In our losing, it's easy to see all the issues that will make it very difficult for this team to come back into contention in 2008 -such as how we're going to hide the evidence in regards to the disposal of Mark Redman - but it's also easy to lose sight of the promising developments that should help us make another improbable rebound this season, or at the very least compete in 2009, if it comes to that.
Let's start with Chris Iannetta. After last night, Chris -despite starting half the games of those ahead of him- is already the sixth best catcher in the majors in offensive value added according to Baseball Prospectus' VORP stat, and the rate at which he's providing that value is sixth best overall in the NL among players with over 50 AB's. Now, the guy just ahead of him in that latter category is the similarly small sampled Ronny Cedeno, so maybe it would be wise if we held off all of our glee until CDI has doubled his plate appearances, but it's starting to look like last season was the fluke in Chris' career, not the norm.
While we're talking about the rate at which offensive value is added, for the Rockies the top five (20 PA minimum, so Q and Herrera don't qualify yet) look like this:
- Chris Iannetta .688
- Scott Podsednik .535
- Ryan Spilborghs .393
- Matt Holliday .347
- Clint Barmes .316
Seriously, what does it say when four of our top five offensive performers are -or at least were at the start of the season- bench players? Meanwhile -in keeping with the backwards theme- five of our six most valuable pitchers have come from the bullpen. But I was going to keep this post forward looking, so the good news is that Francis and Jimenez are improving and while Francis has already turned to a plus, Jimenez should swing that way by his next start if he keeps taking steps forward. The linked Tracy Ringolsby article says that Jason Hirsh is throwing bullpen sessions and the hope is he'll be activated by early June. Greg Reynolds is progressing and should be ready for a call-up soon as well.
All we need is to put the bench guys in, rack up some runs and win a few 12 to 10 De La Rosa and Redman starts in May, and we'll be all set. Simple.