Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
2007-07-07 18:35
by Mark T.R. Donohue

After losing eight of their first ten series or whatever it was, we were pretty sure the Rockies were bad. Then they tore through interleague play like it was going out of style, and we thought maybe we were wrong and they were actually good. Then there was that 1-9 road trip. Clearly the Rockies were bad. Then they came back home and swept the Mets. It's time for the franchise to make up its mind and make things a little easier on analysts like me.

The last couple of little positive runs the franchise has been on were the product of excellent starting pitching, so this four-game streak is a little different. While the starters have been shaky as they were on the recent brutal road trip the bullpen and the offense are pulling more weight. The team's latest pattern has been allowing a handful of runs in the first inning and then immediately coming back with rallies of their own in the first and second. That bodes well for the game tonight, which is presently in a rain delay after half an inning with Philadelphia leading 3-0.

Brian Fuentes took himself off of the All-Star roster, which is probably for the best. Fuentes has problems enough right now without having to read in a hundred places every day that he's the single least worthy NL All-Star. Willy Taveras has been in and out of the lineup the last few games with a sore right quadriceps, Cory Sullivan has been playing pretty well in his stead. I would still like to see the Rockies experiment further with Ryan Spilborghs in center, since seemingly every time I see Spilborghs get a start he hits in three or four runs. He had a grand slam in the game I went to on Tuesday, part of the three-game Mets sweep.

If the Rockies can come from behind in the game tonight and win tomorrow, they will finish the "first half" two games over .500. Or they could lose two and be two under. It would be most appropriate, I feel, for them to go ahead and spilt. A break-even record seems like a good stopping point for this most schizophrenic of teams. It would be somehow fitting for a team that has looked at times unbeatable and at times like it can't get out of its own way to finish the first section of the schedule, in a sense, exactly where it started.

Update: ESPN's Jayson Stark lists Matt Holliday as his NL MVP in his midseason awards column. Finally, national recognition! For my part it seems like Stark's choice suggests a rather old-school fixation on batting average, in which Holliday leads the league. Going by VORP Barry Bonds, Chase Utley, and Hanley Ramirez have been more valuable. Holliday (.349/.400/.586, 38.0 VORP) is having a lovely little season, and would be getting more credit for it were not the team around him so suspect to repeating runs of subprofessional play. Given the numbers it's hard to quibble with Bonds starting in the All-Star Game at Holliday's position in left field, although the sudden late surge in votes Bonds got does look a wee bit fishy. It would be nice if the game were at an AL host so that Bonds could DH and Holliday could get a start -- he's having that kind of year. The All-Star Game is one of the few occasions where I see no argument against the designated hitter. None of the pitchers are going to bat, anyway. What's the argument against having the DH in the NL parks too? It would reduce the risk of there being a repeat of the tie game in Milwaukee, 2002.

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