Rockies news

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 25:  Dexter Fowler #24 ...

My Rockies swept a four games series from the Astros.  Coupled with the Brewers sweeping the Dodgers in a four game series, this means that the Rockies have cut LA’s lead from 14.5 games down to 10.5.    While that’s still a significant deficit, it’s a pretty big improvement – and a weekend series against the Dodgers provides the opportunity to make up even more ground.  Both teams will be without major stars, as Matt Kemp of the Dodger’s re-injured his hamstring and Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies suffered a groin issue.

The Rockies exploded for 40 runs in the four games series.  Dexter Fowler woke up on Monday with a .237 batting average for the season.  By the time the day was over, his batting average was up to .276, thanks to seven hits in nine at bats (also a  walk and a sacrifice fly) in the doubleheader.  He had a homer and he won the nightcap with a walk-off triple.  I have to think that the walk-off triple must be one of the more rare plays in sports.  Most of the time the runner on first – who generally is taking lead – is going to cross the plate before the batter can reach third … and as soon as he crosses the plate, the game would be over. 

Fowler has been an enigma for years, mixing red-hot streaks with slumps.  However, he’s still pretty young (barely 26) and hopefully is coming into his own as a hitter.  At the moment, he is just a couple of plate appearances short of qualifying for the league leaders list (which requires 3.1 plate appearance per team game).  If he qualified, his .954 OPS would rank ninth in the National League.

When the series picked back up on Wednesday, teammate Carlos Gonzalez took the role of star from Fowler.  Fowler continued to hit – going 4 for 8 with a homer in the final two games of the series, but Gonzalez was an absolute monster.  CarGo went 6 for 9 with four homers.  The four homers were in consecutive at bats – three in Wednesday’s game and one in Thursday’s.  For the month, Gonzalez hit .351 with 10 homers and 26 RBI.  Gonzalez lead the league in runs (44), is tied for the lead in RBI (44), second in OPS (1.054), tied for second in homers (14), and is tied for fifth in batting average (.332)  and has also added 8 steals.  Like Fowler, Gonzalez is just 26.

Pujols Watch

Is Albert Pujols washed up?  Seems that there might still be some magic in his bat.  Pujols hit 8 homers in May (after zero in April), including four in a five game stretch.  Even with the horrible April, he’s still on pace for 25 homers.  It’s not a stretch to think that he can get to 30.

WTF?

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy broke his hand in what can best be described as a freak accident.  While Lucroy was on the floor looking for a missing sock, he wife shifted a suitcase that was on the bed.  The suitcase fell and landed on Lucroy’s hand, breaking it.  His wife has been the object of considerable wrath from Brewers fans.  Seriously?  It’s not as if she ran down Lucroy intentionally with a car.  It was an accident.  These sorts of things happen from time to time.

The Draft

Baseball’s draft kicks off Monday.  This will be the first year of what is effectively a hard slotting system.  Each pick in the first 10 rounds is assigned a specific dollar value.  Teams are then assigned the total value of these picks, and this is the amount of money they can use to sign players picked in those spots.  They could opt to spend all the money on one player (and not sign the others ) or spread it around.  However, penalties from exceeding this cap are very steep.  Going 15% over the cap would cause a team to lose two future first round draft picks.

Picks in rounds 11-40 can receive a maximum of $100,000.  If there is money left over from the pool for rounds 1-10, this money can be spent on later later players.  For example, if $1 million is left, a team could give an 11th round pick $1.1 million.

I’m not a fan of this change at all.  Baseball’s draft has always been a case of each side having leverage.  Due to baseball’s draft eligibility rules, many of the top players often have the options of attending college and being drafted again in a later year.  Teams who are unable to sign a player receive a compensatory pick in a later draft.  At times, talented players slip down to teams with deep pockets, but this could be fixed by allowing teams to trade picks (so that they could extract maximum value from the pick by getting rich teams to bid against each other).

Who will be picked first overall?  USC pitcher Mark Appel and Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton are the names that pop up most often.  High school pitcher Lucas Giolito may be the most talented player in the draft, but a minor arm injury has scared some teams away (in any case, high school pitchers are a risky proposition in general). 

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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