We are three days from pitchers and catchers reporting to the Rockies’ training facility in Scottsdale, which means that the 2012 season is officially upon us. It’s a matter of days until the 2011 Rockies are gone and forgotten and we’ve all moved on to our hopes and dreams for the new year. Considering how many of the men in purple pinstripes we have lost this offseason, it seems appropriate to pay tribute one last time.
Alfredo Amezaga. I really appreciated that one clutch hit you had last season, Alfredo. That was great. I did not so much appreciate the times you played shortstop. I also don’t know why you suddenly got sort of good-looking when you left for Miami. Ozzie Guillen wasn’t even the manager down there yet! In any case, I hope things go well for you with the Cubs. Those guys could use a little luck, and there’s really no reason it shouldn’t come from you.
Aaron Cook. Cookie, I’m not so sad to see you go, but I did hate to watch you leave. As difficult as your last few seasons with the Rockies were, you were always a true class act. You gave so much to the Rockies faithful, and we will never forget your resilience and determination. I have a feeling you’ll be the winningest Rockies pitcher for a long time to come, and I for one am completely fine with that. Best of luck in Boston. I don’t like the Red Sox, but I will be cheering for them a tiny little bit whenever you pitch.
Mark Ellis. Perhaps Dan O’Dowd’s trade for you back in the middle of 2011 presaged the coming apocalypse that was this offseason. Maybe we should have seen what was coming. I wasn’t super thrilled about you coming on, Mark, but I was so very pleasantly surprised by what you brought. In my humble opinion, you would have been a quality everyday second baseman had you been given the opportunity. Now that you play for our division rival Dodgers, I can’t really cheer for you anymore but, like Jamey Carroll, I will always think of you fondly even while you’re in blue.
Jason Hammel. I’m really going to miss you, buddy. I understand why you had to go, but I was always a big fan of yours. I’m sorry that you got thrust into a role that was really beyond you last season, and that so many people unfairly took their anger out on you. You handled your move to the bullpen with humility and professionalism, and it was a real treat to see you come back into your starter role strong at the end of the season. The O’s are kind of an unfortunate bunch, but I hope you’ll find success with them all the same.
Chris Iannetta. You never got a fair chance from Jim Tracy, in my opinion. His refusal to allow you to hit anywhere other than 8th may have been your undoing. You’re just not an 8-hole hitter, Netta. But I would rather have you there than in Anaheim, which is where you’ll be in 2012. I’ll never forget those weird line drive home runs you hit, the way you cussed out Cory Blaser when he made a joke out of the umpiring profession, and your awful receding hair line. You fought for that starting catcher job, and you really earned it last season. I wish your reward had been another shot in 2012.
Kevin Kouzmanoff. Let’s be real with each other, Kouz. I was not happy when you came on board. And I never really got happy. You were kind of useless. But you’re a Colorado boy and so I can’t do anything other than wish you well. Good luck in Kansas City. Be good there. Or something.
Matt Lindstrom. By far the best surprise of the first half was you, buddy. Way to come to into the place where pitching careers go to die and show everybody who was boss. You weren’t perfect, but you were a solid part of a bullpen that did its job when other parts of the team were in shambles. I wish we could have kept you around, because you were great. I hope things work out for you in Baltimore, and as far as I’m concerned there’s a place for you back in Denver the second you’re a free agent.
Kevin Millwood. I owe you an apology, Kevin. I really wasn’t thrilled when the Rockies signed you in mid-2011. But you are just an awesome guy. So much class, so much maturity and professionalism. I really hope that our young guys got a good look at you, because you are a picture of how to handle just about any game situation. You even hit a couple of home runs. Also, that one time when that line drive knocked you to your knees and you still made the out at 1st was badass. I really wish we could have resigned you, but I’m just glad that you’re going to be able to keep playing baseball in Seattle. I know you still love it, and that’s more than can be said for a lot of players your age.
Clayton Mortensen. Morty, if it were up to me, you’d have had more of a chance to prove yourself in Denver. I’ll never forget when you were first called up in May and you pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Giants. That was solid. Of course, things sort of went downhill from there, but I think you’ve still got it. You’ve given me one more small little reason to root for the Red Sox. Also, you’re a good-looking guy. That has nothing to do with baseball, but who doesn’t like hearing that now and then?
Greg Reynolds. Your hair looks better short. That is all.
J.C. Romero. I’m trying to call up some memories of you J.C. but I really don’t have any. I think you did a pretty good job a couple of times. Thanks for that.
Seth Smith. Now I’m crying, thanks a lot Seth. I have loved you from the moment you came to the plate in the 2007 postseason and earned your nickname Mr. Late Night. You always did your job, even when you were understandably confused about just what that job was. I just love you. Please be great in Oakland, and show Jim Tracy just how special you are.
Ryan Spilborghs. Awwww Spilly. In my mind there is a movie of your 2009 walk-off grand slam playing in a constant loop. You and Ubaldo take care of each other in Cleveland. And just know that if it were up to the fans, you’d have a place on the 2012 roster for sure.
Ian Stewart. Stew, you had your issues in 2011, but you know I still love you dearly. I was really pulling for you last year and it was hard to watch you struggle. I’m not sure how much of the whole thing was your fault and how much can be blamed on management. I am sure that Dan O’Dowd was talking about you in all his comments about needing a change in clubhouse culture. Was that fair? Maybe. But I’m in your corner anyway. Be awesome in Chicago and show everyone what you’re capable of.
Huston Street. Twitter is not going to be the same without my #nightlyhustonpeptalk. You really brought Rockies fans together, Huston. Even when our togetherness was about slowly peeling the upholstery off our couches one strip at a time while you pitched. I don’t care what people say, you’re a good closer, and I hope that you save every game the Padres win in 2012. I hope that is only 50 or so games, but that’s still a great stat for you.
Ty Wigginton. Wiggy, you are good at hitting into inning-ending double plays. I hope you do that a lot in Philly because I don’t like those guys.
With love to some of you,