Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Whose Number Should The Colorado Rockies Retire First?

Compared to teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox the Rockies really do not have what anyone would call a storied history.

It seems strange to think that the Rockies are entering their 18th season in the big leagues and their 16th season playing at Coors Field.

The Rockies are old enough to have fans that have filled out their draft registration at the local post office, and have never seen a summer in which the Rockies were not in existence. In a game with as rich of a history as baseball, the Rockies are still very much a young team.

While the history of the club is forming, and perhaps entering its first great chapter, there are still several memories in the past that should not be forgotten.

Thomas Harding, the Rockies beat writer for MLB.com, wrote a very thought provoking article about how the Rockies have only retired the number of Jackie Robinson, a number retired by every team in the league. However, there are two numbers that the Rockies do not issue, even though they have not been retired.

Larry Walker's no.33 has never been warn since the Canadian right fielder left Colorado. In addition to Walker's number is the late Darryl Kile's no. 57. Kile died in a Chicago hotel room three seasons after being dealt by the Rockies to the Cardinals.

Suddenly the Rockies are an established team. 18 years is a long time to be in the league. Is it time for the Rockies to officially honor some of their early great players? The Blake Street Bombers were not a flash in the pan. Stories of 15-14 games at Coors Field will live on for years. By all accounts, those players set the tone for the early part of Colorado Rockies history. Should members of those Rockies clubs see their numbers retired?

The obvious choice would be to find room on the outfield wall for Walker's no.33 jersey. After all, he is the club's first and only MVP. In 10 seasons with the Rockies, Walker was the National League batting champion three times. His On base plus slugging percentage never dropped below .898 and was frequently above 1.000, an incredible stat. On four different occasions Walker represented the Rockies in the All-Star game. The choice seems simple.

However, the answer is not that easy.

After Walker was done playing for the Rockies the club continued to rebuild. The club's newfound philosophy of building from within was in its infancy, which meant that the team was signing re-treads and has been's as stop gaps at nearly every position. The Rockies were consistently losing more than 70 games per season.

If there were no bright spots during those long rebuilding days, there would be no doubt that the Rockies should honor Walker by retiring his jersey.

The problem is, there was a bright spot.

While the Rockies were busy losing games, Todd Helton was busy making the team at least respectable. He was putting up numbers that simply could not be written off simply because he played at Coors Field. After hitting 25 home runs and driving in 97 runs in his rookie season, Helton was denied the Rookie of the Year honors, finishing second to Kerry Wood.

In 2000, Helton won the batting title and drove in an incredible 147 runs while hitting 42 home runs and smacking 59 doubles. Helton was an All-Star in five straight seasons.

His numbers go on and on, and by no means was Helton simply an offensive player. Helton is a three-time Gold Glove winner and even in his older age still showing up on the highlight shows at least once a week with an incredible play at first base.

Because Helton has been so good, because he is the club leader in nearly every offensive category, because he was part of the first Rockies team to win a pennant, and because when he had every opportunity to ask to be dealt to a winner, and yet was patient, and for so many more reasons, no one should ever wear no.17 in purple pinstripes again.

Something would not be right if Todd Helton does not receive the honor of being the first Rockie to have his number retired.

Until that happens, Larry Walker will have to wait. It does not mean that Walker shouldn't be honored, but his honor should come only after the first truly great Rockie is honored first.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Join Me Tonight on Rockies and MLB with BlogTalkRadio


Some of you may know that I am a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Tonight at 9 pm Mountain Time I will be co-hosting the second edition of Blog Talk Radio with The Eddie Kranepool Society and Mets blogger Steve Keane. If you want to talk about the Rockies, the Mets, and baseball in general, please call in and give us your thoughts (347) 884-8690.

If you want to listen in, please follow the link to Blog Talk Radio.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tulsa Drillers Moving Into New Downtown Ballpark

The Colorado Rockies play in one of the most beautiful ballparks in all of baseball. Now their Double-A farm team will have their own beautiful park to call their home.

ONEOK Field is scheduled to host it's first game on April 8th. The future Rockies will no doubt appreciate their home. Check out the video below for a tour.

If there was a question about who should throw out the first pitch, the answer should be obvious.
Those duties should be performed by a member of the Coolbaugh family. Mike Coolbaugh was the first base coach with the Drillers that was killed when he was hit by a foul ball in the neck back in 2007.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring Is Upon Us: A 2010 NL West Preview

The National League West was the laughing stock of the league in 2008. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the division with just 86 wins. In 2009, they went from worst to first.
The Dodgers took the division, winning 95 games. The Rockies were right behind them, forcing a nail-biting three game series to end the season in LA.

What was fun about the NL West race was that it wasn't simply a two-horse race. The Giants finished in third place, winning 88 games. The Giants and Rockies were neck-and-neck from late July until the final week of the season. Both teams delivered blows to each other down the stretch, with an end result of phenomenal nail-biting baseball games.

How will 2010 shake out?

The NL West should once again be the division to watch, despite what John Kruk might say on Baseball Tonight. Here is a team by team evaluation of the offseason and what to expect, in order of '09 standings.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The last thing a team in the playoffs needs is distraction. That was exactly what the Dodgers got in the NLCS when the team owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, announced that they would be getting a divorce. As they distracted the team with the news, they vowed that it would not be a distraction.

In the next few days there were reports of Frank firing his ex-wife and having her escorted out by security. This was a preview of what the offseason would hold for the division champs.

The famous divorced forced the team to put everything on hold. That meant that All-Star Orlando Hudson was not offered arbitration, therefore the team did not even get a draft pick when the Minnesota Twins ended up signing him.

The other major casualty of the divorce was 11-game winner Randy Wolf. Wolf was the most consistent pitcher for the Dodgers and helped solidify a rotation with several questions.

Juan Pierre was also dealt to the White Sox in an effort to reduce costs. Pierre may not have been an everyday starter, but fans should not forget his contributions during Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension.

The Dodgers will still be good. Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley are extremely talented pitchers. If those two can stay healthy there is no reason to think that the Dodgers will not be in contention come September.

Keep an eye on Ramirez. Suddenly the 38-year-old is looking like a 38-year-old. Does that have anything to do with Ramirez being off the steroids that he tested positive for in May of 2009? If Ramirez does not show up at the plate, the Dodgers are in big trouble.

Colorado Rockies:

The Rockies did their best to cram a six month season into four months. After falling 15 games under .500 in early June, the team raced to the best record in the National League from June 5th on.

The Rockies say goodbye to fiery clubhouse leader Yorvit Torrealba, who was done in by a misguided agent. They also lost 15 game winner Jason Marquis. Despite some who say that neither will be missed, the Rockies will have a tough time replacing what both players brought to the team. Without Marquis, the Rockies simply do not play in October. Torrealba was the most clutch player in baseball in September.

Despite the loses, the Rockies strengthened their team. After Torrealba spurned their offer, the Rox quickly moved on and signed Miguel Olivo, a power hitting catcher who was behind the plate for every single start the AL Cy Young winner Zach Grienke made in '09.

They also strengthened their bench by re-signing Jason Giambi and landed third baseman Melvin Mora from the Orioles. Mora should push Clint Barmes at second base and spell Ian Stewart at third if the lefty struggles with his swing.

Rockies fans also saw the team reward success by signing Huston Street to a three-year deal, keeping him in purple pinstripes for longer than most experts ever thought he would be.

Perhaps the best acquisition the Rockies made in the offseason was getting their own lefty ace back. Jeff Francis, who missed all of 2009 after undergoing shoulder surgery, is getting rave reviews from medical personnel and scouts who have been watching him throw.

San Francisco Giants:

The Giants, despite scoring the second fewest runs in the National League, was the best team in the National League not to make the postseason. Most expected the team to try and improve their lineup, but that did not really happen.

The Giants signed Orioles and Tigers castoff Aubrey Huff, who should make a slight impact, but after a season in which he posted a .310 OBP, to go along with just 15 home runs, fans by the bay should not expect much.

After the team had said that the boat had sailed, catcher Bengie Molina must have steered his boat back to the bay, because the Giants re-signed him to be their cleanup hitter for another season.

Needless to say, the Giants will be heavily dependent on their two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Barry Zito. The first two are a legitimate threat, the third will be remembered for being the worst free agent signing of the decade. The Giants will be right in it again, but fans better like defense.

Arizona Diamondbacks:

Watch out for these guys. This team has been on a free fall since April of 2008. While they may have been forgotten about, they will make noise in 2010. Especially if Brandon Webb returns to form after an injury forced him to the 60 day DL early in the year. All indications suggest that he will be ready to go, which should scare the rest of the NL West.

The D-Backs get Webb back, and also acquired Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy, which will go a long way to help their starting rotation.

Arizona has a lineup that is very talented. Stephen Drew seems to know how to inflict damage when it matters, Mark Reynolds is a constant long ball threat, and if Justin Upton and Chris Young would come anywhere close to their potential, this lineup will be as good as any.

The Diamondbacks could easily be the sleeper of the west.

San Diego Padres:

They made a few small moves in the offseason, including dealing starting third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to the A's and acquiring Yorvit Torrealba, but the reality is, they made news more for what they did not do.

Everyone expected slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to someone who can afford him in the future. The move never happened, but from all indications it will happen long before the trade deadline at the end of July.

If the Padres finish with a .500 record it will be the biggest surprise in Major League Baseball.

With four legitimate contenders in the National League West it should be a fun race to watch.

For more on the Rockies and the National League West visit RockiesReview.com