Posts Tagged ‘Troy Tulowitzki’

Starting Nine: National League West

January 16, 2010

Last but least in our Starting Nine series, is the National League West. Usually known as being the worst offensive division in baseball, the NL West has improved offensively this offseason.

The San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks have added offensive pieces this offseason and as long as the young Colorado Rockie hitters continue to improve, they will always be dangerous.

Here are the lineups for each team in the National League West as presently constructed today.

Colorado Rockies

1. Dexter Fowler, CF

2. Carlos Gonzalez, LF

3. Todd Helton, 1B

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

5. Brad Hawpe, RF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Chris Iannetta, C

8. Clint Barmes, 2B

9. Ubaldo Jimenez, P

Quick Take – This lineup is the class of the NL West. This lineup has everything you want–speed, power, and patience. Look for Carlos Gonzalez to have a breakout year and become everyone’s mancrush when it comes to fantasy baseball.

San Francisco Giants

1. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

2. Edgar Renteria, SS

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Aubrey Huff, 1B

5. Mark DeRosa, LF

6. Aaron Rowand, CF

7. Buster Posey, C

8. Nate Schierholtz, RF

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Quick Take – It’s hard to make up a lineup when every guy in that lineup is the same. This lineup has very little power, very little speed, and not a single person that scares an opposing pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Rafael Furcal, SS

2. James Loney, 1B

3. Manny Ramirez, LF

4. Matt Kemp, CF

5. Andre Ethier, RF

6. Casey Blake, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Blake DeWitt, 2B

9. Chad Billingsley, P

Quick Take – I originally had Ethier in the two-hole and Loney in the six-hole like the Dodgers had in the NLCS last year. I didn’t like that lineup then, and I don’t like it now. Ethier is better served in a RBI position in the lineup.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, CF

2. Stephen Drew, SS

3. Justin Upton, RF

4. Mark Reynolds, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Conor Jackson, LF

7. Miguel Montero, C

8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

8. Dan Haren, P

Quick Take – With the addition of LaRoche and a healthy Jackson, this lineup all of a sudden looks very deep. Upton is only getting better and he will be a MVP candidate in 2010.

San Diego Padres

1. Everth Cabrera, SS

2. David Eckstein, 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

4. Kyle Blanks, lF

5. Chase Headley, 3B

6. Nick Hundley, C

7. Will Venable, RF

8. Tony Gwynn, CF

9. Chris Young, P

Quick Take – Kevin Kouzmanoff was traded to the Oakland A’s less than 24 hours ago, so now there is zero reason to pitch to A. Gonzalez in 2010. With Kouzmanoff gone, this is a big year for Headley. Look for newly acquired Scott Hairston to platoon with Gwynn in center.

Well that’s it for our Starting Nine series. I hoped you enjoyed it. I will update this series as the regular season approaches.

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

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Jim Tracy Wins NL Manager Of The Year, Inks Three-Year Extension

November 19, 2009

Yes, I am fully aware that this was yesterday’s news, but it’s hard to write when you leave your laptop in your office and your home computer catches a virus.

Yesterday was a tough day for The Ghost of Moonlight Graham. I was home sick, my computer crashed, and the UMass Basketball team lost their home opener dropping them to 0-2 on the season.

It’s hard to win when you don’t have a point guard who can facilitate an offense and you have to settle for jump shots the entire game.

While I didn’t have a great day yesterday, there was one guy who did–Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy. Not only did Tracy win the National League Manager of the Year award, but he also inked a three-year extension with the Rockies.

Tracy had a remarkable turnaround in Colorado

 

Tracy received 29 out of 32 first-place votes to become just the second manager to ever win the award while taking over a team mid-season. Jack McKeon accomplished the same feat with the Florida Marlins in 2003.

Tony LaRussa received two first-place votes and Joe Torre received the other first-place vote.

I wouldn’t shock me that the one guy who voted for Torre was some idiot out of L.A. who knows nothing about baseball, but somehow has a vote. I thought Bruce Bochy or Fredi Gonzalez deserved more credit than Torre.

Now, I will have to fully admit, I was dead wrong about Tracy. A. I didn’t think Clint Hurdle should have been fired and B. I didn’t think Tracy was the right man to turn the ship around.

I went on record saying Vinny Castilla should have gotten the job.

But Tracy proved me and a lot of other people wrong. The Rockies went 74-42 under Tracy’s stewardship and clinched a Wild Card birth for their second postseason appearance in the last three years.

Tracy put Ian Stewart at third, Clint Barmes at second, stabilized the bullpen, Troy Tulowitzki returned to his 2007 form, and the rest was history for Tracy and the Rockies.

The loads of young talent, the Rockies should be contenders for years to come and the guy leading them will be Tracy. As I mentioned earlier, Tracy received a three-year extension from the Rockies.

No terms of the deal have been disclosed, but industry sources say Tracy will earn over $1 million annually.

Not bad for a guy who was run out of Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

Tracy becomes the second Rockies’ manager to win the Manager of the Year award. Don Baylor won the award in 1995.

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

National League Hands Out Some Gold Gloves

November 11, 2009

Yesterday, the American League handed out their Gold Glove awards. Today, the National League handed out their Gold Gloves.

Let’s take a look at who won in the National League:

C. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals – .995 fielding percentage, 40 percent caught stealing percentage

1B. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres – .995 fielding percentage, 3.8 UZR

2B. Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers – .988 fielding percentage, -3.3 UZR

SS. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies – .990 fielding percentage, 2.7 UZR

3B. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals – .963 fielding percentage, 18.1 UZR

OF. Michael Bourn, Houston Astros – .992 fielding percentage, 8.6 UZR

OF. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – .995 fielding percentage, 2.5 UZR

OF. Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies – .997 fielding percentage, -4.1 UZR

P. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals – 1.000 fielding percentage

Apparently, there are no good defensive left fielders in the game of baseball these days. The American League didn’t have a Gold Glove left fielder and now the National League doesn’t have a Gold Glove left fielder.

It’s really just silly.

How can you reward three center fielders and not reward a right fielder for defensive excellence? Jayson Werth is the best defensive right fielder in the National League and he should have been rewarded for it.

I disagree with three of the choices the voters made.

How does Victorino win the Gold Glove? It seemed like every other game he was misjudging a flyball. Like I said earlier, Werth would have been a better choice as a right fielder, or, if you must have three center fielders win the award, Mike Cameron would have been a better choice.

I am not fond of the Hudson selection. I would have gone with Chase Utley. And that has nothing to do with Utley being a superior offensive player.

Utley is a very good fielder, but he is so good offensively, that it overshadows his defense.

The last change I would have made would be with Rollins. Troy Tulowitzki would have gotten my vote. He is the best defensive shortstop in the National League and should have been rewarded for it.

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

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

Awful Umpiring Help Phillies Take Game Three

October 12, 2009

I would like to first off thank the inventor of DVR. It really is one of the best inventions ever. It allows to watch shows, programs on sporting events on your time.

Last night I used this wonderful invention to record Game Three of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies series last night. With the game starting at 10:00 ET, there was no way I was staying up to watch this game.

I watched the first four innings last night, woke up this morning, and watched the remaining five innings. Truly fantastic.

While DVR allows you to watch everything you want to see, it allows you to watch things you have no interest in seeing during the show, program, or sporting event. Things like–more awful, hideous, terrible, inexcusable umpiring.

What the heck is going on with the umpiring during these playoffs? It has been truly terrible. I think the home plate umpiring has been okay. For the most part, the home plate umpires have been consistent with their umpiring

But the issue is–they are missing obvious calls. And it is happening time and time again throughout these playoffs. As much as I would hate to see all forms of instant replay in baseball, I really think Bud Selig and his band of merry owners are going to have to start to give it some serious consideration moving forward.

Last night was a perfect example of the umpires missing the obvious calls. In the top of the ninth, with the game tied at five, Chase Utley came to the plate with one out and Jimmy Rollins on second.

Utley hit a ball that went off his leg in the batter’s box and then rolled into fair territory. Utley was able to beat the ball out for an infield single.

However, not only did the ball hit him in the batter’s box which is a foul ball, but Utley was out at first base as well. Not did the umpires get the call wrong once, but they compounded the issue by getting the call wrong a second time.

As you can see Utley is clearly out

As you can see Utley is clearly out

Two terrible calls on the same play. Rollins advanced to third on the play and then the Phillies took advantage of the situation when Ryan Howard hit a sac fly to give the Phillies the lead.

I hate to harp on bad umpiring because it really overshadowed what was a really good game. And despite this game being played in 30 degree weather, it really was a good game.

In a back-and-forth game, the difference at the end was the backend of the Phillies bullpen. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge didn’t allow a hit for the last three innings and really shut the Rockies down.

With both starters being completely useless–JA Happ and Jason Hammel, you knew this game was not only going to come down to the underbelly of the bullpens, but the backend as well.

Lidge got the save last night

Lidge got the save last night

Madson, Durbin, and yes, Lidge all got the job done. And let’s give somewhat credit to Lidge. I don’t care how much of a Philly homer you are, when Lidge walked Carlos Gonzalez (the best player so far in this series on either team) you had to being thinking here we go again.

Then he walked Todd Helton with two outs and then about four million Phillies fans said “I can’t watch right now.” But Lidge got his act together and managed to get Troy Tulowitzki to pop out to end the game.

I said somewhat credit earlier because Lidge really threw a hanger to Tulowitzki. That last pitch was made to be hit 450 feet. Tulowitzki just missed it.

But the bottom line is this–one inning, no runs, no hits, and a save for Lidge in a tight game. The Phillies and their fans aren’t interested in style points, they are interested in results.

The result was a 6-5 Phillies win and a 2-1 advantage in the series.

Game Four is tonight at 6:07 ET. Charlie Manuel should be thanking Mother Nature for the rest of his life. Because of the snow out, Manuel can come back with Cliff Lee tonight and if necessary, Cole Hammels tomorrow.

I am convinced Manuel had no idea who he was going to start in Game Four. Now he gets to come back with Lee. Not a bad deal for the Phillies.

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

Fantasy Week In Review, August 10-16…

August 17, 2009

I can’t believe there is only about a month and a half left in the baseball season. Just as important, most most leagues there is only about 2 weeks left in the regular season.

As always, here are the fantasy studs, the many players who have me concerned, and the potential pickups for the fantasy week of August 10 – 16.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Howard – .391/4/11/.500. Howard is starting to heat up, but with only 30 homeruns he will be hard pressed to hit 45+ homeruns for the the forth straight year.

Troy Tulowitzki – .407/3/10. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a piece “Can Tulo bounce back?” Yes, he can.

Hunter Pence – .290/4/10. Pence hit a HUGE HR against the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday. The fact that he refuses to walk is concerning (zero walks last week), but as long as he keeps hitting like this, nobody will have a problem.

Jonny Gomes – .400/4/9. Gomes was the latest player to hit three HR’s in a game when he hit three HR’s against the Washington Nationals last week.

Gonzalez raked last week

Gonzalez raked last week

Gomes could be this year’s version of Nelson Cruz. Cruz helped a lot of fantasy teams down the stretch last year.

Adrian Gonzalez – .633/3/8. I still haven’t figured out why teams (especially ones in contention) pitch to him. Makes no sense to me.

Randy Wolf – 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 13 K’s in 15.2 IP. Wolf came up aces yesterday for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wolf has a .600 lifetime winning percentage in September and October, so expect Wolf to continue his success down the stretch.

Cliff Lee – 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 12 K’s in 15 IP. Third straight week Lee has been a fantasy stud. I think Lee really, really, really likes the National League.

Jorge De La Rosa – 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 20 K’s in 13.1 IP. You could like to see De La Rosa get his innings up, but he has been one of the main reasons the Colorado Rockies are leading the NL Wild Card race.

Reasons for Concern

Erik Bedard – Bedard is this year’s Ben Sheets. He is a free agent after the season and was in-line for a nice payday in the offseason, but season ending surgery derailed any chance of that happening.

Bedard had surgery on Friday to fix a torn labrum and an inflamed bursa. He might might not be ready for Opening Day in 2010.

Joba Chamberlain – 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA. The New York Yankees are sometimes like the trust fund baby who, if they just played it straight everything would work out. But every now and then, the trust fund baby does some drugs and screws it all up.

This is what the Yankees have done with Chamberlain. Chamberlain came out of the All-Star break firing on all cylinders, he was pitching better than he ever was before, and then the Yankees started screwing around with his rest because of some silly pitch count limit.

Chamberlain now has a 6.75 ERA in August. Keep tabs on this situation. If the Yankees continue to mess with Chamberlain, he might not have as much fantasy value down the stretch.

Penny was terrible on Saturday night

Penny was terrible on Saturday night

Brad Penny – 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and 14 hits allowed in 11.2 IP. The Brad Penny experiment is starting to get old in Boston in a hurry.

Penny’s performance on Saturday night was embarrassing. Penny was mentally not into the game and allowed the Texas Rangers to run all over him (six SB’s while Penny was on the mound).

If Tim Wakefield and Daisuke Matsuzaka came back in September, I would imagine Penny would be out of the rotation.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Placed on the 15-Day DL with a sore right arm. I was watching the game Friday night between the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers and I was wondering what the heck was wrong with Saltalamacchia?

He was having such a hard time throwing the ball back to the pitcher. I guess I now know why. Saltalamacchia was only batting .239 before this injury, so he might not be missed to much on your fantasy team.

David Wright – Placed on the 15-Day DL with post-concussion symptoms. I saw David Wright get hit in the head with a Matt Cain 94 mph fastball as it happened, and didn’t think Wright would make it back to his feet.

The ball hit him flush in the helmet. Though Wright was placed on the only the 15-Day DL, don’t expect Wright back in 2009. There is no reason for him to play with the New York Mets so far our of the playoff race.

Potential Pickups

Any pitcher vs. the New York Mets – With now David Wright out of the lineup, the Mets might have the worst lineup in baseball. Their best hitter might be Jeff Franouer and he has a .296 OBP for the season.

Here are the pitchers who will face the Mets this week:

Joe Martinez, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Kenshin Kawakami, Cole Hamels, JA Happ, Pedro Martinez

Baseball’s Best Infield: Midseason…

July 13, 2009

In the fourth and final installment of the “Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, I am going to take a look at which team has had baseball’s best infield at the halfway point of the season.

Just when I did baseball’s best outfield, the best infield will be determined by four categories – OPS, Runs Created, UZR, and Fielding Percentage. Stats for the first baseman, second baseman, shortstop and third baseman were used. Catchers’ stats were not considered.

Stats were used for the player who played the most games at that position. For instance, Ian Stewart has played more games at third than Garrett Atkins for the Colorado Rockies, so Stewart’s stats were used.

Each category was worth 10 points. If a team didn’t finish in the top 10 in a particular category, that team received zero points.

Here are baseball’s best infields at the halfway point of the 2009 season…

10 – 6. Washington Nationals, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers

5. Colorado Rockies – 23 points

Infield – Todd Helton, Clint Barmes, Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart

OPS – Eight

RC – Six

UZR – Two

FP – Seven

Helton continues to rake

Helton continues to rake

Analysis – It all changed for the Rockies when they put Clint Barmes at second, Ian Stewart at third, and Troy Tulowitzki started hitting. And oh yeah, they still have some guy named Todd Helton at first base.

To nobodies surprise, the Rockies can hit with anyone as their combined .831 OPS suggests. Ian Stewart has given the Rockies a nice lift with a .794 OPS.

This is one of my favorite infields in baseball.

4 (Tie). New York Yankees – 28 points

Infield – Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez

OPS – Nine

RC – Ten

UZR – Zero

FP – Eight

Analysis – The most expensive infield in baseball is also one of the best. The Yankees finished in the top three in three out of the four categories.

Newly acquired Mark Teixeira has been doing it with the bat, as well as the glove. Teixeira has a .920 OPS and has created 66.3 runs so far this season.

Teixeira has been lights out with the glove. If he wasn’t so good at scooping the ball out of the dirt, the Yankees infield would have maybe 20 more errors. I don’t think there is anyone better at scooping the ball out of the dirt at first than Teixeira.

Jeter and Cano have been steady up the middle for the Yankees. Cano has enjoyed a nice bounce year this year, after pretty much taking last year off.

I won’t talk about Rodriguez’s accomplishments because he is a cheater.

4 (Tie). Philadelphia Phillies – 28 points

Infield – Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz

OPS – Five

RC – Seven

UZR – Seven

FP – Nine

Analysis – The Phillies would be higher on this list if Jimmy Rollins didn’t take the first half of the season off. Can you believe that through over 80 games Rollins has only created 36.7 runs? That is mediocre at best.

While Howard and Rollins have won MVP’s, it’s Chase Utley who has been the real MVP of this group in the first half of this season.

Utley has a sweet 1.004 OPS and has created 77.4 runs this season. The 77.4 runs created is tops of the players on this list.

Pedro Feliz has been very solid defensively with a 6.2 UZR and a .975 Fielding Percentage.

1 (Tie). Tampa Bay Rays – 32 points

Infield – Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria

OPS – Ten

RC – Nine

UZR – Eight

FP – Five

Longoria leads the best infield in baseball

Longoria leads the best infield in baseball

Analysis – Like the Phillies’ outfield, I guess when you send your entire infield to the All-Star game you are going to be tops this list. Longoria, Bartlett, Zobrist, and now Pena (taking the place of Pedroia) will be packing a suitcase for St. Louis.

The real story of this group is Zobrist. Zobrist is second in the AL with a 1.012 OPS and if the season ended today, he would finish in the top three in MVP voting.

Jason Bartlett is having a career year offensively and actually has a higher OPS than Evan Longoria (.937 to .903).

The Rays have the highest infield OPS in baseball with a .943 mark.

1 (Tie). Toronto Blue Jays – 32 points

Infield – Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, Scott Rolen

OPS – Seven

RC – Eight

UZR – Seven

FP – Ten

Analysis – The Blue Jays’ infield can do it all. They can get to the ball, when they get to the ball – they catch it, and they can flat out hit.

The Blue Jays have gotten career years out of Aaron Hill and Marco Scutaro. Like Zobrist of the Rays, if the season ended today, Aaron Hill would be an MVP candidate.

Scott Rolen has enjoyed a nice comeback year. Rolen has a .858 OPS and has played his usually solid third base. Rolen is fourth amongst all third baseman with a .976 Fielding Percentage.

Lyle Overbay should be more like Mark Grace, but instead he hits like Mark Davis pitched for the Kansas City Royals.

So that is all for the baseball’s best series for now. I will do a final baseball’s best series at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if the teams who were No. 1 at the halfway point, stay No. 1 by the end of the season.

*All stats were calculated for this post before Sunday’s action.

Hurdle In Trouble In Denver…

May 29, 2009

It appears that for the second time this season, a NL West manager will get the axe (Diamondbacks manager, Bob Melvin being the first). According to the Denver Post, Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle is managing on borrowed time. I am kind of torn on whether or not this is a good move by the Rockies.

On one hand, Hurdle is 460-537 in seven seasons as the Rockies’ skipper. Not very impressive. This year, the Rockies are in last place 14.5 games out of first place with a 18-28 record in the weak NL West. What is not helping Hurdle is the fact that the San Diego Padres, a team many predicted to win maybe 60 games this year are in second place and greatly overachieving with a 24-23 record. Management is thinking, if the Padres can overachieve why can’t our club do the same?

Hurdle might be on the outs

Hurdle might be on the outs

Also not helping Hurdle is that Troy Tulowitzki and Garrett Atkins have forgotten how to hit. As unfair as it may seem, when your star players aren’t performing it comes back on the manager. Tulowitzki is putting up a .227/5/15  line (just killing my fantasy team) and Atkins is putting up a worse .195/3/15 line. We are all talking about Ortiz’s falloff, how about we start talking about Atkins’ falloff? This guy averaged 25 HR’s and 110 RBI the last three seasons and now on May 29th, he is hitting .195. What the heck happened to this guy?

On the other hand, just two years ago Hurdle led the Rockies to their first World Series in franchise history and finished third in the Manager of the Year voting in the NL. Two years ago, Hurdle was the toast of the town and now all of a sudden he can’t manage? I find that hard to believe.

I also find it hard to believe Rockies’ management had higher expecations for this club. Many people (including myself) picked the Rockies to finish in 4th place this season. As I have said several times before, you can’t lose your best player in Matt Holliday and your best pitcher in Jeff Frances in the offseason and expect to compete. The Rockies for the most part are where most people thought they would be right now. How is that Hurdle’s fault?

So as you can see I am pretty torn about the potential firing of Clint Hurdle. I just think at the end of the day, a manager should have more equity if he led a team a World Series appearance. If the Rockies do let Hurdle go, I am going to suggest Vinny Castilla as their next manager. Castilla was a great player for the Rockies from 1993-1999 and also had two other stints with the Rockies in 2004 and 2006. Castilla was also the manager of Team Mexico in the 2009 WBC and also managed in the Mexican Pacific League. So he does have managing experience.