Good evening, Rowbots, and welcome to the dungeon. Lightning crackles, thunder crashes, esoteric chemicals burble strangely, and disturbing noises echo in the air. Jim Tracy, wearing goggles and a black cape, adjusts dials and rubs his hands together in prototypical mad-scientist fashion, while keeping a careful eye on the tangled wires and tubes attached to the body of the 2010 Colorado Rockies. The body is strapped to a gurney. It appears to be lifeless. But then, as another bolt of thunder rumbles, lightning strikes the tower and multicolored fluid rushes down the tubes....
For an agonizing moment.... nothing. But then!
A spark, and another. Jim Tracy cackles in prototypical mad-scientist fashion, thrusting his gloved hands triumphantly into the air, as we all realize:
Join me after the jump for a look at whether the Rockies are primed for a resurrection, and a very important announcement about the future.
At the end of this week, taking into account the fact that they had to squeeze a lot of it into fewer days than expected thanks to three rainouts, the Rockies are a decent but unspectacular 19-18, good for fourth place in the NL West. This means they're losing the division, right? Probably not. Does it mean that they'll suddenly rocket off on another crazy dozen-game winning streak, putting them solidly on the right track for the third miraculous comeback in four years? Who knows. It's kind of sad that it's taken them this long to cobble together even a three-game win streak, which they find themselves in possession of today after a 2-1 victory over the Natinals. (They actually had one back in April, but then went on to lose four of five. Hopefully this one goes better.) Said victory was highlighted, of course, by the return of one Jeffrey Francis, aka The Physicist, who ideally can help Jim Tracy concoct the magical brew that leads to Glory and Success. Francis literally looked better than he has in years, throwing seven innings of one-run ball. In a rotation that has endured considerable scuffling from everyone not named Uball, this was definitely a welcome omen. Jason Hammel also returned from injury to contribute a quality start. It would be extremely nice if the team didn't have to run out the equivalent of Esmil Rogers every fifth day, and while there's always the chance that the rest of the league is going to figure out Francis' 89-mph heat again, maybe he's been gone so long that it's, for the time being, a novelty. We're going to hang onto 2007 Manny Corpas with teeth and claws for as long as we have him, and we should be prepared to do the same thing with 2007 Jeff Francis.
The offense may or may not be poised for a breakthrough, although Mad Scientist Tracy seems to think it is. Miguel Olivo appears to have turned back into the Incredible Hulk after a brief stint as a pumpkin, smashing DINGERZ and gunning down would-be base thieves, and Brad Hawpe, remarkably, doesn't look as if he suffered many ill effects from sitting out a few weeks. (We know the cold streak's coming, Brad... we're bracing ourselves...) But despite various promising vitals, the team as a whole is still in a considerable state of flux. Injuries, illnesses, crazy moves, reassignments, rearrangements. If you look at the roster one day, you'd better look at it again the next, because it's likely to have changed again. The farmhouse is whirling through the air, but it's a ways from landing in Oz. It's hard to generate any kind of consistent momentum when pieces are constantly being swapped out and swapped in, and a month and a half into the proceedings, it's still impossible to predict what the lineup's going to look like. Or, for that matter, who's going to go on the DL tomorrow. A certain amount of the roster turmoil isn't anyone's fault, and can just be chalked up to the Baseball Gods deciding that they're going to have a little fun with us.
I still think that a lot of woes could be fixed if Tulo found his stroke. There are glimpses, and he's definitely not in the Mendoza climes that he usually is right now, but he's clearly not clicking yet. Once he is, we can justifiably expect that the good times will follow. It's definitely a novel feeling not to be five or ten games under .500, but as I discovered with my poll last week, a substantial majority of us aren't pleased with the play of the team right now. Of course, that could have changed after a week that saw the team eek out a win in a game started by Roy Halladay, and sweep a doubleheader for the first time since, you guessed it, 2007 (Rockies/Dodgers, September 18, anyone remember a certain home run by Todd Helton?) but consistency has consistently bedeviled the Rockies this year (funny how that works) and I for one will be waiting for a sustained upgrade in the level of play before I start pronouncing them fixed. They have another potential landmine of a road trip coming up -- two against the Cubs, two against the Astros, and three against the Royals. (Dear God, schedule makers, why must we play the Royals every damn year? Why? WHY? Is it really that much of a draw?)
The Rockies have notoriously struggled in Houston, and their hijinks against the Royals are the stuff of painful-loss legend, so winning four or five of the seven would be terrific. Then they begin a string of eleven straight divisional games, facing everyone except the Padres, which will also prove instructive in assessing where they are as the season moves on into June (what? It's almost June? Seriously?) If the guys are waiting around for a winning streak, may I humbly suggest that the moment is at hand. With the rotation returning from injury and Huston Street, God willing, only a few weeks away (although his rehab has been pushed back by a groin strain) there's definitely opportunity. Taylor Buchholz has also reportedly looked fantastic in his rehab outings, and if he's anywhere near 2008 form, that would be the equivalent of picking up an arm in a trade, without the annoying part of having to give a guy up. The Rockies always have a habit of getting better as the weather gets warmer, and ideally they'll continue the trend this year. But there aren't going to be any pansies in the division apart from Arizona, and they always play us tough. The Giants are a couple bats away from being the favorites, LA has put together a nice winning streak, and who knows how long the Pads will keep playing the role of the Indians in Major League. This is far from discounting our own chances, of course; once the offense gets rolling and guys other than Ubaldo turn in quality starts on a regular basis, the Purple Machine could be off to the races. It is, however, to remind us all that our competition isn't going to magically fall over the same way we magically start winning everything, however nice both outcomes would be.
And now for the important announcement: After tonight, Rockies Review, and possibly myself, are both going to be on indefinite hiatus. I don't know yet what my living situation in Asheville is going to be, although I have a couple decent leads, and whether or not Internet will be included, if I'll be able to afford it right away, etc etc. Plus, I have a crapload of stuff to get in order for my new life, will be working at least 50 or 60 hours a week at a couple of jobs, and won't have time or opportunity to watch Rockies game or post on Purple Row very much. I graduate from college this coming Friday, May 21, and will be flying down to Asheville on Saturday the 22nd. After that, your guess is good as mine as to when I will see y'all again. Once the craziness has settled down and I'm in a routine, and/or have made enough to afford Internet and/or have enough time to veg out and do nothing, I'll be back. But this will be your last Rockies Review for a while. I hope you guys have fun, although I am very sure you will.
Eat your vegetables, do your homework, and don't get fat.