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Thursday Morning Rockpile:

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Yesterday saw three out of the four veteran relief options shot down in their bids to unseat more talented incumbents Manny Corpas and Ramon Ramirez, Danny Graves and Ryan Speier had some serious troubles containing the Royals in the game, while Dave Veres discovered a strain in his right forearm, which will likely shelve him until at least opening day. That leaves Matt Herges, who continues to pitch very well in camp. The linked article was by the Post's Troy Renck, who implies that we'd be able to keep Ramirez if the coaches decided to go with Herges instead. This is a falsehood. Rami's out of options and I can absolutely guarantee he won't make it past waivers. The only way of keeping all three is if we decide to "season" Corpas in AAA.

The one possible positive use of that decision for the Rockies would be to hope Herges continues his success through a month or two of regular season games so he can be traded to another team for a prospect or two, at which point Corpas would return. In this scenario you figure that the streaking Herges is about equal in wins added for a brief time to the rising Corpas, and then gets overvalued in the trade market. Is this possibility worth the gamble that Herges collapses to the type of pitcher he was in his miserable 2004-2005 seasons? Last season, he barely maintained a league average ERA+ for the Marlins, do we really think he'll give us more than that in 2007? As long as Corpas is performing, I don't know if this gamble with Herges is worth the risk. There is the fact that Manny has thrown a walk per inning this Spring in very limited action, but he's also been  unhittable. With Graves and Speier falling back and Veres on the shelf, hopefully we can see more of Manny and Rami to make a better call.

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There's more John Mabry love from the official site. I feel like I'm being forced into a stance I don't really like, in that I come off sounding as decidedly anti-Mabry. I'm not. I think he could be useful, it's just that I think we have two players who are likely to be more useful who are seemingly being ignored. Harding hits on the key points: Mabry's 36, versus Alexis Gomez at 28 and Ryan Spilborghs at 27. Meaning Mabry's in his decline, and Harding touches on his long list of injuries. Mabry can play one position well, first base. He also does a semi-adequate third, and as Harding says, can only play the outfield "with proper positioning." Don't listen for a second to that thing about playing center "in a pinch". Such a pinch is a sock to the gut. If you look at the stats, you'll note some pretty brutal metrics for Mabry's range no matter where he plays the last three seasons. The other two really do play all three outfield positions adequately, and have no need of "proper positioning" caveats, but don't play the infield.

Mabry's bat was last above average in 2004, with the Cardinals. The past two seasons it's been sliding rapidly, and you'll note that his split versus RHP's in 2006 was atrocious, batting .194 with a .574 OPS. As a pinch hitter he was only slightly better. As far as his power, at Coors Field he's going to have a hard time getting HR's over the right field wall, and probably won't reach there as often as we would like. Mabry's value is extremely limited going forward, whereas Gomez and Spilborghs are likely to retain value not only for the team as players, but also at least some in possible trades in the future.

Sorry if I sound like a broken record on this, but there's just been so much spin on him the past few days without any balance.

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Alright, moving on, speaking of lacking balance, I always try to take note how the Rockies are viewed outside of Denver by thinking and non-thinking fans alike, and am trying to figure out how to categorize this particular query at a Baseball Prospectus chat with Keith Woolner (paid subscription required) the other day:

Unicron (Chicago): How did you guys deal with the enormous change in the way Coors plays? And does it bug you when a Rockies' official cites improved pitching as the reason for apparent change? Do they not understand park factors don't just measure runs per game?

I mean, the guy reads Baseball Prospectus, and is apparently a subscriber, so I can't just chalk up his "either/or fallacy" to just being an idiot, but he definitely needs to stop and check out what he's saying. I don't believe any Rockies officials that are in a position to matter with decisions believe that the changes with pitching at Coors aren't a large part due to the humidor, but I also don't think any rational fan here or elsewhere should think that the difference in Rockies' pitchers' performances this past season was entirely due to the humidor, and not also some improvement in skill level.

Woolner's repsonse focused more on the dramatic change, and he said he feels it's more likely for an extreme environment to suddenly shift (it could be assumed he meant for a relatively small duration, such as an 81 game season) than a more neutral park to have a similar bump. This goes along with what you will find in other areas of study, extremes typically have a far greater variance from sample to sample.

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Finally, yesterday I posted a link to Baseball Analysts, a study by Dan Fox and Neil Williams regarding the impact of third base coaches on the outcomes of games, today they come in with Part II which shows that such impacts don't seem to have any year to year correlation, meaning that they can't really tell who's going to be best at coaching this season. Gee. Thanks a lot. Just kidding, as they say, sometimes finding out when there's no correlation is as important as finding out when there is.