Cereal Racists, Broken Ribs, and Pringles

June 17, 2013

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You may have seen the Cheerios commercial where the cute kid dumps the Cheerios on the dad.  Many people have seen the ad and reacted with outrage – because it features a biracial family.  Next year marks the 60th anniversay of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision and it appears that there are still many who are fighting for segregation of races.  Segregation of races in a TV commercial, no less.  We have serious problems in society, but there are people who consider the mixing of the races to be an import issue???

I love the fact that I entered college just as the internet was exploding in popularity.  I have met a great many people online over the years.  I met people from the inside out.  In the early days, digital cameras and scanners weren’t nearly as common as they are today, so you might chat with people on a regular basis for weeks or years without knowing what they look like.  Even today, I am a teleworker for a very large company and almost exclusively interact with people via audio conference.  It’s not uncommon for me to work with someone off and on for several years before I meet them in person.  You’ve heard the phrase “it’s what’s inside that counts.”  That’s what I’m interacting with – the person’s ideas and personality.

Socially, my preferences is to interact with people who share interests with me.  Race, gender, sexual orientation are irrelevant.  If you have an interest in baseball, dinosaurs, or true crime, I’ll want to chat with you.  I want to interact with your mental characteristics, not your physical attributes.


The playoff hopes of the Rockies took a hit when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki broke a rib on Thursday the 13th.  Tulo, who was in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, will be out until at least mid July.  The Rockies are currently just a half game behind division leading Arizona.  The Rockies need to find a way to tread water while Tulo is out.  Help may be on the way in the form of Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt was signed to a minor league deal recently, and was sharp in his last outing for AA Tulas, suggesting that he may be in like for a promotion to the big league.  Drew Pomeranz may be close behind him.


I’ve been a longtime addict of Pringles.  I could easily eat an entire can at a sitting.  However, I am now cured of this addiction.  Kellogg recently bought Pringles from Procter & Gamble.  In addition to jacking around with the size of the container, they’ve also changed the taste of Pringles.  The taste that I was addicted is gone … replaced by a “blah” taste.  The winner in all of this is Frito-Lay, as Funyuns have jumped to the top of the heap.

Cargo and Tulo Crush Reds

June 6, 2013

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Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado had four hits and scored three runs Wednesday night.  However, his achievement – noteworthy any other time it would have occurred – became barely a footnote.  Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had five hits, including two home runs.  Carlos Gonzalez had only three hit – but all of them were home runs as he drove in six runs.

Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rockies hitters are often perceived as paper champions, since they play half their games in Coors Field.  However, Gonzalez is actually posting better numbers at home than on the road this year.  Tulowitzki is hitting better at home (he has a robust .404 batting average at home), his road OPS is .974.  If you completely threw away his home stats and just used his road stats (and bear in mind that most hitters perform somewhat better at home), he would still rank sixth in MLB in OPS (his overall OPS has him third, behind Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera).  Remember that this is a guy who plays a premium defensive position and plays it well.  There are only two shortstops who rank in the top 36 in OPS (Jean Segura is the other).


Manager Walt Weiss has been giving Tulo periodic days off, in hopes that it will stave off injuries that have befallen him in the past.  I’ll happily sacrifice and extra half dozen of so off days if it keeps him healthy.

Do you feel a draft?

Major League baseball’s draft begins tonight.  The two top pitchers in this year’s class are Mark Appel (a pell) and Jonathan Gray.  Earlier this week, Gray made news by testing positive for Adderall, a drug for which he does not have a prescription.  Adderall is a substance that is banned by MLB unless a player has an exemption.  Since the positive test came before Gray was drafted, he won’t face a suspension.  However, many wonder how this will affect his draft stock.

Some people have suggested that it may be MORE likely that the Astros will take him #1 overall.  Why?  Because he may now command less money, leaving more money from their draft pool to sign later picks.  Just a thought, but if a positive drug test enhances a player’s draft stock, maybe this isn’t a good thing?  I don’t blame the Astros – it’s baseball hard slotting system that is forcing these types of decisions.  The interesting thing is that the amount of money a team saves is probably less than the money the Dodgers are paying Andruw Jones not to play for them ($3.2 million) or what the Royals are paying journeyman Bruce Chen ($4.5 million) to play for them.  They may save a few bucks on the front end, but are they chasing talented athletes away to other sports?

Other notes

  • After a pedestrian April, Mike Trout his .327 with 8 homers and 8 steals in May.
  • Remember Justin Upton?  After 12 dingers in April, he had two in May en route to a dismal .654 OPS (compared to 1.136 in April).  So don’t engrave that MVP trophy quite yet.
  • Domonic Brown has long been an enigma for Phillies fans who were frustrated as his inability to reach his potential.  After a blah April, he hit 12 homers in May.  Oddly, he walked zero times (compared to 9 walks in April) and became the first player in history to hit ten homers and have zero walks in the same month.
  • The third best winning percentage in the American League, behind Boston and Texas, belongs to the Oakland A’s.
  • The Astros are 8-2 in their last ten games and are six games better than MLB-worst Miami.  They won’t be confused with a playoff contender anytime soon, but they have a shot to not be a laughingstock.  Kudos to manager Bo Porter and his guys.
  • Miami is on pace for 43 wins.  As we inch closer to the midway point in the season, they may actually be a credible threat to the 1962 Mets record of just 40 wins in a 162 game season (the Mets were 40-120, with two games rained out).
  • Atlanta has a 7.5 game lead in the NL East, by far the largest in baseball.  Nobody else has a lead of greater than 2.5 games.  Despite all their woes, the second place team in the NL East is the Phillies (thanks, Domonic Brown).



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First Place Rockies On A Roll

May 24, 2013

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Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday was my birthday (er, 27, yeah, 27) and my Colorado Rockies climbed back into a first place tie as a present for me. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been healthy this year and is off to a great start, hitting .338 with 9 homers so far on the year. Manager Walt Weiss has been giving Tulo occasional rest during the year, something that I think is incredibly smart. Getting 145 healthy games from Tulo is better than trying to get 162 from him and having him get hurt.

The Rockies have been getting good production out of most of the starters, with the exception of 1B (Todd Helton) and 2B (Josh Rutledge, who was recently optioned to AAA). Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and catcher Wilin Rosario appear to be forming the core of a very good heart of the lineup for years to come.

On the mound, three full-time Rockies starters have ERAs under 4.50 (De la Rosa 3.40, Chacin 4.10, Nicasio 4.47) and Tyler Chatwood has a 2.55 ERA in limited action – very impressive considering he environment. Chacin, Nicasio, and Chatwood are all young guys who should still have room for improvement.

By far the most disappointing team in the NL West has been the LA Dodgers, who have a $220 million payroll, but a record of just 19-26.

The Yankees have been able to win 28 of 46 games so far with a patched up lineup of misfits while their stars are on the DL. I tip my hat to Joe Girardi. This team could have easily just collapsed.

The Angels also sport a hefty payroll but have struggled early. They finally climbed into third place in their division, with a 20-27 record, but they have a long way to climb. Sophomore Mike Trout has been raking this month. After hitting .261 with 2 homers in April, Trout is hitting .359 with 8 homers in May.

Wizards v/s Thunder 03/14/11

Kevin Durant, Humanitarian

The Tigers are in second play despite the efforts of Tigre Numero Uno Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting .391 with 14 homers and 55 RBI – including .536 with 6 homers and 13 RBI in the last 5 games. The 30 year old Cabrera should reach 350 homers later this year. Cabrera does carry around a lot of weight, and I do wonder if that will prevent him from reaching .400 this year, and he’s going to get thrown out at first base more often than an average runner would.

The baseball draft is just around the corner. The Astros and Cubs pick 1-2, and Stanford Mark Appel and Vanderbilt pitcher Sonny Gray are expected to go in the top two picks.

I’ll draft away from baseball for a moment to give a shoutout to Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder for donating $1 million to tornado relief.  Sure, Durant is a rich athlete who “can afford it”, but not everyone in that situation steps forward and writes a check.  Durant manned up and did it.  A million dollars can make a real different in this situation.  Thanks for restoring my faith in humanity (for another week), Kevin,


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Rockies Off To Hot Start

April 21, 2013

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English: Jhoulys Chacín, a major-league baseba...

It’s pronounced “yo lees shah seen”

My Colorado Rockies are off to a blazing hot start this year, with a 13-4 record through 17 games – 2 1/2 games ahead of defending World Champion San Francisco in the NL West.  It’s true that you can’t win a pennant in April, but it’s also true that every game you win in April is one that’s in your pocket come September.

Health is a big reason why the Rockies are playing well this year.  Jhoulys Chacin has the stuff to be an ace, but fought through injuries last year before getting shut down.  Lefty Jorge De la Rosa is just coming back from an injury of his own.  If those two guys are healthy, the rotation becomes much more formidable on the offensive side.  On the offensive side, having Troy Tulowitzki back from injury means that the Rockies have added one of the best all-around players in baseball to the lineup.  Dexter Fowler has seven homers so for this year – more than half as many as he had last year.  Many observers have been waiting for Fowler’s power to develop for a number of years, and this is his age 27 season, which is a breakout season for many players.  Don’t be surprised if Fowler becomes a perennial 25 homer guy – and if he can provide that sort of power with a good on base percentage and quality defense, that’s a damn good player.


As we look around the league, which teams surprise me?  Definitely the Angels, who started the season 4-10 before winning their last two games.  With Oakland losing their last two games, the Angels have closed the gap to 5 games – still a horrible spot to be in at this point of the year.  While sophomore Mike Trout is off to a good start (.868 OPS), he only has attempted one steal in 17 games, after stealing 49 in 139 games last year.  Newly acquired Josh Hamilton actually has a negative WAR (wins above replacement) so far this year.

The other LA team (Dodgers) are also proving that your can’t buy success.  Their pitching staff has suffered some injuries and has floundered to a 7-10 start.

Derek Jeter

Jeter has an owie – out until after the All Star break

The Yankees, of course, have a sky-high payroll and find themselves two games behind the Red Sox.  However, I’d actually say that the Yankees start is surprisingly good, considering how many All-Stars they have on the disabled list.  I can’t really see the Yankees playing this well in spite of missing so many cogs in their lineup.  Sorry, but this team is destined for a fall.

Perhaps the Phillies have been a surprise, but some of their key players are getting older.  Tampa Bay lose two key starters, which can definitely hurt a team in the short term.  Toronto added a ton of talent from the Marlins fire sale, but sometimes it takes time for all the new players to jell.

Looking around the league, I don’t see a ton of other big surprises.  The Royals are hanging tight in the AL Central with the Tigers?  James Shields and Wade Davis were a big upgrade to their rotation, and might have the added impact of showing a young team how to win.  The Braves off to a hot start in the NL East?  That’s just a good team.

Random notes

For years, I’ve been trying to impose the nickname Mickey on Mike Morse, now with the Mariners.  By referring to him as Mickey Morse, you can help me in this quest.  M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-R-S-E.

Matt Harvey of the Mets is really, really good.  He won’t sustain a 0.93 ERA, but he’ll most likely keep it under 3.00.

Oakland’s Coco Crisp is among the leaders in Wins Above Replacement.  He’s hitting .317 with 5 homers and 5 steals.  The steals are legit – he had 39 last year.  His career high in homers, though, is 16 – so expect some regression.  About a dozen years ago, I saw Coco play in low A Peoria when he was using his given name of Covelli.  During the same timeframe, I also saw Albert Pujols play during his brief time with Peoria.


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Zack Greinke Breaks Collarbone During Brawl

April 14, 2013

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The playoff hopes of the Dodgers were dealt a serious blow Thursday night when Zack Greinke broke his collarbone – and injury that will keep him out two months.  With the Dodgers winning 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning and the count at 3-2, Greinke hit Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin with a pitch.  Quentin charged the mound, and Greinke braced himself for the collision by leading with his left shoulder – resulting in the broken collarbone.

Did Greinke hit Quentin on purpose?  Most likely not.  Quentin gets hit by pitches a lot, because he crowds the plate.  It’s part of his game – it gives him better coverage of the outside of the plate, and he gets on base when he gets hit by a pitch (which happens at the rate of one every 25 times he comes to bat – an incredibly high rate).  Sure, Greinke had hit him two other times in his career, but he’s not the only pitcher who has plunked Quentin three times.

Then there’s the game situation.  It’s a one run lead late in the game.  You’re trying to protect the lead, not give the opposing team free baserunners.  And even if you are going to hit a batter, you wouldn’t take the count to 3-2.  You’d hit him with the first pitch and save the wear and tear on your arm.

None of my analysis is different than anything else you’re seeing on the internet, of course.

Rockies on a roll

While most pundits have predicted gloom and doom for the Rockies (with ESPN’s Keith Law predicting 53 wins), the Rockies have blasted 20 homers in the first eleven games of the season (15 homers in eight road games) en route to a 7-4 record.  Center fielder Dexter Fowler is leading the team with six homers.  Another player to watch is catcher Wilin Rosario, who blasted 28 homers in his rookie season last year, but was completely overlooked amidst all the Trout/Harper media hype.  Rosario’s power is real – the big question is whether he can improve enough defensively to stick behind the plate.

Astros improving?

Kevin Goldstein @ Saber Seminar 2011

The brains behind an Astros rebuild?

After getting off to a horrible whiff-laden start, some of the Astros hitters actually seem to be improving, to the point where a couple of them actually look good.  Is it possible that the Astros won’t be as bad as we originally though?

Nah, they,ll still be horrible – the larger sample size of a full season will bear that out.

However, help is on the way.  Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball Prospectus, is now the director of professional scouting – so expect some astute trades.  Just look for the fedora.

Kobe tears ACL

Lakers star Kobe Bryan became the second LA star to suffer a significant injury in as many days when he tore his ACL Friday night.  He’ll be out 6-9 months, which means he might be ready for the NBA Finals (sorry, but the NBA playoffs ARE really long).  The Lakers currently hold a one game lead for the final playoff spot with two games left in the season.  Regardless of whether they make the playoffs this years, they have almost no chance of making the playoffs in 2014 without Bryant.

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Rockies Roundup (And Other Baseball News)

June 1, 2012

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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.


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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Looking Ahead To Baseball

February 6, 2012

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The Colorado Rockies National League baseball ...

Image via Wikipedia

With the Super Bowl now little more than a distant memory and spring training coming up quickly, it’s time to talk about baseball.


Most of you know that Troy Tulowitzki is my favorite player.  I truly believe that Tulo will eventually win an MVP – could it be this year?  It’s true that Coors Field inflates a hitter’s numbers, but I think Matt Holliday has shown that the true value of a Rockies hitter is somewhere between his home and road splits.  Holliday didn’t turn into a mediocre player when he left, and Tulo likewise would adapt and thrive in a different environment.

Tulo provides something that no other shortstop in the game does – power.  He has 89 homers in the last few years.  Hanley Ramirez as the second most homers among shortstop in that period, with 55.  The position is so weak in terms of power hitters that Clint Barmes – whom Tulo shoved aside at SS for the Rockies – is 8th on the list with 43 homers.


And what of the rest of the Rockies team?  The front office showed its recent willingness to spend money by signing OF Michael Cuddyer to a three year deal.  They also picked up Casey Blake to play third base (although prospect Nolan Arenado could make a push for the spot at some point in the season) and traded for Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro.  The Red Sox made the Scutaro deal mostly to free up money and keep them under the luxury tax threshold.  From a pure talent perspective, it was a great trade for the Rockies.  Scutaro will play second base for the Rockies and should provide good on base skills near the top of the lineup.

There will also be a change at catcher, with Chris Iannetta being traded.  Ramon Hernandez will hold the job as long as he can hold off top prospect Wilin Rosario.

Whereas the lineup for the Rockies will be more veteran-infused than last year, the same can not be said for the pitcher staff.  Ubaldo Jimenez will be gone and Jorge De La Rosa will not return until around Memorial Day.  I’d expect Jhoulys Chacin to be the staff leader early in the year.  His record in the past two year is 20-25, but with an ERA around 3.50.  That’s an outstanding ERA for someone who plays half their games in Coors, especially at a young ago.  I think Chacin is going to blossom into a consist 16-18 game winner very soon.

There are a lot of people competing for the other rotation spots.  I see Drew Pomeranz and new acquisitions Guillermo Moscoco and Josh Outman.  In De La Rosa’s absence, I can see Alex White or Jamie Moyer nabbing a spot.  Closer Huston Street was traded and the job will fall to Rafael Betancourt, who should to a fine job.

NL Central changes

The National League Central will see huge changes in 2012.

The most notable change was the Cardinals losing Albert Pujols to free agency.  They did sign Carlo Beltran and will also benefit from the return of co-ace Adam Wainwright, but  when you lose the best hitter in baseball, the impact will be felt.  Financially, it may have been wise for the Cardinals to pass on Pujols – especially when his skills begin to erode – but right now, he’s still an excellent hitter.  This is Matt Holliday’s time to step from behind the Pujolsian shadow and lead.

The rival Brewers also lost their first baseman, with Prince Fielder going to Detroit.  While the Cardinals had a fighting chance to retain Pujols, there was no chance the Brewers would be able to make a competitive offer.  To rub salt in the wound, Fielder’s partner in crime, reigning MVP Ryan Braun, will miss 50 games due to a PED suspension.  The Brewers did sign 3B Aramis Ramirez to add some pop to their lineup.

The Cubs finally rid themselves of Carlos Zambrano, who had become a major distraction.  This might actually be addition by subtraction – which is sad to say, considering that Zambrano has immense talent.  They also lost Aramis Ramirez to the Brewers.  Shortstop Starlin Catro was questioned by police regarding a sexual assault allegation, although there hasn’t been any news on this in several weeks.

With all this unrest at the top, is this the year the Pirates win the Central?  Perhaps?

Around the horn

The most under-rated player in the game is Rangers catcher Mike Napoli.  He had 30 homers in a mere 369 at bats last year – as a CATCHER.  Napoli never seems to get 500-600 at bats, but it he does, his numbers could go through the roof.  Last year was a fluke in the homers department for Napoli, either.  He’s emerged as a safe bet for 20+ homers, regardless of how much playing time he gets. Make sure you get Napoli in your fantasy league, as catcher is always a thin position.

Will Yu Darvish be a stud or a bust?  Although there have been comparisons to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the truth is that while Matsuzaka was very good in Japan, he wasn’t nearly as dominant as Darvish was.  Darvish also has the benefit of being in a smaller media market, rather than be thrust into the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry.

Brian Matusz is a far better pitcher than his 2011 numbers (1-9, 10.69 ERA) indicate.  Injuries likely contributed.  Don’t undervalue him as a fantasy player.

On the flip side, Ivan Nova isn’t nearly as good as his 16-4 record in 2011 would lead you to believe.  Expect worse numbers in 2012.


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Reactions to the Ubaldo Jimenez Trade

July 30, 2011

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Regular readers to The Soap Boxers know that I am a die-hard Colorado Rockies fan. I have rooted for the franchise since December of 1992, several months before they played their first game. I have stuck with them through thick and thin. Mostly thin – but it’s easier than it seems, since I was a Cubs fan prior to my reformation.

I have enjoyed watching a lot of Rockies players over the years, from the Big Cat, Vinny Castilla, and Larry Walker in the early years, to Todd Helton suffering with me through the lean years, and finally the current crop including Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

It always pains me when I see a good player leave town. It was a foregone conclusion that Matt Holliday would be traded because the small market Rockies couldn’t afford him. This wasn’t a consideration with Jimenez, as he was locked up at a very reasonable price through 2014 – $2.8 million this season, $4.2 million next year, $5.75 million team option in 2013, and $8 million team option in 2014 (Jimenez can – and likely will – void the 2014 option if traded). In other words, this was a great starting pitcher, cost controlled for another 3.5 years, and we still let him go.

Still, I’m OK with the deal. This is why?

  • We got a good deal. When the rumors of Jimenez being on the trade block initially surface, most observers felt that this was simply Dan O’Dowd gauging interest – with little interest in actually making a deal. Some also felt that this was a bad time to trade Jimenez, since he had struggled down the stretch in 2010 after a 15-1 start and had also struggled to start this year, However, Jimenez had been pitching much better since the start of June, and had been downright dominant on the road all year. A number of American League playoff contenders were rumored to be interested. Drew Pomeranz is one of the best pitch prospects in baseball, and Alex White and Jason Kipnis were the 1st (White) and 2nd (Kipnis) round picks in 2009. It’s a nice haul.
  • It addressed needs. It’s no secret that the Rockies have struggled to get production out of the second base spot since … um, have we ever had a decent offensive player at second base? Adding two quality young arms should also add depth to the rotation in future years. Pitching injuries seem to be a rite of passage in Denver; you can never have too many starting pitchers. All three players are also quite young (Kipnis is 24, White and Pomeranz are 22) and should still have several years of improvement ahead of them.
  • It could screw the Yankees. I have positive feeling for the Indians, and wouldn’t mind seeing them make the playoffs. If they happen to face off against the hated Yankees in the playoffs, I wish for them to have every possible weapon at their disposal. If Jimenez was going to be traded, Cleveland is a good spot for him.

You won’t see the name of Pomeranz in the official record of the transaction. Draftees must have been under contract with their team for a full year before becoming eligible to be traded. This is an odd little rule baseball enacted after the Pete Incaviglia trade in 1986. A stupid rule, but a rule nonetheless. Instead, you’ll see a Player to Be Named Later … and on August 15, that PTBNL will become Pomeranz.

Baseball Update

May 14, 2011

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We’re nearly at the quarter pole of the baseball season. What has happened so far?

The Phillies should be scaring the hell out of everyone.  They have the best record in baseball despite not having star second baseman Chase Utley in the lineup.  I hesitate to call a division race this early, but the other NL East teams really needed the Phillies to struggle out of the gate to have a chance.

The Cardinals lost co-ace Adam Wainwright for the season, Matt Holliday had an appendectomy early in the season, and Albert Pujols has been less than Pujolsian so far.  While Pujols has an OK, albeit low for him, homerun total (7), the rest of his numbers are well below his career numbers.  His .273 batting average is well below his career mark of .330 and he has just 3 doubles on the year.  He’s not walking very much, and he’s hitting into double plays at an alarming rate.  Whether it’s the pressure of his looming free agency, or something else, this is a very bad time for him to have the worst season of his career.  On the other hand, Holliday is batting .398 for the season and  free agent acquisition Lance Berkman is hitting .351 with 10 homers – and the Cardinals are in first place.

The Cleveland Indians have shocked everyone by recording the best record in the American League, and have a 4 game lead over the Tigers.  Bringing up the rear in the division are the White Sox and Twins.  Who could have predicted that?  The division also features the two hurlers to record no-hitters this year – Justin Verlander of the Tigers and Francisco Liriano of the Twins.

The Pirates and Red Sox have the same record.  If you predicted that at the beginning of the season, raise your hand, Mr. Liar.  The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992 (sadly, that is NOT a typo).  Can Clint Hurdle push the team to 82 wins?  I really hope so.  In spite of the fact that the Rockies pushed out Hurdle in 2009, I still wish the guy the best.

My Rockies bolted out to an 11-2 record, but have faded lately and enter play on Saturday with a record of 20-16.  Still, that’s good enough for first place, in spite of the fact that we haven’t had many contributions from ace Ubaldo Jimenez, 2010 MVP runner-up Carlos Gonzalez, or third base.  Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has alternated between red hot and ice cold.  Hopefully his 3 for 5 with homer on Friday is the sign of good things to come.  Catcher Chris Iannetta has been deceptively productive.  His batting average is just .224, but his on base percentage has been near .400 recently, and his OPS has been near .900.  Ten of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases, and he has 21 walks on the year.  Overall, I’m happy to see the Rockies in first place – but I thin they’ll need more hands on deck to hold off the hated Giants.

And speaking of hated players … I’m not at all surprised to see Derek Jeter struggling this year.  He was hitting .268 after Friday’s game, but it’s a very soft .268.  He has only two homers on the year (in the same game) and only five total extra base hits.  Jeter put up the worst numbers of his career last year, and his slow start this year has many wondering if his stats are indicative of a decline rather than a mere slump.  Jeter is a shortstop who will soon turn 37, and Father Time is generally not kind to middle infielders.  Jeter, on the other hand, can laugh all the way to the bank after signing a new contract in the off-season what is paying him roughly double what he was likely to have made as a free agent (remember, he would have been a type A free agent, meaning that the signing team would have had to sacrifice a draft pick).

Can Butler Do It?

April 4, 2011

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Last year, Butler came tantalizingly close to winning the national title when Gordon Hayward’s three point shot at the buzzer missed.  The Bulldogs lost 61-59, star Gordon Hayward left early for the NBA draft, and everyone thought that the chance for a mid-major to win a title had evaporated.

Butler came into this year’s tournament as a #8 seed.  In spite of the absence of Hayward, they have made their way through the jungle and into the NCAA Finals once again.  Is this the year that we can finally say the Butler did it?  I certainly hope so.

Butler coach Brad Stevens is a year younger than me … and is sure to be wooed by some bigger programs with fat pocketbooks.  Will Stevens be tempted by the money?  It’s worth noting that Stevens got his start in coaching when he quit his good paying job in the “real world” for an unpaid gig at Butler.  Bulldog for life?  Maybe.

The UConn men are the forgotten team in the final – the dynastic program led by an iconic coach.  How ironic would it be for Jim Calhoun to win another title the day after the dominant UConn women’s program tasted defeat for the second time this year?


On Saturday, India won their second ever World Cricket Cup and the first since 1983.  India beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets, scoring 277 runs to Sri Lanka’s 274. I have a lot of friends of Indian descent, and really need to learn more about the sport, which has a slight resemblance to baseball.


Speaking of baseball … my Rockies faced some bad news on three consecutive days.  On Friday, Ubaldo Jimenez got roughed up and the Rockies lost in extra innings.  The culprit was a split cuticle which force Ubaldo to alter his grip on the ball.  On Saturday, Jorge de la Rose shut down the Diamondbacks, but developed a blister on his finger.  Both pitcher received an extra day to recover when Sunday’s game was snowed out, pushing their next start back by a day.

One of my favorite players is former Rockies star Matt Holliday, now with the Cardinals.  Happy, as I refer to him, wasn’t so happy on Friday.  Holliday was experiencing discomfort and went to the hospital – and came out missing an appendix.  The Cardinals are hoping to avoid placing Holliday on the disabled list.  It hasn’t been good few months for projected NL division leaders, with the Cardinals losing Adam Wainwright for the season and now Holliday for an unknown number of games and the Phillies starting the season without second baseball Chase Utley.  To make things even worse, Holliday is on my fantasy team.

A Giants fan is in critical condition after being savagely beaten by two men outside Dodger stadium following Thursday’s opening day game between the two teams.  Seriously … it’s a game.  Any time you’re thinking about slugging someone, take a step back and think about what you enjoyed about the game as a kid.

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