Clint Hurdle's back to basics approach this Spring unfortunately includes one of his favorite tools of not scoring, and that's the automatic out we call the sacrifice bunt. Thomas Harding chronicled how everybody's getting in bunting practice in camp. In some ways I don't have much of an issue with this, in the National League sometimes you do have to play for just one run. What I do have an issue with is this:
Singling out the second slot in the order like that tells me that Hurdle likely still does not understand the basic principles behind when it's wise to bunt, as the context that would make bunting sensible for that slot is almost entirely limited to a runner on second with none out late in a one run or tied game. Does this situation come up with the second slot in the batting order any more than the fourth or fifth slot? I doubt it, so the quoted paragraph to me is saying that Hurdle envisions times that he'd play for one run in the first inning, the only time we know for sure that the second slot would come up in this situation more frequently than any other lineup spot. This worries me.
TEHR has a picture of Chris Iannetta squaring and of Tulo trying to grow a beard. Note to Tulo: DOES NOT WORK. BEARD FAIL.
Mark Kiszla's whining again about not having a star on the Rockies to name drop to all his buddies, but he's right about the team not having excuses for underperformance. I would like to point out, however, that the soon to be 30 year old Rockies have been to more World Series than contemporaries Johan Santana, Ben Sheets, Vernon Wells and several more star caliber players. I'd rather the team focus on that goal than boosting some idiot columnist's water cooler ego.
Troy E. Renck provides a slightly different take on Hurdle's lineup from the one Tracy Ringolsby put forward the other day:
- Spilborghs, CF
- Tulowitzki, SS
- Helton, 1B
- Hawpe RF/Atkins 3B (Hawpe would be cleanup vs. RHP's, Atkins vs. LHP's
- Atkins 3B/Hawpe RF
- Iannetta C
- Barmes 2B
- Smith LF
Seth Smith was also featured in today's DP spotlight.
Rally has posted his own CHONE projected standings for the NL West, and we didn't fare as well as I would have hoped.
So let's put together a list of where the statistical forecasters see the Rockies finishing:
- PECOTA: 76-86
- CHONE: 78-84
- The Hardball Times: 85-77
- Marcel via RLYW: 87-75
- CAIRO via RLYW: 82-80
Most of these you would have to figure were thinking Jeff Francis would be a significant contributor, so I would imagine a downward adjustment is necessary across the board. The Rockies, of course, are hoping to be outfoxing the projection systems by relying on players like Jorge De La Rosa, Greg Smith and Jason Marquis who they seem to feel will fare better with the humidor than the numbers suggest, as well as liberal use of platoon advantages in various places (such as left field) that the forecasts won't pick up on. The team hopes to buck the trend of the top two systems (which were the most accurate last season FWIW). For some reason, I'm still feeling more confident that the Rockies will fare well this year than I was last season. Let's just avoid getting more bad news this week, though, okay?