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Tuesday Rockpile: Back to Fundamentals...Again, No Beimel

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The Secret to Success

Hurdle will apparently have the Rockies focusing on fundamentals in Spring Training this year, as Thomas Harding reports.  Wait....where have I heard that before?  It seems such "news" is an annual February staple, seemingly indicating that the previous Spring Training ignored such baseball basics.

However, there may be reasons to take this report seriously this time.

  • The coaching staff - aside from Clint Hurdle, Bob Apodaca and Glenallen Hill - experienced a complete turnover from 2008.
  • Regulars will get at least 60 spring at-bats, up from 2008, in part to allow Hurdle to try out several line-up configurations.
  • Hurdle will re-install "27 Outs" and the "Execution Game," practices aimed at improving situational hitting. 

The Rockies only one had successful sacrifice fly in the first four weeks of 2008.   Even dumb luck should improve that number, but it's good to see there is an active effort at improving situational hitting.  I'm a bit skeptical about the effectiveness of "imagining" a situation, but quite frankly, I don't have a better idea.

Harding: "Hurdle believes he was not as diligent about fundamentals as he should have been, and it started in the spring. The schedule was built around keeping players fresh, but in retrospect they needed work on the finer points of the game. That will change this time."

Take what you will.

Blimey, No Beimel

It was reported earlier, but a new report from Patrick Saunders all but makes it official: the Rockies will not sign LHP Joe Beimel.  I was originally very attracted to the idea of adding Beimel to the pen - after all, there aren't many relief pitchers on the market coming off a year with a ~2.00 ERA, or that have given up just one home run in two years.

So just how much are the Rockies losing out by forgoing Beimel?  The most likely candidate to replace Beimel's bullpen spot would be Glendon Rusch.  Let's look closer at some important stats that might be important for a left-handed reliever.

         2008  ERA   FIP WHIP K/BB Avg vs LH Value Wins
Joe Beimel 2.02 3.30  1.45  1.52     .278        0.7
Glendon Rusch 5.16 4.27  1.42  2.20     .257        0.9

Beimel's ERA is uncharacteristically low for his peripherals, partly due to his appearances as a LOOGY. Despite the ERA disparity, Rusch actually holds serve or even betters Beimel in other categories.  It should be noted that Rusch's Value Wins total is skewed slightly due to his 4-2 record as a starter in 9 games. 

We can also compare Rusch and Beimel's 2009 projections.  The following are averages of Bill James, Marcel and CHONE.

        2009 ERA  FIP WHIP K/BB
Joe Beimel 3.93 4.10  1.42 1.52
Glendon Rusch 4.77 4.45  1.47 2.11

The disparity between Rusch and Beimel is not very large, and that gap closes when considering Beimel's projected ERA and FIP would rise if he signed with Colorado due to Coors Field.  Is Beimel better than Glendon Rusch?  Certainly.  But the gap isn't nearly as big as you might think.  Plus, Rusch can start.  In actuality, Rusch and Beimel would be better than either with Alan Embree, but that's a lost argument at this point.  Now Beimel might sign on with the reigning World Series Champions.

National Perspective

USA Today has released their preview for the Colorado Rockies.  The massive, 4200+ word 10-page synopsis does a very impressive and accurate up-to-date job of wrapping up the state of the roster going into 2009.  There's very little to quarrel with.

Their projected lineup has Troy Tulowitzki hitting second and Todd Helton hitting third.  If Tulo and the ToddFather earn those lineup slots out of Spring Training, that will be a very dangerous lineup indeed.  But I doubt it.

Other distinctions:

Top Candidate to Surprise:  OF Carlos Gonzalez.  We are certainly hoping so.

Top Candidate to Disappoint: RHP Josh Fogg.  This one is actually a little funny.  It's hard to disappoint when there are really no expectations in the first place.

However, those quibbles are miniscule in relation to the complete information presented.

I'll leave you with a quote regarding Garrett Atkins and his arbitration:

"I was working 20-hour days, finalizing our arbitration exhibits and we were ready to go (to a hearing). At the end, Garrett made a decision to sign and focus on the team and get ready for spring training." — Jeff Blank, the agent for Garrett Atkins, on his client agreeing to terms with the Rockies on a $7.05 million contract days before an arbitration hearing was scheduled.

Have a wonderful Tuesday.