There's nothing quite like Opening Day. It represents a new beginning. A clean slate. A fresh outlook for a season that hasn't been crushed by the hammers of the baseball gods like eggshells on an Interstate yet. Even if the Rockies are being picked to finish below .500 by, well, ... pretty much everyone, there's something wonderful about looking up at the standings and seeing all the teams bunched up together as they head out of the gate. The optimism, the passion, and the excitement that comes with a day like today never leaves anyone who's truly in love with this game.
This year, and specifically this month, the Rockies have a special opportunity to attract more local fans than usual, and potentially turn them into people who love the game for the long-haul if things go well. That's because for the first time since 1993, there will be no playoff games for either the Nuggets or the Avalanche, meaning the Rockies take center stage for the casual sports fan in Denver. Hopefully that changes for fans in the city next year, but for now, this represents a chance for the Rockies to showcase themselves to an even broader audience.
Knowing this, it would be nice for the Rockies to get off to a fast start this spring, and despite their terrible finishes over the last four seasons, our purple pinstripers have actually been really good at that of late. Stunningly good actually. Here's the April record for the Rockies over the last four seasons:
That comes to a total of 60-42; a full 18 games over .500. Extrapolate that 102 game sample out to 162 games, and you have a 95 win team. Somehow, this is coming from a franchise that hasn't won more than 74 games since 2010. It just doesn't make any sense. I've wondered about this for a while and can only come up with two reasonable explanations.
1) The Rockies actually tend to put pretty good teams on the field but then get crushed by injuries and don't have enough depth to cover for it when their ship starts to sink in May.
2) Baseball is just really, really weird and it's all one big coincidence.
Of course, if the second explanation is true, it actually gets even weirder than the last four years. Here's Colorado's record in April during their last three winning seasons:
2007: 10-16 (Won the pennant)
2009: 8-12 (Won 92 games)
2010: 11-12 (Won 83 games)
For the better part of what now spans almost a decade, the Rockies have generally found a way to compile an April record that completely contradicts what they do for the other five months of the season. (You can add 2006 to the list as well as that team started off 15-10 in April only to finish the season with just 76 wins).
While baseball does tend to do some wacky things in small samples, this is highly unusual. If there's a lesson to take away from this, I guess it's not to assume you know how the Rockies are going to look for the rest of the season regardless of they play in April this year. We've seen this fickle month send out false signals in both directions on an almost annual basis of late.
The Opening Day 25 man roster is set. Here's the breakdown from yesterday from our own Eric Garcia McKinley.
Benjamin Hochman and Nick Groke had a little debate yesterday about who would lead the Rockies in home runs and wins here.
Also from the Post, Nick Groke tackles the mailbag on the eve of the 2015 season. The main theme here? Uncertainty.
Kyle Kendrick gets the start today, and late last week Thomas Harding turned his attention to that topic.
The Rockies are opening the season in Milwaukee for the third time in six years, but it's the first time they're opening the season with Wisconsin native Jeff Bridich as the GM. This means the Bridich will be right at home as he begins his GM career.
David Martin previews Opening Day for the Rockies, and the excitement of a new season even has him intrigued.
The big news around the league last night was the major trade between the Padres and Braves. San Diego acquired Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton, while Atlanta received Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quinton, Matt Wisler, Jordan Paroubeck, and San Diego's Competitive Balance Round Pick (No. 41 overall) in the 2015 draft.
This is a highly complex deal, but since they're in our division, let's look at this deal from San Diego's perspective.
On one hand, I like this move. Kimbrel might be the best closer in all of baseball, and San Diego has a manager who will probably use him in the right spots. Even though the bullpen is already a strength for this team, it never hurts to shorten the game for the opponent even more, especially with someone as dominant as Kimbrel. Also, while his incredible strikeout rate might not be as much of an advantage at Petco as it would be in some other parks, I still think it's a big deal for the Padres as poor as they look defensively. The fewer balls that go in play for them the better.
The move also opens up some room on the 25 man roster. Carlos Quinton is owed $8 million this year and the Padres have no room for him with five outfielders already in the fold. This move allows them to be a little more flexible and potentially get someone with a glove worth a damn into the the mix. With San Diego falling in the low to mid eighties on the win chart of most projections systems, any extra wins they can scratch out with trades like this might be worth their weight in gold.
On the other hand, the Padres really gave up a ton to get this done. They took on Melvin Upton and his hideous contract (he's owed $46.35 million over the next three years after posting a combined -1.6 rWAR over the last two seasons), gave up the No. 34 prospect in all of baseball in Matt Wisler according to Baseball America, and now have no picks in the 50 of the upcoming draft in June.
Perhaps Ron Mexico, a member over at Gaslamp Ball put it best when he said:
I feel like we are at the club having an awesome time running up the tab, but are not going to like the credit card bill when it comes.
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Today is the first day of Troy Tulowitzki's baseball career where he will take the field in a game that counts in his thirties. In his twenties, Tulo racked up an amazing 37.6 rWAR in just 4,064 plate appearances. This is a player who hits for average, hits for power, has excellent contact skills, is slowly getting better at pitch recognition, plays excellent defense, and plays it up the middle. Guys who do all of that tend to age really, really well, and because of that, I'll predict right now that Tulo will join former Rockies great Larry Walker as one of those rare players who post more WAR in their thirties than in their twenties. If I'm correct about this, we're talking about a career somewhere near the 80 WAR neighborhood.