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Sunday Rockpile: Rockies saying "Do not pass Go" to opposing runners

Doug Miller at writes that the Rockies are confident that they'll improve in the category of stolen bases allowed in 2010, in part because Miguel Olivo figures to be an upgrade on Yorvit Torrealba in that department, in part because Ubaldo Jimenez and other Rockies pitchers have made strides in keeping runners close, and perhaps most crucially as this last one will impact runs allowed by the Rockies in other ways besides those that use the SB:

"No. 1 is eliminating needless baserunners by eliminating needless walks," (Bob) Apodaca said. "That's why we talk about attacking the strike zone, not fearing contact. We respect what hitters can do, but we don't fear it. It's an important distinction."


The Denver Post's Jim Armstrong has a nice piece about the stability the Rockies have, starting with the top of the organization where Dan O'Dowd signed a five year extension with the team during the offseason. The plus side of this will be that star players and important parts of the franchise will be less likely to bolt to greener pastures, and as the article implies, regarding Carlos Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa, but doesn't prove, there could be something to the claim that this type of patience and trust within a team has an improved ability to draw out the talents of underachievers.

The notable downside that Armstrong doesn't mention is that with this model there will almost always be some opportunity costs involved as the organization sticks with less than optimal players or executives in order to maintain that level of trust. Currently we have debates regarding Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes, last season the manager of the Rockies himself was likely an opportunity cost being paid for the sake of maintaining that trust and loyalty within the organization.

This model took seven years to develop before it finally started working for the Rockies in 2007, when the club's patience paid off in the developments of homegrown star Matt Holliday as well as Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez and drew strong performances from players that were disappointing to their prior teams such as Kaz Matsui and Taylor Buchholz. You sort of have to exclude first round draft selections such as Troy Tulowitzki and Jeff Francis from this evaluation, as getting stars out of first rounders is something that all organizational models try to achieve. What separates the Rockies model will be in getting production from players other organizations might have already given up on.

The big picture questions we need to be looking at right now as Rockies fans revolve how sustainable the model is. Can the Rockies keep a competitive franchise while still paying the opportunity costs to maintain trust and confidence within the clubhouse and executive suites? What kind of added production/benefit from this patient approach do we need to get in order to make up for the decline years of Todd Helton, for instance? 


Elsewhere at the Denver Post, a Troy Renck article includes conjecture on Todd Helton and the Hall of Fame, as well as other notes. Jayson Heyward's ability to aid the Braves could be a large factor in the NL Wild Card race this season (either if it's directly from Atlanta or via them pushing the Phillies into second in the East), especially now that it appears that Jair Jurrjens is pitching pain free. The Braves look to me like a solid pick to replace the Dodgers in the NL playoffs this season, with the other three teams from 2009 returning.

Another notes article includes Tulo's desire to win a World Series ring and a Gold Glove, and updates on pitchers Jeff Francis and Taylor Buchholz, among others.