Wednesday Rockpile: Ruminations on Seth Smith and Jose Contreras

The Rockies not only ended a five game losing streak with a 8-3 victory over the Mets last night, but they also surged a game ahead over the Giants in the Wild Card race--a lead that I surmise Colorado will not relinquish the rest of the year.

In very related news Seth Smith was in the starting lineup for the Rockies, only his third start in eight games (and with Dexter Fowler on the DL). Smith's 3-4 game raised his wOBA to .394, behind only Todd Helton. Dixie also has the third highest WAR total on the team in limited action.

Despite the glut of outfielders on the Rockies roster, Smith really needs to play more. If that playing time comes at the expense of Brad Hawpe and Ryan Spilborghs, so be it. My hope is that with Jason Giambi on the roster as a left-handed bat off the bench, Jim Tracy will look for Smith to provide more of a starting role. 

 Speaking of Giambi, the 38 year old slugger made quite an entrance into the Rockies clubhouse. Colorado killed the Mets with their patience last night, drawing seven walks--including two with the bases juiced (an unfortunate idiom for Giambi, who drew one of them). The Rockies are excited about what Giambi brings to the club.

Garrett Atkins got a rare start against a right hander last night and took advantage, going 2-3 with another bases loaded walk. He was only starting because Ian Stewart's wife was giving birth to their first child--congratulations to the Stewart family! Also noted in Renck's article is the fact that Greg Reynolds and Greg Smith were both placed on the 60 day DL to make room for Giambi and Paul Phillips on the 40 man roster.

Contreras Talk

Within this Renck article is news that Aaron Cook expects to throw again in the regular season, though not for another 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, Jose Contreras will get the chance to prove his worth to the Rockies. To make room for Contreras, the Rockies designated catcher Edwin Bellorin for assignment.

ESPN Insider's Keith Law reviews the Contreras deal, liking the move from Colorado's side. His opinion mirrors mine, especially with this money quote:

It's no guarantee, but with Contreras the Rockies at least get the possibility of a few strong outings down the stretch in a race that might be decided by just a game or two.

Buster Olney writes about waiver warfare and while he refers to the Red Sox and Yankees, the NL West performed their own form of an arms race at the waiver trading deadline.

The Rockies were purportedly unfazed by this trading flurry, though I'm not sure I buy that. What I do think is that of the three NL West teams, the Rockies got the best players (if not necessarily the best deals).

Sure, Jim Thome is great at hitting, but he won't be able to play in the field at all (Rob Neyer wonders why he was signed) while Jon Garland and Brad Penny don't have the potential that Contreras brings to the table, Cuban octogenarian or not. So you could say that I'm one of the few brave souls drinking the Contreras Kool-Aid (have some, it's terrific). I guess Ronnie Belliard could tip the scales in LA's favor, you know, if you're into Ronnie Belliard. 

Tracy Ringolsby offers a quick and dirty Contreras-Penny comparison for those who remain unconvinced--and there are many of you.

Playoff Odds

Coolstandings (55.4%)

Baseball Prospectus Original/PECOTA/ELO (62.9/54.7/59.6)

Sportsclubstats (Graphical--63.0%) Most likely record is from 89-92 wins according to simulation.

Power Rankings

CBSSports--because I'm sure that somebody wants to read them.

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