Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Monthly archives: November 2007


Torrealba, Herges Sign on the Dotted Line
2007-11-29 11:14
by Mark T.R. Donohue

A banner day for Dan O'Dowd, as two key members of last year's playoff team have agreed to re-sign with Colorado at extremely reasonable rates. Yorvit Torrealba, spurned by the Mets at the last minute (possibly due to concern over an injury to his throwing shoulder), inked a two-year, $7 million contract with a team option. That's almost precisely what he's worth, and the length of the deal protects the Rockies from the dread Early-Thirties-Catcher-Collapse phenomenon. Final numbers on a new deal for Matt Herges, who went from non-roster invitee to minor leaguer to Clint Hurdle's most trusted seventh-inning guy in 2007, are less clear but it looks like Herges will get about $2 million for 2008 with a club option for a second year.

These are great deals -- the Rockies are keeping valuable pieces, but not at rates that will hurt them or at contract lengths that will create dead money to deal with in three or four years' time. Has a franchise's overall apparent health ever swung more from one offseason to the next than Colorado's has from last year to this one? Clearly, everybody -- and particularly me -- was way too down on the club entering last year. A decade of losing will do that to you, but with no other NL team (and particularly the Rockies' immediate competition in the West) having done anything real exciting in free agency thus far, it's not unreasonable to look ahead and see at least a few years of winning baseball for the Rockies and their young, good, cheap core.

O'Dowd does still need to find a second baseman to replace Kazuo Matsui, whom he all but concedes in the above-linked Denver Post piece will sign elsewhere. Mark Loretta, a solid veteran contributor who's been variously overrated or underrated depending on his home ballpark the past few seasons, is a name to watch according to that report.

No Postseason Awards? No Problem
2007-11-23 08:24
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Once again, it's hard to react with any convincing shock to Matt Holliday's loss in the NL MVP vote -- I've been talking about this for weeks, since before the season even ended, in fact. The way the voting systems for all of the awards are designed, teams that don't play on the East Coast, teams that don't play in two-team cities, and teams that saved their best play for the last two weeks of the season (which some, though not me, would say is the part that matters most) are overtly at a disadvantage. I had an idea for how this might be corrected in the shower yesterday, but after musing about it over turkey, I'm not so sure whether my notion would work or not. I think that it might be a good idea to throw out the mail-in ballots that have decided the awards for years and put an Internet system in place that requires a code to log in (they could send the codes to all of the writers, managers, and coaches in lieu of the ballots they get now) but only allows a short window for voting, say, between the last regular-season game of the year and the first postseason game. This might correct the effect that really hurt Colorado players' chances in 2007 -- as I've been repeating ad infinitum, most of the voters' ballots were filled in and mailed off long before the Rockies' magical run began. But it wouldn't fix a lot of other problems, such as the one that most managers and coaches really can't be bothered to watch a lot of other teams' games (which is totally understandable) and most mainline newspaper baseball writers are colossal idiots (for this one, I have no explanation).

It would have been funny to see this system in action this year -- what to make of the Rockies' one-game playoff against San Diego, where Holliday brutally misplayed a ball hit right at him in left field to potentially cost his team the game at one point, then saved the day with his graceful slide into home for the winning run? In any event, I don't think that Holliday really deserved the award this year. I'm not a huge intangibles guy, but Jimmy Rollins was the emotional leader of his Philadelphia team in a way that Holliday simply wasn't for the Rockies -- Holliday was a great producer, but Troy Tulowitzki clearly was the heart and soul of the clubhouse. I'm a little nervous about the huge number of outs that Rollins produced -- and his counting stats owe a lot to his teammates and his ballpark, not that Holliday's don't. When you take into account that Rollins played plus defense at a difficult position and didn't slump all year, I think he has an argument. The argument. But Tulowitzki's not winning the Rookie of the Year and the Gold Glove is a complete freaking joke; that kid is going to be a Denver institution for a decade, and anyone who watched him play outside of highlights shows ought to know it.

Hey, maybe it's because I'm in Chicago this week and closer to the chaos than usual, but does anybody have any idea what the hell the White Sox think they're doing? They re-sign Juan Uribe... then days later, trade for Orlando Cabrera. They plan their whole offseason around Torii Hunter even though it had to be obvious, particularly after the A-Rod U-turn, that they weren't going to have enough cash to sign the offseason's biggest free agent to change teams. They sign Scott Linebrink, whom the Padres discarded during a pennant race last year for basically nothing (and who didn't help stem the Brewers' late-season bullpen wildfire in the very least little bit) to a four-year deal, which is two years longer than you should sign any non-closer reliever on general principle. After all this activity, they're still a distant fourth in their division on talent level and you can totally see the light in Kenny Williams' eyes that is going to lead to the ruinous trade that finally moves the south siders into sub-Royal territory. Some front-office guys are going to lose their jobs in Chicago this season, I guess is what I am saying. But that's just like every year.

Pretend I didn't just bash the White Sox for missing out on Hunter a paragraph ago, because now I'm going to let the Angels have it for signing him. Bill Stoneman is out in Anaheim but the franchise's obsession with batting average didn't leave with him. Hunter (career OBP: .324) is not the bat they've been looking for all these years to slot in behind Vladimir Guerrero. I've never quite understood why Hunter's knack for snagging fly balls past the Metrodome's short fences has translated to a reputation as a superior defensive and offensive player; he's wildly overrated in both categories, it's stupid to give a 32-year-old speed guy $90 million, and didn't the Angels sign Gary Matthews, Jr. to a lucrative long-term deal last offseason? None of this makes any sense. It's a tremendous relief sometimes that the Rockies have no money, because evidently not a single one of the teams that does has even the faintest inkling of what players are actually worth and what investments will lead to on-field success.

Yorvit? Dude, I Totally Thought You'd Left Already
2007-11-17 23:51
by Mark T.R. Donohue

For once we were too far in front of a story instead of lagging way behind: Yorvit Torrealba's deal with the Mets disappeared mysteriously yesterday. Like Torrealba's reported departure, this is neither a good thing nor a bad thing for Colorado in isolation. Were they to ink Torrealba to a deal more realistically reflecting his value than the numbers the Mets were reportedly willing to offer, say, 2 years, $7 million as opposed to three and fifteen, it would be a nice get. A Torrealba re-up sounds more appealing to me than decline-phase retreads Jason Kendall and Paul ("Mr. First Half") LoDuca and way better than dropping confirmed jerk Michael Barrett into the middle of the Rockies' hand-holding, psalm-reciting clubhouse. Anything more than a modest two-year deal for any of those guys, Torrealba included, would be foolish. And I would rather Dan O'Dowd used what little money he has to spend on free agents on a centerfielder (Mike Cameron?) than on a catcher; Chris Iannetta wouldn't kill the Rockies as an everyday backstop next season, another year of Willy Taveras, if it doesn't kill the team, would certainly kill me.

Meanwhile, everything I am hearing suggests that Kazuo Matsui will end up with the Cubs, which just seems right somehow -- that organization has been staffed by flat-earthers as far as it comes to park effects for as long as I can remember. Because I'm a celebrity blogger, people are always coming up to me in bars and at parties and sharing their pet Rockies theories with me. The #1 argument I get is that I'm wrong about Taveras, to which I direct you to the lineup cards for World Series Games 3 and 4. A solid #2, though, is the speech about how Getting Out of New York Did Wonders for Kaz Matsui. I got this so much I started to believe it for a little while, until a piece by my friend Keith Law inspired me to in fact look at the statistical record more closely. OK, kids, we're only going to have to do this one more time, because Matsui is going to be out of Denver in short order: Kazuo Matsui's "renaissance" breaks down to 3% getting more comfortable with playing second base after years as a shortstop, 1% getting out of the glare of the New York media, and 96% getting to play half of his games in Coors Field.

I'm not saying he's not a good player. I'm not saying I wouldn't want the Rockies to bring him back, at the right price. I'm just saying that while the clear air probably did wonders for Kazuo's spiritual well-being, it did lots more wonders for his line drives falling in for singles and doubles. Take Kazuo (by the way, Rockies fans, you should stop calling him "Kaz," because he personally doesn't care for the nickname) away from Coors Field's vast outfield and make him hit at Wrigley Field, with an outfield so small the grass under where Sammy Sosa used to stand would turn brown because Sosa NEVER FREAKING MOVED, and you'll get some ugly numbers. Maybe something like .249/.304/.333, which by a remarkable coincidence is Matsui's exact line on the road in 2007. Also zero homers.

As far as trades go, this is far-fetched, but I keep hearing a) the Giants are beyond desperate for a third baseman and b) they're in dire enough straits that they'd consider moving Tim Lincecum. I think that's insane, considering that young, arbitration-controlled starting pitching is the single rarest commodity in the game, but if you're just joining us now in progress, at least two of the teams in the NL West are run by complete unrepentant Luddite lunkheads. And one is the Giants, and one of the others employs the guy who used to be San Francisco's second-in-command. For sure they're dumb enough to trade Lincecum for somebody like Garrett Atkins -- or, my goodness, Clint Barmes and some pitching prospects, of which the Rockies suddenly have more than enough -- and trade him within the division. This is a situation that bears monitoring.

Also likely past the point of selling high on, but eminently marketable nonetheless, is Brian Fuentes. Fuentes went in the blink of an eye -- or, more literally, went within the confines of a single road trip -- from being the Rockies' only reliable reliever to being perhaps the least trustworthy of the guys who were used to working in the seventh and eighth innings. I can tell you what happened (he lost command of his killer changeup, his great equalizer against righthanders; he continued to own lefties to the degree that images of his serpentine pitching motion likely haunt Chase Utley's dreams) but I can't tell you whether Brian will return to his 2005-06 form next season. That said, one of the things dumb general managers regularly overpay for is the Proven Closer mantle, and Fuentes' is still fresh enough to count for something, even if Manny Corpas pipped him but good at midseason '07. Perhaps the closer market isn't going to overheat this winter -- the Astros sure didn't get much of anything good for Brad Lidge, and nobody is talking about Francisco Cordero except for Brewers fans eagerly anticipating getting him back on the cheap. That's surprising given that the only other real legit free-agent closer, Mariano Rivera, was only ever on the open market in a theoretical sense.

If you're looking for a really old pitcher, a centerfielder with at least one huge glaring weakness, an injury-prone third baseman, or one of those catchers that will just freaking kill you if you draft them any time before the last round in fantasy, this is your kinda Hot Stove league. Otherwise, not so much. For a team with a ton of needs and no farm system, or a team like the Cubs or Dodgers that dysfunctionally refuses to realize that its needs are totally met by its farm system if only they'd play the poor bastards, this is a bad scene. For a team with a lot of depth on the 40-man roster and a 90-win season fresh in the memory, it's one bursting with opportunity. I wrote earlier that if the Rockies did nothing but watch spare parts from last year's team leave as free agents, they'd be okay. That's true. But they could be a lot better off if Dan O'Dowd took a couple of measured risks and leveraged the Rockies' long suits (left-side infielders, decent platoon-type corner bats, potential-laden young starters) into satisfactory middle-term answers for their lingering questions (catcher, center field, second base, veteran late-inning relievers without sizable records of colossal, terrifying past failures).

O'Dowd doesn't have to make a huge reach at all of those positions to put the Rockies on solid footing for 2008. I can live with either Iannetta at catcher or Stewart at second, but two experiments up the middle on a pennant-defending ballclub makes me nervous. A third argument with which I get buttonholed in bars is the "strength up the middle thing," which I get, but I think people hugely misapplied to the Rockies last season. The Rockies had the year they did because their starters overachieved with a huge assist from a world-class defense, their bullpen was massive, and the heart of their lineup from Holliday through Hawpe were reliable run-producers. As far as strength up the middle goes... well, Troy Tulowitzki is the balls, we all agree, but I think Rockies fans have gotten way too romantic about Torrealba, Matsui, and of course Willy T. Those three guys were really the least valuable everyday players Colorado had -- and look here, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Garrett Atkins, and Tulowitzki are all safely under Colorado control for next year and (barring an unconscionable cost-cutting Holliday trade if his final-year arbitration price tag goes through the roof, which it will, but I am naive enough to believe that the Monforts will accept it as a necessary expense) the year after that.

People are going to think I'm crazy, or at least hypocritical, for suggesting this, but at the right price in trade I think Coco Crisp would be a good guy for O'Dowd to target. It's true that Crisp had a lower OPS than Willy Taveras last year (although I would argue that Taveras's OPS requires a downward mental adjustment since bunt singles have less run creation power than quote-unquote "real" singles) but he's a wizard defensively, seemingly doesn't suffer the frequent bouts of paralytic brain-lock Taveras is subject to afield, and he has once-in-a-while pop as opposed to no pop, period. Just throwing it out there.

So Long, Yorvit
2007-11-15 15:52
by Mark T.R. Donohue

We haven't talked a lot about what this offseason will bring for the Rockies. Why? Because most of you aren't going to like it. Dan O'Dowd felt that heading into last year he had his core for the next several seasons assembled; annoyingly, he was right. The few veterans whom Colorado doesn't have under contract and thus must compete with other teams on the open market to re-sign are all going to leave. Yes, all of them. That means Kaz Matsui, Jeremy Affeldt, Josh Fogg, and Yorvit Torrealba, who has a free-agent deal with the Mets all but signed.

Since our memories are still tinted by the magic of Colorado's September run, it's going to be hard not to overreact to these forthcoming losses. Part of me wants to throw out all logic and chastise O'Dowd for letting Yorvit go: the man was the team's best hitter in the clutch (relative to his abilities the rest of the time) all season long and combined with Matsui as the hitting star of the NLDS. But the fact of the matter is that Torrealba failed to stick in San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle, three organizations where plus catching hasn't been easy to come by in recent years, and he's going to be 30 next year -- by the end of the three-year, $15 million contract the Mets are said to be offering Torrealba, he'll be bumping right up against the age at which most catchers completely lose their value.

Clint Hurdle has had a recurring tendency to play a known-quantity veteran catcher over a higher-ceilinged prospect. Some of you long-term readers may remember the year of Danny Ardoin and J.D. Closser, which was about as angry as I'd ever been about a Rockies' playing-time decision before Willy Taveras came into all of our lives in 2007. In the instance of Torrealba and Chris Iannetta, Hurdle was actually right. Iannetta wasn't ready for the majors in 2007, and just because a lot of his Colorado Springs teammates were ready to make the leap wasn't a great justification for having him cool his heels as Yorvit's caddy for most of the season. We'll see what comes of Iannetta the full-timer in this coming season. It also looks like the Ian Stewart: Second Baseman plan is more than a mere idle threat to drive up the bidding for potential Garrett Atkins trades.

Potentially, the Rockies could do nothing this offseason except watch some guys leave. Is that a bad thing? The roster they have had a pretty good season last year, and next season with more at-bats for Stewart, Ryan Spilborghs, Jeff Baker, and Seth Smith and fewer for the likes of Jamey Carroll and Steve Finley they should be all right. However, just because Colorado has switched phases from rebuilder to contender doesn't mean O'Dowd should forget about all the good value he has turned up digging in dumpsters for finds like Fogg, Affeldt, Matt Herges, and Rodrigo Lopez. One potential free-agent bargain this year has a real familiar name -- Jason Jennings.

Truy Tulowitzki Doesn't Win Another Award
2007-11-12 16:03
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Ryan Braun, who hit a lot of homers for a team that didn't make the playoffs, won the National League Rookie of the Year award. Troy Tulowitzki, who was the clubhouse leader and best defensive player of the National League pennant-winner, came in second, by somewhat closer of a margin than I expected. I can't say that I can work up a lot of outrage at this point since this is the precise outcome we've been expecting since the end of the season. When you let people who are clearly unqualified vote for the Hall of Fame and end-of-season awards, the results will be consistently disappointing. Why it is that Hall of Famers, big-city beat writers, and MLB managers and coaches are no longer reliable authorities on baseball, I couldn't tell you.

Will Matt Holliday end the Rockies' postseason-award shutout with a surprise MVP nod? Says here he... won't.

The Tampa Bay Rays: Now, Not Even Satan Is on Their Side
2007-11-10 10:32
by Mark T.R. Donohue

We're fond of the St. Petersburg MLB franchise around here. As it happens, we were living in Chicago when St. Pete tried to lure the White Sox out of town, and then in San Francisco when the spectre of the St. Petersburg Giants got the absolutely beautiful, if ad-filled, Pac Bell/AT&T Park constructed. That's the kind of grasping at straws you have to do if you want to construct an argument for being a Rays fan: at the very least they're just a history-less franchise in a city and stadium with which MLB never should have bothered. But it could have been much worse!

Here's another hilarious sign of the Rays' irrelevance-to-the-degree-of-poignancy: At the recent rally celebrating their new team colors and the official dropping of the "Devil" from their nickname, entertainment was provided by Kevin Costner's rock band. Kevin Costner! What, they couldn't get Russell Crowe's crappy vanity band, Kevin Bacon's crappy vanity band, or even Gary Sinise's crappy vanity band? Costner, yikes. At least they didn't drag out Dennis Quaid in a Jim Morris uniform.

So how about those new colors? They're low-key, easy on the eyes, kind of appropriate for a team that plays by the sea with a slightly off-white look to the home jerseys and a mixture of dark and light shades of blue for the lettering. In other words, they're almost completely identical to the new design the Padres went to a few years ago -- even the curve of the "Rays" logo looks plagiarized. There's no denying it, Tampa Bay's old neon/fright-green scheme was an affront to civilized society. But they were figuring things out, and they eventually hit upon a black-and-dark green scheme that while not exactly Yankee pinstripes (and concern over the Yankees, whose regular-season games are still broadcast on the radio to higher ratings than Rays games in Tampa/St. Pete, is a principal driving motivation for this franchise) was at least halfway respectable. I'm going to see if I can get a Scott Kazmir alternate (the solid dark green with the white piping, a snazzy-looking jersey if you're not a purist) on clearance now that Tampa Bay Padres look is the norm.

As for dropping the "Devil"... well, their nickname was really dumb, now it's kind of cool... for a roller derby team. Tampa Bay Rays. All right. A change in uniform design for their expansion brethren, the Diamondbacks, paid off with a playoff appearance (if you've never heard of post hoc ergo propter hoc before), and allegedly sales of T-shirts, hats, and jerseys featuring the new design have exceeded expectations. But is the team ever going to advance beyond 4th in their division? Barring realignment -- or payroll doubling the cartoonishly low $35 million they've budgeted for next season -- not bleeding likely. Plus now they have the Prince of Darkness to answer to about why he's not the team mascot anymore. If you've tangled with Satan -- say, in the final boss battle of Guitar Hero III -- you know this can't be good news.

Tulo Wuz Robbed
2007-11-06 14:39
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Jimmy Rollins, and not Troy Tulowitzki, won the National League Gold Glove at shortstop. We expected that Tulowitzki wouldn't win, particularly given that the votes were in well in advance of the postseason (and for a lot of coaches, likely before the Rockies' winning run even began). It doesn't really matter, in the grand scheme of things -- anyone who watched the National League playoffs even a little bit knows that Tulowitzki was the best in the circuit, and probably the best in the majors. The biggest difference between the 2006 Rockies and the 2007 edition was a defense that was able to struggle its way into the top third in zone rating at Coors Field, something a lot of stat guys thought might be impossible. Tulowitzki's part in making this come about cannot be understated. What's more, he's the emotional leader of the defending National League champs. I don't begrudge Rollins his award -- but I'm willing to flat-out guarantee that it is the last one he will win, barring a change in leagues.

I'm hearing a lot of talk connecting Alex Rodriguez to the Mets, and here is my question to you -- how do you re-align that infield? Personally I would put Jose Reyes at second, since he's played there before and of the three is certainly the most physically suited to the position. Then I'd leave Wright at third and put A-Rod back at shortstop where he belongs. I suspect, though, that the Mets would try Wright at second, which strikes me as a bad idea -- but then again, if that works, why wouldn't the Rockies' plan to make Ian Stewart a second baseman? This is all Chase Utley's fault, and you know how I feel about him -- the Research Department was theorizing earlier on about a longshot Phillies A-Rod signing, leading to the Greatest Infield of All Time, and I wasn't having any of it. You can take all of Chase Utley's numbers and shove them. If I'm a manager in a must-win game and I need to get Utley out, I have complete confidence that I can get it done. Put A-Rod and Utley in the same lineup and you could set an all-time record for postseason GIDP's.

Forcing It
2007-11-04 22:54
by Mark T.R. Donohue

You know what, I'm not over it. I still don't want to think about baseball in the least. The other day I was driving somewhere with my friend Tim and he kept wanting to turn the conversation to what the Rockies were going to do in the offseason and I finally had to raise my voice and tell him I needed very much to not talk about that. Until a few months ago, everyone I know in Colorado had to yell at me to tell me to stop talking about the Rockies. So positive developments have taken place. I can grasp this intellectually but I'm still too sad right now to start weighing Garrett Atkins trades and free-agent centerfielders.

On Monday night, the night I would have attended World Series Game 5 at Coors Field had it taken place (the unused ticket is still magneted to the refrigerator, forlornly) I went rather to Invesco Field to see the Broncos and Packers. This was a surreal evening for many reasons. For one thing, after frigid conditions for most of the home baseball games in Denver in October, the weather that night was so nice I didn't even need a jacket. It was also I suppose quite a treat seeing Brett Favre have a classic game in what will surely be his last appearance in Denver, although at the time I was still too wrapped in Rockies misery to appreciate it in the least. What mostly struck me about going to an NFL game in person for the first time in a couple of years was how drastic a personal reversal it was from the sporting events I usually attend (i.e., baseball games and lots of them). When I am at a ballgame, I sit in my seat the whole time with my eyes focused on the field. I keep score. Between innings, I study my scorecard intently and pointedly ignore any and all sideshows taking place on the Jumbotron and/or field. The point of going to a baseball game is watching baseball. I practically never eat or drink anything, partly because with the volume of games I go to I could never possibly afford it, but also because I wouldn't want to miss anything having to go to the bathroom. I treat a baseball game like the movies: I get to my seat, I sit there, focus my eyes ahead, and other than criticizing Clint Hurdle and Willy Taveras under my breath and mostly to myself I don't really say much of much.

But a football game? For heaven's sake, there are only about four minutes of actual onfield activity during an NFL game. At Invesco last week, I got to act like the casual fans at Coors at whom I always seethe when they make me get up out of my aisle seat so they can go buy more useless junk or nutritionless food items. I got food, I wandered around the stadium, I basically ignored the game until the fourth quarter, and in the immediate aftermath of so many games in which I had a strong personal stake, it was just the thing.

Now it's seven days later, though, and after yesterday sleeping through one of the two significant NFL games that will take place all this season and directing my attention to the first week of NBA action more out of a sense of obligation than anything else, I am feeling the baseball vacuum ever more acutely.

My ray of light, unbelievably, is Alex Rodriguez.

What, you ask? The Rockies have no shot at A-Rod, for any one of a million reasons. I feel like an idiot for even having to write this paragraph here explaining that that's not what I meant. Forget that the franchise has been scorched before with long-term deals. Never mind that Dan O'Dowd isn't even willing to negotiate with Scott Boras about a Matt Holliday extension, let alone adding one of his other clients. This is Denver. Dude. Human beings who have long since stopped thinking of themselves as singular people but rather identify as ubiquitous corporate brands do not live, as a rule, in the Mile High City. This is one of the very reasons that I choose to live here.

Anyway, by jumping the gun on the Hot Stove league and treating the Rockies with even less respect than the Red Sox did by assuming the World Series was already over after Game 3 (which, OK, it was, but he didn't know that at the time), Boras reminded us all that the baseball season is 12 months long now, at least so long as you're a fan of one of the teams that's trying to win. The last couple of years, the Hot Stove has been anything but for Colorado, as O'Dowd concentrated on his build-from-within plan that we all now have to admit was completely brilliant. (Wow, that hurt to write, but I did it. I must be growing up.) Now, the Rockies are in a new mode. One they've never been in before. They're not rebuilding, they're reloading. They have assets -- in some departments, like young starting pitching and third basemen, they have assets to spare -- and there are tons of targets out there that Colorado realistically can acquire without compromising their roster or their finances. In an offseason where there's no significant free-agent pitching available, the Rockies have pitching to deal. In an offseason when the one position where the market is glutted is center field, the Rockies have a glaring need for a centerfielder. It's enough to make you think that the magnificent September/October run this team made wasn't merely a cosmic fluke but a complete, lasting reversal of fortunes.

The stars, apparently, are aligned for the Rockies, which is so weird it's enough to make you forget that recent on-field evidence strongly suggests that Colorado is maybe not that close to a championship. The NL-AL disparity (and also the rather spooky collapse of the Mets, who were really the best theoretical team in the NL last season) should be enough to make even the optimistic fan realize that just because the Rockies were one of the last two teams standing does not necessarily mean that they are the second-best team.

But: They could be the best team in the NL (again) next year, and for the whole season instead of just the last two weeks. They have work to do. But for the first time in a while -- I'm sorry, the first time ever -- it's all in place for them. They'll have to be smart and they'll have to continue to be lucky, but they've got trading chips galore and that fresh playoff run mystique, about which you should talk to David Eckstein's agent regarding such an aura's very real monetary/trade value.

I can't analyze yet. If I went and looked at the ESPN sortable stats page or the Rockies' 40-man roster on today, I would probably have a nervous breakdown and miss the editing work I have to do huddled in the corner under my framed Francis Channel SI cover sobbing, clutching my Jeromy Burnitz home run ball, and singing R. Kelly's "I'm a Flirt" in a soulless monotone.

But maybe next week, guys!

Update: I told you the Rockies were going to be alive in the Hot Stove this season like never before. Was I wrong? Now they even have their own subheading in a Jon Heyman column. "The Rockies are not interested in trading third baseman Garrett Atkins and instead plan to try third-base prospect Ian Stewart at second base," Heyman writes, and "reports on Stewart at second have been decent so far." Do not for one second assume that the fact that Dan O'Dowd has said he won't trade Atkins means that he actually won't trade Atkins.