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Saturday Morning Rockpile:

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Long rant today.

Offense: (League Average vs us)

Catcher: .265/.337/.399

Yorvit Torrealba: .223/.262/.331

First Base: .273/.361/.479

Todd Helton .279/.403/.408

Second Base: .269/.338/.415

Jonathan Herrera .250/.294/.313

Third Base: .269/.337/.443

Garrett Atkins .315/.342/.488

Shortstop: .274/.335/.401

Omar Quintanilla .254/.284/.352

Left Field: .265/.345/.444

Ryan Spilborghs .318/.405/.523

Center Field: .260/.333/.409

Willy Taveras .246/.311/.293

Right Field: .284/.355/.452

Seth Smith .280/.308/.440

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Let's start with the basics: Any position player with less than a .300 OBP has absolutely zero business seeing the bulk of playing time on a roster that plays half its games at Coors Field. It doesn't matter how good that player's defense is, they generate too many extra outs on offense to make it worth it to play them. This means Quintanilla, Herrera and Torrealba should be spending most of their time on the bench. I know injuries have forced us into the point where we'll have to use at least one of those guys at shortstop, but Stewart needs to be in at second for the time being. He's still probably costing us fewer runs on defense than his absence is costing us on offense. Of course, the most glaring miscue of the season by our manager involves the catcher. If Hurdle can't figure the Iannetta/Torrealba situation out, O'Dowd needs to get a guy who can. If O'Dowd can't figure that out, ownership needs to get a GM who can. Of course, at that point we're screwed because owners usually go out on their own terms.

Okay, let's go to that bench:

Bad:

Baker .233/.272/.356 (even with the four doubles yesterday)

so-so:

Podsednik .247/.345/.315

Good:

Iannetta .282/.354/.541

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Mediocrity at the corners

Okay, quickly, which corner has been the biggest drag on our team this season? Right field? Yeah, okay, so that was easy. Which has been the second biggest?

Ah, this is a little more tricky. As you can see above, Atkins is just a little above average at the plate for his position, Helton a little below. Defensively, Helton is still above average for his position, Atkins well below. Right now, most of the comprehensive stats have Helton as the more valuable of the two with offense and defense combined.

Without Atkins' bat, he has little value to the team and while Atkins returned to the lineup this week, his hitting hasn't, and it's costing us. When guys like Quintanilla and Baker are getting solid contact off a soft tossing lefty like Lilly while Garrett's not, it's a pretty good indicator that Atkins is still off his game.

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Pitching

We have four pitchers whose sum performance has them contributing positively to a winning 2008 right now:

  • Aaron Cook
  • Taylor Buchholz
  • Brian Fuentes
  • Matt Herges (barely)

The last couple of appearances by Herges makes it seem like we're going the wrong direction, as it looks like it's only a matter of time before we have three, but Greg Reynolds might be in the barely positive zone himself, so let's stick with four for right now.

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Our choices for what conclusions to draw:

  1. Good players playing badly, it's the coaches/GM's fault
  2. Good players playing badly, it's the players' fault
  3. Good players playing badly, bad luck's fault
  4. Bad players playing badly, coaches/GM's fault
  5. Bad players playing badly, ownership's fault for not spending for good players
  6. Average players playing badly, etc..,

The evidence that these are bad players? Look at the record. The evidence that they are good players? Look at last year's record. The evidence that they are average players? Look at the combined record of the last couple of seasons. Right now, I'm in the camp that we have four good players, Matt Holliday, Ryan Spilborghs, Taylor Buchholz and Aaron Cook. One of them's injured. We have several average(+) players, including Fuentes, Atkins, Hawpe and Helton. There are a couple of average(-) players like Podsednik and Quintanilla. We have a few bad players. Torrealba is one. Taveras is borderline. We have a bunch of players that it's too early to call, but a few who look to be at least better than average. Tulo, Iannetta, Stewart, Smith, Reynolds and Jimenez have shown promise in this regard.

Four good players is not enough to get to the postseason, especially when two of them are in the same position on the field. A team usually needs at least twice that many, usually closer to 12-13. Last season, for instance, we had Atkins, Tulo, Hawpe, Helton, Francis, Cook, Holliday, Fuentes, Corpas and Herges all perform ing safely in the "good player" category. A couple more like Matsui and Buchholz were above average and close. This season? Four good players.

If we want to regain respectability in 2008, and if we want to win in 2009, the needs are fairly simple and not difficult:

  1. A manager who doesn't play bad players more than good ones.
  2. Two more good starting pitchers.
  3. A solid lineup
  4. A deep bench and bullpen.

While I'm at it, we also need to score more runs than the opposition. No, but seriously look at the team. We have one consistent threat in the lineup right now in Ryan Spilborghs, one stingy OBP guy in Helton, a couple of possible dangers that get limited play in Smith and Stewart and a possibly still injured third baseman who hasn't been hitting like he normally does. The other four slots (five with injured Garrett) scare nobody. Our rotation, scares nobody. Our bullpen...

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People complain that O'Dowd did nothing this offseason to make the team better from the 2007 World Series run. Let's look at at the guy we probably had the bast chance to get:

Dan Haren: 5-4 3.75 ERA

Arizona's 5-6 in his appearances. Let's say that the Rockies, because our lineup and bullpen are so much better than 'Zona this season, would be 7-4 in his appearances. He'd have taken Ubaldo Jimenez's spot, as we would have had to trade U-ball to get him. The Rockies are 1-9 in Jimenez's starts (and it's been solely his fault for the losses in each...) so that generous six extra wins we'd have pocketed at this point brings the Rockies to a blistering 26-29.

Of course, I'm exaggerating. Reality says that bigger moves made this offseason would have done little or nothing to stem the bleeding we're seeing right now.

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So that takes us to right here. Our options to actually fix the team are to once again trade a bunch of prospects for a single Haren type. Trade Holliday or Atkins for a couple more pitchers who could be good, but could just flop like our other young pitchers have been. We could also replace the manager and coaches to try and stop this from happening.

Okay, so conversation starter: Who are your choices for the dozen championship caliber players -guys who should be considered close to All-Star caliber or at least top five NL- we'll need on the 2009 roster, and how do you propose getting them?

Mine:

LF: Matt Holliday

SS: Troy Tulowitzki

3B: Ian Stewart

RF: Ryan Spilborghs

C: Chris Iannetta

SP: Aaron Cook

SP: Ubaldo Jimenez

SP: some guy we get from Florida for Atkins. I'll go with Volstad, but they've got a lot to offer and nobody to cover third.

SP: Greg Reynolds

RP: Manuel Corpas

RP: Taylor Buchholz

Super bench bat: Seth Smith.

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Anyway, Glendon Rusch today, that should be exciting.  Dream over.