Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Rockies’

No De La Rosa = More problems for Rockies

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 25, 2011

The bad news continues to roll in for the Colorado Rockies.  Not only did they suffer their fifth loss in six games tonight, and fall behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings, but they have learned that Jorge De La Rosa will out until at least next June thanks  to a torn elbow ligament that will require Tommy John surgery.  You read that right, De La Rosa will be out until at least next June because Tommy John surgery requires a minimum 12 month recovery period.  Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg had the surgery last August and is not scheduled to be back on a mound throwing until after this season is completed.  It is entirely possible that the Rockies may not see De La Rosa on the mound until after next season’s all-star break.

The injury to De La Rosa comes at a bad time for both him and the club.  For one, he was the only left handed starter in the rotation.  For another, De La Rosa was on his way to career best season.  His ERA before the injury this season was under 4.00 for the first time in his career (his previous career best was 4.22 last season).  His strikeout to walk ratio of 2.36 this season is also a career best.  Simply put, De La Rosa has been the Rockies’ most consistent starter in 2011, much more so than ace Ubaldo Jimenez.  Starting pitching overall has been a strength this season for the Rockies, but it remains to be seen if it will continue to be so without De La Rosa.  The good news is that Aaron Cook is due to return to the club next week following a spring injury, so that will help, but it remains to be seen if he can be productive right away while he adjusts to a return to the majors.  Perhaps one of the young pitchers, like Clayton Mortenson or Greg Reynolds, can take advantage of the opportunity to prove themselves and entrench a spot in the rotation.

Of course the Rockies can’t afford to feel sorry for themselves.  The Cardinals lost ace pitcher Adam Wainwright for the year during spring training, and they have managed to overcome that, holding down the lead in the NL Central.  The Rockies still have enough talent to compete in the division and perhaps even win the thing, but the injury to De La Rosa is another hurdle the Rockies have to overcome.  To do so, the offense needs to be a lot more consistent (tonight’s 2-1 loss being a perfect case in point for that), Jimenez needs to start showing the form from early last year (his last two starts have been very encouraging, including a complete game effort in Milwaukee in Sunday), and the rest of the rotation needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing (it’s not Jason Hammel’s fault he only had one run of support tonight).

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Where’s the offense?

Posted by mizzou1028 on May 9, 2011

I of course am as big a Rockies supporter as anyone.  I openly campaign for them to get more support nationally.  (The number of ESPN/Fox/TBS appearances is still zero this season, despite the Rockies leading the NL West).  However, if this team wants to maintain their position and get the national respect they deserve, they must start playing to their true capability.  The Rockies have lost seven of their past 10 games largely because their offense has hit a brick wall.  The starting pitching has been outstanding (the starters’ ERA is under 2.00 over the past eight games), yet the Rockies past five games have all featured two runs or less from the Rockies’ bats.  The Rockies are hitting just .216 as a team over the past seven games (.233 on the season).  With runners in scoring position and less than two out, they’re hitting .215.  You get the idea.  The offense needs to wake up, and it needs to do so in a hurry.

The two big stars, the ones who I would think would be more highly regarded nationally if they played on the east coast, are a large part of the problem.  Carlos Gonzalez had another 0-for-4 tonight against the Mets, dropping his average to .233.  So far this season he has just two home runs and 16 RBI, which is not really the production you look for from the number three spot in the order.  As for Troy Tulowitzki, he started off red hot with seven home runs in April, but he his hitting a horrific .074 in May (yes that is correct) after a solid .298 in April.  Of course every hitter hits a slump from time to time, and I am convinced both players will rebound, but they do need to start hitting like the players the Rockies know they are.  The rest of the lineup has had his ups and downs (Ian Stewart really needs a return trip to Colorado Springs – again), but without Cargo and Tulo leading the way, the Rockies have no hope hitting elite pitching.

It’s not as if they’ve gotten mowed down by Halladay, Lincecum, or Josh Johnson in recent weeks either.  It’s been Ian Kennedy, Ryan Vogelsong (who took a perfect game into the sixth), and Chris Capuano.  Tonight against Capuano the Rockies squeaked out a 2-1 win, but in early April they shelled him for nine runs.  I’m not saying it’s time to hit the panic button, but this is starting to become more than just a pothole as Jim Tracy called it.  The starting pitching has been great, and the bullpen has been good most of the year (although it has had its struggles in recent games as well).  Only four teams have scored fewer than the 20 runs the Rockies have plated in May.  The bottom line is the Rockies offense needs to return the form it showed in early April if they want to achieve their goal of winning their first ever NL West title.

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East coast bias

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 20, 2011

So far in the early going of the baseball season, I have noticed a not so subtle theme to the ESPN baseball broadcast schedule.  As usual, it is heavy on Yankees and Red Sox and no one else.  Sure, the defending champion Giants got some love in the first Sunday night broadcast of the year, but by and large ESPN is once again operating under the assumption that the Yankees and Red Sox are the only two teams in the league.  In doing so they continue to ignore many other teams that are worthy of attention.  While there are several teams that deserve more national attention this year (Cleveland and Kansas City have two of MLB’s top five records and even die hard fans can’t name their players), I’m going to put on my hometown hat and bat for the Rockies.

In five years the Rockies have appeared on ESPN exactly one time, and that was when they were in town to play one of the network’s beloved east coast teams, the Mets.  Their playoff appearances in the past five years are double the number of times they’ve been on ESPN.  The Rockies have the best record in Major League Baseball as of this writing, and yet are not scheduled for a single appearance on the mother ship this season.  In Colorado’s case it’s not limited to ESPN.  When the Rockies made the World Series in 2007, TBS announcers butchered the pronunciation of Troy Tulowitzki’s name more than once.  Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the Rox had not been on any national network during the 2007 season.  Thus, the announcers were completely unfamiliar with the team when they made the playoffs.  While it was comical to watch them fall over themselves and laugh at their clear lack of preparation, it illustrated just how much the national networks don’t care about smaller market teams like the Rockies.

Speaking of Tulowitzki, I am convinced he would be of America’s most popular players if he played in New York or Boston.  Because he plays in Colorado, many national pundits don’t appreciate how good he is.  When the Rockies re-signed him this offseason to the tune of seven years and $134 million, many national “experts” scoffed at it.  They claimed the Rockies wasted money foolishly on a player who is not among the elite.  Well, so far this season Tulo is hitting .343 with seven home runs.  Albert Pujols has five.  Tulo also makes a highlight reel play seemingly every night and is the consummate team leader.  I think had Tulowitzki signed that same contract with the Red Sox, it would have been lauded as a great signing by the ESPN folk, but because it’s Colorado they don’t care.

This also has an effect on national fans.  An ESPN.com poll asked fans whether the Rockies were smart or foolish in their decisions to re-sign Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.  While this seemed like a clear no brainer to me to keep two of MLB’s ten most talented players, more than 60 percent of fans nationally thought the Rockies were making bad decisions to give these young players so much money.  I think if these players were on the east coast, national fans would have a much better idea of who Tulo and Cargo are because they would be on ESPN much more often.  Because the Rockies are never on, even big baseball fans in other markets aren’t familiar with what these players can do.

I think the national attitude toward the Rockies can best be summed up by an article in a New York newspaper that suggested the Mets could get well against the “weak Rockies” during a four game series last week at Citi Field.  The article suggested that the Mets would have easy pickings against Colorado.  While this may have true for many years when the Rockies were struggling, times have certainly changed for this franchise in the past five years.  The Rockies ended up sweeping the four game series against the Mets in rather emphatic fashion, so perhaps if the Rockies can continue their high level of play they might finally get the respect they deserve.  Than again, I’m sure ESPN will treat us to 15 more Yankees games before they decide to grace the Rockies with an appearance.

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Rainout? Doesn’t matter to the team!

Posted by mizzou1028 on April 3, 2011

So my dad and I had tickets for today’s game at Coors Field between the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.  It was 84 degrees yesterday, so tickets to a Sunday afternoon game seemed like a no brainer right?  Wrong.  The bad weather moved in faster than an Albert Pujols batting practice shot.  When we went to breakfast it was 60 degrees and sunny.  By the time we got to the ballpark four hours later it was in the 40s and dropping rapidly, not to mention it started snowing.  We were pretty sure there wasn’t going to be a ballgame but here we were driving down to the stadium anyway. Despite the clear bad weather, the parking attendants were happily taking money from people.  When we got inside the stadium, the restaurants and concession lines were all packed, not to mention the team store, which was so crowded you couldn’t move without elbowing someone.

Meanwhile, while the money was flowing courtesy of all the unfortunate fans who were packed to the gilds on the concourses because they did want to sit in their seats in the pouring rain.  After all, we all know how exciting a baseball field is when it’s covered up by a tarp.  The snow was falling harder by the minute.  There was nothing on the scoreboard except the logos of the two teams.  No announcements, no mentions of when or if the game might start.  The other scores around the league were still being updated out in right field, which seemed very bizarre because no one was in the seats to see that.  We broke down and decided to get hot dogs ourselves.  I checked my phone to see if I could get a weather update that way, and when I popped up my scoreboard app, all it said for our game is “delay – top 1st” which was a bad sign considering first pitch was still 20 minutes away.  1:10 came and went, and still no update.

Pretty soon we started to hear cheers from the few that were paying attention to the field.  The grounds crew was coming out, they began to pull off the bags that were holding the tarp in place.  This did seem strange given that it was still snowing hard, but for all we knew, the weather was about to move out and they knew it.  Nope, the first announcement we heard all day came next: “Fans your attention please.  Today’s game has been postponed.  No makeup date has been announced.  Tickets for today’s game will be good for the rescheduled game.”

Now, we were fortunate to have tickets and a parking pass that we didn’t have to pay for, but for most of the other fans today was money down the drain without any real return on it, save for a buzz or maybe a sweatshirt.  Most of the fans in attendance had plopped down $13 for parking.  Many had spent more money on beer, soda, hot dogs and other food.  Worst yet perhaps was that most fans had paid pretty good money for seats.  Let’s say a family of four bought upper deck seats.  That’s $100 right there.  Plus you add in the drive down to the stadium at inflated gas prices and you get the idea.  Sure, fans can use their tickets for the rescheduled game, but that means another parking fee, more concessions and more gas.  Plus another program perhaps.  Not to mention, the rescheduled game will not be on a Sunday afternoon.  It will be during the week because the two remaining visits to Denver by the Diamondbacks are during the week.  If fans are lucky, it will be on May 23rd, which is a Monday and a common off day for both teams.  Otherwise, it could well be part of a midweek day night doubleheader, which means an afternoon game during the week.  Either way, fans will not be getting what they thought they were buying, and in many cases will not be able to make the rescheduled game and will thus eat the money for their tickets anyway.

I do not mean to imply that rainouts shouldn’t happen.  They will always be a part of baseball and are inevitable. I certainly do not think it would have been wise to play game in those conditions.  However, anyone with half a brain could have looked at the weather forecast, which was guaranteed to be lousy, and postponed the game well in advance.  Everyone knew precipitation was coming in at some point during the day.  It would have made sense to postpone the game early in the morning, get the word out through radio and social media, and save everyone the trouble and hassle of driving downtown for nothing.  It would have been fair to the fans to postpone the game with enough notice once it became clear it was not going to be played (it was clear to me two hours before first pitch, and I’m not the one with access to all the weather data they have).

It is obvious to me that the reason they waited until after the game’s scheduled start to make any kind of announcement was money.  Remember there was no in stadium announcement whatsoever until the postponement.  By waiting several hours to reveal any information, the Rockies pocketed who knows how much money in parking fees, concessions and merchandise.  I even saw several poor souls buying tickets at the window outside the stadium as we walked in (a good hour before the announcement of the postponement).  To be fair, fans at this point could have used their head and not bought tickets.  On the other hand, they probably headed to the ballpark much earlier, maybe even had called the team to find out if the game would be played.  In any case, by waiting mere hours to postpone the game, the Rockies made a ton of money for themselves at the expense of their fans, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet in this poor economy.   To me, being able to use the ticket for the rescheduled game is a nice and very fair gesture, but many fans will not be able to take advantage of that.  Besides, they will once again have to pay for parking and many will likely buy concessions again.  For us, this was a trip to the ballpark for an expensive hot dog.  For many others, it was a planned family outing that certainly didn’t live up to the billing, and caused a hit to the wallet without any benefit in return.  Next time the weather is very clearly ugly, I hope the Rockies and other MLB teams keep their fans in mind and give them the courtesy they deserve.  Make an effort to decide one way or the other whether a game will be played in a timely manner.  If you’re more than 50 percent sure it won’t be played, call it.  Don’t wait until you’ve gouged your customers.  Going to a game these days is expensive as it is.  Don’t force your fans into paying added expenses for no reason.

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Is It April Yet?

Posted by mizzou1028 on January 4, 2011

 It’s been really depressing around here the past few months for us Denver sports fans.  The Broncos have just finished their worst season in more than 30 years, the Nuggets know their star player is getting traded and the Buffs failed to qualify for a bowl for the fourth time in the past five years.  At least the Avalanche are winning, but no one notices because the NHL doesn’t get any coverage.  That’s why I can’t wait for the calendar to turn to April, and we can get baseball season started.  Strange as it sounds, the Rockies are the best product in the Denver sports scene, and it may not even be close now that they have locked up their two best players through 2017.

In November the Rockies signed Troy Tulowitzki to a seven year $134 million deal.  They followed that up this week by agreeing to a seven year $80 million deal with Carlos Gonzalez.  What makes the Gonzalez deal so surprising is he is represented by Scott Boras, who is notorious for not allowing his players to accept hometown discounts.  A Boras client almost always lets himself get to free agency, where he can cash in a megadeal on the open market.  I say almost because Gonzalez is the only Boras client I can think of who has actually agreed to stay with his current team.  In any case, Rockies fans should be dancing in the streets celebrating these signings.  Sure the money is staggering, but the Rockies are finally doing what they refused to do for the first 15 years of their existence, lock up their star players.  Look at teams like the Royals, Twins, Padres and other smaller market clubs that never spend the money to retain their best players.  If the Rockies hadn’t made an effort to keep Tulo and CarGo, they would have surely been members of the Red Sox or Yankees in three years.

I find it laughable that national reaction to these signing is not positive.  After all the Rockies are doing what we continually criticize small market clubs for not doing: keeping their best players in the fold.   An ESPN.com poll finds that more than half of fans think this is a bad investment on the part of the Rockies.  I think the only reason that poll is slanted that way is because most national fans have no idea who Tulo and CarGo are.  The Rockies are never on national tv (zero regular season appearances in the last two years), so it’s no wonder people think the Rockies are spending money wildly.  The fact is that if either Tulowitzki or Gonzalez played for a big market team, especially in New York or Boston, they would be talked about as sure fire hall of famers.  Because they play in Colorado, national folks don’t think these are great players. 

This assertion is absurd because I would stack Tulowitzki up against any shortstop in baseball.  He is better defensively than Derek Jeter, has as much pop as Jimmy Rollins, and is in every way the definition of a team leader.  As for Gonzalez, he is a true five tool player.  He can play all three outfield positions flawlessly, can hit for power, and as he proved last season can be a legitimate triple crown candidate.  He is so highly thought of that he was traded twice for All-Stars (Dan Haren and Matt Holliday).  People nationally can think what they like, but I’ll take my chances with Gonzalez and Tulowitzki leading my offense for the next seven years.

Let’s just say that I can’t wait for opening day this year.  I see no reason why the Rockies can’t be a legitimate contender for years to come.  After all, we do need something to look forward to here in Denver.

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Ubaldo the Magnificent

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 7, 2010

Photo courtesy Matt York - Associated Press

I will admit right up front that I am biased, but I don’t think there has been any question who the best pitcher in Major League Baseball has been this season.  I am aware that C.C. Sabathia has posted more wins, Adam Wainwright has a better ERA, and two other pitchers have duplicated Jimenez’ feat of a no hitter while yet two others exceeded it with a perfect game this season, but Jimenez has done something no one thought would ever be possible.  He has managed to be a true, legitimate staff ace while pitching at altitude and in the bandbox of Coors Field.  Even with the humidor, people still discount the numbers of Rockies’ hitters on account of Coors Field.  While I think this is absurd given that there are numerous ballparks that generate more offense than Coors, I will turn the national pundits’ argument back on themselves and say that pitching numbers in Denver should be rewarded when they are even remotely good.  In the case of Ubaldo Jimenez, his numbers should be labeled as absolutely spectacular.

To say that Ubaldo Jimenez is the best pitcher in Rockies history is like saying Manute Bol would be the tallest person at his high school reunion. No disrespect intended to Jeff Francis or the likes of Pedro Astacio, but Jimenez is so clearly the best pitcher to wear a Rockies uniform that no one else is even worthy of being in the discussion.  Today Jimenez posted a franchise best 18th victory of the season.  He still has roughly five starts remaining this season to try and notch 20 wins.  He would already be there if not for awful run support in several losses this season (Jimenez has been on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss to the Dodgers, a 1-0 loss to the Mets, and a 2-1 loss to the Giants).  Over a two month stretch during April and May, Jimenez was as dominant as pitcher in the history of the game.  At the end of May, Jimenez posted a 0.78 ERA and a 10-1 record.  Jimenez had given up just seven runs over his first 11 starts.  Sure the Rockies were 27-24 after two months, but take out the games Jimenez started, and they were just 16-23 in the other games.  It’s safe to say that he was carrying the club on his back.

In many ways he still is.  It seems as though every time Jimenez takes the mound, he is doing so the day after a Rockies’ loss.  Given the lack of run support he has often been saddled with, he has had to win games by himself much of the time.  It seems ironic today then, that Jimenez picked up a win on a day when he wasn’t his best.  It should say something that I say he wasn’t at his best when he struck out eight hitters on a first place Reds team over six innings.  The bottom line with Jimenez is that even when he is “not at his best” he is still usually better than whoever is starting for the other team that day.  When he is at his best, he is virtually unhittable.

I am always the eternal optimist, and as such when I look at the standings and see that the Rockies find themselves just four and a half games out of the playoffs in spite of a topsy turvy season, I think they can make up that deficit.  Ubaldo Jimenez is a big reason, because I know the Rockies have a legitimate shot to win no matter what lineup he is facing.  If the Rockies can manage to sneak into the playoffs, Jimenez is exactly the type of staff ace that can swing a short playoff series in a hurry.  He could be to opponents what Cliff Lee was to the Rockies in the division series last year.  I know the national media with their east coast bias will probably give the Cy Young to Wainwright or Josh Johnson or someone that’s on national tv every week, but it would be a real crime not to give it to Jimenez.  Something tells me if he pitched for the Mets he would be a lock.

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MLB Pennant Races

Posted by mizzou1028 on August 12, 2010

With about a month and a half to go in the Major League Baseball season, it seems time to offer some quick predictions on how the rest of the season will go.  I think the races will be exciting and intriguing.

AL East: It’s unfortunate that one team among the trio of the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox will have to miss the playoffs, because all three teams are better than any AL Central offering this year.  Nevertheless, one team will be out here, and I think it will end up being Boston, who currently sits five games behind Tampa Bay, who is currently leading the wild card chase.  Call me crazy, but I think the Rays will overtake the Yankees for the division when it is all said and done.  I still like their pitching, especially David Price, and their lineup, while streaky, is good enough to get runs scored when needed.  The lineup will get even better when Carlos Pena comes off the DL.  The Yankees will easily still make the playoffs as the wild card, for their lineup is especially potent as well.  Their downfall could be bridging from their starters to Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning.

AL Central: We do have a good race here between the White Sox and Twins.  Both teams have solid starting pitching, although I’d give Chicago a slight edge with Mark Buerhle and Gavin Floyd.  I think Minnesota has a better lineup, but they’re finding that hitting home runs at spacious Target Field is a challenge.  Look at Joe Mauer, who has just seven home runs this season after hitting more than 30 last year.  In the end, I think this will come down to the final week.  Two years ago this ended up going to a one game playoff with the White Sox winning the game 1-0.  It could be that close this time as well, but I’ll take Minnesota on a hunch.

AL West: This is over.  Texas has a big enough lead that it would rank as one of the biggest collapses in MLB history if they lost it.  I think the Rangers will be very dangerous in the playoffs because of their potent lineup (about to get even better with the return of Ian Kinsler from the DL).  Their starting pitching has also been surprisingly effective.  If they can keep that up, they might just win the whole thing in October.

NL East: Atlanta has a fairly comfortable lead, although they just got bad news on Chipper Jones, who may have an ACL injury according to reports.  Still, their pitching is outstanding, especially Tim Hudson, and their lineup of young players continues to come through.  Will it be enough to hold of the Philiies?  I still think Philadelphia would be leading the division if they had been able to stay healthy.  With Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in the same rotation, it really shouldn’t be fair.  I think Philadelphia overtakes Atlanta for this division when it’s all said and done, and the Braves will have a hard battle in a crowded wild card race.

NL Central: In light of the brawl earlier this week, we should have an outstanding race down the stretch between the Reds and Cardinals.  Cincinnati to me has been the surprise team this season, but their mix of youth and veterans has been playing well so far.  The key for them will be if they can keep up their surprising pitching.  I think the Cardinals have all the tools to make a run at the World Series, between a lineup that includes Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday and a rotation led by Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter.  I think St. Louis will win this race, and they may not even have to sweat it in the final week.  I just don’t see the Reds being able to keep up their pace, particularly after the Cardinals snagged their mojo this week, sweeping them in Cincy after the brawl.

NL West: I think two playoffs teams will come out of this division: San Diego and San Francisco.  It’s only a matter of which one will win the division and which will be the wild card.  I think the Giants are a team that would be a force in the playoffs in a short series because of their rotation, led by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.  The Padres though also have pitching that has been lights out all year, from guys that aren’t big names like Mat Latos and Jon Garland.  The Padres also made big moves at the trade deadline getting Ryan Ludwick and Miguel Tejada to bolster their lineup.  I think the Padres will win this division, and the Giants will get the wild card spot in the NL, holding off the Braves and Reds in a tight race.

I think the Rockies, while having an outstanding season from Ubaldo Jimenez and a coming out party type year from Carlos Gonzalez, just don’t quite have the horses to keep up with the rest of the pack this year.  The rest of the rotation besides Jimenez is just way too inconsistent, and their inability to score runs on the road will ultimately prove to be their downfall.  In the most recent road trip the Rockies endured a string of 21 consecutive scoreless innings over three games, that’s just not going to get it done.  In the offseason they need to add another run producer to help Gonzalez and hope that youngsters Esmil Rogers and Jhoulys Chacin will be ready to take spots in the rotation next season.

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Yes, the Broncos really are 5-0

Posted by mizzou1028 on October 14, 2009

Patriots Broncos Football There has certainly been a lot going on the past few days in the Denver sports scene, hence the lateness of this post.  We will give the Rockies their due for a fantastic season in just a moment, but the Broncos are rapidly becoming the talk of the sports world for being the unquestioned biggest surprise in the National Football League.  With a win over the Patriots in overtime, the Broncos have now silenced critics who said their fast start was a result of an easy schedule (actually three of their five wins have come against teams with winning records).  The Broncos were a team that was universally picked to be horrible primarily because everyone seemed to think they made a colossal error in trading Jay Cutler (for example Sports Illustrated picked them to finish 5-11.  Hell, even Denver Post columnist Woody Paige predicted 4-12).  Well, now that they are 5-0, the Broncos’ start has to be among the most surprising in NFL history.  Fans wanted Josh McDaniels fired before he even coached a game and few seemed to think that he was doing a good job in the offseason.  The Broncos are quickly showing that they are for real, and are quickly making people forget Cutler and Mike Shanahan.

There are many places we could start in dissecting this game, but I think it is necessary to start with Kyle Orton, being that he was one of the primary reasons “experts” were predicting such a bad year for the Broncos.  Start with the fact that Orton posted the second 300-yard game of his career, then that he was named offensive player of the week.  Against the Patriots Orton led not one, but TWO 90 yard touchdown drives (the second one was 98, in the fourth quarter no less).  This is the type of clutch drive that only few are capable of leading, and it is a drive that can sometimes define a quarterback.  Orton spread the ball around the field, finding Eddie Royal 10 times (more than in the previous four games combined), Jabar Gaffney eight times and Brandon Marshall six.  In five games he has only thrown one pick (and I’m not sure that should even really count as it was a hail mary at the end of the first half).  Orton continued to make very smart decisions with the football, not doing more than he was asked to do or was capable of.  Orton is now 27-12 as a starter in his career, and is proving that flashy numbers and rocket arms aren’t the only way to win in the NFL.  He is definitely making people in Denver and around the NFL forget about Jay Cutler in a real hurry.

The Broncos defense is of course also to be commended in this game once again.  In the fourth quarter, the Broncos endured a sequence where they committed not one but two fourth down penalties on special teams (a running into the punter and an offsides), extending a Patriots drive and giving Tom Brady extra chances.  Needless to say, any time you give Brady an extra chance to beat you, let alone two chances, you’re going to be cooked most of the time.  The Broncos had twice forced a New England punt attempt to no avail, finding themselves in need of another stop.  The Broncos defense was able to dig in and get yet another stop, getting enough pressure to force Brady into a couple of incompletions.  Overall, the Broncos held the Patriots to 17 points, and while I realize New England has not been lighting up the scoreboard so far this year, this still proves that the Broncos defense is indeed for real.  I realize also that the following is essentially a sentence I could cut and paste every week, but Brian Dawkins’ presence and importance is not to be underestimated.  He is nothing short of the ultimate leader in the locker room, and he is showing he can still play a little on the field too.

Some other thoughts:

– The Broncos missed Correll Buckhalter Sunday, both for his running ability and his pass catching presence.  Knowhson Moreno did have a nice game, but he needs to hang onto the football.

– Brandon Marshall is back.  Two more touchdowns for starters, but it is clear that he is once again playing with effort and is enjoying the game again.  It’s amazing what winning can accomplish.

– I actually liked the Broncos throwback jerseys more than I thought I would.  I’m not saying they should wear them again, but it is nice once in awhile to see a different look, in this case a VERY different look. I also as I said before liked New England’s throwbacks more than their current uniform.

– New England will really miss Fred Taylor.  Somehow, they will need either Laurence Maroney or Sammy Morris to be effective going forward, but right now the lack of running game is holding their offense back.

– 12 targets for Wes Welker, only 3 for Randy Moss, and that’s without Champ Bailey shadowing Moss.  Not sure if that means anything, it’s just interesting.

– I think both teams look like they are playoff quality right now.

– It was interesting to see the chess match between McDaniels and Belichick.  Clearly both knew each other extremely well, and were trying new wrinkles to outsmart each other.  This was most obvious when timeouts were called in confusion.

– The Broncos have a huge game Monday night in San Diego.  In their last three trips west, the Broncos have lost 48-28, 23-3, and last year 52-21.  The Broncos can take yet another step toward elite status and away from the mediocrity of previous years if they can get a victory.  The Chargers have looked vulnerable lately, so I’m not sure this is entirely out of the question.

– I also want to give the Colorado Rockies their due.  The Rockies were 12 games under.500 in May when they fired manager Clint Hurdle, and naturally no one was expecting anything from this group at all.  I’m honestly not sure what Jim Tracy did to turn things around, but whatever he did, it worked wonders and then some.  He got the guys to play with confidence, and just seemed to always know what buttons to push to make things work.  The Rockies nearly caught the Dodgers in the NL West even though that lead was seemingly out of reach, but did clinch the NL wild card.  While the Rockies lost to the Phillies in four games in the division series, let’s not forget what a wild ride this team had just to get in the playoffs.  I know fans are getting on Huston Street right now for getting the loss in game three and game four, but the Rockies would not have even made the playoffs at all if not for his ability to close games on the clutch.  Hopefully ownership will keep the team together and the Rockies will be able to make another run next season.

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One More Post-Holliday Trade Note

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 17, 2008

I’ll let Jim Armstrong, the great sports columnist from The Denver Post, make the point.  You can read his latest thoughts on the Holliday trade, and specifically why such a lopsided deal wouldn’t happen in the NFL here.

I completely agree with everything he says.  MLB really needs to adopt the NFL model, except the players (and especially the union and their agents) are too greedy.  The sad thing is the way the NFL labor contract currently reads, the 2010 season would be played without a salary cap, and the players say they will not go back to one if they play a season with an uncapped year.  It seems in any case from what I’ve heard that the NFL is on its way to labor strife after the 2010 season (or after two more seasons following the conclusion of this one).  It’s a ways off yes, but it would be a shame if the NFL and its players allowed the best business model in sports to go poof.

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Holliday Follow Up

Posted by mizzou1028 on November 13, 2008

A couple of quick follow up thoughts on the trade that sent Matt Holliday to Oakland for Huston Street, Carlos Gonzalez, and Greg Smith:

– The Rockies are trying to portray Holliday as not being a team player and are trying to argue that they will be better team next year even though their best hitter and only game changer is gone.  Please, Dan O’Dowd, don’t insult our intelligence by trying to say the team is now better.  It may be better in two years if Gonzalez and Smith turn out to be as good at their potential indicates they could be, but the team is not better now.

– As for Holliday not being a team player, it’s hard to argue with O’Dowd on that point.  Holliday wrote his ticket out of town and put his full selfishness and greediness on display the instant he hired Scott Boras as his agent.  Players who hire Boras are seeking as much money as possible and NEVER re-sign with their current team for less.  The Rockies frankly couldn’t afford to keep Holliday, and we all knew that.  My issue is more with the timing of the trade and what the Rockies got (or didn’t get) in return.

– I do want to give Smith, Gonzalez, and Street the benefit of the doubt.  Smith did eat up a lot of innings last year in Oakland, and maybe we should give him a chance to see if he can cut his walks down, which he will have to do to be effective.  The Rockies need him to be a 2 of 3 starter, not the 4 or 5 starter he is now.  Gonzalez  has the tools to be a good center fielder, but he has yet to put it together at the Major League level.  If he can meet his full potential and improve his woeful on base percentage, the trade may prove to be ok for the Rockies in 2-3 years.  If he is a bust, the trade is a full failure.  As for Street, it is unknown whether the Rockies will keep him or try to spin him for a starter.  If he stays, he will compete with Manny Corpas for the closer role, but the Rockies should be aware of his less than promising injury history.  Street has the talent and to his credit does not walk many hitters, but he has yet to prove he can stay healthy.  That must change if he is to be effective in the Rockies’ bullpen. 

– To those ripping A’s General Manager Billy Beane regarding his acquisition of Holliday: ask yourself who you’re ripping.  Beane has routinely made bold moves to improve the A’s.  It is unknown whether the A’s will keep Holliday after this year, but they knew they needed an elite power bat to keep pace with the Angels in the AL West.  Holliday is a game changer, and the A’s will benefit from his presence in the middle of the order.  If nothing else, the A’s will get two high compensatory picks in next year’s draft if Holliday bolts as a free agent.

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