A little bit like this Review, the Rockies are having some trouble getting started. After winning the opener in Milwaukee, they dropped the next two, came home and beat the tar juice out of the Padres (far preferable to losing to the Dbacks, as has happened the last two years) then lost a bruiser in extra innings before winning today, completing their first week of play with a 3-3 record. Obviously, .500 is nothing to sneeze at, considering how we've gotten going in the past few years, but it's clear that there's plenty of rust that needs to be scraped off. On the flip side, there have been just as many encouraging signs, chief of which is the pwnage of Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Stewart and the double-headed hydra of Jorge Deala Rosa and Ubaldo Jimenez (is this the year we vanquish Bad Jorge for good, or are we all far, far too optimistic about one start at home against a light-hitting club?)
I tackle this question, and others, in the first edition of the Review to actually count. Join me after the jump.
The chief conclusion we can draw from our small sample size thus far: Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de la Rosa just may be very, very good. While they won't be mentioned in the same breath as Carpenter/Wainwright, Sabathia/Burnett, Lincecum/Cain and so on, this is entirely due to the LOLCOORZ effect, which I still don't understand: if our hitters get an asterisk by their name due to playing here and always "have to prove they can produce outside Colorado," how come our pitchers don't get more credit? To be fair, MLB.com did recognize that our "ace was dealing in Denver" today, and it's a bit ungrateful of us to complain about not receiving national attention, as this was the year that the mainstream sports media actually discovered we exist. While Jimenez is being generally recognized as taking that step up, only time will tell if De La Rosa is going to likewise establish himself. If that does happen, look out. A righty who throws 100 mph and has a cartoon slider, and a lefty who throws 95 mph and has a cartoon changeup. I could live with that. If that happens, JDLR will also probably pitch himself out of our price range, which leaves Dan O'Dowd and the Brothers Monfort with a difficult decision at year end. Do you sign him to a long-term deal, or do you let him go on the assumption of opening up a roster spot for Christian Friedrich and/or Tyler Matzek?
Currently, however, the Rockies need to work out how to win games not started by pitchers named Ubaldo or Jorge. Greg Smith, Aaron Cook, and Jason Hammel all gave up 4+ runs in their starts, all of which the Rockies lost, and it seems to me as if there have already been too many one-run defeats, usually by a score of 5-4. To their credit, the guys haven't once looked like they're giving up, and they seem to be playing hard every time they're out there (with the possible exception of last night, when they were blown away for 8 innings by the Padres bullpen). However, an L is an L, no matter if it's by 10 runs or 1, and moral victories don't count in the box score. They should have won the Milwaukee series, and very feasibly could have had a sweep of the Padres, but both times, one bad inning did them in. If we could figure out how to eliminate those, we could then go 162-0 and make a lot of money, so you just have to take it as part and parcel of opening week and getting your feet under you. However, as Tulo himself admits, the team isn't where it needs to be, offensively or defensively.
There have also been those who have come blazing out of the gate, Carlos Gonzalez particularly. He was removed from the game early today due to hamstring tightness, and the off-day tomorrow may give him a chance to avoid missing any time. It would be a blow to the Rockies if he did. If you saw the guy batting sub-Mendoza last year and then compared him to this havoc-wreaking force, you wouldn't believe they were the same person. CarGo has done nothing but hit since the season started, and while it's unrealistic to expect he'll keep up that shiny .393 mark he's sporting right now, it isn't out of the realm of possibility to imagine he could be accompanying Uball and/or Tulo and/or Stewart to Anaheim this July. While hitting him in the number 2 hole could make more use of his power, he's fulfilling the job of the leadoff guy and then some: getting on base. Anyone miss Willy T? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Stewart, for that matter, is looking like a new man himself. After retooling his mechanics after a season in which a strikeout was almost a foregone conclusion at least once a game, Stewart has come out like a gangbuster as well, currently possessing a .391 average himself. (I love spring stats). Noted whipping boy Brad Hawpe also has a pair of homers, as does DINGERZ Miguel Olivo. The latter has acquitted himself very nicely behind the plate thus far, throwing out runners and pouncing on bunts.
And then there's Tulo. .231 thus far doesn't mean the sky is falling by any means, and it was his contribution today (a 2-run single) that enabled the Rockies to win the game. Nonetheless, as we've seen countless times before, as Tulo goes, doth go the Rockies' offense. The sooner Tulo settles into his groove, the faster the entire team will look better. Plus,
2 1 error already, Tulo? What's up with that? Who do you think you are, Angel Berroa? Just goes to show you how spoiled we've been with his June/July/August self. If anyone here is in a position to hypnotize our shortstop and make him think that two months have already elapsed, we would be very obliged.
There's also the bullpen. While they've done a lot of bending, they've managed not to break. (Of course, if Daley doesn't get McGehee, or if Tulo doesn't catch that line drive from Fielder, or if Flores doesn't get A-Gone today, it's a whole different story.) They've been weebling and wobbling plenty, which disguises the fact that they have, as Andrew pointed out in the game wrap today, a 2.23 ERA as a gang. Rafael Betancourt and Matt Daley have looked great, however, and Franklin decided to be Good Frankie today, whipping through a 10-pitch inning to polish off the Padres. Still, I imagine everyone will be happy to see Huston come back.
Oh, and one more thing. Note to Jim Tracy: STOP WITH THE LINEUP MONKEYING ALREADY. JEEZ.
Catch your breath tomorrow, then join us on Tuesday when the Mets roll into town for three games. It's the Mets, guys. I think you know what to do.
P.S. Let's hope the Dodgers continue to be as terrible at home as they've been thus far on the road. I am enjoying it greatly.