Patrick Saunders caught up with Ubaldo Jimenez and stirs the pot a bit by making it sound as if he may be unprepared for the season.
A few days before departing for spring training, Ubaldo Jimenez seemed a million miles away from baseball.
"I'm just enjoying all my time with my family and friends," Jimenez said in a telephone interview last week... "We've been going out to eat every night, going to the movies, and going to the beach. I feel good, I feel loose."
Of course, Saunders goes on to mention that Jimenez has been pitching this winter, notably with Licey in the Dominican Winter League playoffs, and pitching well. People who read too much into the first part of the story will come away with the impression that he's out of shape and unready, which I don't know if that was Saunders intention or not, but you could see it already happening with the comments to the story. The Rockies were 1-11 in Jimenez' first dozen starts last season, 14-8 in the rest. If you take away his early starts against the San Francisco Giants, it appears the turnaround against actual MLB worthy lineups came on June 21 vs. the Mets, from which he went 11-5 with a 3.38 ERA for the rest of the season.
Jason Hirsh has 200 IP as a goal for this season, which of course means he's preparing to make the rotation out of Spring Training. My current thought is that he has the second best chance aside from Greg Smith to take that fifth starter slot in lieu of Jeff Francis, but neither he nor Smith represent the best case scenario from a fans' standpoint. That would lie with Franklin Morales. So I root for Hirsh to be as good as he can be, but that would be kind of like getting your second choice prom dress because the first proved out of a viable price range or just didn't fit right. It's still going to be a happy occasion, but you would be left to wonder what might have been.
Troy Renck says that Todd Helton has to lead by example when it comes to Spring drills. The Rockies should have motivation to get off to the quick start that everybody can tell is necessary. It seems at the very least that the hunger to return to the playoffs will push them. The question that will remain unanswered for the next three months will be whether they have the talent to do so. The record of the team on May 15th should tell us a lot about what kind of summer it's going to be.
A couple of Huston Street items of note, first be sure to check out the interview with Street from OnTheRox's FanPost, but also there's an AP story about his expectations heading into the season at the Rocky Mountain News.