October 2009

The bloggers agree on Tracy, Scioscia

Sporting News announced today that the Rockies’ Jim Tracy and the Angels’ Mike Scioscia were named managers of the year in the National and American leagues, respectively. The passionate writers who blog the game agree.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance sent a press release announcing their choices. The BBA Web site has the story.

Awards time for the Rockies … finally

Rockies fans usually smile when they remember 2007. What a giddy time. But things went kind of downhill at the very end, and I’m not talking about the sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in the World Series.

The mainstream postseason awards system essentially ignored the Rockies. Then-Rockies star Matt Holliday was pushed aside in the Baseball Writers Association of America for the Most Valuable Player Award, which went to the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins. By no means was Rollins a flimsy choice. He was heart and soul of a Phillies team that has become dominant. But some of the reasoning against Holliday — mainly that Coors Field inflated his numbers — ignored the fact the Phillies play a homer-friendly bandbox, Citizens Bank Park. That, and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki losing out to the Brewers’ Ryan Braun for NL Rookie of the Year (Braun struggled so much defensively that he later changed positions, while Tulowitizki’s glove made a huge difference), reinforced the feeling that among local fans that the writers who vote paid no attention to the Rockies until it was unavoidable. Holliday was the only player to earn a Louisville Slugger Silver Slgger Award. No one won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award despite an outstanding overall defensive performance.

At least Tulowitkzi was taken care of outside the traditional media voting. He earned a 2007 Fielding Bible Award from ACTA Sports, which bases the award on a scientific system, and fans voted him the NL’s outstanding rookie via MLB.com in The Year in Baseball Awards.

Now, though, one major honor has come the Rockies’ way. Sporting News has named Jim Tracy its NL Manager of the Year, and Tracy is a favorite for the BBWAA’s manager award.

Now is a good time to look at a couple of other possible awards for the Rockies.

– Tulowitzki is up for a Gold Glove again. Rollins, however, has won the award the last two years. It’s hard to beat an incumbent, and Rollins had a slightly higher fielding percentage, .990 to .986. But it’s hard to ignore Tulowitzki’s overall role in the turnaround. And the baseball people who vote tend to let offense creep into the equation. Tulowitzki had a much bigger year offensively.

– That’s why Tulowitzki should win his first Silver Slugger Award for his complete offensive season — .297 (including .344 after the All-Star break), 32 home runs, 92 RBIs and 20 steals.

– How about first baseman Todd Helton for the various NL comeback player of the year awards? He finished fourth in the NL in batting. Who expected that after back surgery at the end of last season?

– By the second half, Helton began showing his former range. He has a shot at his fourth Gold Glove. By the way, the Rockies haven’t had a Gold Glove winner since Helton won his last, in 2004.

– I doubt center fielder Dexter Fowler will win Rookie of the Year, but it’ll be interesting to see where he finishes in the voting.

Any other thoughts on awards?

What time is it? Gametime! But, boy, is it early

Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS are starting at 12:37 p.m. (MT). Let’s say that’s not exactly prime time.

That fact bothers Phillies Game 2 starter Cole Hamels. He said as a player he can’t let it bother him, but starting games so early is a disruption, and a little disrespectful.

“In being the defending World Champs, I think it’s kind of a little weird that we kind of get both games at 2 o’clock,” Hamels said. “I don’t think it’s fair. I definitely don’t think it’s fair for the fans, because this ais all about the homefield advantage.

“I understand TV ratings, ut I think at the end of the day most players would rather play when they’re both comfortable, and that’s kind of what we’ve trained at, either 1 o’clock or 7 o’clock, and I think that’s more fair for us.”

Hamels has some points. But it’s a discussion that Rockies manager Jim Tracy would rather not have.

“I don’t get too overly involved in it because the schedule makers are not going to ask me my opinion,” Tracy said. “I understand Cole’s point. This is a very good team. They are the defending World Champions. They obviously have a right to an opinion.

“But as far as me weighing in and saying I’d rather done this, I’d rather done that, at 18-28 back on the 28th of May, I’m tickled to death to have a game to play. I really don’t care what time it starts.” 

Here’s the Game 1 lineup, and NLDS roster

Lineup 

CF Dexter Fowler
LF Carlos Gonzalez
1B Todd Helton
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Garrett Atkins
C Yorvit Torrealba
RF Brad Hawpe
2B Clint Barmes
P Ubaldo Jimenez
Left-handed reserves
Ian Stewart
Jason Giambi
Seth Smith
Right-handed reserves
Ryan Spilborghs
Chris Iannetta
Switch-hitting reserve
Eric Young Jr.
Bullpen
LHP Joe Beimel
LHP Franklin Morales
RHP Jason Marquis
RHP Jose Contreras
RHP Matt Belisle
RHP Matt Daley
RHP Rafael Betancourt
RHP Huston Street
Game 2 starter — RHP Aaron Cook
Game 3 starter — RHP Jason Hammel

Lee, Hamels, then we’ll see …

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel loves the matchup. Most of the Rockies’ feared hitters are left-handed, and the Phillies will start lefties Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the first two games of the National League Division Series. The Rockies hit .264 against right-handers and .253 against left-handers during the regular season.

“Left-handed pitchers agaisnt Colorado, to me, definitely comes into play,” Manuel said. ‘I think with lee and Hamels, I think that we’ve got two top-notch pitchers going into the first two games of the series.”

This also gives Manuel lefty J.A. Happ and righty Joe Blanton to pitch in relief should one of the two aces struggle. That would mean Manuel can limit the use of a bullpen that has struggled during the latter part of the season.

Beautiful day … don’t get used to it

What a wonderful, sun-baked day here in Philadelphia. From the press box at Citizens Bank Park, the view of Philadelphia beyond the stadium is one of the most beautiful in baseball. I guess it’s underrated, because hardly anyone waxes about it.

It’s a great day for baseball. Too bad it’s only the workout day. Wednesday’s Game 1 forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of rain. The postcard-perfect day game is Thursday — 69 with no chance of showers.

Speaking of the weather, be ready to bundle up for Saturday night’s Game 3. The forecast says 44 degrees with a 40 percent chance of precipitation.

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