Yesterday I chatted with Ehsan Kassim of Marlin Maniac about the upcoming series between the Rockies and the Marlins. Read on for our answers to each other’s hard-hitting questions.
Ehsan: I am not hearing their names as much this season, but how are Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki doing?
Michelle: Neither as well as they need to do in order for this team to compete. Cargo has been the best offensive player so far this season, though that’s not saying much. He leads the team with home runs (7) and RBI (30), and his average is among the highest (.296). But we need him hitting well over .300 and striking out less (he’s 2nd on the team with 30). As for Tulo, he’s underperfoming even more. He always struggles a little in the beginning, but combined with the overall lackluster attitude we’re seeing from this team, it’s more alarming than usual. If he doesn’t break out soon, it won’t matter what the rest of the team does in the second half.
Ehsan: How has the Rockies’ pitching fared this season?
Michelle: The pitching is terrible, particularly the rotation. I feared that it would be, primarily because we had so many candidates for the rotation going into spring training. It wasn’t because we had great pitchers coming out our ears. It was because we had so many pitchers that were unknown quantities, and most of them have disappointed. Jeremy Guthrie is pitching terribly at Coors Field, Jhoulys Chacin was so shaky in April that he was sent down to Triple A (which was shocking), and Drew Pomeranz is doing his own tour of duty there. Juan Nicasio has been impressive considering the fact that he broke his neck last summer, but not good enough to take on the ace role. Christian Friedrich, despite his excellent debut, struggled once he returned to Coors this weekend. Alex White is better than he was in 2011, but that’s not saying much. And Jamie Moyer, well, he’s old. Good, but old. I’d go on with the bullpen, but I think I’ve taken up enough of your time already.
Ehsan: The Rockies have gotten off to a slow start so far this season. Is there one pinpointed reason? Can they rebound and salvage their season?
Michelle: The reason they’re off to a slow start is that they are playing terrible baseball. That’s the plain and simple truth. The pitchers are throwing too many wild pitches, issuing too many walks, giving up home runs with men on base. The hitters are grounding into double plays and getting caught stealing. The coaches seem clueless, but their jobs are secure, so why should they worry? It’s just a bad operation all around. The front office made a big stink in the offseason about holding people accountable, and they cleaned out the clubhouse to show they meant business. But there doesn’t seem to be any accountability for the top dogs, so until that’s the case I don’t see things changing. Somebody needs to light a fire under these guys, and Jim Tracy is holding a lot of soggy matches.
Ehsan: Can you talk to us about the pitchers the Marlins expect to see in this series?
Michelle: The Marlins are likely to see the middle of the rotation: Moyer, Nicasio, and White. Of these three, Moyer is the one most likely to get a win, because he’s the only guy who seems able to adjust when things aren’t going well. Nicasio is the one most likely to strike out 9 and still take the loss. And White had the best start of his career this past weekend, but recorded a loss because the offense was dead on arrival. So the test for him will be whether he can come back from a disappointment like that and still pitch well, and trust his team to do what they couldn’t his last time out. If he can do that, I’ll be grateful, if only because I won’t have to see that eyesore of a home run sculpture in motion.
Ehsan: What are your predictions for the series? Which Rockies player will have a big series? Who will regress?
Michelle: Michael Cuddyer is due for an upswing. He came out really strong in the beginning of the season, hitting .299 in April with 12 RBI. But his May batting average is over a hundred points lower. He seems to be a fairly consistent player, so I think he’s just in a little slump, and that means he’ll probably come out of it soon. Hopefully Monday. I think Tyler Colvin could also have a big series, if Tracy allows him to play. He’s been extremely solid for us, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. But Dexter Fowler is still the starting center fielder until further notice, so it’s been tough for Colvin to get playing time. As for who will regress, like I said, I worry about White being demoralized by his last start. If anybody struggles more than usual, it’s likely to be him.
Ehsan: How many home runs will Giancarlo Stanton hit?
Michelle: How many has he hit already? 8? I put him at 11 by the end of this series.
Michelle: The Marlins spent a lot of money this offseason, on everything from Jose Reyes’s haircut to buckets of psychedelic paint. What was the most worthwhile use of their money? And what do you wish they hadn’t spent on?
Ehsan: The Marlins sure did go on a major spending fee that Loria’s wife likely wishes he let her go on. The most worthwhile signing for the Marlins had to be Jose Reyes. Even though Reyes has gotten off to a slow start, he was the perfect player for the Marlins to pick up for several reasons. One of them being that Reyes and Hanley Ramirez share a very close relationship. Another reason would be that Reyes’ game fits perfectly into the new Marlins Park and Ozzie Guillen’s aggressive playing style. Reyes has been a key reason why early on in the season, the Marlins lead the entire majors in stolen bases. Once Reyes’ really gets going, this Marlins offense will take off and be among the best in baseball. I wish the Marlins had not wasted money on Heath Bell. Everyone saw that he was declining, but the Marlins decided to be stupid and sign him.
Michelle: Heath Bell has blown 4 saves already in 2012. Are you nervous? And is there anyone else in the bullpen or in the farm system who you can envision filling the closer role?
Ehsan: Every time Heath Bell takes the mound for the Marlins, I am extremely nervous and I know he will blow the game for the Marlins. As for anyone else stepping in and filling the role, I have been a huge supporter of the #Cishekforcloser campaign on Twitter. Steve Cishek has posted phenomenal numbers in his time with the Marlins. He pitches a lot of high leverage situations and is the Marlins best pitcher in the bullpen. Ozzie Guillen is foolish for continuing his trust in Bell.
Michelle: Which of the following is more likely in the upcoming series?: a) Hanley Ramirez pitches a fit on the field and chucks third base into the stands. b) Carlos Zambrano kicks an umpire in the shin after being ejected and is banned from the game of baseball for life. c) Ozzie Guillen makes an ill-advised comment about Jim Tracy’s Jewish background (he’s not Jewish) and is sentenced to five games scrubbing the dugout floor. d) Logan Morrison tweets a naked picture of himself (by accident, of course) and is sent down to Double A.
Ehsan: I am going to have to go with c) Ozzie Guillen makes an ill-advised comment about Jim Tracy’s Jewish background (he’s not Jewish) and is sentenced to five games scrubbing. Hanley Ramirez has been quiet this season, other then when temperamental asshole Houston Astros pitchers throw at him. Ramirez won’t do anything stupid right now. Carlos Zambrano is not going to do anything stupid because “he refound God.” Big Z is wanting to become a preacher when he retires, and I am pretty sure they do a background check, it would not look good on his very clean (yeah right) resume to do something stupid like that now. As for option d, Logan Morrison does not take pictures of himself nude, only his roommate Bryan Petersen. So that statement is half incorrect, therefore cannot happen!
Michelle: Which pitchers will be embarrassing the Rockies in this series, and what form can we expect the embarrassment to take?
Ehsan: Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, and Carlos Zambrano will have a chance to embarrass the Rockies. Although, I would not put my money on Nolasco. When he is off, he can make the worst offense in baseball look like a bunch of Barry Bonds’, and his last two starts, he has been off. Buehrle against Moyer will be a treat to watch. Both pitchers work fast and are crafty lefties.
The Rockies and Marlins open a 3-games series in Miami tonight at 5:10 MDT.