Results tagged ‘ Aaron Cook ’

Publication believes age will hurt Rockies’ defense

The Rockies’ decision to go older this year was designed to increase the team’s savvy and improve situational hitting. But will it hurt the defense?

ACTA Sports, publishers of The Fielding Bible – Volume III, seems to think older is not necessarily better with the glove. The publication points to four moves hurting the defense, under its various formulas that rate players in a category called Defensive Runs Saved.

– The publication reported that right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, who has signed a Minor League contract with the Red Sox, saved six runs last year and was the main reason the Rockies’ staff was rated best in baseball from a fielding standpoint.

– Mark Ellis, who signed with the Dodgers as a free agent, saved 17 runs last season, and bolstered the defense after arriving in a midseason trade. Marco Scutaro, who played last season for the Red Sox, replaces Ellis.

– The book ranks Michael Cuddyer, a free agent previously with the Twins, as a downgrade from Seth Smith, now with the Athletics, in right field.

– Also, catcher Chris Iannetta, who was traded to the Angels, saved eight runs in what the publication rated as a tremendous defensive year. This year’s publication predicts veteran Ramon Hernandez, who played for the Reds last season, will cost the Rockies four runs.

Overall, The Fielding Bible rated the Rockies fifth overall in the Majors defensively, and is predicting a drop to 14th.

Of course, the Rockies could beg to differ with the publication at two of the positions cited.

– When the Rockies signed Cuddyer, one of the attributes they mentioned was his throwing arm, which they felt was superior to Smith’s and the team has no doubt in Cuddyer’s ability to handle right. Right is roomy at Coors, but Dexter Fowler covers extreme ground in center, and left — where 2010 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Carlos Gonzalez plays — is considered more challenging than right because of the room that must be covered.

– The Rockies also have confidence in the range of Scutaro. Last season, Scutaro played in 109 games and started 103 at shortstop for the Red Sox. The Rockies want to rest shortstop Troy Tulowitzki more than in the past, and Scutaro’s range makes him a logical option to allow him to do so. The club would have to feel a second baseman with enough range to play short is not a defensive downgrade.

 

Rockies playing themselves dangerously close to seller status

Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Pirates put the fading Rockies in a precarious position when it comes to their approach to the non-waiver trade deadline. There is increasing speculation that the Rockies could turn into sellers.Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Rockies have been quietly shopping veteran right-hander Aaron Cook. As The Denver Post reported, Cook is due $9.5 million next yeatr but his salary goes up by $1 million if he’s traded. There also is an $11 million mutual option with a $500,000 buyout for 2012. The Denver Post also mentions second baseman Clint Barmes, right fielder Brad Hawpe and pitchers Jorge De La Rosa and Joe Beimel. The Denver Post also reported that the Rockies have inquired about Cubs infielder Ryan Theriot, although it’s not clear what his role would be since shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has returned from the disabled list

A good stopping point …

– Saturday’s no-hitter by Ubaldo Jimenez against the Braves was the obvious high point, but Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Braves is a better illustration of where the Rockies stand. They didn’t do enough to win. Sometimes when this happens, they win, anyhow. Sunday, they didn’t.

Five hits from an offense that has been sporadic and 11 walks from pitching that has generally performed well were a recipe for disaster. Yet, the Rockies didn’t give the game away until closer Franklin Morales couldn’t throw strikes consistently in the ninth inning.

Sometimes things go wrong and they win. Sunday, many things went wrong and they almost won. Manager Jim Tracy has been noting all weekend that he ability to stay in or pull out games while not necessarily playing well is encouraging, since it means the club is capable of catching fire.

– The power and situational hitting have come and gone. The team hasn’t been consistently effective on the bases. Errors defensively have been a concern. Which area will begin to perform better first?

I believe the defense has become better. And defense is the one area that can turn hot and not cool. The Rockies made all the plays necessary behind Jimenez during the no-hitter, and performed well Sunday. Not making mistakes makes a team solid, and the Rockies are headed in that direction. The difference between solid and spectacular is taking advantage of chances the be spectacular, the way Dexter Fowler made plays behind Jimenez and the way Carlos Gonzalez did Sunday in throwing out Melky Cabrera at the plate from right field.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has made some highlight reel plays, but in other cases he’s almost made them. That should change. I also believe third baseman Ian Stewart, who has had some questionable throws, needs one or two eye-popping plays to settle him and make him more consistently.

– It may be too soon but I don’t think I’m out of line for wondering … How would the lineup perform with Stewart, a power threat, in the No. 3 position, and first Todd Helton in the No. 7 hole?

– I like the way right fielder Brad Hawpe has swung the bat. I also like the way the team is monitoring his playing time. For me, it comes to this unscientific explanation: Hawpe is a big, strong fellow whose body type may be more suited for first base than the outfield. His recent quadriceps injury occurred after a swing, but the place to watch him is in the outfield, especially when he has a lot of activity. Nagging aches are unavoidable, but keep them under control and he’ll produce from April to September. This is an underrated star. 

– Although Morales has had a rough patch, I like he way the bullpen has performed. It it can maintain some consistency, imagine how much stronger it should be when right-handers Huston Street and Taylor Buchholz return.

– The rotation has been solid. Three keys could take it beyond that. 1. Jason Hammel must find some consistency. It’s early, so it’s not time to panic. 2. Greg Smith has shown a capacity to make the pitch he needs to keep situations from becoming messy, but he’ll be better if he can throw well-located strikes early in counts. 3. Aaron Cook hasn’t found his sinker. I was left intrigued by his last outing, when he relied on breaking balls and gave the team a chance to win against the Mets. Will he reach a stage where he’ll dominate with the sinker for a number of outings in a row, or will a good percentage of his outings be ones where he has to be creative?

Hey, folks, these are more Monday morning thoughts, not super observations. Where do you think the Rockies are, and how can they be better?

Cook finds form against White Sox

Before Sunday, the last Aaron Cook sighting in a Cactus League game featured him getting knocked around by the White Sox on March 16 — six runs and six hits in three innings pitched.

But Cook felt he regained his timing in a Minor League game last Saturday. He returned against the White Sox on Saturday afternoon and held them to one run and six hits in six innings of the Rockies’ 6-2 loss at Hi Corbett Field.

It’s as if the bad game against the Sox — and the bad start to the spring (0-2, 11.42 ERA in three starts) never occurred.

“I hate to say I was just getting my work in [during the first few starts], but that’s what I have to use it as — getting my arm in shape,” Cook said. “Now that I’m getting my timing down, and I’m getting the ball coming out of my hand real well, it’s time to go out there and start getting after it.”

Cook said he likes the order of the rotation. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will open on April 5 in Milwaukee, followed by lefty Jeff Francis and Cook. Lefty Jorge De La Rosa will start the home opener on April 9, followed by righty Jason Hammel.

“We’ve got five completely different pitchers that we’re running out there, so it’s not like we’re running back-to-back sinkerballers or back-to-back lefties,” Cook said.

 

Rockies pitching plan update

Rockies manager Jim Tracy tweaked the pitching plan for Saturday. Earlier, the plan was for right-hander Tim Redding to start in a Minor League game. But manager Jim Tracy said Redding instead will pitch in the Major League game in relief of a game with the White Sox, which Aaron Cook will start. Lefty Joe Beimel and and righty Matt Belisle are scheduled to pitch in the Minor League game. 

Cook has improvement plan

There will come a time when the score will matter for Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook. But Sunday is not that time.

Cook will pitch in a Minor League game at Hi Corbett Field, rather than the Cactus League game against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Not only does he avoid a long drive, but he gets to try to regain his sinker without having to think about a game situation. When a Major League pitcher throws a Minor League game, he’s usually held to a certain number of pitches an inning, regardless what occurs.

“I asked if I could do that,” Cook said. “I wanted to get my work in a manner where I can throw 15-20 pitches an inning, not worry about how many outs I get. If I get one out, if I get six or seven outs, I just throw my pitches, come back in and sit down for the next inning.”

Cook has added a couple of interesting drills to help him correct the problem of when and how the ball is leaving his hand.

“I’ve been moving the catcher back to 70, 75 feet during my bullpens,” Cook said. “It makes you get extended, makes you throw the ball through the catcher. I’m really feeling the ball come off the end of my fingers when I’m throwing it that far.

“I’m doing the towel drill [snapping a towel, instead of throwing a baseball], getting extended.”

Cook insists this is not a crisis.

“It’s Spring Training,” he said, with a bemused smile. “People are making a big deal out of it. If i was hurt or if my mechanics weren’t where I wanted them to be, it would be a different story. I’d be aggravated. It’s just a matter of where the ball’s coming out of my hand right now.

“I told [manager Jim] Tracy and ‘Dac’ [pitching coach Bob Apodaca] the other day, once the ball starts coming out of my hand with true spin, forget about it. I’ll be fine. They know that. They just want to make sure everybodhy’s on the same page.”

Cook to face Minor Leaguers Sunday; Smith gets Friday start

Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook’s search for the proper release point on his sinker will take him to the Minor League complex at Hi Corbett Field on Sunday.

 

Cook will start in a Minor League game, rather than go to Surprise, Ariz., for the game against the Royals. Righty prospect Jhoulys Chacin will start in Cook’s place.

 

Cook is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in three starts. His last two have been particularly bad, with balls either missing the strike zone entirely or left in poor locations. The issue is the ball isn’t leaving his hand at a consistent point.

 

Cook still will throw the same number of pitches, although the Rockies would like for him to let those carry him for five innings rather than the 2 2/3 and 3 that he pitched his last two times on the mound. But manager Jim Tracy said the setting will better allow Cook to regain the form that has led him to a franchise-high 59 career wins.

 

“Just put him in what we would consider to be a less-stressful environment,” Tracy said. “Just give him an opportunity to bear down mentally and focus on making pitches.

 

“It really doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned as far as who’s standing at home plate with him. We’ve got to get him to the point where we see the sinker going down — the sinker going down in a good spot.”

 

Tracy also announced that projected Opening Day starter Ubaldo Jimenez will pitch in the Minor League game on Friday, and left-hander Greg Smith will attempt to continue his impressive spring in the game at Hi Corbett Field against the Athletics.

 

Smith (1-0, 2.00 ERA this spring) was expected to compete for a rotation spot last year, after arriving in a trade with the Athletics, but he pitched a limited number of Minor League innings because of back and shoulder issues. Tracy has scheduled Smith for five innings.

 

“We know Ubaldo Jimenez is pitching Opening Day,” Tracy said. “There’s nothing else I can tell you. In the case of Greg Smith, we’re talking about a guy who did not compete last year. I want him facing as good a grade of hitters as we can possibly get him up against.”

Jimenez is official for Opening Day

The Rockies named right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez the starter for Opening Day, April 5 at Milwaukee.

That was expected. Jimenez went 15-12 with a club-record 3.47 ERA last season.

What wasn’t expected was how it came about. Manager Jim Tracy said right-hander Aaron Cook, who started last year’s opener and is considered the staff’s veteran leader, came to him and said he wanted to be in the room when Tracy informed Jimenez. That’s what occurred. It was a moment of respect between two talented pitchers.

More to come.

Cook goes extra time in shortened game

Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook had a choice — wait for rain to blow over or pitch through a little rain. Cook pitched, and pitched.

Scheduled for two innings, Cook was efficient enough to throw three scoreless innings with strikes on 30 of his 45 pitches in the Rockies’ 4-1 victory over the D-backs at Hi Corbett Field. The game was shortened to 6 1/3 innings once a major storm hit, so Cook ensured that the teams played as much baseball as the weather would allow.

It was not a bad Cactus League debut for Cook, who knew rain was coming and smply wanted to pitch.

“I woke up this morning and said, ‘It looks nice … Let’s start the game,’” said Cook, who said since the mound was in good shape, he informed manager Jim Tracy and umpire Tony Randazzo it was better to start as soon as possible.

Cook gave up singles to Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds with two out in the first, but ended it with a Chris Young infield pop. He pitched two 1-2-3 innings after that.

“What was really  neat about it was the third inning was the best of the three, and that’s not to say the first two were all that bad,” Tracy said.

The only problem with Cook’s early spring, not that it is much of one, is he has maintained his lower weight, 200. After pitching around 220 last season, he wanted to drop the weight before camp, then put on 5-10. He said the pounds are not coming back like he thought they would, but he’s fine with his metabolism.

“I feel good, my legs feel good, my body feels good,” Cook said. “I’m not going to worry.”

 

Split-squad Sunday

The Rockies are playing at Hi Corbett Field and at Tucson Electric Park, against the D-backs in both games.

Here is the lineup fro the game at Hi Corbett:

Eric Young Jr., 2B

Clint Barmes, SS

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Miguel Olivo, C

Melvin Mora, 3B

Michael Paulk, 1B

Cole Garner, RF

Jay Payton, LF

Aaron Cook, RHP

Here’s the rest of the pitching: RHP Samuel Deduno, LHP Christian Friedrich, RHP Manuel Corpas, LHP Randy Flores.

Here is the lineup for the game at TEP

Dexter Fowler, CF

Omar Quintanilla, 2B

Seth Smith, LF

Ryan Spilborghs, RF

Ian Stewart, 3B

Chris Iannetta, C

Hector Gomez, SS

Jeff Kindel, 1B

Franklin Morales, LHP

Here is the rest of the pitching schedule: RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Andrew Graham, RHP Juan Rincon, RHP Justin Speier, LHP Matt Reynolds.

 

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