Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Colorado Rockies offense carries Alex White in debut

It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't too ugly either.

The Colorado Rockies got their first taste of the second most prized possession that they got for their first-ever ace, Ubaldo Jimenez. Not-yet-23-year-old Alex White stepped to the mound at Coors Field with fans eager to see what this guy might be all about if he merited trading Jimenez.

The results? He didn't fall flat on his face, but he didn't do too much impressing either.

When reality hits, however, it wasn't a horrible debut. The plus-side for the Rockies is that they got a taste of the good side of White. It took him just nine pitches to get out of a perfect first inning. He lived up to his billing by mixing speeds on his fastball to create movement. The board at Coors Field was often confused by whether or not it was an 86 MPH changeup, or fastball.

White was hurt by the longball. At Coors Field, he is going to have to take care of that problem. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the right-hander is barely two years removed from being drafted. He shot his way through the Minor Leagues, and will certainly have a learning curve at the big league level.

In all, White went six innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. He struck out four and only walked one. The numbers don't show anything to be excited about, but there were flashes of why the Rockies were so excited to have him in the deal, especially as a guy who wasn't the centerpiece.

With the focus centered squarely on White, it was easy to miss Seth Smith once again showing why he is not a platoon player. Less than three weeks ago, Dan O'Dowd called Smith out publicly for not hitting for enough power. It looks as if Smith has decided that if the Rockies want to see power, he will show them power.

Despite doing everything in his power to be an everyday guy, Smith will routinely sit the day after tearing the cover off of the ball. He is the one guy who cannot seem to make it into Jim Tracy's good graces. On Sunday, Smith hit a monster home run to help the Rockies pick up their first Sunday victory in 18 tries, and found himself on the bench Monday.

On Tuesday, back in the lineup, Smith hit a 478-foot no-doubter to the facing of the third deck above the visitior's bullpen. A baseball simply cannot be hit any harder than that.

On the night, Smith went 2-for-3 with the homer, two RBIs, and a walk.

Sure, his defense isn't average in the outfield. But at some point, with Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez manning the other two spots, isn't it worth allowing for one of the outfield spots to be slightly below average in exchange for some offense? Even with below average defense, he still plays a better left field than Eric Young, Jr., whom Tracy is currently platooning Smith with.

O'Dowd has criticized Smith's power numbers, but project his current numbers into a typical 600 at-bat season. He would have a .284 batting average, with 24 home runs 82 RBIs, and 41 doubles. Those numbers aren't going to win any home run or batting titles, but they certainly are good enough to merit a little bit more respect than what Smith has received for the work he has done.

At some point, the Rockies need to see what Smith can do with the bat and give him a chance to prove that he can do it everyday. Most teams would be thrilled to have a guy hitting with those type of numbers in the six-hole.

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