Tuesday Rockpile: Injuries Not Just an Excuse for Rockies

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Last night, the San Francisco Giants eliminated the Atlanta Braves and moved on to the National League Championship Series. While the Giants have had their share of disabled list trips, the days lost to injury roster-wide have not hurt them. In fact, those who spent time on the DL were most often fringe roster players.

Burriss and Rohlinger were fringe bench infielders. DeRosa and Runzler figured to be big parts but were filled with better parts in Pat Burrell and Javier Lopez. Wellemeyer was dead weight and had no chance of seeing the rotation anyway with Madison Bumgarner's emergence. Sanchez is a decent offensive threat, but Juan Uribe was able to slide in seamlessly with Edgar Renteria playing short. While some credit should go to Brian Sabean for the Burrell/Lopez acquisitions, the fact remains that no loss to injury was too difficult to cover up with relative ease.

The big point: notice the current 5-man rotation was completely untouched. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner combined for exactly zero days spent on the DL. Let's compare to the Rockies:

Additionally, Franklin Morales missed 27 days, Todd Helton missed 29 days and Ian Stewart missed 28 days.  Of the five pitchers Dan O'Dowd planned on being in his rotation for 2010, three missed almost two months due to injury. Jason Hammel also missed 18 days. The closer was lost for two and a half months. When Clint Barmes struggled, Plan B was on the DL with a broken leg. Arguably the biggest offensive threat in purple pinstripes missed significant time.

It is really hard to compete with that rash of injuries. Jeff Zimmerman at Fangraphs admirably sorted through all MLB transaction dates to compile this spreadsheet of lost time for ever MLB time. In his story at Fangraphs, the Rockies rank 5th in total days lost to the disabled list, behind Oakland, Washington, Toronto and Boston and 7th in total trips to the DL with 18. While it is padded to some degree with Buchholz and Reynolds, the list above sheds light on some integral names that missed significant time.

While some may want to scrutinize the training staff, the truth is injuries are almost entirely luck driven. 2010 was not the Rockies' year. In list of the teams most ravaged by injuries by days, only the Braves and Rangers made the playoffs among the top 17. The Rays, Yankees and Phillies were all among the most fortunate top 8.

Colorado may have finished eight games out of the playoff picture, but with a healthy roster, that deficit before the season-ending collapse may not have been a deficit at all. I mean it when I say - better luck next year.

Take the jump for some solid prospect news.

Texas League (AA) Stars

In 2005, the Tulsa Drillers placed only one Rockie farmhand on Baseball America's top 20 Texas League Prospect list. That would be Ubaldo Jimenez, who came in 18th. Colorado showed significantly better in 2010, placing four players ahead of that 18 slot in BA's rankings, released yesterday.

BaseballAmerica.com: Prospects: Rankings: League Top 20 Prospects: Texas League Top 20 Prospects

The Royals dominated the league, placing three first round or supplemental picks from 2007 and 2008 in the league's top three spots (Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery). Next? Rockies' catcher Wilin Rosario. Among the highlights on Rosario if you don't have a BA subscription:

 Rosario fits the physical prototype of a catcher, and his bat looks nearly big league-ready. He can turn around any fastball and showed a better feel for offspeed stuff this season, learning what good breaking balls look like and what to do with them. He has power to all fields and could hit 20-30 homers a season if he taps fully into his strength...He also has all the tools on defense

That should be very encouraging to Rockies fans. Before this season, a fair comp for Rosario was Miguel Olivo. A powerful, athletic catcher with terrible defense and worse plate discipline. If he's learning to hit offspeed pitches at 21, his ceiling is much higher than Olivo, potentially making him an All-Star level bat.

Christian Friedrich ranked tenth after a disappointing and injury-plagued year, and Rex Brothers ranked 15th. On Brothers:

Brothers is a stocky, aggressive pitcher who loves to go after hitters with his power arsenal. His fastball peaks at 97 mph, though he pitches more often around 95, and it shows good movement. His hard slider is also tough for hitters to square up. He doesn't use his changeup much and shouldn't really need it. He...should find a role in the Colorado (pen) next season.

Last was Charles Blackmon, the 24-year-old lefty outfielder who ranked 17th. Think of Blackmon as Seth Smith v2.

Steve Foster chimed in on the Texas League rankings yesterday for Inside the Rockies.


Other Links

Rockies offseason preview: Shortstop | Inside the Colorado Rockies Foster's offseason preview reaches the only offensive position with no question marks. At least at starter. His backup remains to be named.

October farm report: What’s next for Garner? | Inside the Colorado Rockies  After failing to earn be given a call-up in September, Cole Garner is eligible to be a free agent. I'll be interested to see the pathway he chooses, as I'm doubting the Rockies' brass are very high on him. Despite the title of the post, there isn't much commentary on Garner. Rather, it's a notice that Jack Etkin's farm report will be in the mail soon. You can have your subscription to Etkin's inside info for a $25+ donation.

BtB Power Rankings: End of 2010 Season Data - Beyond the Box Score  Despite the freefall, BtB ranked the Rockies 8th in MLB in their statistics based power rankings, ahead of three playoffs teams (Cincinnati, San Francisco, Texas). They were ahead of Philadelphia before the final rankings.

Eavesdrops: Braves fans cheer Brooks Conrad - John Shea at the San Francisco Chronicle seems to be making it his goal to ensure the humidor conspiracy remains topical for his Bay Area readers:

Joe Garagiola Jr., baseball's senior VP of baseball operations who's at the series, told Eavesdrops he'll address the Rockies' humidor issue at the GM meetings in November. After a late-season call from the Giants, Garagiola ordered umpires to have more say on the humidor balls' chain of custody. More work needs to be done, Garagiola agrees, because of the "perception" by other teams the Rockies could manipulate the process, which still isn't foolproof.

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