Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Rockies 7, Tigers 3
2005-06-13 10:29
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Well, the Rockies won another series at home, with Byung-Hyun Kim striking out a career-high eight in six innings and Preston Wilson cracking two home runs. Colorado did not have a tremendous amount of difficulty with Nate Robertson, managing eight hits and six runs off the Detroit starter. Eddy Garabito, Luis Gonzalez, and Danny Ardoin had multi-hit games. Gonzalez got his first start of the year at shortstop. Ardoin is apparently the starter at catcher now, which seems a little pointless. Is J.D. Closser's evaluation to be put on hold because the last-place Rockies desperately need to control opponents' running games?

In yesterday's Post Mike Klis ran a bizarre column which implied that it was somehow Major League Baseball's responsibility that the Rockies are floundering: "Shouldn't the industry take measures to ensure that arguably the world's best sports market doesn't slip through baseball's fingers?" This isn't Kansas City, Mike. No one is going to Rockies games because the team is awful, and the recent run of bad weather hasn't helped. The team isn't bad because of altitude, or a lack of revenue sharing, or ill-conceived alternate uniform designs. They're bad because management is bad. You didn't see MLB awarding the Mets bonus draft picks a few years ago because Steve Phillips was incompetent and Shea Stadium a tough place to hit. And New York City is a decent sports market. So are Chicago and Los Angeles, which like New York are at the moment each supporting two competitive baseball teams. Honestly, where do they come up with this stuff?

Todd Helton's position hasn't changed, but more and more voices in the media are prepared to see him go. What do I think? Well, the Rockies have three categories of bad contracts. They have guys who aren't even playing for them any more (many of them), guys who are but are not of much practical use (Preston Wilson, the entire non-Francis rotation), and Helton, who is egregiously overpaid but still a decent player. The Rockies aren't in a situation (as they are with Wilson) where virtually any Helton trade makes them better. They would have to weigh the benefits versus costs of any trade involving their franchise player. Trouble is, at the moment Helton is standing behind his complete no-trade clause. Were he to ask out of it, it would be the equivalent of demanding a trade. Either way, they're hardly negotiating from a position of strength. Under these circumstances there's very little chance of getting a beneficial deal done. Colorado ought to announce that no offers for Helton will be considered and ask Todd not to publicly agitate for a trade. This would send a message to interested trade suitors: don't bother unless you're really going to blow us away. With several divisions wide open, this isn't a far-fetched scenario.

Woody Paige works himself into a frenzy over the Clint Barmes venison "controversy." I just don't get what the big deal is here. So he said they were groceries. Isn't a bag of wrapped meats pretty much groceries? Denver sportswiters must be really grasping for things to write about. Who will take Barmes' All-Star spot? Who cares? What about the Arena Bowl, huh?

As if on cue, here's a profile of Dustan Mohr. "I wouldn't have come here if I didn't want to be here," Mohr sniffles. But why on earth did we want him? Mohr is demonstrably not better than any of the numerous hungry young outfielders the Rockies have on their 40-man, and he's also not good enough to be worth anything in trade. He hardly makes any money, but what exactly is Colorado gaining from his presence? Veteran leadership? So far his most notable move was hurting himself celebrating somebody else's homer. It's one thing to sign Desi Relaford, a useful player if used properly (which the Rockies are not doing, but that's a discussion for another day). It's another to spend perfectly good money on a guy who does nothing that four or five cheaper guys can't do better. Free-agent signings don't have to be for excessive years or dollars to do tangible harm to a bad team's development.

One of those cheaper guys is Brad Hawpe, who has been a pitcher and a first baseman but now is turning out to be a pretty useful right fielder. The second item at that same link notes that the Rockies are seeing the effects of letting Coors Field's grass grow a little shaggy. Elsewhere, Chris Nelson's feelings are not hurt that Colorado took another shortstop with their first-round draft pick. Another guy with a high ceiling in the low minors, Franklin Morales, is profiled by Jack Etkin.

Day off today. Next stop, Cleveland.

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