Photo Credit: Redmills (Photobucket)
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Where they stand: Dominican Republic, 3-1; Mexico, 2-2; Puerto Rico, 2-2; Venezuela, 1-3.
Puerto Rico 7, Dominican Republic 3. Danny Valencia had two hits and drove in three runs to lead Puerto Rico.
Mexico 3, Venezuela 2 (10 innings). An RBI single by Vinny Castilla in the bottom of the tenth drove in the winning run.
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Image via WikipediaThe Mets have been relatively quiet this offseason for a 70-win team in baseball?s biggest market. Other than the signing of free agent Jason Bay, there hasn?t been a lot to get excited about for Mets fans. That lack of excitement has me wondering: are fans still planning trips to Port St. Lucie [...]
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There's numerous ways to get your regular fix from The Baseball Opinion. Check these out.[...]
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Free-agent left-hander Erik Bedard is coming back to the Seattle Mariners. General manager Jack Zduriencik announced Saturday morning the team and the oft-injured 30-year-old agreed to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2011. The contract is expected to have a base salary a fraction of the $7.75 million Bedard made last season, and [...]
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More photos » Charles Rex Arbogast - AP
While Astro fans wait with bated breath for the release of the team's ZIPS projection next week, CHONE has given us a morsel of clairvoyant thought to nibble on in the mean time. The results are not what you would call good. Or even "ok". I'll stop beating around the metaphorical bush and just come out with it...every team that is supposed to have a better record than the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, raise your hand. Not so fast, Houston Astros. A 73-89 record is worse than Baseball Prospectus' prediction of 76-86 and a whole lot worse than my optimistic 85-77 record that I threw out earlier in the week.
Breaking the list down player by player, it's clear that CHONE isn't all that high on either Felipe Paulino or Brett Myers. That's to be expected in a way. Myers is coming off an injury plagued 2009 season, and gives up an inordinate amount of home runs. Paulino is a young guy with very few major league innings, and less than stellar minor league credentials.
Still, both have the ability to out produce their projected lines. For instance, I look at Brett Myers projection and think, If Brett gives up 21 home runs in only 126 innings pitched, good for a home run every 16.66 innings he pitches I will type a thousand words about my love for Jim Edmonds. It's well known that Myers has a propensity to allow the home run ball (that's a nice way to put it!), but it's not like he's trending upward in that category. 70.2 innings of work last season aren't really a fair representation of his talents. I realize that the Projectatron 3000xi or whatever is used to spit out these numbers doesn't know that, but we do. So beware the low balling of our record, or least as far as Myers is concerned.
The other side of the coin doesn't have the same upside as the pitching staff. Our offense by and large is a very fair representation of what could happen in 2010. Definitely on the low end of what I think will happen, but there were no egregious projections in my estimation.
What is really lacking with the offense is power hitting. A patient approach at the plate, high contact rates, avoiding the dreaded ground ball double play and savvy base running are all important characteristics that a hitter should strive to exude. Above and beyond these traits, the ability to hit for extra bases can do wonders for a club's propensity to score more runs than they allow on a night to night basis. Outside of purely statistical reasons, just think about how much a double down the line, or an out of nowhere three run homer can swing games around, forcing the manager's hand in utilizing his bullpen. In the war of attrition that is a 162 game baseball season, extra base hits are the heavy artillery.
Help, perhaps, is on the way. Kellen Clemens and Collin DeLome have made proven themselves to be proficient power threats while minor leaguers. Caveats abound though, as both have played in either the hitter friendly California League or the hitter friendly Texas League.
DeLome's opposite field power stroke is promising if only because recognition of pitches, patience and strength are all crucial to the ability to hit to the opposite field. He isn't going to be knocking on the door of the majors in 2010, but a steady ISO% from High A to AA is promising nonetheless.
With Jonathan Gaston and Jay Austin making their way into at least one top ten Astros' prospects list, there is definite power potential down low on the organizational totem pole. As with all minor leaguers, it's a fine line between potential major leaguer and career minor leaguer. What really interests me, is the supposed "lowish ceiling, high floor" prospects at the top of the Astros' prospects pecking order such as Jio Mier, Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles, and the perhaps higher ceiling, lower floor outfield prospects like Austin, Gaston, and TJ Steele. Combine these players with the aforementioned DeLome and Clemens, and our other offensive draftees from 2008 and 2009, and more pop may be in the offering sooner than we think.
We are busy finishing up the 2010 Prospect eGuide, and it will be sent out on Monday evening to everyone that has pre-ordered. Once it goes out, the pre-order price of $6.95 is going up. So this is a final reminder to order yours before Monday[...]
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Make no mistake how serious tradeshows are. They are taken very seriously by both over the eager business men participating and the overdosed consumers with A.D.D attending. There is a different type of trade show for every type of company and business.From high end corporations that are all about suits and ties, to more lay [...]
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More photos » David Zalubowski - AP
7 months ago: Colorado Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki circles the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of a baseball game on Friday, June 19, 2009, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Writing a "best of" piece just after the decade ended (or maybe it didn't end if you're the kind of person who actually thinks about things like that) doesn't offer much perspective. But insta-history is always the rage (just take a look at the number of books that have come out on the 2008 presidential election and the current financial crisis in the recent months (and I believe it's still too early to actually understand the end of the Cold War, but twenty years later and counting we're starting to understand it)).
That being said, it's a bit easier to write such "best of" pieces for the sports world. The results are already tangible for the most part. So, let's take a look at the best Rockies draft picks this decade and then decide who is the best one.
Because neither Christian Friedrich (2008) nor Tyler Matzek (2009) have appeared in the majors yet they are eliminated from this discussion. When this topic is revisited in a few years, hopefully they'll be in the discussion.
First, some players who don't make it into the discussion: Matt Harrington (2000), Jayson Nix (2001), Chris Nelson (2004), Greg Reynolds (2006), and Casey Weathers (2007). Harrington became a never was; Nix has underwhelmed and no longer plays for the Rockies; Chris Nelson is working his way up the ladder but has yet to reach the majors; Reynolds is Reynolds; and Weathers may have a productive ahead of him, but doesn't fit within the current framework.
Who does make it?
Join me after the jump for a look at what puts them on the list and who is the best of them all.
Garrett Atkins made two brief appearances with the Rockies in 2003 and 2004 before settling in as the starting third baseman in 2005. He finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting, and had 2.5 WAR. He peaked in 2006, hitting a career high 29 homers. He posted a .965 OPS and a 5.9 WAR. He was still decent in 2007 (25 HR, 2.4 WAR), but 2008 made us question how much Atkins had left in him. Two thousand and nine saw the complete collapse of Atkins and the rise of Ian Stewart at third. Atkins was non-tendered in this past offseason and latched on with the Orioles. He will play first base.
Clint Barmes has to be in the running for best injury story and best Purple Row player interview (so far). As we know, Barmes is an aggressive swinger and that has led to uneven results for him. He broke the 20-homer plateau this past season as the starting second baseman. He'll retain the starting position in 2010 while Eric Young Jr. continues to refine his skills in Triple A.
Brad Hawpe was another great late-round find for the Rockies, and Baseball America named him the Rockies' best draft pick of the last decade. While blessed with a great arm, his defense is lacking, to say the least (check this graph out if you haven't already). He came close to reaching 30 homers back in 2007 (29), but there's always been the sense that his power should give in that category. He also racks up the strikeouts in bunches. Though he made his first All-Star appearance in 2009, this past season also likely marked the beginning of the end of his tenure with the Rockies.
Jeff Francis is the first first-round pick to make an appearance on this list. His career didn't start out well as his debut in 2002 ended after he suffered a concussion from a baseball to the head while sitting on the bench. John Scikels had a good writeup on Francis after the 2003 season. I remember following Francis very closely in 2003 and was disappointed as he kept receiving loss after loss to start the season, but his second half was great. A year later, Francis was Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. Francis entered the Rockies' rotation in 2005 and was a mainstay there through the 2008 season. Two thousand and eight saw Jeff Francis decline dramatically, and before the start of the 2009 season he underwent exploratory shoulder surgery. He missed the entire 2009 campaign, but looks to be the fifth start for the Rockies this season. His 2007 was one of the best for a Rockies pitcher. He recorded 17 wins and a 4.1 WAR.
Ryan Spilborghs is best known for his wide variety of facial hair styles and will forever be known by Rockies fans for the SpillySlam!
Ian Stewart reached great heights in 2004 while playing for his future father-in-law (Joe Mikulik) in Asheville. He almost had a 30-20 season, but fell short with 19 stolen bases. Stewart didn't build on that success; rather, he worked on adjusting to more advanced pitching in Modesto and Tulsa. Stew then spent 2007 and 2008 in the Springs, receiving a cup of coffee with the Rockies in 2007 and half a season with the club in 2008. He spent all of 2009 with the Rockies and displaced Garrett Atkins as the starter at the hot corner. Caber still has room to improve to be a solid major league player.
Eric Young Jr. is the son of former Rockies Eric Young, as we all know by now. He was a draft-and-follow, signing with the Rockies before the 2004 draft. His time in the majors has been limited to thirty games. He is likely headed back to Colorado Springs with Clint Barmes entrenched at second and Melvin Mora signed as the 25th man on the roster.
Seth Smith, we usually joke, is always a bridesmaid, never a bride. He was Eli Manning's backup on the Ole Miss football team. He's now a backup outfielder for the Rockies. But Mr. Late Night has found a niche so far as a pinch hitter, first witnessed down the stretch in 2007. However, having been a successful pinch hitter makes it hard for his managers to look at him as starter. Smith's time as a starter could come in 2010 if Brad Hawpe continues to decline.
Chris Iannetta is dreamy. 'Nuff said. Or maybe not, considering the war Purple has seen over him this past season. He plays good defense and he knows how to get on base. Was 2009 a step down from what we expected of him? Yes, but he's going to be dreamy in 2010.
Dexter Fowler could have been a first-round pick, but teams thought he was going to college (he had scholarship offers from Harvard for basketball and from Miami for baseball). The Rockies took a gamble in the 14th round with nothing to lose if he didn't sign. In the 14th round, you're hoping you get a couple of seasons in the minors out of the guy. The Rockies had some money to spend on Fowler after trading fan-favorite Larry Walker to the Cardinals. Fowler spent September 2008 with the Rockies but really broke on through to the other side in 2009, winning a spot on the roster in spring training. He enters 2010 as the Rockies starting center fielder.
Troy Tulowitzki. Troy Trever Tulowitzki. T3. Our Golden Boy. The Face of the Franchise. Tulo went to Modesto to sign his pro career in 2005 and did well enough before an injury ended his season. He moved up to Tulsa in 2006, doing quite well (.291/.370/.473). Earning a call up at the very end of August in 2006, we caught only a glimpse of what he was capable of on the field and in the box. During his rookie campaign, Tulo put up a .361 wOBA, a 5.4 WAR, and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He also turned in an unassisted triple play in a game against the Braves. He did not start 2008 off well and wound up inuring himself in a late-April game, and as a result Garrett Atkins played second base and Chris Iannetta manned third. His second half was great (.327/.389/.469). Two thousand and nine saw Tulo start off slow again, but not as slow as in 2008. He OPS'ed over a 1.000 during the second half of 2009 and finished fifth in NL MVP voting.
* * *
Now that I've run down those I consider the best draft picks of the decade, it's time to rank them. As I mentioned earlier, Baseball America named Brad Hawpe the best draft pick of the decade. As I had explained to me by someone in the know, the thinking that went into selection was probably based on production and draft position. I don't agree with that line of thinking (at least with the Rockies), so I'll break things down into several categories.
Nice to make the list, but more of a courtesy thing: Eric Young Jr. He needs more playing time, but even in the future he'll only rise a level or two above here.
"I Made the Majors, but All I Got Was the Bench": OK, this might not be the most accurate label for Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs, but that's what they've mostly been doing since making the majors. Smith could take a leap up, but Spilly's reached his peak as a fourth outfielder.
"I'm Getting There": The time for Dexter Fowler and Ian Stewart is now as they're both starters.
"I'm There, but I May Not Be For Much Longer": Our 2000 trio of Atkins, Barmes, and Hawpe go here. They've provided solid contributions to the Rockies as a starters, but given the recent decline of two (Atkins and Hawpe) and the adequate nature of the other (Barmes) it's hard to call any the best.
"They Call Me the Best": Troy Tulowtizki . Sure, it's easy to pick a high draft choice as the best draft selection. They're supposed to be good. But with Tulo it's different. If Todd Helton is the soul of the Rockies, Troy Tulowitzki is the heart. He's a leader. Everyone wants to win, but Tulo has a desire to do so like no other. Two thousand and eight was his first losing season ever, and he never wanted to go through another season like that. I like to avoid counter-factual situations, but if the the Blue Jays draft Tulo (they didn't because he wouldn't switch to third) where would the Rockies be now. Tulo's brought too much to the table for the Rockies not to be their best draft pick of the 00s right now.