Rockies Woman Weekly Report – 8/20-8/26
While the Rockies play in sunny LA, I’m trapped on the east coast, hunkering down to survive Hurricane Irene. Don’t worry, I’m safe, but also a little distracted and perhaps not as concerned with the Rockies’ performance this week as I would be ordinarily. Still, the show must go on, so here goes.
This week’s record: 5-1
The Rockies had an interesting offensive week. They had fewer hits than they ordinarily do and only hit .243. However, they still won 5 of 6 games. Obviously, we fans prefer the lower average and the higher win percentage. They were a bit of a different team this week, making every hit count, sustaining their offensive attack, and for the most part refusing to give up. This is the Rockies team we’re used to seeing. It’s too late for a play-off run, but it’s nice to see them acting like their old selves. There were some heroic performances, most notably in Saturday’s game: Dexter Fowler’s walk-off single and Todd Helton’s 15-pitch at-bat, which resulted in an RBI double. Not one but TWO pitchers (Jhoulys Chacin and Matt Belisle) hit doubles this week. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki continue to be hot, both hitting over .300 and combining for 16 RBIs. Eliezer Alfonzo had another tough week, and now I REALLY hope Jim Tracy is done playing him every other game. Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. were extremely hit-or-miss, and both finished the week below the Mendoza line. Nelson was sent down to Colorado Springs on Wednesday to make room for new acquisition Kevin Kouzmanoff, who really hasn’t done anything well yet, and didn’t record a single hit this week. I’m crowning Seth Smith the offensive hero of the week. He only played in 4 games, but that is so not his fault. That Tracy continues to bench him against left-handed pitchers is utterly baffling. In his 4 games, he hit .375 and did plenty to argue that he should play every day.
You know the drill with the running by now. Mistakes nearly every single game keep the running game from ever being completely effective. This week those mistakes included Nelson being tagged out at 3rd on a fly ball after failing to tag up at 2nd and EY being called out on batter interference for running outside the baseline on his way to 1st. The elementary mistakes are atrocious. That said, there were 9 stolen bases this week, which is substantially better than it’s been. Even better, there was a 90% success rate. EY gets most of the credit for that; he stole 4 of the 9 bases and in every case ultimately scored a run. That’s what stolen bases are for. I’m pleased to see increased aggressiveness, but I just want ONE week with no stupid stuff on the basepaths. Just one.
The Rockies’ fielding is not quite as solid as it once was, partially because Jim Tracy can’t decide on a lineup. He regularly plays guys based on what side of the plate they hit from without regard for their defensive abilities. There’s nothing wrong with considering offense when creating the batting order, but the defense tends to suffer. The good news is that EY has really improved. He understands that if he wants to stay with the Rockies, he’s probably going to have to acquit himself as an outfielder, and his hard work shows. He wasn’t perfect, but he was much better. Fowler and Nelson both made some mind-boggling plays and some awful ones. Tuesday’s game against Houston was especially rough; no balls made it out of the infield in the 3rd inning, and the Astros scored 2 runs. However, that same infield turned 11 double plays this week. Tulo is having quite possibly the best defensive season in history for a shortstop. He has only 4 errors. I think so many offensive and defensive problems would be solved with a more consistent lineup. It’s a real shame that our dear manager doesn’t seem to understand that.
Starting Pitching: B-
Despite the fact that only 2 out of 6 starts this week were quality, the rotation actually did quite a nice job. They were helped by an offense that kept the game going, but I’m very impressed by how well they all dealt with the traffic they had. Poor Esmil Rogers recorded a no-decision and a loss, but that loss, in yesterday’s game in Los Angeles, was his best start since coming off the disabled list. If the third-base umpire hadn’t heartlessly called a balk, he would have gone 7 full shut-out innings. Instead, he left after 6 2/3 and was charged with 5 runs. In his no-decision, he allowed 12 hits over 6 innings but kept the Dodgers to 4 runs. Kevin Millwood gets credit for breaking the Sunday curse, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings pitched this past Sunday. And he only gave up one home run. Jhoulys Chacin gave up 11 hits to the Astros on Monday, but he held them to just 1 run. Aaron Cook had a tough outing on Wednesday, lasting just 5 innings and allowing 5 earned runs. He is still battling, but I think it’s a losing battle at this point. And Alex White made his Rockies debut to much fanfare on Tuesday. He gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings pitched, but actually looked great. It was a sloppy game for both sides, and he will have to make some adjustments to pitch effectively at Coors Field. But I like him very much as a member of the rotation. One interesting thing about this week’s starts is the K/BB stat: 21/8. Great to see so few walks, but strange to see so few strikeouts. It’s fine that so many of our pitchers want to get groundball outs. But that can be tricky, and in many cases they couldn’t make the out when they needed to.
Relief Pitching: B
For the most part, the bullpen is still doing a great job. Of those who are still with the club (J.C. Romero and Josh Roenicke were sent down this week), only Matt Reynolds had a tough time this week. He made 3 appearances and allowed 4 runs in 2 1/3 innings. All 4 of those runs were scored on home runs. If anybody needs to get more groundball outs, it’s Reynolds. Everybody else did great out of the pen. Jason Hammel made his first appearance as a reliever on Wednesday against Houston and pitched 2 scoreless innings. I hope he’ll be able to return to the rotation eventually, but for right now I’m happy to have him come on in relief if he’ll be effective there. Matt Belisle pitched 5 innings and allowed only 1 run, and he also recorded back-to-back wins on Tuesday and Wednesday. And Matt Lindstrom, Rex Brothers, and the invincible Rafael Betancourt didn’t allow any. A solid week for the bullpen.
This is the best week the Rockies have had in a long time, and that’s something to be glad about. They got their first sweep since April, and even though it was the Astros, it was still a sweep. They collected 2 walk-off wins when previously they only had 2 for the whole season. One of those walk-offs occurred on a wild pitch, and it certainly wasn’t a pretty way to win, but it was a win nonetheless. In general, they did a good job producing consistent offense all week long (except yesterday in LA, when the only run they plated was on a Cargo solo shot). It was great to see them playing that way because they’ve squandered SO many opportunities this season. They also finally broke their Sunday streak, which had to have been a huge morale boost for them. In that game, they hit 3 sacrifices IN A ROW. That’s good baseball, and they need to do more of it. They still made stupid mistakes, though, most notably in the running game. But in general, I’m hopeful about this team. They might just come out and do some good stuff in 2012. They’re certainly capable of it.
Overall Grade: B
Hitter of the Week: Seth Smith (.375, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SB)
Pitcher of the Week: Rafael Betancourt (3 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K’s, .027 WHIP)