The Rockies have caught fire again. Colorado is 8-2 over their last 10 games, which happens to be all 10 games in the month of July. The bats have caught fire, and again, for the month of July, the Rockies are the hottest batting team in the majors.
The big question now is how to we build on this to go forward? Well, pitching is a concern, but there's just a chance that we've hit one of those "spells" where the grounders find holes and the gaps just seem that much more splittable. They are doing a lot of things right, and are posting a 3.55 K/BB, but they're also allowing 1.34 HR/9, which isn't terribly pretty. The good news is that even with a homer-happy July, Colorado still leads the majors with the fewest HR/9 allowed. We're tied for 3rd best in the majors in overall dingers, having allowed only 66. Or in other words, 3.5 Dan Harens (seriously, he's allowed more dingers than any 2 of our pitchers). Only the Tigers and Marlins can beat that mark, at 65, and the Braves are tied with us.
Another concern could be the spots that we've been concerned about all season, 2B and 1B.
The immediate reaction to this is "but Johnny Herrera is batting .319 how can that possibly be a problem", but I maintain it is a problem for a few reasons. The first reason is the standard SABR reasoning that Herrera is hitting for a ridiculously empty average. He's walked 6 times and had 3 extra-base hits. That makes for a line of .319/.347/.354 and an OPS of .701 - which isn't godawful, considering that Herrera is up for his glove, and that AVG plays pretty well in the 2-hole, especially if Dex can keep getting on base well, but it's far from "good". The scary thing is that Herrera is posting a .371 BABIP, which is good, but it's one of those numbers that gets redflagged for being prime to come down, which will drag his mostly AVG-fueled OBP down to the realms of turrible.
More past the jump
The second reason I worry isn't as much a "ZOMG BABIP" reason as it is the fact that Herrera frankly isn't all that good to begin with. He posted a .282/.358/.337 line in AAA, good for a .695 OPS, and a career minor-league line of .283/.350/.362 line, .712 OPS, and a .322 BABIP. So highish BABIP numbers aren't too out of line for Herrera, so we can at least notice that. There is the chance, and I won't deny it, that Herrera is finally filling out some of that prospect mojo or something, as he is only 25, but he's never really lit the lamps as a major part of our minor league organization.
So all of this trash talk about Herrera has a purpose. I'm not trying to be the typical SABR writer who just comes in all smugly and rains on your parade when a player is performing better than expected. I am absolutely loving that Herrera is performing in such an exciting fashion in Troy Tulowitzki's absence. I mean, heck, in July, Herrera's posting a .830+ OPS - that's awesome. He hustles and plays very good defense.
My concern is that Herrera is simply another member of the "Colorado Rockies 2B who have performed very well in a short period of time" club - see: Jeff Baker, Jamey Carroll, Jason Smith, Eddy Garabito, Desi Relaford, Luis A. Gonzalez, etc. I know that a lot of these guys played during different phases of the organization's development, but the fact remains the same that we haven't had a solid 2B since probably Eric Young.
I don't see Johnny Herrera continuing this reign of terror from the 2 hole for too long. Maybe he'll keep doing it this season, and that would be spectacular, but he, like Clint Barmes, really fit the role of "Utility Man" much better than they do "Starting 2B". With Tulowitzki out for however long he's gonna be out, I'm not going to complain for a second about having Barmes and Herrera up the middle, but I'd much rather see the organization make a move.
This is my concern though, that the organization will also not complain about the short term, but beyond not complaining about short-term performance, they'll sit at the deadline and not look forward to acquire a 2B who can be an offensive AND defensive contribution in a steady, sustainable fashion in 2011, and hopefully 2012 as well. I've ranted about not acquiring Kelly Johnson many a time already. Maybe that guy is Dan Uggla, maybe it's someone like Rickie Weeks. I don't know.
The problem is that there really aren't too many quality 2B on the market once you get past the first few good names. Jose Lopez of the Mariners basically IS Johnny Herrera, plus power, minus fielding. Jeff Keppinger of the Astros really isn't a good option either. I'd go back to my Brian Roberts affinity, but I'm pretty sure we don't need another aging player with back problems.
Here's another problem though. What do we do at 1B? We don't know what's going to happen with Todd Helton, and you can substitute Brad Eldred in for Johnny Herrera and just re-read that entire article and splash the word "DINGERZ" in liberally.
I'm pretty much just concerned that success in the short term might have the organization hesitate to act in favor of the long term.
A nice beat notebook article about how Ian Stewart is hitting well. Also, something about Melvin Mora being a professional player and his versatility, and some notes on Herrera getting the job done. Amusingly enough, there's some notes at the bottom about how the Rockies bullpen has been enjoying July. Whoops.
More or less what you were expecting: a nice walk down Memory Lane, especially since Baylor played with the Angels back when they used clubs for bats and rocks for baseballs. Glad you had fun, Groove.