Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Holding Pattern Continues
2008-12-07 17:02
by Mark T.R. Donohue

It's hard to really knock the slow start to the hot stove season from the perspective of a Rockies fan, since they really would have been better off keeping Matt Holliday for another year and that's the only really high-wattage deal that's gone down thus far. I've been dutifully checking the rumor sites, but Colorado is now back in its familiar position from years past, waiting for the teams that count to sort out where the valuable players go. In January, Dan O'Dowd will inevitably sign some "name" veteran pitchers who were incongruously in Triple-A, in Mexico, or retired last season. And the wild ride to 70 wins will begin.

I saw an item somewhere regarding Minnesota's interest in Huston Street, potentially for major prospect bust Delmon Young. The Twins foolishly let Matt Garza go for Young last preseason and would like at least partially to reverse their mistake. Street would bolster a bullpen that's always a team strength and he wouldn't be counted on to close games. As for Young, he apparently can't hit at the major league level, but he doesn't cost a lot, and that is the Rockies' one and only priority.

Former Dodgers lefty Joe Beimel would be a natural fit as a replacement for Brian Fuentes, but it appears that the Rockies aren't going to step up and sign him, being unable to compete with that filthy Cincinnati lucre. Aaron Heilman, a frustration for the Mets in the past few seasons, might be another possible return in a Street deal. Heilman wants to start, but is far more effective in long relief. I don't know how well moving from Shea to Coors would sort out his problems there.

The Bears won today, but the game wasn't on TV in Denver. Probably a blessing, given how irritating their performance in the Sunday-nighter against the Vikings was last week. I can't tell whether they're a talented team, atrociously coached, or they're just a lousy, badly-coached team in a weak division. Their play-calling on offense and defense boggles the mind. I have to imagine that the incompetence of the coaches decreases the accountability of the players, leading to plays like the busted-coverage 99-yard touchdown pass last week. Still, it's weird as a football fan grinding your teeth and gritting your knuckles each weeking hoping that your team won't make the playoffs. Another few seasons of Lovie Smith and his "Cover 0" defense would be... slightly less depressing than another several seasons of Hurdle/O'Dowd in Denver.

At least the Nuggets look pretty good. Did you read any of George Karl's comments about two weeks after Iverson left? The ones about it being nice to have a ballhandler in the game who actually runs plays when the coach calls them? I was against the Iverson experiment from the beginning and I feel quite excellently vindicated by Denver's improved play with Chauncey Billups and the Pistons' so-so record with A.I. I can't stand guys who don't play defense and shoot every time they get the ball. It's hard to believe that the Nuggets have lost Marcus Camby and Iverson and are significantly better without them, but the lack of Camby seems to impress accountability on the perimeter defenders. Nene has been unbelievable, too.

The example of Iverson, a player skilled at one thing and one thing only -- scoring lots and lots of points -- reminds me of the statistical tyranny that still keeps us from fully appreciating all our pro sports. So what if he can score thirty points a game playing 45 minutes and jacking up 30 shots? He doesn't make his team win, unless you assemble an entire group of offensive rebounders around him to collect his misses, like the '01 Sixers. Iverson will surely be an NBA Hall of Famer, but his legacy will be a bunch of cities relieved when he finally leaves.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, Greg Maddux yes, Mike Mussina no. Mussina won a ton of games playing for terrific teams but at no point in his career was he ever perceived as one of the dominant starters in the game.

2008-12-09 22:21:02
1.   Ruben F Pineda
Nearly every expert that weighed in on the Iverson trade said the Nuggets got hosed. The first thing I thought was "well, there is another team that the Warriors won't be able to beat out for a playoff spot". Don't get me wrong, I love the hustle and heart that Iverson plays with, but is there a PG in the NBA that is more overrated in what he does to help his team win games? This is the ultimate example of how fantasy sports and real life don't exactly go hand in hand. Pistons: barely .500 team. Nuggets: 1st in NW div. I'd have to say Nuggets pulled a coup.

Man, if the Rockies were to pick up Delmon Young, would they lead the league in most failed top prospects on a roster this season? You'd have Young and CarGo in the OF, Franklin Morales and Greg Reynolds (maybe) on the staff, Ian Stewart at 3B, and Tulo/The Channel trying to avoid falling into that category after impressive starts to their careers. Well, at least Jimenez and Iannetta look like keepers, and who knows, my scoresheet team is definitely rooting for Fowler to bust out. How beautiful Evan Longoria would look in purple and black...

2008-12-10 12:45:58
2.   Eric Stephen
Mussina won a ton of games playing for terrific teams but at no point in his career was he ever perceived as one of the dominant starters in the game

I can see the argument for Mussina not being a HOF, but I think this perception is false. In a 10-year stretch (1992-2001), he finished in the top 6 in CYA voting 8 times. Just about every year during this period, he was perceived as one of the very best in the league.

2008-12-10 14:31:27
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
2 Cy Young voting is a terrible argument for a pitcher's dominance. The voters look at win totals first and foremost and win totals are about the least relevant stat imaginable when it comes to starting pitchers.

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