Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
That Old Outraged Feeling
2007-12-22 16:03
by Mark T.R. Donohue
I still feel the Rockies are in pretty good shape for next year, considering that what ended up being a 90-win team had two massive power sinks in the lineup (at least one of which will now be gone) and didn't have its first-choice pitching rotation assembled at any time (unless you count Aaron Cook's sad little World Series start). Arizona and Los Angeles have made some moves, but both teams were rather considerably fundamentally worse than Colorado last year, and it would not be at all unreasonable to anticipate some growth on the part of the Rockies' young players, which is almost all of them. I anticipate that some of you are now saying to yourselves, "But, the D-Backs and Dodgers have young players too." That is true. However, the Dodgers have organizational issues -- they don't want to win with the players they have, for some reason -- and Arizona's young players, as a group, didn't play as well as the Rockies' did last year. And of course there's always the Padres, who are supposed to be too old to count, but they still have more pitching than Colorado does and were the "true" second-place team in the NL West last season. We'll write more about the competition in the division when Spring Training is closer on the horizon, but one thing I think all of us who are fans of any team in the NL West can agree upon -- nobody needs to worry about the Giants being good any time soon. Like, the next decade soon.

Anyway, I'm not here today to write about the competition. I'm worried about a franchise that only had three obvious needs going into this offseason only fully addressing one of them, barely trying for another, and completely ignoring/denying the third big necessity. If you watched the team last year, you know what I'm talking about -- Colorado could really use a deeper bullpen, they have a gap at second base left by the departure of Kazuo Matsui, and they have a yawning chasm in center field. I'm not the only person who feels this way -- remember, Willy Taveras was benched for the last two games of the World Series. That's pretty harsh treatment for a guy who was your everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the whole season. Taveras might have been benched more because his sore hamstring kept him from being 100% effective than because Clint Hurdle finally realized as I did long ago that Taveras is a pathetic, grotesque excuse for an everyday major leaguer, but I think that kind of makes my point for me. If a guy completely relies on his speed, and absolutely nothing else, to make him a passable major-league ballplayer, isn't every year you spend with the guy on your payroll past his 25th birthday another turn at Russian roulette? Even if there's no trade market for Willy T the Rockies are being beyond foolish in not bringing a veteran or two into camp to nip at his heels; I'm having no part of another Steve Finley comeback but it looks like Mike Cameron doesn't have a lot of options and there are plenty of teams with centerfielders to trade. If Willy is starting on Opening Day, then Dan O'Dowd was asleep at the switch for the easiest offseason he's ever faced. After years of having question marks all over the field, the Rockies have a pretty credible core assembled at last -- not putting the few last pieces in place to allow that core its best chance at sustained postseason success is a worse crime than keeping the team so crummy for so long in the first place.

Willy Taveras is a losing player. The Rockies want to be a winning team. Make him go away, please, if only to the bench.

2007-12-22 16:46:09
1.   Bob Timmermann
Does anyone on Baseball Toaster like their team's center fielder?

Well, I guess the Dodger fans do because it's Andruw Jones now.

2007-12-22 17:06:12
2.   RIYank
Well, I like Melky, but maybe that's not exactly what you were asking.
2007-12-22 17:13:09
3.   Eric Stephen
Mark, how does the rotation shake out after Francis & Cook?

Are all the other slots open? Jimenez, Wells, Morales, Hirsh, and maybe Redman fighting it out for the final 3 spots?

Arizona and Los Angeles have made some moves, but both teams were rather considerably fundamentally worse than Colorado last year

As a Dodger fan, I'd love to argue you, but I really can't. LA & Colorado had the same pythagorean record through game 148 (79-69), but that's not really anything to hang my hat on!

It looks like it will be a tight race between four teams in 2008.

2007-12-22 18:59:58
4.   Ken Arneson
According to PMR, Taveras was the 7th-best defensive CF in baseball, and he had an OBP of .367, which last time I checked, ain't a bad value, either. But don't tell Mark that Taveras was actually an above-average CF last year, because the resulting cognitive dissonance might make his head explode.
2007-12-22 20:06:06
5.   Mark T.R. Donohue
4 Everyone has their own position on the value or lack thereof of defensive stats, but even if his value is as they it is, having to watch Willy take off in the wrong direction, 180, and finally take a flat-out sprint into a diving catch when he should have caught the ball flat-footed two or three times A GAME is freaking killing me.
2007-12-22 20:12:24
6.   Mark T.R. Donohue
3 The rotation is going to be Francis, Cook, Jimenez, Morales, and Hirsh. Almost certainly. Unless Hirsh's health is a lot worse than I've been hearing.
2007-12-22 20:50:15
7.   Eric Stephen

That's what I kind of figured the rotation would (should) be, but I wasn't sure how highly they viewed Kip Wells.

If Francis, Cook, Jimenez, Morales & Hirsh end up with the vast majority of starts, that will be quite a rotation. All under 30, all with above-average ERAs last year.

2007-12-22 22:25:53
8.   overkill94
The Dodgers have a center fielder they're willing to give up on the cheap :)

Unlike the Rockies, I feel that the Dodgers did address their needs this offseason which were a power bat, a better CFer, and starting pitching depth. Whether the two main additions and having guys like Loney, Kemp, and hopefully LaRoche get more at-bats will put them over the top is anyone's guess, but I'm liking our chances.

I'd say if the Rockies just picked up someone like Marcus Giles then they'll be okay. There aren't really any marquee 2B on the market, so you might as well get a guy on the cheap who can provide some gap power.

2007-12-22 22:42:11
9.   Eric Stephen
Does Marcus Giles have anything left in the tank? He's been pretty awful the last two years, posting a combined .247/.325/.357, 79 OPS+.
2007-12-23 11:34:50
10.   overkill94
9 Well, he was okay his last year in Atlanta (.262/.341/.387) and was probably a victim of the cavernous Petco last year. I think his power numbers would look pretty decent in Coors and allow him to put up a line closer to his 2005 mark of .291/.365/.461 - albeit with probably a little less power.
2007-12-26 19:03:28
11.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
I am starting more and more to look forward to the NL West competition in 2008, since the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it is up for grabs. Healthy players may dictate the final standings more than anything else.
2008-01-09 23:06:25
12.   MadMonk
10 Marcus was not good after April last season. It wasn't the Petco effect as his road numbers were pretty dismal as well except at Coors.

I hope he gets to perform better but the Rockies are sold on Nix/Stewart so Marcus may not even be with the team as he was pretty miffed at the Padres for being a backup the rest of the last season behind, of all players, Geoff Blum.

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