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Wednesday Rockpile: Trouble at the Corners

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Well, for a minute there my prediction that the Rockies would never dip below .500 again was looking to be in jeopardy. Luckily, Ubaldo and a sweep of the Blue Jays happened. We can only hope that Todd Helton has turned the corner offensively (8/21 last week), though I wouldn't count on it--at least, not to the point that Helton is even a league-average offensive first baseman (somewhere around .353 wOBA). Right now Helton is managing a .325 wOBA, which is below average not just for first basemen but also for MLB.

In fact, I'd say that the single biggest offensive problem for the Rockies so far (besides their late inning ineptitude) has been their lack of production from first base this year (though the collective .277 wOBA from 2nd basemen hasn't helped either). It's not like Colorado can't fix this problem, but doing so would involve going against the organization's philosophy and getting an asset via trade or actually moving Brad Hawpe to first. It's simply not going to happen. For better or worse, we're stuck with a Helton/Giambi/Mora mishmash at first base.

Jim Armstrong pointed out that neither Helton nor Super Joe Mauer has homered in their home park this year. Judging from last night's game, I'd say that Mauer's problems have more to do with the cavernous center field in Target Field than anything else.

On the other corner of the infield, Ian Stewart has been in a June swoon of late, part of an extended slump that had him putting up a wOBA of .316 in May and .237 so far in June with a K% this month of 46.4% (29.1% for the year), which is absurdly high. Stewart has largely fizzled after his hot start offensively and is losing playing time to a surging Melvin Mora, who has simply produced at the plate (.428 wOBA in June). Stewart projects as the better player going forward both this season and in the future, but at the moment he is not doing a good enough job of avoiding making outs--and that's all baseball is at its core. If you don't make outs, you will win the game.

More links and analysis after the jump...

The other big news of the day was that injured closer Huston Street looks to be joining the Rockies on Sunday. However, he's had too many setbacks in his rehab this year for me to take that report as gospel.

When Street does return (with Randy Flores likely DFAed), the bullpen is going to be stacked. The unit is already second in MLB by pRAR with 26.4 (the Padres lead with 35.2, a big reason for their strong start). When you combine that with the Rockies' second-ranked starting rotation (72 pRAR), you get the most valuable staff in baseball, by far.

Thomas Harding points out Joe Beimel's league-best pitch efficiency and workout regimen.

Meanwhile, Troy Tulowitzki is 3rd among NL shortstops in votes for the All-Star game. While I believe that Hanley Ramirez is the better player, this year Tulowitzki has been the best shortstop in MLB and should be lauded accordingly with a starting berth in the All-Star game. Go forth and vote, Rowbots!

In power rankings news, the Rockies are 16th at SBN and 12th at CBS.

Finally, this graph at Beyond the Boxscore shows that the Rockies, despite their basestealing struggles, have actually had positive value on the basepaths this year (per the BP stat EQBRR).