With the Astros coming to town, Rox hope to finally blast off

The Rockies are 9-13 against the NL West and 2-4 against the NL East.  They do not, however,  having a losing record against the NL Central.  Yeah yeah...that's a weak statement, being that they are 1-1 vs the Cubs in their only Central series so far.  But Houston is coming to town, and I'm grasping at straws for positives regarding a team that has won just 2 of 11 series so far.

Colorado can thank Houston for giving them company in the NL West cellar.  Houston finished off a sweep over the Padres Sunday with a season-high 12 runs on a season-high 16 hits.  That sweep dropped Padres into a three-way tie with the Rockies and D-Backs until Arizona lost again last night.  The teams split the season series last year at 3-3, with each team winning their home series two games to one.

This offseason, the 'Stros added Pudge Rodriguez, Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton, and Jeff Keppinger and lost Randy Wolf, Brad Ausmus, Ty Wigginton.



Houston Astros (14-17, W3, 5th, 5.5 GB)

Tuesday-Thursday : 3-game series at Coors Field

Houston has had to battle some unplanned ineffectiveness.  All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman in not only hurt - he has not played since Thursday with a wrist injury - but he is hitting below the Mendoza line.  Quite the contrast from last year's torrid start.  The Astros' lineup has three .300+ hitters, but it's not enough to make up for deficiences elsewhere.  Houston grades out just a hair above San Diego and Pittsburgh for 23rd in wOBA.

Kazuo Matsui
.255 1 12
Michael Bourn
.287 1 9
Lance Berkman
.184 7 16
Carlos Lee
.333 6 26
Hunter Pence
.310 4 13
Miguel Tejada .313 2 16
Ivan Rodriguez .273 4 14
Geoff Blum
.253 0 6

The normally steady rotation has only one member below 4.50 ERA, and his name is not Roy Oswalt.  After toiling at the back of the rotation for four years, Wandy Rodriguez has catapulted to become one of the top five starting pitchers in the league thus far.  The rest of the rotation has been uneasy, but with Wandy, the Astros grade out as an average staff at 16th in MLB in ERA.

The Astros don't look to be in contention this year, but via Jon Heyman, they will not trade Roy Oswalt or Lance Berkman due to "personal feelings for them plus the Astros' recent history of strong finishes."  Some writers do want to trade Lee and Valverde though.

Probable Pitchers:

Tonight, 6:40 pm MDT

2009 - Felipe Paulino 1-2 5.23 1.89 17 10

Manager Cecil Cooper pulled Russ Ortiz from this scheduled start and replaced him with rookie Felipe Paulino.  A combination of poor starts by Ortiz and horrndous bullpen appearances by Paulino led to the switch.  Paulino's 4-run 0.2 IP appearance Thursday apparently did it.  He has been scored upon in five of six appearances this year, three starts and three relief appearances.  His bullpen ERA is 21.00 this year against just 2.55 in his starts.  He'll throw a mid-90's fastball but uses a mid-80's slider frequently.

2009 - Ubaldo Jimenez 2-4 5.45 1.61 30 20

After stringing three straight horrible starts, Ubaldo rebounded with two very good ones...against a terrible Giants offense.  Still, it appears he has found his control (3 BB in his last 14 IP), which is nearly always his greatest downfall.  That will serve him well against an aggressive lineup overall.


Wednesday, May 13, 8:05 MDT

2009 - Mike Hampton 1-3 4.91 1.55 26 15

He needs no introduction.  The worst free agent signing in franchise history returns to Coors Field for the first time in over five years, back when Jeromy Burnitz was the Rockies' CF.  His last win at Coors Field was in August 2003, when he beat Chin Hui Tsao despite serving up 11 hits.  Hampton is 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA against Colorado since he was traded to Florida.  Since returning from injury last year, Hampton no longer throws a slider but does use a cutter quite often.

2009 - Jason Marquis 4-2 3.92 1.21 19 12

Marquis is stuck in a pattern.  He started the year with two fantastic starts followed by a dud against a terrible offense.  He promptly repeated the same cycle again.  I guess that means we're in for two more great starts from Jason.


Thursday, May 14, 1:10 MDT

2009 - Wandy Rodriguez 3-2 1.80 1.04 37 15

Wandy Rodriguez is quietly having one of the best season's of any NL hurler.  He is 3rd in ERA, 13th in K's, 3rd in Quality Start %age, 5th in BAA against, and 6th in WHIP.  There's really nothing more to say.  He's having a career year.  Let's mess it up.

2009 - Jason Hammel 0-1 5.40 1.80 12 8

Jason Hammel has had two very bad outings and one very good one since being giving a starting spot.  Given that his one good start was against the Giants at AT&T, he needs to pitch well, or we might be seeing a callup from the Springs to take his place.


Theoretically, this is a very winnable series.  The Rockies have the better offense, what would seem to be the upper hand for pitching matchups, the home advantage , and the possibility of not seeing Roy Oswalt or Lance Berkman.



Carlos Lee (.538/.600/.808) has been ridiculous over the past week.  Ivan Rodriguez (.370/.400/.741) and Miguel Tejada (.367/.375/.700) may be old, but they are still hot stuff right now.



Geoff Blum (.063/.200.063) has done practically nothing in his past 7 games, but Jeff Keppinger (.200/.304/.250), Michael Bourn (.240/.321/.320), and Darin Erstad (.188/.235/.375) have kept him company in Suckville.


Bandaid_mediumBrandon Backe, Doug Brocail and Jose Valverde are all on the 15-day DL.  Valverde's injury has thrust former Rockie Latroy Hawkins into the closer role.  Aaron Boone is on the 60 day DL after having open heart surgery six weeks ago.


NL West Report after the jump.

NL West Report

Arizona (13-20, 5th, L1, 9 GB)

Last Week: 0-2 @ Dodgers, 1-1 @ Padres, 1-2 vs Nationals, 0-1 vs Reds

This Week: Finish 2 games of 3 game series vs Reds, 3 game series @ Braves

News: Big news, obviously was the firing of 2007 Manager of the Year Bob Melvin. He was replaced by AJ Hinch, whose contract runs through 2012.  Arizona responded by losing three straight 1-run games.  Pitching coach Brian Price resigned due to reservations for working for Hinch.  The Diamondbacks' season has been especially rough with Brandon Webb injured. Bob Melvin bid a classy farewell to the organization Friday.  

Josh Whitesell

#29 / First Base / Arizona Diamondbacks





Apr 14, 1982

Josh Whitesell is finally getting his reward.  With Tony Clark on the DL, the D-Backs called up Whitesell to be the starting first baseman, relegating Chad Tracy to the bench.  Tracy is hitting just .209 and does not have a hit in May.

Tonight they face former D-Back pitcher Micah Owings for the first time since the Adam Dunn trade.  Owings hit a 9th inning, 2-out, game-tying home run against the Cards Sunday.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Tom Gordon hamstring 05/04/2009
Yusmeiro Petit shoulder 05/09/2009
Tony Clark other-excused 05/06/2009
Brandon Webb shoulder 04/07/2009

Los Angeles (22-11, 1st, L1)

Last Week: 2-0 vs D-Backs, 1-1 vs Nationals, 1-2 vs Giants.  LA was 3-0 last week until news came out of Manny Ramirez' suspension.  They promptly lost a home game vs the Nats, blowing a 6-0 by giving up 10 runs in the final 3 innings.  That was their first home loss of the season, and they followed it up with their first home series loss vs. the Giants.  Coincidence?

This Week: 3 game series @ Phillies, 3 game series @ Marlins.  Maybe a change of scenery from Joe Torre's press conference will help the blue.

News: Obviously, the big news is Manny Ramirez taking women's fertility drugs.  Or more accurately, his 50-game suspension.  His statement:

Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was okay to give me.  Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.

Manny Ramirez

#99 / Left Field / Los Angeles Dodgers





May 30, 1972

The suspension frees up payroll, but since the contract is deferred, the Dodgers will save $2.7million this year, and $1.37million the following three.  LA may choose to invest that money in more pitching.  No need to go into this more...except to point out they are 1-3 without Manny so far, all four games at home after going 13-0 to start the year at Dodgers Stadium.

Juan Pierre now gets the chance he wanted to start, though Joe Torre has hit him 9th.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Hong-Chih Kuo elbow 04/30/2009
Jason Schmidt shoulder 03/30/2009
Hiroki Kuroda oblique 04/07/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Doug Mientkiewicz shoulder 04/17/2009
Claudio Vargas elbow 04/05/2009



San Diego (13-19, t-3rd, L3, 8.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-1 vs Rockies, 1-1 vs D-Backs, 0-3 @ Astros. San Diego has lost 4 of 5 and 10 of 12.

This Week: 3 game series @ Cubs, 3 game series vs Reds.  Jake Peavy pitches twice this week, so GM Kevin Towers has the opportunity to see his ace's trade value go up.

News: Cha Seung Baek re-injured his elbow in a rehab start Sunday. 

Cha Seung Baek

#53 / Pitcher / San Diego Padres





May 29, 1980

The Pads recalled OF Drew Macias from AAA and optioned LHP Arturo Lopez.  Lopez made his MLB debut against the Rockies last week and failed to retire any of the four hitters he faced.

An interesting and terrifying thought:  with the money saved from Manny Ramirez' suspension, can the Dodgers now afford to trade for Jake Peavy?

San Diego Padres Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
David Eckstein ribs 05/12/2009


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Shawn Hill elbow 04/26/2009
Walter Silva forearm 04/14/2009

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mark Worrell elbow 03/27/2009
Mike Adams shoulder 03/27/2009
Everth Cabrera hand 04/20/2009




San Francisco (17-14, 2nd, W2, 4 GB)

Last Week: 1-1 @ Cubs, 1-1 @ Rockies, 2-1 @ Dodgers, 1-0 vs Nationals.  The Giants pulled out an above .500 week despite being on the road the whole time, including going to Dodger Stadium.  Frisco is 4-1 since the Manny suspension. Hmm...

This Week: Finish two game of a 3 game series vs Nationals, 4 game series vs. Mets.  A nice reward of being home after a strong week last week.

News:  With Buster Posey on the fast track to the big leagues, the Giants may not feel inclined to re-sign Bengie Molina this offseason. 

Buster Posey

#28 / Catcher / San Francisco Giants





Mar 27, 1987

3B Pablo Sandoval can also play third base.  Molina talks about his future with Andrew Baggarly.  Posey could be playing games at AT&T park as early as next season, even though his has yet to play at AA.

McCovey Chronicles was giddy at the Giants' chances to catch the Dodgers after Manny's suspension, and after disposing of them on the road over the weekend, they should be.

Eric Seidman at FanGraphs discusses Barry Zito's success this season. 

If the popup rate regresses towards the levels of the last two seasons, though, do not expect this success to continue.

Still, he notes "there is no reason he could not be one of the best fourth starters in baseball."  If only that's what Brian Sabean was paying him for.

San Francisco Giants Injuries


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Noah Lowry shoulder 03/27/2009
Andres Torres hamstring 04/28/2009
Sergio Romo elbow 03/27/2009
Joe Martinez concussion 04/10/2009

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