Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Colorado Rockies 2014 Team Preview

The Rockies enter the 2014 season, as they have entered most seasons since their inception, hoping for improved pitching to sustain success for a strong lineup. After winning 74 games last year and finishing in last place in the NL West, the Rockies made little noise in the offseason. Aside from taking a shot on the oft-injured Brett Anderson, their rotation looks much the same as it did a year ago. After Rafael Betencourt underwent Tommy John surgery, the Rockies failed to find a truly reliable option this offseason. They will turn that role over to veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins.

Offensively, not much has changed for the Rockies as far as ability is concerned. They added and subtracted a few names though. Todd Helton retired, Dexter Fowler is now in Houston and they are replaced by former all star Justin Morneau and veteran outfielder Drew Stubbs. While Morneau should be a slight upgrade from Helton, Stubbs will be a severe downgrade from Fowler. The mainstays are still there and the Rockies offense should be fine as long as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez can stay healthy.

It seems like the Rockies are content to try to wait for the depth of their minor league system to develop before they really try to make a run in the NL West. After a sub-par season, their only real answers were essentially band aid solutions. The NL West is a tough division and the Rockies just don't strike me as a team that will compete very strongly this year. While they do have some interesting pitchers coming up through their system, they aren't ready yet and it should do little to benefit them this season.

Prediction: Hawkins will fail as closer and Rex Brothers will take over that role by June. Morneau will have a slight career revitalization, playing his home games at Coors Field, if he can stay healthy he could hit 25 homers and drive in 90. Anderson and Stubbs will likely do as they have their entire careers and prove to be unhealthy and ineffective. Even a healthy year from Tulo and CarGo won't be enough to keep the Rockies from another last place season. This will be one of the worst teams in the National League this year.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Looking For an Identity

While the Giants are solidly in contention for another NL West crown, sitting in third place and just a game and a half behind the surprising Diamondbacks, I get the sense that this team is searching for something it hasn't found yet. In 2010 it was the team that was a heart attack waiting to happen as they made late run after late run and Brian Wilson led the way to heart stopping victories. In 2012, it was a second half surge and a playoff push where they were the comeback kids and the road warriors. On the brink of a dynasty, this years team has yet to find the identity that will forever define it.

The good news is that the division is still very close and, if they get hot, separation could happen very quickly. The pitching has let this team down all year long. Matt Cain has had the worst start of his professional career. Madison Bumgarner has looked like the ace but still lacks the consistency you look for in an ace. Timmy is still a mess, even though he fights hard. Zito is Zito and probably the least disappointing out of the rotation. After playing playoff hero, Vogelstrong was also disappointing before he went on the d.l. and the farm has offered little support in his place. While Romo has had some rough spots in the closer role, he has been more than serviceable and once again the Giants have one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Offensively, the Giants have had some good and some bad. Sandoval, before he went down, was having another strong year. Posey is defending his MVPosey trophy just fine. Pence is back to being the same guy he has been for the past several years. Scooter and Blanco are both doing just fine. Crawford is having the breakout year that I have been waiting for. Before getting hurt, Pagan was proving his worth after the big offseason contract. All and all, the bats are not the problem here.

This team will be defined by it's pitching and I still expect that to rebound. Let's be honest, they are lucky that the rest of the division is treading water. I look for them to take advantage and capitalize on the opportunity that has been given to them. There is still a lot of baseball to be played and the Giants have a title to defend. While the division is still the first goal, there are bigger goals to be had for the 2013 Giants. 


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Barry Zito's Redemption

In continuing my review of the top ten Giants stories of the 2012 season, it is time to reflect upon the redemption of Barry Zito. The former ace of the A's will never be the pitcher that we all hoped for when he signed a huge contract with the Giants several years ago but over the past couple of seasons he has been able to redeem himself a bit and it all came together for him in the second half of last season and even more so in the NLCS and World Series.

After years of disappointment, culminating in being left off the 2010 playoff roster, Zito has began to re-establish himself as a reliable starter for the Giants. The pressure of being the ace is long gone, with the development of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner. As a fifth starter for the Giants, anything the Giants get from Zito is now a bonus. For much of last year, the pressure was off and Zito turned in his best year as a Giant.

In the regular season he won 15 games and pitched well enough to earn a spot in the playoff rotation over Tim Lincecum, who struggled  through most of the regular season. After surviving a short, rocky start against the Reds in round one, Zito delivered a season saving effort for the Giants in the NLCS when they were down 3-1 to the Cardinals. To say the least, we saw the Zito that we all thought we were getting years ago. To top it all off, Zito then went on to out-pitch the best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander, in game one of the World Series. Counting the playoffs, Zito now enters 2013 with a Major League best 14 start unbeaten streak.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Angel Pagan Sets the Tone

In continuing to review last season's top stories, I think Angel Pagan's contribution atop the batting order was a huge key to the Giants success. Despite the fact that Buster Posey was the National League's MVP, Pagan was almost as critical to Giants victories all year long. After struggling through much of April, Bruce Bochy moved Pagan out of the lead off spot and down in the order. Once he got his swing back he made his way back to the top of the lineup and there really was no looking back from that point on.

In the second half of the season Pagan was one of the best leadoff hitters in the National League and, despite not getting the national attention that he deserves, once the playoffs began I really felt that he gave the Giants the best leadoff hitter in the postseason. His play exemplified hard work and determination. Angel Pagan played the game hard all year long and that made him a lot of fun to watch in 2012. His reward was a 4 year contract worth 50 million dollars. As long as he stays healthy and plays the game the way he did last year, the contract will be worth it.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Melky Cabrera and his Melk Maids

With the year ending, it is time to review the top ten Giants stories of 2012. Over the next two weeks, I will work my way from ten to one to remind us all about the things we loved most from this past season. If you have any others or comments on what I have included, please let me know. With that said, here is my number ten Giants story of 2012-Melky Cabrera and his Melk Maids.

It didn't end well for Melky in San Francisco but you can't deny that he almost instantly became a fan favorite with his tremendous hitting and hustle. It didn't take long for fans to adopt him as one of our own and we started seeing stadiums everywhere the Giants went with a contingent of Melk Men and Melk Maids. His hustle and stellar hitting were a hit with fans and Melky was one of the most popular players on the team. The vote for Melky initiative got him a starting spot in the all star game, where he went on to win the games MVP award.

Now, with Melky, you do have to remember why it didn't last beyond a year. While he was a highlight of this season, his PED suspension left a dark cloud over the team and the way that he handled that entire situation is the reason that he won't be back. It is a shame that the Melkman ended it the way he did, he could have been a Giant for years and it certainly was nice to see a star in left field again. However, some things can't and shouldn't be forgiven. Melky is in Toronto now and it will be interesting to see how he re-builds his character there. I hope he has success because I don't want to see a man buried by one case of horrible decision making.


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