It sure felt good to wallop the Marlins after that tough loss Monday night, didn't it? The win brought Colorado back within 3.5 games of San Diego. Especially good to see last night was the virtuoso performance by Jeff Francis. The Physicist seemed to be losing his mojo of late, so hopefully this start will get him back on track going forward.
And now, a mini-rant:
In terms of evaluating Jim Tracy's *ahem* unorthodox lineup last night, yes it worked. It worked very well. That by no means makes his lineup shuffling a good decision. One of the great fallacies in decision-making is evaluating decisions based upon the outcome rather than upon the reasoning for the decision.
In this case, the outcome was wonderful (Melvin Mora 5 RBIs and an OF assist in the 3 hole?), but I still maintain that Tracy's tinkering put Colorado at a serious disadvantage by leaving several of the team's best players on the bench. Yes, sitting CarGo was probably a justifiable decision, but a) playing Mora in the OF when Seth Smith is available and b) putting a low-slugging player like Mora in the 3 hole more often than not will be a decision that will result in ineptitude. Sitting Jason Giambi and his 1.446 OPS against Nate Robertson is yet another case of over-reliance on platoon matchups by the reigning NL Manager of the Year.
Yes, Jim Tracy's W-L record is stellar, and he has done a few things that I really like this year (like making sure that Chris Iannetta hits against lefty starters), but I still have the nagging feeling that with a few minor adjustments (like consistently playing the best players) the Rockies could be much better. Perhaps this process has already begun, as Ian Stewart has been getting more ABs of late.
Draft Pick Madness
As David OhNo's FanShot below notes, Rockies 1st round draft pick OF Kyle Parker will return to Clemson this fall to play football. What does this mean? Well, David has his thoughts (full thoughts in FanShot comments):
-I still expect Parker to eventually become property of the Rockies, just with a dual sport status applying to Parker and a bonus spread out over five years.
-His prospect status diminishes with each allowable year to compete in football. Parker is a raw talent that needs the attention he can receive in instructs during the fall, not football.
-I don’t want a player that potentially could be allowed to spend three additional fall seasons in football.
To that analysis I'd add this: I'm not optimistic about him becoming a productive player for the Rockies even if they do sign him and he plays football. I wasn't much of a fan of the Parker pick to begin with given how raw his tools are and the other players that were still on the board when Colorado picked. Since he was asking for way over slot money from the Rockies for an all-baseball commitment, it just wasn't worth $3 million to keep him.
At the very least, if Parker doesn't sign the Rockies will get an extra first rounder next year (#27 or so). Colorado also doesn't have supplemental first-rounder Peter Tago (California HS RHP) in the fold yet either, so this is certainly a situation that bears watching over the next month.
More links and analysis below the fold
As Troy Renck notes, Todd Helton will likely return to the Rockies' lineup on Saturday, coming off the DL a few days after he feels healthy enough to contribute. This is a great decision by Tracy/O'Dowd, as Colorado faces some pretty good SP in the next few games (Nolasco/Johnson/Halladay) and they want to ease Helton back into the lineup. Sad to say, but this point, Colorado is better with Helton only in the lineup sparingly--his position is almost the equivalent of Garrett Atkins (at least offensively) last year.
Speaking of Atkins, Renck squelches the possibility of bringing him in to help out at 1B in his mailbag, as well he should. Renck also answers a question about Miguel Olivo's club option (it becomes mutual if he starts 110 games, or 45 of the remaining 69). He also opines that the Rockies will not pick up the 2011 options of Francis ($7.5 million) or Hawpe ($10 million), leaving open the possibility of them returning at a lower price.
I think that Hawpe's option is highly unlikely to be picked up, though offering him arbitration would be risky as he'd likely accept...and arbitration is super-expensive, in case you haven't already heard me spouting off about it. Plus, with Hawpe gone the Rockies would finally play their best players in the outfield. Maybe the best-case scenario is Hawpe moving to first base on a more full-time basis.
As for the other option, I'd just as soon decline Francis' option as well and try to get him back at a lower price, but something tells me that Rox Girl is right and the Rockies pick it up. This is because a) Francis is a home-grown, high-character Rockie who also happens to be a league-average left-handed starting pitcher when he's right (he at least appears to have regained his health this year) and b) Colorado will probably be losing Jorge de la Rosa to free agency, so Francis will be needed to give the rotation some balance. If Christian Friedrich were more advanced, I would be all over letting him have a shot at a rotation shot next year, but I just don't think that his development is far enough along yet.
I leave you with Power Rankings, as is my wont: