Rockies in 2009 and is being groomed at the closer of the future.

In his first year of minor league ball in 2009, Brothers struckout 11.8 batters per nine innings and had a 1.13 WHIP in 17 games–all in relief.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In October

November 3, 2009

Not only is October the best month on the baseball calendar, it’s also the busiest. Besides the playoffs, you have general managers being fired and hired, you have managers being fired and hired, and you already start to hear some free agent and trade rumblings.

This October was no different. Let’s take a look at 10 things we learned about baseball in October.

10. Kevin Towers and JP Ricciardi were let go. When a team doesn’t win two things happen. 1. The manager gets fired or 2. The general manager gets fired.

In San Diego and Toronto–the general managers were fired.

Towers spent 14 seasons as the San Diego Padres’ GM and they have won four division titles and made one World Series appearance (1998) under his stewardship.

I wasn’t in favor of this move when it happened. Towers can be the GM of my team any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He knows how to get the job done.

Ricciardi was let go by the Toronto Blue Jays after serving as their GM since 2001. The Blue Jays never won more than 87 games and only finished above third once with Ricciardi as the GM.

If you fire someone, then you need a replacement…

9. Jed Hoyer and Alex Anthopoulos will be making the decisions in San Diego and Toronto. The Padres hired Boston Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to replace the above mentioned Towers.

Jed Hoyer

Hoyer is the new GM of the Padres

Hoyer joined the Red Sox front office at age 28, where he helped to build Boston’s rosters and assisted in contract negotiations.

In 2005, when Theo Epstein and Larry Lucchino had a lover’s quarrel and Epstein took a ten week hiatus, Hoyer along with Craig Shipley, Bill Lajoie, and Ben Cherington took over the GM duties for the Red Sox.

Anthopoulos takes over for Ricciardi in Toronto on an interim basis.

While Hoyer and Anthopoulos take over as general managers…

8. Manny Acta and Brad Mills were hired as managers. Mills was hired to be the next manager of the Houston Astros. Mills replaces Cecil Cooper who was fired with 13 games left in the season. Former Astros manager Phil Garner and interim manager Dave Clark were finalists for the position.

Mills has spent the last six seasons as the bench coach for Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox.

Acta was hired by the Cleveland Indians to be their next manager. The Indians signed Acta to a three-year deal with a club option for 2013.

This will be Acta’s second managerial stint. His first one, as we all know was with the Washington Nationals from 2007-2009. Acta was 158-252 with the Nationals and was relieved of his duties in July.

As manager of the Astros, Mills will be squaring off against this guy in St. Louis…

7. Tony LaRussa will be back as St. Louis Cardinals manager. The Cardinals and manager Tony LaRussa have agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011. The Cardinals also got good news when pitching coach Dave Duncan agreed to return to the team as well.

But the big shock was the announcement of Mark McGwire as hitting coach. McGwire will replace Hal McRae as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.

While the Cardinals were making news, the team they beat in the 2006 World Series made news of another kind…

6. The Detroit Tigers suffered an epic collapse. The Tigers had everything going for them headed into the last week of the season. They were playing at home, they were playing a Chicago White Sox team whose season was over, and they were three games up on the Minnesota Twins with four games to go.

Despite all that, the Tigers couldn’t hold on the AL Central lead. The Tigers lost two-out-of-three to the White Sox and the Twins swept the Kansas City Royals.

Those results forced this…

5. The Tigers and Twins played an all-time classic. The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings in a one-game playoff to clinch the American League Central title. For four-hours and thirty-seven minutes in this epic classic there were no salaries, no free agency, no arbitration, and no steroids.

This game was about two teams playing their guts out and leaving everything on field. The Twins and Tigers not only captured the 58,088 screaming fans in the Metrodome, but they captured millions watching at home.

They captured four friends, who weren’t Twins or Tigers fan, but were so into the game that they were texting back and forth on practically every situation that occurred. We all knew we were watching one of the best games we ever saw.

This was just an amazing game. A true classic and a game which reminded us what is great about the game of baseball.

The Twins win allowed them to go to the postseason…

4. The 2009 postseason has given us a lot of memorable moments. Every year the postseason gives us memories that last a lifetime. The 2009 postseason has been no different.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally exercised their postseason demons by beating the Boston Red Sox.

Matt Holliday’s dropped flyball against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the NLDS opened the floodgates for the Dodgers.

Alex Rodriguez, doing his best Reggie Jackson imitation leading the New York Yankees to the World Series.

CC Sabathia finally putting his past postseason failures behind him and being worth every penny.

Jimmy Rollins walk-off double off of Jonathan Broxton shattering the dreams of the Dodgers.

Cliff Lee carrying the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff throughout October.

While on one end there is triumph in the postseason, on the other end there is heartache…

3. It’s been a rough postseason for closers. 10 blown saves (the 11th happened on Sunday night) in the postseason by closers through October 31st.

papelbon

Even Papelbon blew a save in this postseason

Everyone thinks closers aren’t important until they blow a game in a big spot. Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Brian Fuentes, Ryan Franklin, and Broxton all imploded at one point this postseason.

Only Brad Lidge and Mariano Rivera didn’t blow a save through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s no coincidence that the teams they represent are in the World Series.

While the closers were one story of this postseason, the big story has been…

2. Bad umpiring has plagued the 2009 postseason. Major League Baseball just can’t win. It’s always something.

This postseason, the umpires have come under tremendous fire for missing calls, which has prompted many to call for more instant replay in baseball.

It seems like every game this postseason the umpires were missing calls. And these weren’t bang-bang calls–these were blatantly obvious calls.

But despite all the bad calls by the umpires, this has been a fabulous postseason. And all roads in the postseason lead to this…

1. The Phillies or the Yankees will be world champions. For the first time in maybe 10 years, the two best teams will be playing in the World Series.

The Phillies took Game One behind a complete game, 10 strike out performance from Cliff Lee. Chase Utley provided the offense with two homeruns off of Sabathia.

The Yankees evened the series at one behind a brilliant performance from AJ Burnett. Hideki Matsui’s homerun off of Pedro Martinez in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie.

The Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit thanks to a two-run HR from Alex Rodriguez and some timely hitting by Johnny Damon to take a 2-1 series lead.

It’s very rare a World Series champion isn’t crowned in October, but this is an unusual year thanks to the World Baseball Classic. We will just have to wait to November to crown a champion.

November will be the final month of the baseball. Come back on December to get a recap of the World Series and all the award winners in baseball.

Huston We Have A Problem: Phillies Stun Rockies In Ninth

October 13, 2009

Anyone who has read the book Moneyball knows that one of the basic theories or principles of Billy Beane and Bill James is that any pitcher can be a closer. They feel that you can pull anyone off the street and they could pick up saves.

We saw this theory or principal work this year with guys like Heath Bell, JP Howell, and Ryan Franklin.

However, I have always disagreed with this theory or principal to an extent. I say to an extent because I agree that anyone can close a game…in the regular season.

Any yodel can close a game in June against the Arizona Diamondbacks or the Kansas City Royals. However, it takes a special person to close out a game in the postseason. Not just anyone can close out a game in October.

The Colorado Rockies found that out first-hand last night.

In what was just a wonderful baseball game, the Philadelphia Phillies scored three runs with two outs in the ninth inning off of closer Huston Street to defeat the Rockies 5-4 and win their best-of-five series 3-1.

The late inning disaster by Street (we’ll get to that in a bit) overshadowed what was an old fashioned pitchers duel for the majority of the game. Starters Cliff Lee and Ubaldo Jimenez matched each other pitch-for-pitch for seven innings.

Street had a meltdown last night

Street had a meltdown last night

Jimenez made just two mistakes in seven innings. He gave up a solo homerun in the first to Shane Victorino and another solo homerun to Jayson Werth on a serious hanger in the sixth.

This game was 2-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth and then the Rockies came alive.

Thanks to some unbelievable jumping ability by Dexter Fowler, the Rockies had first and second with one out. Charlie Manuel called upon Ryan Madson to get out of the jam.

Madson got Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to left. Ben Francisco, who just entered the game for defense made a great diving catch to get the out.

Jason Giambi, who was pinch-hitting for Garrett Atkins came through with a single to left to tie the game. Yorvit Torrealba then came up and he hit a rope to right center. Todd Helton and Jason Giambi scored and the Rockies had a 4-2 lead.

Then Street came in.

Street was shaky in Game Two, he was shaky in Game Three, and he was ultra-shaky in Game Four. Street struckout Gregg Dobbs to start the inning. Then he allowed an infield single to Jimmy Rollins and then got Victorino to hit into a fielder’s choice.

And then this is where Street fell apart.

When I pitched, I always had a theory about nibbling: Nibbling leads to walks and walks lead to big innings. By nibbling, you also told the hitter that your best stuff as a pitcher couldn’t get him out.

When you nibble and try to make that perfect pitch, a pitcher has a tendency to “aim” the ball. That is what Street did last night. He tried to make that perfect to Chase Utley, nibbled, and ended up walking the Phillies’ second baseman.

Street was scared to throw the ball over the plate. He didn’t believe his best stuff could get Utley out in that situation.

Now with runners on first and second, Ryan Howard came to the plate. Then I saw Street do something and at that point, I knew the Rockies were in trouble.

With Victorino now on second, Street did one of those fake throws to second to try to keep Victorino close. At that point it was all over for Street.

One, where is Victorino going? Do you honestly think he is going to steal third with Howard at the plate? If he would have gotten thrown out at third to end the game, people in Philadelphia would have burned his house down.

And two, if Victorino wants to steal third–let him. His run doesn’t matter. What that told me was that Street was avoiding throwing the ball and his concentration wasn’t 100 percent on Howard.

So what happens? Street misses his spot by at least six inches and Howard laces a game-tying, two-run double to tie the game. If your concentration is not 100 percent focused on Howard, he is going to kill you every time.

Jayson Werth came up next and flared a single to right center and just like that the Phillies had the lead.

The Rockies tried to make a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but for the second night in a row, Brad Lidge got Tulowitzki to end the game. This time Lidge got Tulowitzki on a wicked slider down and away.

So no Billy Beane and Bill James–not just any old pitcher can close out a game. It takes a very, very, very special pitcher to close out a game in October.

Unfortunately for the Rockies, they didn’t have that special person.

The Phillies will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. Game One is set for Thursday. I will be previewing this series tomorrow

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Rockies Win Game Two: Leave Philadelphia With A Split

October 9, 2009

The Colorado Rockies traveled to Philadelphia with one goal in mind: Leave the city of brotherly love with at least one win.

Mission accomplished.

The Rockies beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 yesterday in a nail bitter to even up their best-of-five series at one game apiece. This was a fascinating game to watch unfold.

This game reminded me a lot of a last week’s University of Washington-Notre Dame football game. Washington had tons of opportunities to put that game away late with touchdowns, but kept settling for field goals. They let Notre Dame stay in the game and in came back to haunt them.

Notre Dame eventually won the game in overtime.

That is how I thought this game would end. The Rockies had so many opportunities in the later innings to put this game away, that when they let the Phillies hang around, I thought the Phillies would steal it late.

But unlike Notre Dame, the Phillies didn’t have the luck of the Irish.

The Rockies jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind Yorvit Torrealba’s two-run homerun and some solid pitching from starter Aaron Cook. Torrealba had himself a great game yesterday. He played winning baseball all game both offensively and defensively.

The Phillies came back with three runs of their own in the sixth inning to make it 4-3. Raul Ibanez highlighted the inning with a two-run single off of reliever Jose Contreras.

I still haven’t figured out why Contreras pitched to Ibanez in that spot.

The Rockies then had opportunities to break this game open in the seventh and eighth innings and failed to do so. They had bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh and only scored one run. They had bases loaded and one out in the eighth and failed to score.

The eighth inning annoyed me more than the seventh inning though. With one out and the bases loaded, Clint Barmes came to the plate against Brett Myers. Myers was all over the place yesterday and yes, I am convinced he hit Troy Tulowitzki on purpose.

Myers couldn’t throw a strike to save his life and what does Barmes do? He swings at two pitches out of the strikezone and grounds to third for a forceout. I like Barmes, but that was one awful at-bat.

The Rockies had the Phillies on the ropes so bad that Charlie Manuel used potential Game Three and Four starters Joe Blanton and JA Happ in relief yesterday. I think Manuel at his old age forgot their were more games left in this series. But the Rockies could never deliver the knockout blow.

Jayson Werth’s homerun in the eighth made it 5-4 and then I was convinced the Phillies would somehow steal this game. The Phillies even got two on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against closer Huston Street.

But Street got Shane Victorino to line weakly to Barmes to end the game. I will say this about Street–he was lucky to get out of that inning with a win. He threw some pitches to Matt Stairs and Jimmy Rollins that were meatballs.

Game Three is scheduled for Saturday at 9:37 ET. However, this game might get frozen out because it’s supposed to be like 14 degrees in Denver on Saturday night. Of course, I will keep you posted to any changes made to the playoff schedule

It’s Rocktober Again: Colorado Rockies Clinch Playoff Berth

October 2, 2009

The National League playoff field is set.

With today’s 9-2 beatdown of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Colorado Rockies clinched their second playoff berth in three years. The St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and now the Rockies will represent the National League in the 2009 postseason.

It’s been a crazy year for the Rockies. In the offseason, they traded arguably their best player in Matt Holliday and lost arguably their best pitcher in Jeff Francis to a shoulder injury.

Those losses, coupled with an 18-28 start to the season left many, including myself to believe that 2009 would be a lost season in Colorado. Ah, but baseball is a long season.

The Rockies fired manager Clint Hurdle, replaced him with Jim Tracy, and the Rockies haven’t looked back since. The hiring of Jim Tracy was just one of the reasons for the Rockies resurgence.

Here are some other reasons for the Rockies turnaround…

Tulowitzki is having a MVP season

Tulowitzki is having a MVP season

  • The return of “Tulo.” 2008 was just a miserable year for Troy Tulowitzki. But the heart and soul of the Rockies has responded with a MVP performance in 2009. Tulowitzki has put up a .299/31/90 hitting line with a .380 OBP and a .933 OPS. And of course, Tulowitzki has played his usual stellar defense at short.
  • The health of their starting rotation. Jorge De La Rosa, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis, and Jason Hammel all made 30+ starts for the Rockies in 2009.  Aaron Cook was the only pitcher not to make 30 starts and he made 27. Impressive.
  • Huston Street. Street was a throw-in in the Matt Holliday trade and all Street has done is save 34 games in 2009. He has stabilized the bullpen for the Rockies.

The Rockies go into the 2009 postseason with as good of a chance to the represent the National League as anyone. I think they are the most complete team in the NL. If you can name we a weakness on this team — I would love to hear it.

While the Rockies have clinched the Wild Card, they could still win the division. The Rockies are two games behind the Dodgers and play the Dodgers for three games in LA.

If the Rockies sweep, then they are division champs and could possibly have the best record in the NL. Oh the humanity.

It’s been a great season for the Rockies. It’s shaping up to be Rocktober in Colorado yet again.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Colorado Rockies Are Winning From Within

August 27, 2009

I say this with a staunch and unblemished record of heterosexuality — I have a man-crush on the Colorado Rockies. That’s right, not just one player, but the entire team.

I usually reserve my man-crushes for individual players like Michael Young, Chase Utley, or back in the day George Brett. However, the Rockies are a different case. I love the way this team plays.

Tulo is a home grown Rockie

Tulo is a home grown Rockie

They play great defense, they can beat you with a big fly or small ball, they have a very high baseball IQ, and this team can pitch. They are a very fun team to watch on a night in and night out basis.

However, above everything I just mentioned, there is one thing that stands out to me when I watch this team. It’s the fact that the Rockies are winning with home grown talent.

Everywhere you look on the field, the Rockies have players that they drafted and groomed in their farm system. Look at the core of this team…

Chris Iannetta – Drafted in the 4th round of the 2004 draft

Todd Helton- Drafted in the 1st round of the 1995 draft

Clint Barmes – Drafted in the 10th round of the 2000 draft

Troy Tulowitzki- Drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft

Ian Stewart – Drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 draft

Seth Smith – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft

Dexter Fowler – Drafted in the 14th round of the 2004 draft

Brad Hawpe – Drafted in the 11th round of the 2000 draft

Garrett Atkins – Drafted in the 5th round of the 2000 draft

Ryan Spilborghs – Drafted in the 7th round of the 2002 draft

Ubaldo Jimenez – Signed as an amateur free agent in 2001

Aaron Cook – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 1997 draft

Other key contributors such as Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, Jason Marquis, and Jason Hammel have been acquired via trades. Only Matt Herges, Josh Fogg, and Juan Rincon were signed to free agent contracts and their contacts were all minor league deals.

To break down the Rockies current 25-man roster, 52 percent are home grown talent (drafted, signed as an undrafted free agent, or signed as an amateur free agent and developed in the Rockies system), 36 percent came from trades, and just 12 percent came from minor league free agent contracts.

That 52 percent would be higher (64 percent) if Dexter Fowler and Aaron Cook weren’t currently on the DL. To have over 50 percent of your talent come from drafts and amateur free agent signings is amazing.

It just goes to show what a tremendous job Dan O’Dowd has done recently in reshifting his strategy of handing out large free agent contracts to reinvesting that money back into their minor league system, scouting, and the draft.

Back in the day, the Rockies tried to play with the big boys in the free agent signing game. Mike Hampton, the late Darryl Kile, Denny Neagle, Larry Walker, Darryl Hamilton and the legendary Tom Goodwin all signed free agent contracts to come to Colorado.

Those days are long gone. The Rockies have found their winning formula and the ingredients have come from within.

Leading The National League In Saves Is Who?

August 19, 2009

If you had asked me at the beginning of the season to handicap who would lead the National League in saves, it would have gone something like this – Jonathan Broxton, Brad Lidge, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, and maybe Brian Wilson.

Picking any of those guys wouldn’t have been a bad choice because they are some of the best closers in the game. But baseball is a funny game and sometimes the guys you least expect to do well, come through with the biggest year.

Has anyone looked at who is leading the National League in saves this season? To give you a hint, he isn’t one of the names I mentioned above. Give up? Okay, I will tell you.

Heath Bell, Ryan Franklin, and Huston Street are tied for the National League lead in saves with 30. Say what?

I am not surprised by Street because I predicted a nice bounce back year for him at the beginning of the season and because he was a successful closer with the Oakland A’s. But closers in baseball are like kickers in the NFL. You got your four-to-five great ones year after year and then the rest are a crap shoot.

Bell and Franklin are the pure definition of that.

Heath Bell was traded by the New York Mets to the San Diego Padres for the legendary Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson in 2006 (another one of Omar Minaya’s brilliant moves), and since then has blossomed with the Padres. In 2007 and 2008, Bell had ERA’s of 2.02 and 3.58.

Bell and Franklin were All-Stars in 2009

Bell and Franklin were All-Stars in 2009

However, Bell entered 2009 with only two lifetime saves. Bell won the closers role by default after the Padres let go Trevor Hoffman and the rest for Bell has been history.

Bell has been lights out all season, posting a 2.22 ERA and an impressive 10 K/9 ratio. The icing on the cake for Bell was when he was named to his first All-Star team this season.

After being cast as a starter by the Seattle Mariners at the beginning of his career, Ryan Franklin has found a home in the bullpen with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Franklin was awful as a starter in Seattle, hitting rock bottom in 2004 and 2005 when he went a combined 12-31 with 4.99 ERA. Franklin moved to the bullpen full-time after signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 and pitched in the same role after being traded to the Cincinnati Reds the same year.

It wasn’t until Franklin signed with St. Louis that he came into his own. In 2007 and 2008, Franklin had 3.29 ERA for the Red Birds and even chipped in 17 saves in 2008.

Coming into this year, Franklin wasn’t even the closer. That job went to rookie Jason Motte. Motte scuffled in his first couple of outings and Franklin has pitched better than Bruce Sutter ever did in a Cardinals’ uniform (Sutter had a 1.54 ERA in 1984).

Like Bell, Franklin made his first All-Star team this year and has posted a ridiculous 1.16 ERA. I mean really? A 1.16 ERA for Ryan Franklin?

I don’t think there is a person on the planet who could have predicted this type of success for Franklin.

Street, Bell, and Franklin prove that you never know who is going to excel in a closer’s role at the beginning of the year.

Defense And The Bullpen Fueling The Colorado Rockies Hot Streak…

June 22, 2009
How would you like your favorite team to lose to the Colorado Rockies today? Would you like them to be beaten senseless, like the Rockies beat the St Louis Cardinals 10-1 on June 6th? Maybe you would like it better if the Rockies beat them in a close game, wire to wire like they beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on June 17th? Or perhaps you would prefer for your team to lose to the Rockies in their final at-bat, like the Rockies beat the Pirates on June 20th?

These are the questions that fans and teams alike are asking when they now face the buzzsaw known as the Colorado Rockies. That’s because the Rockies have won 16 out of their 17 games and are winning games in every way possible.

The Rockies are now 36-33 and have thrown their hat into the middle of the Wild Card race. How have the Rockies turned their season around? Many will point to the firing of Clint Hurdle on May 29th. Under new manager Jim Tracy, the Rockies are 18-5. While there is no arguing that Tracy has made an impact on the Rockies, I am going to look two other reasons why the Rockies are rolling – Defense and the bullpen.

First, the Rockies inserted rookie and super-athlete Dexter Fowler in the starting centerfield spot. Fowler can cover a ton of ground in the spacious Coors Field and has stabilized the outfield defense. He is able to get to balls that Ryan Spilborghs normally couldn’t get to.

Dexter Fowler

Dexter Fowler

This move allowed Spilborghs to move to leftfield, where he is much better suited. Brad Hawpe is still a below average fielder in right (-7.3 UZR and a 1.8 RF), but as Meatloaf once said “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Having Spilborghs in left and Fowler in center, allows Fowler to cheat more towards right center, so he can get to balls Hawpe can’t.

The second move the Rockies made to sure up the defense was to insert Ian Stewart for the player formally known as Garrett Atkins at third, and put Clint Barmes at second full-time. With Stewart and Barmes in the infield, along with the steady Todd Helton at first and the potential Gold Glove winning Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, the Rockies have one of the best defensive infields in baseball.

One of the big keys to winning baseball games, especially in Coors Field, is not give the team more than three outs in an inning. With this new defense, the Rockies are playing sound, defensive baseball and are making teams work for their runs.

The other key to the Rockies’ recent success has been there bullpen, particularly my boy, Huston Street. I say my boy because before the season, I predicted a nice bounce back year for the former University of Texas star.

Street has been on fire

Street has been on fire

There is a lot to be said for a team that has a stable closer to nail down a save in the ninth inning. It allows all the other relievers to fit into their own roles. Nobody is questioning what their role is in the pen.

Street has 16 saves in 17 opportunities this year and has really turned it on in the months of May and June. In May, Street was six for six in save opportunities with a 0.82 ERA. In June, Street is 1-0 with eight saves and a 2.79 ERA. Street has now recorded either a save or a win in 10 of his last 11 appearances.

This isn’t the first time the Rockies have gone on a streak like this. As we know, the Rockies won 20 out of 21 games in 2007 to make their first ever World Series appearance. Is there going to be another “Rocktober” in Colorado? We will just have to wait and see, but right now the Rockies are on one serious roll.

Who Got The Better Of Some Offseason Trades?…

June 3, 2009

This past offseason we saw a lot of teams wheeling and dealing. There were some blockbuster trades, like the Matt Holliday trade and there were some under-the-radar trades, like the Edwin Jackson trade that are proving to be difference makers.

Now that we are two months into the season, let’s take a look at some of the offseason trades that took place, and which team (so far) has gotten the better of the trade.

The Trade: Matt Holliday traded from the Rockies to the A’s for Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez

Advantage: Colorado Rockies

Analysis: After a really slow start, Holliday has turned it on as of late. Holliday is putting up a .275/7/30/.368 hitting line. However, Holliday was brought to the A’s so the A’s could win. The A’s aren’t winning and they are in last place in the AL West.

Another factor in why this is advantage Rockies, is that because of Holliday’s slow start, it doesn’t look like A’s GM Billy Beane will get more back than they gave up, if they decide to trade him at the deadline.

The Rockies got three players for Holliday and all three have performed well for Colorado so far this season. The key to this deal was Carlos Gonzalez and he is putting up Ruthian numbers in Triple A. Gonzalez is hitting .348 with 10 HR’s and 59 RBI in 46 games.

The Rockies could also trade Huston Street (3.38 ERA 8 saves) at the deadline for prospects.

The Trade: Edwin Jackson traded from the Rays to the Tigers for Matt Joyce

Advantage: Detroit Tigers

Analysis: This might be the steal of the offseason. Jackson, along with Justin Verlander have become one of the best one-two punches in the AL. Jackson is currently 5-3 with a 2.30 ERA and has an impressive eight quality starts in 11 total starts.

Matt Joyce on the other hand, has spent the majority of the season in the minors. Granted Joyce did hit .315/5/27/.408 in Triple A, but he has not nearly made the impact that Jackson has had.

The Trade: Coco Crisp traded from the Red Sox to the Royals for Ramon Ramirez.

Advantage: Even

Analysis: Probably the most even trade of the offseason. Both players have done exactly what their teams have asked them to do. This is a very rare occurrence in baseball or in any sport for that matter.

The acquisition of Crisp allowed David Dejesus to shift to LF, which has stabilized the Royals’ outfield defense. Crisp has played a very solid CF, which his 2.9 UZR indicates. The Royals would like Crisp to hit better (.233/3/14), but he does have 11 steals to pace the Royals.

Ramirez has been a rock in the Red Sox bullpen. He is 4-2 with a 1.33 ERA and has seven holds in 24 games. Ramirez has been a very good bridge to closer, Jonathon Papelbon.

The Trade: Mark DeRosa traded from the Cubs to the Indians for Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub.

Advantage: Indians

Analysis: When this trade happened back in December, I thought it was a steal for the Indians. Now that we are in June, I still think the Indians got the better of the Cubs, but not by much.

DeRosa has been solid for the Indians, but the Indians are in last place and look to be seller at the trading deadline. One of the players the Indians might be selling is DeRosa. DeRosa has hit .266 with 8 HR’s and 33 RBI so far this and since he can play multiple positions, he has a lot of value.

Even though Stevens (0-2 1.80 ERA in 19 games), Archer (2-0 1.29 ERA in 9 starts), and Gaub (2-1 3.50 ERA) have pitched well in the minors, the Cubs miss DeRosa’s bat and more importantly, his versatility dearly. Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles have not been able to fill DeRosa’s shoes so far.

The real winner of this trade will not be determined until we find out how the prospects the Indians get for DeRosa fare (he will be traded) and how the three prospects the Cubs got from the Indians turn out.

The Trade: Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira traded from the White Sox to the Yankees for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez

Advantage: Yankees

Analysis: The Yankees bought low on Swisher and have gotten great results so far. Not only does Swisher have 10 HR’s and 31 RBI, but has loosened the normally uptight Yankee clubhouse and has brought a “Kevin Millar” type attitude to the bronx.

Many people don’t know the Yankees also got Kanekoa Texeira (no relation to Mark) in this trade as well. Texeira is 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA for Double A Trenton.

Wilson Betemit has been useless for the White Sox.  He is batting .209 and doesn’t fit in the White Sox long-term plans. Jeff Marquez has been terrible in Triple A. Marquez is 0-4 with a 14.54 ERA in four starts. Nunez has been a little better posting a 1-0 record with a 2.97 ERA in 16 games in Double A.

The Trade: Khalil Greene traded from the Padres to the Cardinals for Mark Worrell

Advantage: Nobody

Analysis: Khalil Greene – .200/2/14. Currently on the 15 Day DL

Mark Worrell – 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA

Enough said.

The Trade: JJ Putz, Sean Green and Jeremy Reed traded from the Mariners to the Mets for Aaron Heilman, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, Maikel Cleto and Ezequiel Carrera. Joe Smith traded from the Mets to the Indians. Franklin Gutierrez traded from the Indians to the Mariners. Luis Valbuena was traded from the Mariners to the Indians.

Advantage: Mariners

Analysis: This trade involved three teams and 12 players. At the end of the day, I like the Mariners side of this deal. They were able to restock their farm system with Carrera and Carp (Carp is hitting .302/9/26/.419 in Triple A, by the way) and the players they got for the major league team have made valuable contributions.

Endy Chavez has hit .284 while swiping eight bases and Jason Vargas is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA and has two quality starts in four starts. The Mariners were also able to flip Heilman to the Cubs for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno. I’ll chalk that one up as a win for the Mariners as well.

JJ Putz and Sean Green have been terrible for the Mets. Putz is 1-4 with a 4.76 ERA and already lost his role as 8th inning set-up guy to Bobby Parnell. Green has been even worse. He has a 6.95 ERA with an 0-2 record. Jeremy Reed is nothing more than a 4th OF/defensive replacement type player.

Joe Smith has been useless for the Indians (7.11 ERA in 9 games) and is currently on the DL. Luis Valbuena looks like a promising second base prospect and put up a .321/3/13/.436 hitting line in Triple A this year.

Valbuena was just recently called up.

So there you have it. There were a lot of trades involving a lot of players and it looks like the Rockies, Indians, Tigers, and Mariners have gotten the better of their deals so far.

I will revisit this post at the end of the year to see if anything has changed.

Spring Position Battles Update…

April 2, 2009

According to the Denver Post, the Rockies have named Huston Street their closer. Really not surprised by this move by the Rockies. As I wrote in my original post, if Street pitches well as a closer, he will he only have increased his trade value at the trade deadline. Manny Corpas will be the 8th inning guy for the Rockies.

Huston Street goes from projected winner to winner.

Rockies Closer, Huston Street vs. Manny Corpas. This is an interesting battle. Do the Rockies give the job to Manny Corpas who took the closer’s job from Brian Fuentes in 2007 and helped the Rockies reach the World Series but flamed out in 2008? Or do they give the job to Huston Street, a proven closer who was acquired in the Matt Holliday trade but had a below average 2008? Despite Corpas having a solid spring, I believe Street will ultimately win the job. Street has averaged 24 saves over his 4 career and I agree with Rotoworld that giving Street the closer’s job would increase his trade value. Winner – Huston Street.