Salutations and adulations, Rowbotlets of Purplerowland. Boy, it's been a long time since we've seen each other, huh? Due to a multiplicity of factors, not least my insane work schedule for my last few months in Asheville and an internet connection that only worked if a butterfly was flapping its wings (or not) in Beijing, my meaningful participation around here has been essentially zero. I can't promise that it's going to tick back up again for good, but I am now back in Denver permanently, have a little off time and (ZOMGZ) a functional connection, so this seemed as good a time as any to compose my first
Review Rewind since April.
It won't be a terribly long edition, but it will cover the salient developments of this week. Aka, the good, the bad, and the boom. If you want to check out what those are, agree with my conclusions, and/or object to my classifications, then JUMP!
The Good: Thoroughly astonishing my A's fan friend, who was sad to see Mark Ellis go but thrilled that his pal and classmate Bruce Billings was headed back to the Bay Area, our new second baseman appears to be riding a stick of Purple Dynamite. Now, nobody is expecting Ellis to hit a homer every other game and crank out three doubles on his off-days, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise to a team that had seen the 2B position vanish into the Black Lagoon. Jonathan Herrera, as predicted, couldn't keep playing over his head forever, and EY2... well, um, I'd rather have him there than in CF? Ellis is a sturdy veteran with excellent defense, who should be a little bit better and certainly no worse than the platoon that's been the rule until now, but he may also pan out as being a clone of Clint Barmes. He wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire in Oakland, after all, but sometimes players just benefit, whether in the short or long term, from moving to a new situation. And as discussed in today's Post, the psychological lift of knowing that the team is still intending to make moves and stay in contention can help the guys as well. Obviously, they're all professionals and they didn't get to this point without working very hard and believing in what they can do, but with a prolonged underachieving spell like the Rockies have been waffling along in, lowlighted by their abysmally record-setting May, it's no stretch to say that failure has been catching. I honestly don't know what the problem is with the Rockies and high expectations, but I can safely say that I have been thoroughly unimpressed with their usual shilly-shallying. Here they sit, two games under .500 (and that's surprising enough what with May) but while late-season runs are never out of the question for this lot, they really need to quit putting themselves in the position where miracles are constantly necessary.
Which brings me to: The Bad. The Rockies did win the series with the Royals, but considering how bad the Royals are this year, they really should have swept them. (Although considering what those KC creeps have done to us in the past, this may be an accomplishment in itself.) But instead, they got the holiday weekend started with two straight barbecues of their pitching staff. Today was by fart (typo and it stays) the worst example, as they coughed up 21 hits, 16 runs, and let the Royals run away with the game to pretty epic proportions. I still hold the Rockies are going to have to do some serious work on the pitching staff if they're going to think about contending in the second half; Juan Nicasio and Greg Reynolds do not a championship-calibre stable of arms make. Of course, JDLR going down sent a lot of that kiddywampus, and no team is going to have a rotation of Cy Young, Roy Halladay, pre-roid Roger Clemens, and so forth, but as I've pointed out in numerous previous columns, you generally can't have sixth starters and AAAA fill-ins carry you to success and glory. The non-waiver trade deadline is of course approaching, and while I haven't been able to pay enough attention to suggest a feasible target, I still feel like the Rockies are going to have to get over their favoured plan of in-house remedies and make a move to add an outside starter. Ideas, commentariat?
And then there's The Boom. Aside from the usual splendid fireworks displays over July 1 and 2, there was a serious boom today when CarGo did an equally splendid bug-on-the-windshield imitation, causing everyone in the 303 area code complete heart failure until word came out that he had only suffered a wrist contusion, and thus will be day-to-day instead of 60-day DL. If that happened, I find it very hard to visualize a scenario in which the team could realistically contend, and thus we seriously dodged a bullet. CarGo went down in a game in which he had 6 RBI, too. But with the end of the first half almost upon us, and then the All-Star festivities in 120-degree Phoenix (uh, good thing they've got the roof, amirite?) he should have plenty of time to rest it adequately.
Speaking of which: Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies' only All-Star, losing out on a starting spot thanks to a late push from Jose Reyes. (Boooooo.) Todd Helton has a chance to join him via the Final Vote, which would be a fitting recognition for the Toddfather's 2011 renaissance. This sounds about right to me, but frankly I'm just glad that we DON'T have a pitcher going, as both Aaron Cook in 2008 and Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010 were apparently jinxed hardcore by their ASG appearances. Hopefully Tulo will buck the trend.
The Rockies close out the first half with three games in equally steamy Atlanta, where Ubaldo will return to the site of his no-hitter. Here's hoping they can get a little momentum stored up for the second half.