Results tagged ‘ Matt Holliday ’

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?

Bigger bat means better Smith

The Rockies’ Seth Smith entered Sunday’s start against the Athletics with a five-game hit streak. He is 3-for-8 with two home runs and six RBIs as a DH.

That coincides with Smith going to a bigger bat, from 34-inch, 31-ounce to 35-inch, 32-ounce. it makes a difference.

“This is the biggest I’ve used,” Smith said. “I tried it in batting practice and liked it.

“It makes you stay back. If you get out on your front foot at all, you’re not going to get the barrel on the baseball. Staying back is the ideal hitting position. And with a heavier bat, I can hit the ball a little bit harder.”

His new bats haven’t arrived, however. He is using Todd Helton’s.

“He’s pretty lenient,” Smith said.

Here are Sunday’s lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Chris Iannetta, C

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Seth Smith, DH

Starting pitcher — Aaron Cook

Athletics

Adam Kennedy, 3B

Jack Cust, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Jason Giambi, 1B

Kurt Suzuki, DH

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Ryan Sweeney, CF

Landon Powell, C

Mark Ellis, 2B

Starting pitcher — Vin Mazzaro

 

Tracy hopes De La Rosa lets it flow

Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa has experienced some wild swings this season, sometimes within the same game. But going into Saturday night’s start against the Athletics, he’s swinging the right way. He has won three of his last four starts.

“He’s a get-untracked type guy,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “I don’t know that he’s the type of guy where every single time he walks out there, he’s completely untracked right from jump street. I don’t think that’s the case.

“He has special pitches. He’s got swing-and-miss type pitches that if he’s trying to get untracked, he can make a couple of those pitches and they can get him through some things.

“The biggest thing that I want to see with Jorge is tempo. I believe his tempo can get a little bit better, not only make him better but also the people that are standing behind him.”

In lineup news, Clint Barmes, who went 2-for-4 from the No. 9 slot Friday night, is back in his customary No. 2 position.

Here are the lineups as the Rockies attempt to win the series:

Rockies

Seth Smith, LF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Garrett Atkins, 3B

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Paul Phillips, C

Starting pitcher — Jorge De La Rosa

Athletics

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Kurt Suzuki, C

Matt Holliday, LF

Nomar Garciaparra, DH

Jason Giamba, 1B

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Jack Cust, RF

Bobby Crosby, 3B

Rajai Davis, CF

Atkins siezes chance; Time to take notice?

This could turn out well for third baseman Garrett Atkins and the Rockies.

Atkins lashed three hits, including a home run, Wednesday against the Angels, and is back in the lineip for Friday night’s opener of three against the Athletics. If this is Atkins’ showcase for a trade, then so be it.

Atkins has hit .302 (13-for-43) this month, with three home runs and six RBIs in 15 games. Also, the Athletics are starting left-hander Dallas Braden, and Atkins is 9-for-his-last-21 against lefties.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy is proud of how Atkins has worked despite being supplanted by Ian Stewart at third base.

“He has been a complete professional,” Tracy said. “And I really believe if I’m looking at this correctly, from some of the types of at-bats I’ve seen him take as of late, he’s real interested of making a statement, ‘I’m still the Garrett Atkins that drove in over 100 runs three out of the last four years.’

“If he continues to force the issue that way, then obviously he will force our hand to do something very positive for the Colorado Rockies.”

Atkins will hit cleanup and clint Barmes, who went 0-for-12 in three games against the Angels, will bat ninth. Ryan Spilborghs moves into Barmes’ No. 2 hole. Here are the full lineups for both teams:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Ryan Spilborghs, LF

Todd Helton, 1B

Garrett Atkins, DH

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Chris Iannetta, C

Ian Stewart, 3B

Clint Barmes, 2B

Starting pitcher — Jason Hammel

Athletics

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Jack Cust, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Jason Giambi, DH

Kurt Suzuki, C

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Ryan Sweeney, CF

Daric Barton, 1B

Jack Hannahan, 3B

Starting pitcher — Dallas Braden

 

 

Hawpe eases through successful return

– Right fielder Brad Hawpe’s return from a hamstring injury would have to be called a success, partly because he went 2-for-2 with a walk, and partly because he stayed healthy. One line drive carried over his head for a double. When the time came to burst and extend for the ball, Hawpe wisely played it conservatively.

– The Athletics’ Matt Holliday keeps up with his former teammates with the Rockies. After witnessing how Todd Helton played through a back injury “until he absolutely couldn’t walk” last year. TV highlights of Helton’s strong spring have grabbed Holliday’s attention

“From what I’ve seen on TV it looks like he’s really driving through the ball,” Holliday said. “It’s great to see.

“Nothing really shocks me. I knew he was hurting, and I knew once he was healthy he would be a very good hitter.”

– — Center fielder prospect Dexter Fowler went 2-for-4 with two doubles, and he’s up to .317 this spring as he continues to argue against being sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the season. 

– A day after playing right field for the first time this spring, Ian Stewart started at second base. Stewart handled a tough flyball Saturday and a foul in the bullpen area Sunday.

“It seems like that happens in baseball,” Stewart said. “You come into a game or something and it seems like the first guy hits you a ball. But I definitely feel comfortable at all the spots they put me.”

Stewart, a third baseman, has had ample duty in left field.

Sunny day, cloudy outlook for Francis

Thursday is the sunniest day since the Rockies have been in Tucson. Even Jeff Francis was in a happier mood than one would expect.

Of course, his news wasn’t happy at all. He announced that he’ll have surgery on Wednesday to correct the shoulder issues that ruined his 2008 season. Before making that announcement, which means he expects to miss the entire season, Francis was in a corner of the clubhouse laughing and joking with several of the veterans in camp, such as Sal Fasano and Jason Grilli.

“Since the decision has been made, I’ve had peace of mind at least, knowing that,” Francis said.

Rockies reliever Randy Flores had a similar problem last year when he was with the Cardinals. Flores underwent surgery in September, and is doing well — albeit on a modified throwing program this spring. Francis said Flores’ happiness with the surgery and the progress since helped him with his decision.

– Former Rockies star and current front office member Vinny Castilla is managing the Mexican team in the World Baseball Classic. But the two Rockies he invited, left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa and infielder Omar Quintanilla — have declined. De La Rosa is a definite rotation member because of Francis’ injury. Quintanilla is in line for a backup infield position, but he has decided to stay in camp to make sure he is seen by manager Clint Hurdle and the coaching staff. It makes sense. Third base coach and infield instructor Rich Dauer, hitting coach Don Baylor and bench coach Jim Tracy, all of whom he’ll have to impress to determine his role, are new to the staff.

– Speaking of the WBC, the Rockies are hoping that Chinese Taipei does not take righty Chin-Lung Lo, who had bone spurs removed from his right elbow after pitching last season at Double-A Tulsa. Lo signed with much fanfare as a 16-year-old in 2001, but his progress has been slow. He could have left the organization this winter, but the Rockies re-signed him as soon as he was eligible for free agency.

“He’s coming along slowly, but he’s matured and he knows how to pitch,” Rockies player development director Marc Gustafson said. “Physically, we look for a big year from him. He’s been here forever, it seems, but we’re not going to give up on him.”

– During the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Rockies personnel studied video of left-handed hitting outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez, a player the club obtained from the Athletics in the Matt Holliday trade. General manager Dan O’Dowd gave a detailed report on Gonzalez’s strengths and weaknesses.

Now Gonzalez, who arrived at camp Thursday, is looking forward to learning what the Rockies know. He was in Denver in late January, but he worked out one day, attended the club’s meet-and-greet with a limited number of season-ticket holders one day, and took a physical. So he hasn’t had a chance to get specifics from the staff on what he needs to improve.

This winter, the Rockies went through great lengths to downplay his acquisition, even though he was considered one of baseball’s top outfield prospects the last few years with the D-Backs, who traded him to the Athletics before last season, and with the Athletics. But whether it was intentional or not, the Rockies issued him No. 5. That was the number Holliday wore while making three All-Star Game trips in purple pinstripes.

“No, I didn’t ask for it,” Gonzalez said. “They just put that number on me. I don’t really care.”

During the winter, Gonzalez smiled and said maybe he could be the next Matt Holliday.

– Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who did not report with pitchers and catchers because he was mourning the death of a family member, arrived Thursday. The only one who didn’t arrive was infielder Luis A. Gonzalez, who was having visa issues from Venezuela.

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