Good evening, Rowbots, and welcome to the feeling of smug superiority that is beating the Giants -- until you realize that they won both of the first two games, we're only a third done with the Awful Evil Nine-Game West Coast Road Trip, and still have to make pit stops at both Petco and Chavez Ravine before heading home to face the Phillies and the Natinals. I'm sure your mood will pick up as you recognize that it is Ubaldo Day tomorrow, before turning down again as you wonder when the guys are ever going to put together a stinking winning streak. Win the game, lose the game, lose the game, lose the game, and now you just lost the Game, and so did everyone else. Ha ha.
It's May 2, and the Rockies are one game under .500. Progress? Maybe. Join me after the jump as we get the skinning knives out.
First things first: there's absolutely no reason to expect that Jhoulys Chacin, the young man with the unpronounceable, unspellable first name (redeemed by his million-dollar arm, dashing smile, and excellent taste in teams to pwn) is going to play Robin to Ubaldo's Batman from here on out, but it was indeed very enjoyable to see how dominating he was today. Chacin showed flashes of brilliance in his first stint last year, but kept getting killed by walks. Even when he was carving up the Pacific Coast League to start this year, walks were an issue, but he considerately kept them to 3 today -- 2 more than the number of hits he served up in the course of seven shutout innings. If he can approximate something even remotely close to that for the rest of the year, or at least the next several months, the loss of Jorge de la Rosa may not hurt so badly. Small sample size overreaction FTW!
Now the bad part: the injury gods have apparently had enough of this wishy-washy not-screwing-with-the-Rockies business. Either that or we've been unconscionably lucky for the past few years, because they are hitting with a vengeance. Losing Brad Hawpe would be a good thing if this was the second half of last year, but since it's not and Hawpe was mashing the ball, it's annoying. Some of said injuries may be attributable to truly epic levels of suck (Mr. Hammel, step to the podium please) and some just hurt, like the loss of JDLR to an injury so obscure that even Mr. Baseball Guru Jim Tracy hadn't heard of it. This was supposed to be the year that Bad Jorge was exorcised for good, and now we just get On the Bench Jorge, which is no help at all. A torn flexor band tendon? Really? We were just hoping he didn't have a blister and wouldn't have to miss his next start, and we get saddled with this crap? Puleaze. We'll whine all we want. We liked the double-headed hydra. Besides, it's the fan's constitutional right to whine. It is. Look it up.
Which brings us to the other replacement starter: Esmil Rogers. All is not well in the neighborhood right now, as Esmil showed the nerves and inexperience in the process of giving up six runs to the Giants in San Francisco. You'd think that it would be easier to do better than a guy with a ten-something ERA, but if we're not going to rush to crown Chacin as even better than JDLR, it's not time to throw Esmil under the bus either. I'm sure that the front office is monitoring the situation and will make a move if necessary, but that probably won't be until Jeff Francis comes back at least. Assuming Esmil doesn't completely fornicate the canine in the interval, that is. The market for starters is pretty thin right now, and anything we could patch in there would be fifth-starter junkheap material, or (gasp) Tim Redding. Not every guy is going to give you seven shutout innings every time out (unless his name is Ubaldo Jimenez) but having a guy in danger of going completely nuclear every fifth day isn't very confidence-inspiring, and will quickly do a number on your bullpen if he constantly has to be bailed out. We'll have to wait and see how Esmil does against the Dodgers before leaping to equally premature conclusions.
Speaking of the bullpen, it's still a nebulous unit. Matt Daley is looking lockdown, but Franklin Morales managed to blow a save without any help from the umpires and still remains the pitcher's equivalent of Russian roulette, and the normally reliable Rafael Betancourt is experiencing some worrisome wobbles. Manny Corpas of all people has come on strong, and if today is any indication, may be on the verge of reclaiming the closer spot for the time being. (Is Huston Street still alive? We did give him a nice chunk of change, IIRC.) However, if there is no other good news from the rest of the week, here it is now: WE DFA'D JUAN RINCON. GLORY SALUTATIONS.
The hitting is still horrendously spotty, mustering three runs in the first 18 innings of the Giants series and doing just enough today to get away with a win, thanks to the Machine. I can't help but think, as has been said around these parts for a while, that all the tinkering is not helping. I don't know who's going to have to break the news to Jim Tracy that it's not 2001 anymore and Jason Giambi and Melvin Mora are not All-Stars, but it's going to have to be done. I have no objection to resting Todd Helton or Clint Barmes (I especially have no objection to resting Clint Barmes) but running the B-lineup out every third game is already wearing thin. (Yes, I am aware Jason Giambi stole a base today. I think I may have spotted pork in the treetops.) Since I missed the games this weekend, I have no idea on how the defense is looking, but since it can't be much worse than it was a few weeks ago, I'll take it on the assurance that it's improved.
In short, the Rockies are still juggling a number of annoyingly fluid pieces and doing what they're usually doing at this time of year: waiting for a winning streak to get them permanently hot and off on their way to Glory, Success, and Booze. At least they don't have as big a hole to dig themselves out of, but to say they're inconsistent is an understatement. A month into the season and they still haven't really cohered. We know from the past few years how quickly their fortunes can turn on a dime, so we'll just be sitting here, waiting for it.