Rockies Review: Brought To You From A Zombie-Proof Bunker

Zombies!

Mudfights and ether attacks!

Purposefully misspelling players' names (MCKENDRY! MCHENRY!) to raise RockiesMagicNumber's blood pressure!

Losing our first four five Cactus League games, causing the Chicken Littles at the Denver Post to shout even louder than usual!

The Rocky Mountain News hitting the rubbish pile!

And sundry other occurrences.

It's been an eventful week.

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Game action has gotten underway here in Ye Olde Land o' Purple, and the early returns haven't been good. Clearly, the lesson to be taken from this is that we should all irrationally freak out, our offense is as nonexistent as the Holliday's-Gone-We're-Effed prognosticators would like us to think, our pitching is only so-so, and in general, if we finish with a win total in the high sixties, then even that was lucky and, oh yeah, Greg Smith is a bust, because Woody Paige said so. Although it's true that he, Alan Embree, the Dragon Slayer!!!!11, Huston Street, and others are definitely looking for better results next time out, just rest easy in knowing that it was somehow the Monforts' fault. Also, when the stock market tanks again next week? Yep, the Monforts.

But sadly, in something that is not at all funny, Ryan Spilborghs lost his beloved mom this week, and has left camp for the time being. I am sure Rockies Nation joins me in telling Ryan to take his time, to be there for his family at this very tough time, and keeping him in our thoughts and prayers. Losing a mom is never easy, and especially not when you consider how close Ryan and Essie Spilborghs were. We love you, Ryan. Stay strong, come back to us when you can, and keep that zany, fun-loving, off-the-wall personality that makes you you.

Here's a game-by-game look at our first contests of the year. This is more what the regular season Reviews will look like, so let me know if I should include more, or less, detail in these mini-caps. Normally, I'll also include the winning and losing pitchers, the saves, and any other pertinent stats, but haven't bothered for ST.

February 25: ARI 5 @ COL 3. 0-1.
In the very first Cactus League action, the Rockies got a not-too-unexpected stellar start from Aaron Cook, as Cookie was out there slinging his usual groundballs, allowing one hit and one strikeout in two blemish-free innings. Ubaldo Jimenez, however, still showed the winter rust, as he yielded a walk to his first batter -- a mistake compounded by his prompt serving of a gopherball to everyone's favourite Diamondback, Chris "Oh Gawd Not Him Again" Young. Manny Corpas showed some improvement, forcing three flyballs and not allowing a baserunner, but Alan Embree, looked to as the key lefty in the pen following Fuentes' departure, didn't fare as well. He hit a batter and gave up two hits and two runs in his one inning of work.

On the other side of the ball, Chris "A Rose By Any Other Name" Iannetta knocked an RBI double, as did Clint Barmes. Brad Hawpe collected a pair of hits. But Iannetta's day got even better, as he threw out a pair of attempted base-stealers and should have been credited with a third. After only throwing out 22% of attempted base thieves last year, CDI has been working on that part of his game this year, and it shows. Yet despite this, the Rockies weren't able to break the voodoo hex the Dbacks have on them just yet (anybody got a live rooster?) and the preseason was inaugurated with a loss.

February 26: CHI 4 @ COL 1. 0-2
Another day, another Cactus League misstep for the boys in blue purple. I'm sure that we can fiendishly extrapolate all kinds of hidden meanings from two losses in two days, like AUGH WE SUCK WE IZ ALL DOOMED, but that takes a lot of energy, and frankly seems like a bit of a waste of time. However, the storyline of this game was that Franklin Morales has given notice -- he's back and he intends to compete for the fifth-starter slot. Frankie whizzed through two perfect innings with a pair of K's, and looked sharp doing it -- the question being, can he keep it up? Unfortunately, his fine outing was preceded by that of Jason Hirsh -- and Jason "Best Shape of My Life" Hirsh looks, in miniscule sample size, kind of like old Jason Hirsh. He sure didn't look to be fooling the White Sox very much, as they collected six hits and three runs off him in his two frames. Huston Street couldn't quite match the effort put up by his competitor for the closer job, and was pinballed for three hits and a run in his only inning of work. Naturally, this means WE IZ DOOMED.

It was another somnolent day at the plate for the Purple bats, however, as they could only push across one run against a parade of Pale Hose scrubs. Jeff Baker scored the Rockies' only run after a double, and although Omar "Quesadilla!" had two hits, there wasn't much to report on the offensive side. The Rockies dropped the game to Chicago and were hoping for better fortune tomorrow. (Spoiler: It didn't happen).

February 27: COL 3 @ LAA 5. 0-3
New lefty rotation candidate, Greg Smith, got the call against the Los Angeles Huntingdon Beach Angels of Whittier Pasadena Claremont, and although he's been successful against them in the past while with the A's (5 starts, 3.06 ERA) it failed to be on display in Tempe. He gave up three earned runs in his two innings, but long man candidate Glendon "The Comedian" Rusch worked two sharp, scoreless frames. Garrett Atkins collected his first RBI of the spring with a double, as did Brad "Ouchie Wittie Fingie" Hawpe, who had to leave the game with a cut finger that will unfortunately keep him out of the WBC. While Hawpe is disappointed that he won't be able to represent his country, fortunately the injury shouldn't keep him out longer than a week. Unfortunately, the Rockies weren't able to muster up enough offense (suddenly a recurring theme) and coughed up their third straight L.

February 28: LAD 13 @ COL 5. 0-4
There is nothing quite as unpleasant as getting sandblasted by division rivals at any time of the year, and the schooling the Rockies took from the boys in blue purple blue definitely drove that point home. Josh Fogg and Alan Embree were the culprits behind much of the torching, being saddled with nine runs in total -- neither have had remarkable, or even good, springs thus far, but there's plenty more baseball to play. Jason Grilli was the one to yield the big blow, allowing a grand slam to some schlub named Mitch Jones, which cleared off all the runners Embree had put there. Brandon Hynick, whom Russ likes to brag about being friends on Facebook with, threw a scoreless inning, and Jorge "The Jungle" De La Rosa impressed in his first inning, but yielded a two-run homer to Matt "Hemp!" Kemp in his second. Although Kemp's been a maniac this spring, so we may have to excuse him on that one.

Starter Jason Marquis pitched two innings, and had to wriggle out of a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the top of the second -- he did so with help of a double play, allowing only one run to score. The Rockies did somehow manage to muster five runs, thanks mostly to a fluky two-run single by Christian "KFC!" Colonel and a two-run homer by Joe Koshansky, but that was washed away in the torrent of bullpen ineptitude, a song we've heard several times before that's really annoying and that we deeply wish would get off the Billboard Top 40 already. To compound the ugliness, Eric Young Jr. made three errors in the field. The Rockies yakked up this one and fell to 0-4, ending February winless. Then they followed it up by opening March with another flop.

March 1: COL 4 @ CLE 6. 0-5
The Rockies went off to spanking new Goodyear Park hoping to change the tune from February, but all we got was more of the same -- that ear worm stuck in your head yet? Aaron Cook didn't show a repeat performance, getting tagged for 7 hits and 5 runs (although only 2 were earned thanks to a Quintanilla error). But the pitching high point was easily the three-inning, one-hit, three-K performance of Ubaldo Jimenez, showing himself much back into form in his second outing. Ryan Speier pitched a clean inning, but Steven Register allowed a triple and a double to score the sixth Cleveland run.

While the Rockies did get their second homer of the spring from Sal "Fu Manchu" Fasano, a two-run shot, and RBI singles from Jonathan Herrera and Seth Smith, it wasn't enough to dig out of the hole. They also killed a pair of rallies with our old friend the double play, and Garrett Atkins still hasn't figured out how the hell to hit with runners in scoring position -- a problem if we're looking to him as our primary right-handed power bat. Hopefully CDI is ready to pick up the slack. Another loss? This is getting old.

What's to Worry? The 16 runs in 5 games is always a bit of a red flag, along with the fact that our bullpen is already trying to make us whip out the defibrillators. The Rockies haven't shown a complete effort yet, which is understandable since we're only five games in, but naturally everyone would like to see them start to pick it up sooner rather than later. If not, we can always write strongly worded letters. And come on, you guys have to win one eventually, right?

Also, the injuries beginning already is slightly concerning. Aside from Hawpe's finger, Ian Stewart and Jeff Baker had to miss starts with muscle-related ills, and while it's just little things, you never want to see "little things" snowball. Come on, we have a trainer, right?

What's to Like? The return of Franklin Morales and Manny Corpas to form would be a huge boost for a still-suspect pitching staff, and hopefully their resurrections are the real deal. Also, if Cookie can give us his usual effort today against the Indians, then it'll be nice as always to know that we don't have to worry about him. Cookie has shown he's ready to be an ace and set the example, and hopefully everyone will take it to heart. Still, today's shelling by the Indians was annoying.

What's on Tap? The Rockies open March with contests against the Angels, the Brewers, the Padres, and the Giants, along with an exhibition against Team Mexico on Thursday. If memory serves, they played one against Mexico a few years ago, and surely Mexico will appreciate the help tuning up for the WBC. Along the way, the Rox will be looking for better hitting, better outings from the pen men, and -- well, you know, all the things that add up to better baseball. No time like the present to get started on winning.

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