For Rox Pile, it was a flippin’ fantastic February. We broke traffic records, introduced new columns, discussed news, and got all sorts of fired up about Spring Training. It was a dominating display — one worth a recap. So, let’s recap:
It’s hard to believe that Michael Young-to-Colorado was a hot topic at the beginning of the month. It seems like a million years ago. Here is where I got all excited about the trade rumor, and here is where finally I got all fed up with it.
When something is a rumor for as long as Mike Young-to-Colorado has been, it almost always comes to fruition. According to numerous reports, there is a very good chance that this deal will be done within the next week. — Me on February 6th
The Rangers are either obtuse or they just don’t give a crap. Either way, I applaud Mr. O’Dowd for walking away from Texas like Brad Pitt did Jennifer Aniston. You just can’t fix crazy. — Me on February 10th
I dished on some prospects this month. Here are the six spotlights for February:
The Rockies believe Bettis has the tools to be an excellent reliever, but are giving him a chance to prove that he can be a big league starter. He made twelve minor league starts last year and pieced together a dominant debut season. He started the year with Tri-City and made nine starts, winning four of them. He was so successful with the Dust-Devils that, before the season ended, he was promoted to Asheville, where he made three starts for the Tourists. On the year, he pitched 67 innings with a 1.07 ERA and 56 strike-outs.
I like to think of Christian Friedrich as Jeff Francis 2.0. Like Francis, Friedrich is a tall, lanky left-hander with an easy yet deceptive delivery. He has a mid-nineties fastball, a big 12-6 curve and a sharp-breaking slider; each is a big league caliber pitch.
Tago isn’t a tall pitcher, standing at 6’1″, but he generates a lot of arm speed. The ball seems to explode out of his hand, often reaching the upper-90s. He delivers from a 3/4 arm slot, which gives him terrific late movement on his fastball. He has a decent breaking pitch that still needs work and he toyed with a change-up in high school.
The Rockies drafted him and gave him $490,000, one of the highest amounts ever given to a player drafted outside of the first ten rounds. I’d imagine the commissioner’s office was more than a little pissed about the Swanner signing, but guess what they did about it? Jack s***. Good for the Rockies. If they did everything Bud Selig told them to do, they would be the Brewers. However, Bud Selig’s incompetence is a topic for another day. This post is about Will Swanner.
At 6’3″, 230 lbs, Nicasio is a big guy. He uses his body well; he throws hard without maximum exertion, while maintaining solid control. His fastball is a plus pitch, consistently thrown in the mid-90s with movement. He has a true curve ball and a slurve that he uses interchangeably. Like every other starter in the Rockies’ system, he is toying with a changeup. All of his secondary pitches still need work.
Dickerson is left-handed and has legitimate power. He is a back foot hitter with a quiet approach. He loads up, keeps his weight back, and moves his hands very little. His head always remains still. As a result, he makes excellent contact. I love guys that hit like that. They are less susceptible to off-speed pitches and generally more powerful. I’m not making a comparison here, but Pujols is a back foot hitter.
The Fansided NL West writers voted on an All-NL West team. I didn’t get my way.
I previewed the Rockies’ catchers and discussed the risk they are taking with Chris Iannetta.
It’s interesting that Chris’s best year was in 2008, the only season since 2006 that he wasn’t the Opening Day starter. That doesn’t bode well for Chris, especially since he has more pressure on him this year than ever. The Rox are all in with him as the starter. No one is worried about Chris’s defense or signal calling, but he has to improve upon last year’s .701 OPS. He is vital to the 2011 season, perhaps more than any other player on the roster.
As good as CarGo was last season, he still has much room for improvement. He was an absolute monster in Coors Field, but was a different player on the road. As a visitor, his OPS was nearly 400 points lower than at home. The Rockies were a bad road team last year and CarGo was a big part of the problem. If he can perform better when playing outside of Coors, the team will improve. The good news is that Carlos is just 25 and still developing as a player. He kind of sucked on the road last year, but managed to deservedly finish third in the MVP voting.
Chacin’s 2010 success has created high expectations for the young Venezuelan, but he seems prepared to handle the pressure. His teammates and coaches praise him for his poise and he obviously has the talent. If Jhoulys continues to pitch like he did last year, he will be the team’s second best starter.
Beyond the fact that the Rockies need him this year, we want Helton to succeed because of who he is and what he represents. He is the Rockies’ most identifiable player and hopefully the franchise’s first ever Hall of Fame inductee. No one wants to see him forced out of the game. We want him to end his career on top, in dignified fashion. A strong finish would be good for everyone involved.
The Rox took down the Diamondbacks in the first ever game at Salt River Fields. I watched all ten innings and I’m proud of it.
If there is anything to be taken away from today’s Spring Training opener, it’s that there is absolutely nothing to be taken away from today’s Spring Training opener. Ubaldo spent two innings throwing his best batting practice fastball; he didn’t top 90 in the first. Ian Stewart almost kneed CarGo in the head. I’m pretty sure Seth Smith hit a double off a lefty, but nobody saw it. Fox Sports was busy showing off Alanna. Interestingly enough, we didn’t get to see Cole Garner’s double for the exact same reason. And, of course, the game went to an extra inning. To be honest, I actually considered turning it off, but wanted to see the minor leaguers.
And, of course, the Morning Dump was introduced….
Thanks to everyone that supports this site. It was a great month, but March will be even better.
Topics: Awesome Rat-tails, CarGo, Carlos Gonzalez, Chad Bettis, Chris Iannetta, Christian Friedrich, Colorado Rockies, Corey Dickerson, Dan O'Dowd, Juan Nicasio, Michael Young, Morning Dump, Peter Tago, Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Tulo, Will Swanner