Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
What Are We Supposed to Make of This?
2007-05-27 10:41
by Mark T.R. Donohue

So, immediately following the day where most of the remaining Colorado fans blew a collective gasket, the team has ripped off four wins in a row. Is that a coincidence? Just like last season, when any stretch where the Rockies began to look like a .500 team coincided with a hot streak from the starters, whose high is three earned runs allowed (by Jason Hirsh on Friday) during the four-game stretch. There's just about nothing good to say about the Rockies bullpen so far this season, but when the starters go seven innings (or, heck, nine as Aaron Cook did yesterday), their limitations are a lot less likely to be exposed. There's more good news, too: Rodrigo Lopez is ready to come off of the disabled list and pitch against St. Louis on Tuesday. Of course it's hard to invest too deeply in the turnaround potential of this team when the return of Rodrigo Lopez is a major positive development, but if present trends continue, a five-man of Lopez, Cook, Hirsh, Jeff Francis, and Josh Fogg is not so bad. It'd be nice to get Fogg out of there, but Taylor Buchholz hasn't earned it yet.

For the most part, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the sabermetric revolution. I've always felt that the more information you have on a certain subject, the better off you are. In high school it wasn't long after I became obsessed with indie rock music that I taught myself guitar, bass, and drums one after another. I have nothing but contempt for the Scout's Honor sort of people who somehow think that advanced computer modelling and PECOTA and run expectancy matrices are devil's tricks that cheapen the integrity of the game, ignore vital intangibles like hustle and clutchiness, and steal away babies in the dead of the night. If you reject all of the new ideas that have been empirically proven to work as better tools of identifying which players and actions contribute most to winning teams, then you're not really a fan of baseball, but rather a devotee of some nonexistent ethereal ideal of the game that never existed and never will. (This might be a good time to mention Willy Taveras's VORP, which is 1.2. That's lower than Aaron Cook's offensive contribution to the team, for what it's worth.)

My point, assuming that I had one to begin with, is that it would be great to write some sort of musing about how all of the sudden media pressure on the Rockies has galvanized the team and they've banded together to play above their heads and save their beloved, beleaguered manager. But I am too conscious of the fragility of small sample sizes, and highly doubtful this brief run can long continue. With so many young pitchers, Colorado simply isn't going to get seven-inning plus shutdown starts every day. There's also not much evidence to suggest the offense's sudden functionality is something that's going to persist. The Rockies have some young guys who are going to hit better (and honestly, what is going on with Garrett Atkins?), but if Todd Helton goes, it will take truly impressive rebounds from Atkins, Brad Hawpe, Chris Iannetta, and Troy Tulowitzki to even keep the team as mediocre as they are now. Does statophilia drain some of the romance out of baseball? Maybe so. I'm not so much of a romantic though, if you haven't gathered by now.

Buchholz and Noah Lowry today. Go team.

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