Results tagged ‘ Carlos Gonzalez ’
Michael Cuddyer understood that whether he re-signed with the Rockies or took a free-agent offer from the Mets, he would be a part of a team wanting to make the immediate jump from also-ran in 2014 to contender in 2015. In the end, he preferred to make that leap on the East Coast.
It’s likely Cuddyer left money on the table with the decision. Had he accepted the Rockies’ qualifying offer, he’d have been paid $15.3 million for 2015 with another shot at free agency at season’s end. With the Mets, he’ll get $22 million over two years, including $8.5 million in 2015.
“I think you don’t see that often in sports, but this wasn’t about the money,” Cuddyer said. “That shows the importance I placed on playing for an organization like the Mets and coming back to the East Coast, which is more like home. Looking at who the Mets are and where they are with their talent, it was a good fit.”
Cuddyer, who will turn 36 in March, is from Chesapeake, Va. He is a long time friend of another product of that area, Mets third baseman David Wright.
It’s an interesting comparison. Which team is closer? Is it the Mets, whose pitching includes National League Rookie of the Year Jacob de Grom and the return to health of Matt Harvey? Or is a better bet than the Rockies, who have unquestioned offensive prowess when healthy? Looking at it objectively, Cuddyer helps fill a major offensive hole for the Mets. Even with Cuddyer, the Rockies still have to address their pitching.
But Cuddyer did not want to leave saying anything unfavorable about the Rockies’ future prospects.
“I still believe what I said at the end of the year as far as the Rockies being close talent-wise, with their position players and with the talent they have in their pitching staff,” Cuddyer said. “By all means, I still believe in the Rockies. It’s just that I looked at the Mets with what they have, with Harvey coming back and the years that some of the other guys had, and coupled that with the fact they’re on the East Coast. It was nothing the Rockies did or didn’t do.”
Cuddyer said he’ll leave Colorado with fond memories.
“Winning a batting title and starting in the All-Star Game [interestingly at Citi Field, where he also participated in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby] made 2013 an extremely special year, not only for me but for my family as well,” Cuddyer said. “None of that would’ve happened without me going there.
“Playing for the Rockies helped me hone my approach at the plate. I was able to watch ‘Tulo’ [Troy Tulowitzki] and ‘CarGo’ [Carlos Gonzalez] and take bits and pieces from both of those guys, and apply it to my physical and mental approach. I especially learned from ‘Tulo,’ and the way he went after every at-bat. It made me better to play every day with him.
“It was a tough decision, no doubt about that. I’m leaving a lot of great friends and a lot of great relationships, not only teammates but staff, trainers, clubbies, front office and ownership. The way the Rockies treated my family and me showed that they really cared.”
New general manager Jeff Bridich, manager Walt Weiss and the front office he has put together are making quick work of assessing the Rockies’ roster. With the general managers meetings starting Monday in Phoenix, they must be prepared for talks with other clubs and negotiations with potential free agents.
I have no money for free agents. My front office staff consists of the birds and squirrels running around the neighborhood. So I’ll take some time to dig through the roster and bounce the ideas off you, the fans. Feel free to spend your lunch break (well, your work time, but we’ll keep that between us) walking through the tough Rockies questions with me.
Feel free to comment on Twitter: @harding_at_mlb
WARNING: There’s a lot here. The squirrels and birds crunched numbers and presented many scenarios. They’ve got a future in management.
Let’s look at the key question.
What type of pitching do the Rockies need to contend now and in the future?
Their last two playoff appearances could offer guidelines.
The Rockies went to the 2007 World Series based on pitching depth. They lost three of their five starters in August, and changed closers during the season, but developed and acquired good enough parts to stay in the race and win the National League Wild Card.
In 2009, they earned the NL Wild Card based on health and quality — five guys made all but eight starts, which mean they were whole enough and good enough to keep taking the ball. There was enough bullpen strength to withstand second-half injuries to lefty Alan Embree and closer Huston Street.
So, as trade rumors fly, it all comes back to the question: How close is Rockies’ pitching staff to the depth of 2007 and the quality of 2009?
That explains why the Rockies are listening to offers, not only for veteran first baseman Justin Morneau but for the very top guys on their payroll, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Let’s look at the rotation as it stands as the Rockies attempt to leap from 66-96 to contentions in the NL West:
• Lefty Jorge De La Rosa is the clear leader. He’s by no means the equal of the front of the rotations of the defending NL West champion Dodgers or the World Series champ Giants, but not many folks can say they’ve thrived at Coors the way De La Rosa has.
• Righty Jhoulys Chacin saw his 2014 limited to 11 starts by issues with his rotator cuff and labrum. Chacin, the club and doctors decided on rehab and strengthening rather than surgery. Success of the decision will depend on the effectiveness of his rehab, diligent maintenance and, to some degree, good fortune. Not impossible, but it’s a lot.
• Righty Jordan Lyles and lefty Tyler Matzek, each 24, showed ability in their first seasons in Purple Pinstripes. Lyles went in with big-league time with the Astros. Matzek was making his debut. Can they go from developing talents to stalwarts? Once again, it’s asking a lot, but it’s not impossible.
• Beyond those four, there are options but none that compare to the competition. Righty Christian Bergman has more heart than stuff, but is promising because of his brainpower and competitiveness. The prospects behind him all have questions. Righty Eddie Butler’s debut year was spoiled by shoulder pain. Righty prospect Jon Gray is coming off his first full pro season, and the Rockies were careful with him because of fatigue at the end. Lefty prospect Tyler Anderson finished the year with an elbow issue that he’s trying to rehab over the winter.
Now, let’s look at the bullpen:
• Ageless LaTroy Hawkins returns as closer. With no big changes, it’s the same plan as last year – hope another option develops so Hawkins can pitch earlier in games.
• Righty Adam Ottavino overcame a month of struggles impressively enough last season that the Rockies see a bright future. There’s still the need to improve against left-handed hitters. Who knows? Maybe if he finds the magic against lefties, he could slide into the ninth inning.
• Lefty Rex Brothers went from a dazzling year in 2013 to a simply awful one in 2014. Part o the problem was the workload that fell to him when lefty Boone Logan was hampered by elbow issues throughout the first year of his three-year contract. The Rockies need rebounds from both.
• Righty Tommy Kahnle stuck out the full year as a Rule 5 Draft pick and showed a workable fastball-changeup mix. He’ll need to take this year’s experience and show greater savvy to earn an increased role.
• Beyond that are guys trying to establish themselves. Righty Brooks Brown’s control and ability to change speeds during his callups put him ahead of many pitchers who were on the staff the full year. The Rockies also hope for progress righty Juan Nicasio and lefty Christian Friedrich, who struggled as starters and were moved to the bullpen.
Weigh the dependable parts, the hopefuls and the holes, and you get a pitching staff that needs several quality pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen. Given that, how possible is it for the Rockies to contend in 2015? Are they prepared if they don’t content?
A fine piece yesterday from Dave Cameron of Fangraphs suggests that extending the $15.3 million qualifying offer to first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer could be construed as part of rebuilding rather than an attempt to hold the current lineup together. Cuddyer gets a nice payday, and if the Rockies are struggling at the deadline he could be dealt.
But these are the Major Leagues, where the majority of teams are in position to at least dream at the deadline. While there is a future to contend with, I and the wildlife outside my door want the Rockies to have a fighting chance in the present.
So here are some questions:
•Say the Rockies hold a strong lineup together and hold onto their big multi-year contracts, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. They could hope to receive a solid veteran for the starting rotation for Morneau. Then they could go bargain hunting via free agency for another starter – say righty Justin Masterson, who is trying to rebuild his value after a rough 2014, or lefty Brett Anderson or righty Aaron Harang, who have proven ability but questionable health histories.
•Say the Rockies push hard to deal Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Both are coming off shortened seasons because of surgeries, which might give other teams pause. The Rockies have said they will listen, and have given indications that clubs would have to make offers based on the players if healthy. Can they expect to receive star players who can rebuild the team?
•Let’s say the Rockies seek immediate payroll relief, rather than star-for-star deals or situations where they’re eating huge portions of the salaries of Tulowitkzi and Gonzalez. This is where the dreams get big.
With the money saved, maybe they can’t land any of the big three free-agent starters — James Shields, Max Scherzer or Jon Lester — and second-tier starters such as Ervin Santana and Brandon McCarthy could be risky propositions at Coors Field. But how about catcher Russell Martin, who could have strong offense at Coors and help the young starters? How about a big offer to righty reliever Andrew Miller, who could be the closer immediately? Righty setup Luke Gregerson pitched for the Athletics last year, but he has a long history in the NL West based on his days with the Padres.
All this leaves the Rockies with tough decisions.
The feeling has been they want one more run with their lineup core, only with some pitching added. They will have to believe they can acquire enough pitching through dealing not just Morneau but two arbitration-eligible chips – catcher Wilin Rosario, who could be a fit as a catcher-designated hitter in the American League, and outfielder Drew Stubbs, who recaptured some of his run-producing potential with the Rockies.
To succeed, such a plan has to have the Rockies stay healthy in the rotation, contend enough to be able to make trades at next summer’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, and finish the year with a roster and payroll capable of succeeding in future years.
All this makes the big trade sounds attractive, but there are risks.
Any deal involving Tulowitzki or Gonzalez would leave a big hole. When healthy, they not only are All-Stars and offensive threats, but they’re Gold Glove Award types. Also, if the Rockies don’t eat salary, the return might be less than if they were more willing in that regard. They’d have to count on any position player having his stats enhanced at Coors Field, and any young pitcher being an immediate help — an iffy proposition, based on history.
Should the Rockies take the plunge and deal Tulowitkzi or Gonzalez, or both, they key is not stopping there. Some of the players who come in a trade may have to be spun to other teams, especially if they use hitting prospects they receive to pull in pitchers.
– Thomas Harding
Gonzalez was not in the lineup Wednesday night against the Cubs. Gonzalez smashed into the wall in foul ground, while unsuccessfully trying to barehand Junior Lake’s foul pop and protect his aching left knee and right ankle, during right during the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s 16-inning, 4-3 Rockies loss to the Cubs.
Gonzalez remained in the game until being removed in a double-switch in the bottom of the 12th.
“That was my only option,” Gonzalez said of trying to barehand the ball with his left hand. “My ankle was hurting, so I had no brakes. I tried to stop myself with the ball. My glove was down by that time and the wall was so close. That was my reaction.”
Asked how he felt, Gonzalez said, “Well, I’m hanging in there.”
Manager Walt Weiss said he wanted to give Gonzalez a rest. He’ll revisit starting him in Thursday’s day game that ends the four-game series.
In other Rockies developments:
• Rockies infielder Josh Rutledge said he is available in an emergency Wednesday night, after missing the first two games of this series with an upper-respiratory infection.
The Rockies scratched Rutledge 15 minutes before first pitch on Monday, and he ended up being sent to a local emergency room. The illness is not related to the flu that knocked him out of action earlier this year, but it was frightening nonetheless.
“I don’t think I’d ever been to the emergency room until this year, and I’ve been three times this year,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge was on the lineup card for Tuesday night’s marathon, but spent the evening at the team hotel. As the teams played well into the night, Rutledge thought about hopping a cab and joining the fun.
“I thought about calling ‘Doogie’ [head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] in about the 12th inning and see what he said, but I didn’t,” Rutledge said.
Because he slept the entire day and into the evening, Rutledge said he was able to watch the entire game.
• To help a bullpen depleted by the long game, the Rockies recalled right-hander Rob Scahill from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Scahill (0-0, 6.75 ERA in three Major League games this year) gives the Rockies a reliever who can pitch multiple innings. Switch-hitting infielder Cristhian Adames, who went 0-for-3 off the bench Tuesday in his Major League debut, was optioned to Colorado Springs.
• Because lefty Tyler Matzek pitched the 16th inning Tuesday, the Rockies will call up lefty Pedro Hernandez (6-6, 6.14 ERA at Colorado Springs) to start against the Cubs on Thursday. Hernandez has appeared in 15 career Major League games, including 13 starts, with the Twins and White Sox (3-4, 7.57 ERA).
Hernandez will be the Rockies’ 14th different starter this year.
Matzek will be re-slotted into the rotation and will not miss a full turn.
– Thomas Harding
If the day ends in “y,” you can count on a bunch of Rockies injury updates.
Rockies.com will have stories on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s dry needling procedure scheduled for Monday in Philadelphia, as well as lefty Boone Logan and first baseman Justin Morneau beginning injury rehab assignments Monday. Here’s more:
— The Rockies went into Sunday down two outfielders because Carlos Gonzalez rolled his right ankle at home Saturday, and was still sore, and Drew Stubbs was still recovering from turning his left foot awkwardly while hitting a home run in Saturday night’s 8-1 victory over the Pirates. Both players were in uniform Sunday enjoying Family Day activities. Gonzalez’s ankle was taped heavily. Stubbs was walking normally, but it wasn’t clear if he could handle quick-burst activity.
— Righty Jordan Lyles struck out four and gave up no runs, three hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings on Saturday for Class A Modesto in his first injury rehab start since suffering a broken left hand on June 4.
— Righty Christian Bergman, out since suffering a broken left hand when hit by a line drive on June 20, make his first injury rehab start Tuesday at Double-A Tulsa against Springfield. Bergman is scheduled for about 70 pitches. Because Springfield is a Cardinals affiliate, the game will be played under National League rules, so Bergman will test the injury batting. Bergman said the hand is still sore when performing some movements, but he’s fine catching return throws from the catcher and none of the soreness is debilitating.
— Righty Jhoulys Chacin, out with a muscle strain and a slight labrum tear in his throwing shoulder, reported feeling fine after three plasma-rich platelet treatments. He’ll be checked Monday, and if all goes well he’ll begin a strengthening program, followed by a throwing program. Chacin has said he wants to return by season’s end, but it’s doubtful he can return.
— Thomas Harding
Rockies Tulowitzki does not have no-trade clause; talks are intriguing if not imminent (Also, a look at many possible Rockies deals)
Note to fans: I am having trouble with links in this post, so I’ll do it this way:
I refer to Joel Sherman’s exclusive in the New York Post: http://nypost.com/2014/07/24/mets-to-rockies-lets-talk-tulowitzki-cargo-trades/
And it would be good to review what I wrote yesterday: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/col/colorado-rockies-arent-in-active-talks-about-drew-stubbs?ymd=20140724&content_id=86148486&vkey=news_col
Thanks much. Now, for my blog post …
Contrary to what has been repeated in many reports, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki does not have a no-trade clause — at least not at this point — in his contract.
Going strictly by the contract language (and consulting with sources with direct knowledge of the contract), if traded, Tulowitzki would receive a $2 million bonus from the club he would land with, and only then would a no-trade provision go into effect. That is in addition to the five years and $104 million, plus incentives and escalators, left on his deal.
Now, from the standpoint that Tulowitzki is one of the game’s most-respected players and someone who has been through thick and a lot of thin with the Rockies, it stands to reason that if such a decision were made the club would at least listen to Tulowitzki’s preferences — especially if there were places he didn’t want to go. However, he does not have that right within his contract, and he is not a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the Majors with the last five with the team).
All that said, the chances are low that Tulowitzki would be dealt by next Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. Tulowitzki has said all along he doesn’t expect a deadline deal, and the more likely scenario is he would meet with his family and club officials after the season and get an idea of the team’s direction before deciding whether to press for a trade. Sources around the Majors say Rockies owner Dick Monfort’s position with them is the same as it is publicly — he is not seeking a deadline deal, and there is no guarantee he wants to make a deal even after the season.
Tulowitzki’s being on the 15-day disabled list with a hip flexor strain also complicates the chance of a deal now.
By the way, Major League sources say the Rockies aren’t anywhere close to dealing outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a sublime talent who has dealt with injuries the last two years.
Given that, current trade rumors are to be seen as laying the groundwork for talks after the season.
Those talks could become really interesting. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote today that the Mets are interested in being players if the Rockies ever decided to deal Tulo or CarGo. Sherman names pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, plus outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder Dilson Herrera as players the Rockies like. Given the Rockies’ perpetual need and desire for young pitching, the names Syndergaard and Matz would make it hard for club officials to dismiss if talks were to become serious.
Of course, anything the Mets do is related to the Yankees. Sherman points out that Tulo’s love for Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop who must be replaced, and the fact the Rockies like the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, righty Luis Severino. And the Cardinals have been rumored as a possible trading partner since last winter.
In other developments:
–The same article by Sherman points out that the Rockies have had interest in Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and notes the Rockies have pieces the Yankees want – lefty starters Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson, and catcher Wilin Rosario, who could preserve his bat and mitigate his defensive issues by being a designated hitter or playing another position. But we are told that the Rockies aren’t looking to deal Rosario before Thursday’s deadline.
But expect Rosario to be an offseason topic of conversation. The Rockies have been sticking with him, believing his power hitting can make up for defense that has been a work in progress ever since he was promoted from Double-A in 2011. However, the Rockies may be forced to re-think.
The pitching staff will continue to be young. Left-hander Tyler Matzek and right-handers such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray (Matzek and Butler debuted this year, and Gray is on the radar) will be in the rotation sooner than later. Righties Jhoulys Chacin and Jordan Lyles have been around, but are in their 20s.
It might be time for a veteran catcher, or one with frontline all-around ability who is special at calling games, to trim the learning curve for the pitchers. Two examples come to mind: 1) Late in his career, Pudge Rodriguez went to the Marlins and later to the Tigers, teams that didn’t have recent histories of winning. He made a major difference to those young staffs, and the result was a World Series win wit the Marlins and a World Series appearance with the Tigers. 2) It’s hard to quantify but easy to appreciate the impact Russell Martin had last year with the Pirates, who ended a 20-year postseason drought with pitchers who needed help reaching their potential.
–The Rockies are in a quandary when it comes to dealing their own pitching. They want young pitching under club control, but what if the best bargaining chips are their own desirable pitchers.
The Rockies are listening to trade offers, but the price they’ve set with the Orioles shows that they’ll take only the cream of another team’s crop. But even if they receive pitchers with bright futures, is there any guarantee they’re going to have the present that De La Rosa has?
De La Rosa has been by far the Rockies’ best pitcher at Coors Field, and whether he qualifies as the best pitcher in club history is a growing debate. Dude is 42-14 at Coors Field. And he likes pitching there. After seeing top prospects — lefty Drew Pomeranz, now with the Athletics, is a clear example — flame out at Coors, who’s to say anyone else’s prospects are going to make it?
Maybe the Rockies take the plunge. Or maybe they are better off retaining De La Rosa, who is in the final year of his contract. The $11 million qualifying offer the Rockies would need to make to preserve the right to compensation in case3 he left is $3 million more than he is making. That could give them another year with De La Rosa, or it could be the basis for a longer-term deal for a pitcher who wants to be here.
–Everyone says the Rockies need starting pitching. Heck, the Rockies say it. That being the case, it’s puzzling to see lefty Brett Anderson’s name in possible trade reports, although teams would be sensible to check on his availability.
Anderson missed 16 starts with a broken left index finger, and injuries have been an issue throughout his career. But let’s look at his two starts since coming off the disabled list: 1) Clearly rusty and still with little experience at Coors Field, he gave up five runs in the first inning against the Twins at home in the final game before the All-Star break. But he got through six with just one additional run. 2) At Pittsburgh, lacking his best stuff, Anderson pitched with savvy and professionalism and held a lineup for a contending club to one run in seven innings.
Once again, do you trade this top-end ability for guys whose best may or may not arrive at all or may or may not arrive at Coors Field?
Of course, there is a money issue. Anderson has a $12 million club option for 2015, or a $1.5 million buyout. If the Rockies believe that they’re a good team that has been ruined by injuries, it stands to reason that they pay the money and hope to be healthy next season.
–Well, we’ve laid out how the Rockies are leaning against dealing Tulo and CarGo, are likely to wait until after the season to address the catching situation, and have plenty of reasons not to deal De La Rosa or Anderson. So where do they get the young pitching they crave?
They’ll listen when teams discuss outfielder Drew Stubbs. The Mariners are the hot rumor. Also, the Rockies will listen to offers for righty pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. But there will be debate about how much a team is willing to give up for Stubbs, whose home/road splits and low on-base percentage history are concerning, and Hawkins, who is fit and effective but also 41.
Still, being in a pennant race makes giving up valuable pitching prospects sound like a better idea. So we’ll see. If Stubbs or Hawkins don’t bring offers of top-level prospects, the Rockies still must listen. This year’s injuries exposed a startling lack of starting depth, and they have to get it from somewhere.
— Thomas Harding
The idea that outfielder Tyler Colvin is strictly a backup for the Rockies could be changing.
Colvin started in center field, instead of Dexter Fowler, on Saturday against the Dodgers, and manager Jim Tracy said Colvin — hitting .314 with two home runs and 10 RBIs — has earned greater opportunity to start. The Rockies aren’t going away from left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who leads the team in home runs with seven and RBIs with 26, or right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who is hitting .286 with four homers and is tied with first baseman Todd Helton for second in RBIs with 21.
That means Colvin’s starts will come at the expense of Fowler, who is hitting .223 with four homers and 14 RBIs.
Fowler has a .311 on-base percentage and 27 strikeouts in 94 at-bats, and has had two errors and a couple of defensive miscues. Actually, Colvin has an outfield error and 19 strikeouts in 51 at-bats, so he has statistical challenges as well.
“In any given situation he’s made the most of it, whether it’s starting a game, coming off the bench,” Tracy said. “We’ve gotten quality at-bats from him as a starter. He’s done a terrific job as a left-handed pinch-hitter.
“You’ve got to get him out there tonight. He’s pushing the envelope for more time. When a player does that, you have to be mindful of it and create additional opportunities for him to play. He is making a strong statement for himself to get more at-bats than he’s gotten to this point. We’re doing what’s in his best interest and also our baseball team’s best interest in getting him additional opportunity.”
2B Marco Scutaro
3B Jonathan Herrera
LF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Todd Helton
RF Michael Cuddyer
CF Tyler Colvin
C Wilin Rosario
RHP Juan Nicasio
SS Dee Gordon
2B Mark Ellis
CF Matt Kemp
RF Andre Ethier
LF Bobby Abreu
3B Juan Uribe
1B James Loney
C A.J. Ellis
RHP Aaron Harang
Rockies fans saw right-hander Alex White late last season. They saw him give up 12 home runs in 36 1/3 innings.
But if what Rockies manager Jim Tracy saw when he was able to catch some of White’s work when he pitched at Triple-A Colorado Springs during the early part of this season, fans can forget about the Alex White they saw last year. The new White, Tracy hopes, will be revealed tonight against the Padres.
“I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I’ve seen him on television in some of these starts that he’s had in Triple-A,” Tracy said. “If that guy shows up, you’ll see a different pitcher than you saw last September and you’ll see a different guy than you saw last September.
Here are the lineups:
1. Marco Scutaro, 2B (.266, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
2. Jordan Pacheco, 3B (.154, 0 HR, 0 RBI)
3. Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.320, 7 HR, 26 RBIs)
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.266, 3 HR, 13 RBIs)
5. Todd Helton,1B (.233, 4 HR, 20 RBIs)
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF (.275, 3 HR, 18 RBIs)
7. Ramon Hernandez, C (.279, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)
8. Tyler Colvin, CF (.289, 2 HR, 10 RBIs)
9. Alex White, RHP (2012 debut)
1. Will Venable, RF (.236, 1 HR, 2 RBIs)
2. Cameron Maybin, CF (.220, 1 HR, 9 RBIs)
3. Chase Headley, 3B (.255, 4 HR, 16 RBIs)
4. Yonder Alonzo, 1B (.283, 0 HR, 6 RBIs)
5. Mark Kotsay, LF (.276, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)
6. Orlando Hudson, 2B (.211, 1 HR, 8 RBIs)
7. John Baker, C (.091, 0 RBI, 1 RBI)
8. Jason Bartlett, SS (.141, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)
9. Jeff Suppan (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
This has been a beautiful day in Denver. The temperature on the Coors Field scoreboard reads 86, the breeze is gentle.
But forgive Braves pitcher Tim Hudson if he thinks he has just arrived at prison and the Rockies’ Todd Helton is the warden.
Hudson is 0-2 with a 7.77 ERA in four career starts at Coors. And Helton is 9-for-1o against Hudson at his home.
What’s funny is the numbers are the total opposite at Turner Field, where Helton is 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in four career starts against the Rockies, and has held Helton to 1-for-5.
The Rockies have brought up onetime White Sox right-hander Carlos Torres, who went 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Torres, 29, will be used as a long man in the bullpen. Depending on how he’s used the next couple of days, he could be called upon to start Tuesday against the Padres if right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is not ready to return from a recent shoulder injury.
Guthrie, by the way, threw a touch-and-feel bullpen session today and will face hitters at Coors before Saturday night’s game with the Braves.
Braves veteran Chipper Jones announced this spring that this would be his final season. He’s going out with a blast. The Braves have gone 11-2 with him in the starting lineup and Jones has had at least one hit in eight of those 13 starts. He’s hitting second for the Braves tonight.
As Mark Bowman of MLB.com notes, Jones batted just .191 with a home run and a .623 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in his first 11 regular season games at Coors Field. Since then, however, Jones has batted .356 with 11 home runs and a 1.104 OPS in his past 46 road games against the Rockies. No wonder he has shaken off a sore left knee to be in the lineup tonight.
Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler grew up in the Atlanta area, and the stats suggest he still loves the Braves. Fowler has batted .306 in 20 career games against the Braves. Helton (.332), the sizzling Carlos Gonzalez (.318) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.311) also are better than .300 against the Braves.
Now for the lineups.
1. Michael Bourn, CF (.321, 0 HR, 6 RBIs)
2. Chipper Jones, 3B (.273, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B (.280, 4 HR, 19 RBIs)
4. Brian McCann, C (.241, 5 HR, 14 RBIs)
5. Dan Uggla, 2B (.265, 3 HR, 15 RBIs)
6. Jason Heyward, RF (.272, 2 HR, 11 RBIs)
7. Eric Hinske, LF (.357, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)
8. Jack Wilson, SS (.138, 0 HR, 3 RBIs)
9. Tim Hudson, RHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
1. Marco Scutaro, 2B (.275, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
2. Jonathan Herrera, 3B (.265, 1 HR, 3 RBIs)
3. Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.310, 7 HRs, 23 RBIs)
4. Troy Tulowtizki, SS (.280, 3 HR, 13 RBIs)
5. Todd Helton, 1B (.236, 4 HR, 17 RBIs)
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF (.282, 2 HR, 12 RBIs)
7. Ramon Hernandez, C (.279, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)
8. Dexter Fowler, CF (.240, 4 HR, 11 RBIs)
9. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP (0-1, 10.80 ERA)
Dodgers left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly, 36, would be considered an old veteran if he weren’t in the same park as the Rockies’ Jamie Moyer, 49. Just call Lilly a younger version.
Lilly confounds the Rockies. he is 8-2 with a 3.84 ERA in 12 carer starts against them. His start against them tonight comes at a time when the Rockies are struggling to hit any pitcher like him. As the Denver Post’s Troy Renck reported today, Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson is 9-for-19 against lefty starters this season. The rest of the Rockies’ regulars, however, are 29-for-150 so far.
“He has some similarity to our left-hander by the name of Moyer,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “Ted Lilly is a very intelligent pitcher. He has tremendous know-how. He’s not going to give in. Sitting on pitches against Ted Lilly is not a real good thing to do, because he’ll throw any pitch in any count. That’s what makes him successful. He’s very confident that he can do that, especially in hitter’s counts.”
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has especially struggled against lefty starters this year — 3-for-21.
Still, the Rockies want the bat in Tulowitzki’s hands. Seven of Tulowitzki’s 13 RBIs have put the Rockies in the lead. The only players with more game-winning RBis are a pair of Dodgers — Andre Ethier (9) and Matt Kemp (8).
In an interesting lineup move, Eric Young Jr. will start in center field in place of Dexter Fowler and bat leadoff, with second baseman Marco Scutaro dropping from first to second. The switch-hitting Young is 2-for-4 with a triple against lefty pitchers, starters or relievers, this season.
Dee Gordon, SS (.207, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)
Mark Ellis, 2B (.247, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)
Matt Kemp, CF (.417, 12 HR, 25 RBIs)
Andre Ethier, RF (.276, 5 HR, 24 RBIs)
James Loney, 1B (.232, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)
Tony Gwynn, LF (.250, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)
Adam Kennedy, 3B (.059, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
Ted Lilly, LHP (2-0, 0.90 ERA)
Eric Young Jr., CF (.294, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)
Marco Scutaro, 2B (.259, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.303, 4 HR, 18 RBIs)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.282, 3 HR, 13 RBIs)
Michael Cuddyer, RF (.299, 2 HR, 12 RBIs)
Ramon Hernandez, C (.246, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)
Chris Nelson, 3B (.226, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP (0-2, 5.85 ERA)
After a slump of about a week and a half, Rockies left-handed relief pitcher Rex Brothers appears to be in better sorts. In his last three appearances, he has thrown three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, two hits and no walks.
Brothers will need to be at top form with the Dodgers invading Coors Field on Monday night for the opener of a three-game series.
Leading the Dodgers, whose 16-6 record matches 1981 for tthe best start in franchise history, is Matt Kemp, who has a franchise-record 11 April homers and is the early frontrunner for National League Most Valuable Player. In tight, late situations, manager Jim Tracy will not let Kemp beat the Rockes.
In close, late situations, expect Tracy to walk Kemp and let Brothers face Andre Ethier, who is no slouch with five home runs and 24 RBIs — which ties him with memp for the National League lead. Still, that left-on-left matchup is one the Rockies would rather have.
“The deal with Rex Brothers yesterday was to get him right or get him much closer,” Tracy said. “As a matter of fact, he might be there, but monitoring every pitch that he threw yesterday to make sure that there’s availability for this specific situation.”
When Tracy managed the Dodgers a few years back, Kemp was a top Minor League prospect who impressed him during some Spring Training cameo appearances. Kemp went through a difficult 2010 season, but last year he realized his potential and finished second to the Brewers’ Ryan Braun in National League Most Valuable Player voting. Tracy said Kemp should be proud of his growth.
“I tip my cap to the guy,” Tracy said. “When you have young kids that hang on everything that goes on at the Major League level and have an opportunity to identify with a player like this, both character-wise and physically, that’s refreshing.”
Tracy rested right fielder Michael Cuddyer for just the second time this season. Tyler Colvin started in right field. The lineup also has Jonathan Herrera hitting second and playing third base, because Tracy wants to give Chris Nelson a day off because he had fought through left wrist soreness last week. Tracy also said that at some point in the three-game series with the Dodgers, Herrera will start at second base and Marco Scutaro will rest.
Dee Gordon, SS (.207, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)
Mark Ellis, 2B (.247, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)
Matt Kemp, CF (.425, 11 HR, 24 RBIs)
Andre Ethier, RF (.277, 5 HR, 24 RBIs)
James Loney, 1B (.227, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)
Tony Gwynn Jr., LF (.242, 0 HRs, 2 RBIs)
A.J. Ellis, C (.277, 5 HRs, 24 RBIs)
Aaron Harang, RHP (1-1, 5.16 ERA)
Marco Scutaro, 2B (.247, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
Jonathan Herrera, 3B (.296, 1 HR, 3 RBIs)
Carlos Gonzalez, RF (.288, 4 HR, 16 RBIs)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.284, 3 HR, 11 RBIs)
Todd Helton, 1B (.270, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs)
Ramon Hernandez, C (.241, 4 HR, 12 RBIs)
Tyler Colvin, RF (.297, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)
Dexter Fowler, CF (.250, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs)
Juan Nicasio, RHP (1-0, 4.76 ERA)