Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
2006-04-04 14:13
by Mark T.R. Donohue

I do enjoy looking around at the various national websites' baseball power rankings once a week. It's an easy post for me to do -- I just put the links, complain about the lack of respect given the Rockies, and that's all there is to it. Seeing as it's the first week of the season, I can't really blame the experts for ranking Colorado dead last or very close to it. They were bad last year, and on the surface of things they haven't added much to a team that lost 95 games besides mediocre veteran middle relievers and Yorvit Torrealba. If the Rockies want to move up the charts, they're just going to have to win a bunch of games. In that department, I think they're better set up than the Devil Rays, Reds, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Marlins, Pirates, or Royals. It wasn't a noisy offseason, but at least the Rockies won't be paying premium salaries to veterans worse than the guys they're ostensibly replacing -- this means you, Sean Casey and Doug Mientkiewicz.

ESPN: 29th, ahead of naught but the Marlins. Ouch. No mention of all the guys who didn't play full seasons last year -- Cook, Holliday, Helton, Jennings, Hawpe, Barmes -- but the obligatory Mesa/Torrealba dis. Hey, Jose looked pretty good on Opening Day.

CBS SportsLine: A lofty 23rd, ahead of -- stop me if you've heard this before -- Kansas City, Florida, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay. CBS waited until after the opening slate of games to issue these rankings, so perhaps they're being irrationally exuberant about Jason Jennings and his 1.29 ERA. Of course, they had the Rockies 24th in the preseason rankings. There's definitely a divide between Colorado and the next cluster of teams, which includes Baltimore, Texas, the Dodgers, Washington, and Detroit. Is it better to be the best of the awful teams or the worst of the below average teams? 29th, with only Kansas City in the rearview. The logic here is that the Rockies are the worst team in the worst division in baseball. Well...that's true. Pretty much. Although I think time's going to tell on the Diamondbacks. But implying that Jeff Francis is the only homegrown pitching talent that Colorado has is pretty unfair to Aaron Cook, not to mention Jason Jennings. If Cory Sullivan qualifies as "young talent," then Cook (six months older than Sullivan) and Jennings (a year and change) qualify too.

Baseball Prospectus: 25th, ahead of Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Washington (interesting), Florida, and Baltimore (also interesting). BP's article (which is a free one, by the way, if you're not a cool subscriber like me) differs from the other lists in that it's actually based on statistical projections of player performance. These sort of exercises tend to flatten out the extreme ends of the spectrum as a matter of course (no teams are expected to break the 100-win barrier, and only the hapless Royals are pegged to lose 100), but the Rockies' win projection comes in at 74, one short of Bad Altitude's declared happy number. And in the faint praise department, we have this: "The pitching, with full seasons from groundballers like Jason Jennings and Aaron Cook, might not be as bad as you think."

Fox Sports: 27th, in front of Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Florida. Writer Dayn Perry rakes Dan O'Dowd over the coals three spots beneath "low-grade optimism" over the Superfund site that is the Cincinnati Reds organization. Well, Perry knows at least some of what he speaks, because he gets a dig on Jim Bowden in under the Nationals' heading. An unrelated Fox piece identifies the Rockies as a possible 2006 surprise team. Sort of.

If we want to move higher, we have to keep winning games. It's as simple as that. Fortunately for Colorado, the unbalanced schedule means a great deal of winnable games against the Giants, Padres, Dodgers, and D-Backs. And there's still plenty of time left to jump on the Jose Mesa Resurgence Bandwagon.

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