Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Brian Fuentes, All-Star Closer
2007-07-01 16:03
by Mark T.R. Donohue

First the Rockies completely failed to show up for a 12-0 battering at the hands of the Astros, managing only four hits (with Wandy Rodriguez starting!) and completing their annual season-busting miserable road trip 1-9. But then, the good news! Matt Holliday and Brian Fuentes have been named to the All-Star Game. Holliday's choice is a no-brainer; if there was any justice in the world, he would be starting. But Fuentes has to view the honor as something of a hollow accomplishment since he's just finished the worst stretch in his entire three-year tenure as Colorado closer.

It's too bad All-Star selection is based mostly on what city you play in and only after that on outdated stats such as RBI and win totals for pitchers; Jeff Francis deserves a nod one of these years but playing for this franchise his chances are never going to be very good.

This season is shaping up as the worst the Rockies possibly could have had, given the circumstances. They're not going to be bad enough to secure a dazzlingly high draft pick, and their one period playing above their heads coincided with the Yankees series, allowing ownership to continue promoting illusory progress and line their pockets with fat revenue sharing dollars. The Monforts might even be able to get away with not firing Clint Hurdle and Dan O'Dowd even though the team is going to miss the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year. That means we might as well write off 2008 as well, since Hurdle and O'Dowd have already received their extensions and the Monforts are not the sort of owners to pay four people to perform two jobs. Hurdle... well, I think he might well be a really nice guy, maybe one of the nicer managers in the game, certainly nicer than Jim Leyland, but he's a loser. Come on. His complete lack of leadership during this recent skin-crawling stretch of horrible play is pretty damning. "It's been bizarre, quirky, any word you want to use," the Post quotes the skipper. "I said eight days ago that our confidence is probably at a peak. So what's changed? Is our talent level any different? This is our most traumatic test so far, but we'll pass it." Uh... pass it how? All that's left for the Rockies this season is to play out the string, again, and it would be nice to hear one person in the organization take some responsibility. This aw-shucks, sometimes-you-eat-the-bear-and-sometimes-the-bear-eats-you tone the players and management are taking is loser talk.

That loud ominous "clunk" you just heard was the other shoe dropping on the Rodrigo Lopez signing. Scary true fact: It's hot in the summer in this country. Lopez and Jason Hirsh and Josh Fogg are going to get knocked around like the bargain-basement penny-clutching rotation-fillers they are for the next two months and change, and don't say I didn't warn you.

Does anybody care about the All-Star Game any more? When I first started writing a baseball blog I duly went through the motions analyzing who ought to make the teams and who ought not to, but I didn't much enjoy it and I stopped when I realized few of my readers really did either. I always thought it was one of those things geared more towards the casual fan, but all of my friends whom I would describe as casual fans ignore it and are somewhat surprised to hear that I think it's pointless, too -- they think it's for the hardcore. So the hardcore fans think it's for the looky-loos and the casual fans think it's only for seamheads. Who's left? Fans who think their team is really going to benefit from having home field advantage in the World Series? I don't know. Even the Home Run Derby stopped being amusing a few years ago when ESPN made it seven hours long. I'm sure a lot of players would miss the time off, but for my part they could do away with the whole tradition. There's a whole of of playing out the string left to be done that I'd just as soon get started with right away.

2007-07-01 20:17:53
1.   Tommyk
How true it is about Hurdle and what you termed his "loser talk." And yet, once again his job is curiously still very safe. In the end, this will all be packaged as "we made some progress this year."

Dumping Hurdle (as any normal organization would have already done, though we know the Rockies are anything but normal) certainly wouldn't be anything but a good thing. At the very least it would be a chance for this team to possibly come out of the season with at least a shred or two of dignity and respectability.

Manager firings happen and when they do, it often results in all manner of disruption. So be it.

In spite of all the latest misery, the Rockies manager and players recite the same vacuous statements of how they are sticking together, are picking each other up, are not panicking, are not down on themselves and are still a good team.

I guess we are expected to take their word for it, because there certainly isn't much evidence of this when it should be most apparent. When they take to the field.

On game day their feckless play betrays them.

The only sticking together they do is collectively going into slumps at the worst possible times. If they are not panicking, they should be. If they are not down on themselves, what's with listless execution? They think they are still a good team? Well good teams win close games, come back from tough losses to punish their opponents and generally win more games than they lose.

Fire Hurdle? Absolutely, why not? So it might cause some disruption. Some might say disruption is just what the Rockies need right now. Others might say this team is already pretty much in a state of disruption.

Either way, firing the manager cannot make anything any worse than it already is.

At this point, the Monforts are right on schedule in their annual campaign to bring another futile MLB season in Colorado to a quiet close. And they like it this way. Honestly, how likely is it that the angry fan/media uprising earlier in the season will resurrect itself as the back half of this season slowly and excruciatingly grinds to its inevitable end?

2007-07-02 10:41:05
2.   mbtn01
The Rockies could do worse than having the Mets come to town. There's the risk their offense will finally click and score in bunches but as a day-in, day-out observer I doubt that will be the case.

* Reyes for all his hype last a triple a month ago today. He's still reaching base enough to be a terror, but he's hitting bloops, not screaming line drives.

* Delgado is still OBPing in the 280s, looks awful.

* Alou is injured: Carlos Gomez is very fast and plays nice D in his place but he isn't ready to hit MLB pitching.

* Beltran looks to be coming out of his slumber & could be dangerous, but we've said that before and been wrong. He's not been forthcoming over what leg injuries he may not have.

* Pitching has been carrying the Mets but looks like Oliver Perez (scheduled Tuesday) will be DLed - that means lefty Jason Vargas from AAA, probably, vs. Cook, who murdered the Mets earlier this year.

2007-07-02 11:44:24
3.   moomacher
Well at least Damion f*cking Easley won't have chance to hit a two out game tying home run off Fuentes.
2007-07-02 12:56:31
4.   Inside Baseball
Hi Mark, please advise. Please rank your best guess as to who gets the next save chance.

(I'm in an NL only fantasy baseball league in need of saves, and have picked up Corpas but only have room on my roster for one more.)

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