In the news this morning, while I'm technically supposed to be working (and what other way to celebrate the holiday):
We can all agree that the NL West race is over now that the Diamondbacks have acquired David Eckstein. Eckstein is the Ringo Starr of recent years in the MLB, and I mean that as no insult to either David or Mr. Starkey. Eckstein's a fine role player, a small-ball wizard, and a way better shortstop than anyone with his arm strength ought to be. Ringo was a great drummer and by far the best actor among the Beatles. In both cases those skills have little to nothing to do with the massive successes the two had in their careers; they piggybacked on the skills of others. Nonetheless, don't be surprised if the D-Backs now go on to win it all.
Apparently no one claimed Willy Taveras on waivers. Perhaps the Rockies will now finally realize that none of the other 29 teams want the bum and release him, but something tells me he'll be starting in centerfield for Colorado next opening day. It's one thing to feel compelled to play a guy making $10 million a year, but what is it that keeps the Rockies clinging on to Willy AAA? It's as if they determine the lineup by putting all the position players on the right-field foul line at Hi Corbett and having them all race.
Is it significant that the Rockies' road record, after a blip last year, is back down to being terrible? Hard to say. Much evidence this season seems to suggest that the decent mark in 2007 was indeed the product of all the teams who rolled over at home down the stretch for the surging Rockies. On the other hand, Colorado certainly played spectacularly on the road in the NL playoffs when it really counted. They've found the first ingredient to better road play, a genuine shutdown ace. If this year's Aaron Cook had been healthy and playing on last year's team, might things have turned out differently in the World Series? Now the next step is to construct a more versatile offense that can get on base when the hits aren't dropping and get runs home when the balls aren't flying out of the park.
I was pleased as punch when Colorado re-inked Yorvit Torrealba this offseason, but it's been a lost year for one of the Rockies' biggest '07 playoff heroes. He's been injured on and off all season and lost his job to the better-hitting Chris Iannetta, who's also raised his defense to the level at which it's clear who's the better all-around catcher. The useful Adam Melhuse has been nice to have around as Iannetta's backup, showing again Dan O'Dowd's talent for acquiring dirt cheap talent. Now if only he had a chance to demonstrate that he can judge pricey talent capably again. The Mike Hampton thing was a fluke, right?