Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Colorado Rockies Lose A Heartbreaker; Lessons From Tucson Forgotten

The Colorado Rockies looked to win their third game in a row tonight against the Padres.

Winning tonight would have given the club a chance to salvage at least a decent April record with a win tomorrow afternoon.

The Rockies could not capitalize, as Padres starter Chad Gaudin, a pitcher Colorado pursued less than three weeks ago when the Cubs cut him, matched Jorge De La Rosa in a fun to watch pitcher's duel. It was De La Rosa's third straight start in which the Rockies wasted a great performance.

The Rockies lost 4-3 in a game that see-sawed back and forth in the late innings. With the Padres up 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Seth Smith one handed a pitch that found itself barely making it over the wall in right field. That got the Rockies within a run for the late innings.

In the seventh, after Yorvit Torrealba struck out for the third time, Troy Tulowitzki, out of the lineup for the second straight day, pinch hit in the pitcher's spot. After going down 0-2, Tulowitzki stayed back on a ball and lined it into center field for a base hit.

Dexter Fowler, quickly becoming a fixture in the Rockies lineup, laid down a beautiful push bunt for a single.Ryan Spilborghs then singled home Tulowitzki, then Todd Helton followed with a sharply hit liner to right field to score Fowler.

With Spilbourghs at third, Helton at first and one out, Colorado had an excellent chance to pour the runs on.

Unfortunately, Garrett Atkins could not use his big bat to come through, instead he proceeded to ground into a double play to end the rally.

In the ninth inning the Rockies had another rally going when Helton doubled down the right field line. This brought Atkins back to the plate with a chance to redeem himself. Instead, Atkins grounded to the shortstop Luis Rodriguez, who flipped to Kevin Kouzmanoff at third for an easy fielders choice to end the game.

The Rockies effort to go back to basics this spring may be one of the most over publicized stories in the history of the franchise. Even the most amateur Rockies fan knows that the club was going to work on situational hitting and being more aggressive on the base paths.

It seems that Garrett Atkins missed the memo.

Atkins, who had a chance to open the game up with even a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, failed to find a pitch to hit into the outfield. In that situation, a power hitter of Atkins ilk is looking to do one thing; hit the ball into the seats. If he fails, he has scored a run via the sacrifice fly.

Since 2005, Atkins has grounded into no less than 16 double plays. In '06 he led the National League with 24 GDP's.

The troubling part of this number is the flip side of it. While grounding into double plays seems routine for Atkins, he has never had more than 10 sacrifice flies in one season.

Part of the pain in losses like this for the team is that it has such a similar feel to that of last season. It was games like these, in which star players were ineffective in clutch situations, that caused manager Clint Hurdle to fire three coaches and make the declaration of going back to basics.

It seems that most of the Rockies have jumped on board and done their part to scratch out runs and make it more of a team game.

The Rockies are wait still waiting for Atkins to get on board with the new style of play.


  1. Found you on Baseball ref dot com and your statement that Todd Helton is "greatest hitter of our generation" I have a question. Do they give you free beer at coors field? Unless the term "generation" includes games played at coors field only. In that case drink up. Away from Coors field his numbers are just good.

  2. I am glad that you found me via the Baseball-reference.com link on Todd Helton's page...you clearly did not stay on the site very long. Let's take a look at the numbers.

    ROAD NUMBERS (Career):
    Todd Helton- .293 batting average, 219 2B, .886 OPS

    Alex Rodriguez- .298, 211 2B, .947 OPS

    Pete Rose- .296, 350 2B, .759 OPS

    Derek Jeter- .310, 204 2B, .826 OPS

    "Away from Coors Field his numbers are just good."
    Interesting comment, if that is true, than Alex Rodriguez is also "just good" on the road. Same with Pete Rose and Derek Jeter. The list goes on and on, but I felt that was a pretty good sample size.
    Very few players hit as well on the road as they do at home. You are not sleeping in your own bed, you are flying every third day, you don't have the fans behind you...
    Maybe it is you who needs to keep drinking...keep drinking that ESPN koolaid, you can forever keep thinking that only Yankees, Mets and Red Sox players are actually good.
    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Alex Rodriguez BA .016 better at H, 6 more 2B at home, 11 more HR at home, 66 more RBI at home.

    Pete Rose BA .014 better at H, 46 more doubles at H, 10 HR at H, 58 more RBI at home.

    Derek Jeter BA .013 better at H, 7 more 2B at home, 6 more HR at H, 17 FEWER RBI at H

    Todd Helton BA .069 better at H, 36 more 2B at H, 70 more HR at H, 237 more RBI at home.

    Just using the guys you listed. I looked up Barry Bonds and Tony Gwynn as well. Road and home numbers were almost identical. And while I was at it I looked up Vinny Castilla, Larry Walker and Dante Bichette. All had similar number increses to Todd's at home. It is what it is.

    Shall we compare home and road numbers to contemporary National league 1B instead of short stops and guys from the 70's? I looked at Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez. Both hit better on the road.

    T.H. is a GOOD player.

  4. Let's even out Helton's numbers real quick...lets say Helton hits .10 higher at home, and everything else is even across the board. Let's look at your examples averaged out...

    Helton (using adjusted numbers)-.298, 40 2B, 22 HR, 81 RBI

    Bonds- .298, 27 2B, 90 RBI, 35 HR

    Gwynn- .338, 34 2B, 71 RBI, 8 HR.

    The only category that Bonds has Helton beat in is home runs, and we all know that Bonds has EVERY great hitter beat in that category.

    Gwynn wins on average, but is far behind in 2B's RBI and home runs.

    All of those numbers put Helton is a neutral park or less than neutral park for the stats used for him.

    Todd Helton is the only player in the game to ever hit at least 35 doubles in his first 10 seasons in the big leagues. That would have happened regardless of Coors Field.

    I don't really know what else you would want to argue in terms of being a great player.