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Tuesday Rockpile: Rockies Rivalry With Giants Has Dissolved to Envy

In the days of the SpillySlam, the Rockies had a good, competitive rivalry with the Giants. Now the two franchises are worlds apart.

The Rockies have been the lead witness to the Giants' rise to the top.
The Rockies have been the lead witness to the Giants' rise to the top.
Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

On August 25, 2009, Ryan Spilborghs hit an improbable walk-off grand slam in extra innings to defeat the Giants at Coors Field. The rivalry between San Francisco and Colorado was beginning to really take off, and it seemed the Rockies would be the better team going forward. Fast forward three years, and it is the Giants who have won two of the last three World Series, while the Rockies have the longest 2013 World Series odds outside of Houston.

It is natural to adopt an atrabilious mood about the whole turn of events, especially given the recent citation that a sweep of the Rockies was the Giants' springboard in 2012. It is further reasonable to be envious of the former rival, and understandable for fans to ask "why can the Giants do that and not the Rockies?," a question Patrick Saunders attempted to answer in his mailbag this morning. Saunders' answer was accurate and detailed, though the primary reason is the draft.

From 2002-08, the Giants selected in the first round just five times, but they came away with Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey in those five drafts. While picking consistently higher, the Rockies came away with Francis, Stewart, Nelson, Tulowitzki, Reynolds, Weathers and Friedrich in that span.

Of course, the elephant in the room remains the home park. Would the career arcs of Cain, Lincecum and Bumgarner more mirror that of Francis, Reynolds and Friedrich had they developed 5,000 feet higher, all else held equal? It is a difficult to impossible question but one the Rockies need to get ever closer to answering.

There is no getting around the path to success at Coors Field (which still exists, despite fretting to the contrary). If bullet number one on that list is to develop effective young pitching, bullet number two is to keep them healthy. In 2012, the Rockies adopted a new system to limit the number of pitches thrown by their young starters in order to accomplish the first goal by virtue, in part, of the second.

However, an independent study came out less than two weeks ago that disagrees with conventional wisdom adhered to most strongly by the Rockies and Nationals:

"No cumulative work metric was a significant predictor for future injury. It was concluded that management of a pitcher's playing schedule based on these cumulative work metrics alone could not be an effective means of preventing injury."

Granted, this study does not include elevation as a significant factor. We are unlikely to see a study that does focus on elevation, as the Rockies are the only team in the world with a vested interest in the results of such a study.

One further nugget was uexplored by Jeff Zimmerman at Fangraphs after Billy BEane publicized the hypothesis: strike-throwers get injured less. Good luck with Alex White, Rockies.


Carlos Gonzalez a finalist for 2012 Gold Glove LF - SB Nation Denver - We all love Gonzalez, but he is already at the stage of his career where he gets a Gold Glove nomination on reputation and not merit. He actually ranked last in the NL among LF in UZR, and he ranked only better than Jason Kubel and Matt Holliday in Total Zone. Statistics aside, a casual observer would note CarGo's claims over the offseason that he would take less risks to avoid injury proved startlingly true. The result was an almost lackadaisical looking performance, and even a liability.

Charlie Culberson will be on MLB Network Radio this morning at 9:30 ET on First Pitch with Todd Hollandsworth.

MLB apologizes to Astros for leaking new logo | HardballTalk - This comes after the Astros inadvertently leaked the logo on their on website

'Stormers MVP Gailen inks deal with Rockies - Sports - - A minor move, as the Rockies signed an independent league MVP, a 27-year-old corner outfielder who has hit .348/.427/.520 in 6 years of indy ball. He could play anywhere from Modesto to Colorado Springs.

Off-Season Reading List - Purple Row. We still have five months until the Rockies play a meaningful game, so if you need to keep your baseball fix going over the offseason, a reading list will be helpful. Thankfully, Chris Chrisman posted a great reading list of ten titles in the FanPosts. I have seven to read before the Final on Opening Day. I recommend Amazon to fulfill all orders due to price, but shipping might be a problem for now...