It seems like ages since I've done a good-old fashioned linkfest, doesn't it? It shouldn't be hard to imagine why. The Rockies' poor play since the All-Star break greatly diminished my taste for looking around the web for news about the team, and pretty much killed my interest in sharing it. But it's a brand new day. Thank you, Francis Channel.
If you're like me, one of the first things you like to look for after a pitching performance like Francis's last night is the reaction from the victims' side. Scott Rolen on Jeff: "He hides the ball well. I guess you could call him sneaky. More important, he threw all of his pitches for strikes tonight. He mixed the ball well. He threw his fastball, his breaking ball, and his changeup for strikes." The St. Louis paper notes that Francis has started throwing a sinker this year in addition to his four-seam fastball, and repeats the same quotes from Tony La Russa all the Denver reporters happily used: "He just worked us over. He probably doesn't even need to take a shower. I'm not even sure he sweated.... Probably could pitch tomorrow. Hope he doesn't." Hah! Eat your heart out, Francisco Liriano.
The Denver Post has the time-tested optimistic columnist/pessimistic columnist dichotomy working on the Rockies right now. Thomas George pulls out every rhetorical trick in the book in trying to invest last night's win with greater import than the 1/162 of the season it actually represents. He's got to regret writing this last sentence: "A bubbling blend, warts and all." What is this, the NL West or MacBeth? I hate to call Jim Armstrong the voice of reason but his Tuesday notes column leads with the factoid that the Rockies haven't hit a three-run homer in a calendar month. This is what Clint Hurdle's league-leading sacrifice hit strategy has wrought.
Pirates blog Honest Wagner is conducting a running campaign to convince the Buccos to deal for Ryan Shealy. This post specifically indicates that the Rockies would be looking for a young middle reliever in return. Further sleuthing reveals that Colorado's target was righty Matt Capps. According to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates were unwilling to pay that price and are now no longer involved in the Shealy conversaton. See what I miss when the Rockies go on a losing streak? All kinds of stuff. Capps (3.38 ERA, 6.58 K/9, 1.13 WHIP) would be a nice pickup for Colorado but Shealy is going to be a major league starter somewhere, and everyday players are worth more than middle relievers. For my part I have no idea why Pittsburgh has been so determined to first bench and now apparently trade the perfectly good Craig Wilson, but Shealy would be a worthy replacement for Sean Casey and a nice guy to slot into the lineup behind Freddy Sanchez and Jason Bay. Plus he's going to be cheap for years to come. Well, Pirates management is profoundly stupid. Their loss.
It's old news by now, but a potential relief pitching swap of Ray King for Boston's Julian Tavarez is dead. The Boston Globe reports that Colorado didn't want to assume responsibility for Tavarez's $3.1 million 2007 salary, but I will freely speculate that volatile Tavarez probably wouldn't have fit in with Dan O'Dowd's Bible study-group vision for the Rockies clubhouse. He's also not young and not having a very good season. After the Rockies' tough road trip O'Dowd might be considering a longer-term vision for any deals he may make this season. Rather than trading lefty King for a righty reliever (since Tom Martin has claimed King's role as the principle lefthanded matchup guy), perhaps he will be dealt for prospects instead. I wouldn't be all gung-ho about sending out for a veteran reliever since 1) their contracts are usually bad and 2) they seldom make any difference whatsoever in pennant races. And the Rockies even while losing still don't have a lot of relief innings to go around since the starters have been both good and durable.
If you're a Rockies fan and have been feeling bad about the last few weeks, think about how Dodgers fans must feel. The idea of Colorado winning the division before the break was mostly wishful thinking. The Dodgers were the favorites, at least in my book. They had the best offense in the NL and a seemingly limitless reserve of talented minor leaguers. Suddenly they can't do anything right. What happened? Well, getting swept in two straight series with the Cardinals hasn't helped. Then there's Nomar Garciaparra's .215 average in July. While the Rockies were losing a lot of close games during their recent dry run, the Dodgers were getting beat up. Since the break they have been outscored 64-21. I know a lot of Dodger fans wander over here every now and then, and they know all of this already, so I'll stop. But for Rockies fans, there's a little perspective.
OK, Jason Jennings and Chris Carpenter. That's a pretty nice matchup. It's starting now, so it's time to wrap this up. Let's hope the Rockies continue to win, continuing to inspire me to blog better.