A 27 and 43 record can do a lot of things to a manager. An already long baseball season will drag on to what seems like eternity when you’re stringing together more losing streaks than Lindsay Lohan rehab stints. Manager’s will try everything to get something going. But who knew that in Colorado they would try everything?!
Rockies’ skipper, Jim Tracy, announced this week he will go to a four-man rotation, with each starter getting pulled after 75 pitches. Tracy knows his team is going nowhere fast and that two of his starters – Alex White and Christian Friedrich – are young arms on orders from management to abide by strict innings limit. That all being said, this is a very unorthodox decision by Tracy. This decision means one of two things for the fourth year skipper: He’s waving the white flag on the season and inevitably his job. Or, he seems to harness extreme job security and feels he will be around to see the Rockies turn it around. According to GM Jim O’Dowd, it seems to be the latter. I doubt O’Dowd would give Tracy the kiss of death next spring, as the struggles occurring this season cannot be labelled as unexpected. So if the four-man rotation doesn’t result in Tracy being fired, what will it take? Well, lets take a look at the first edition of, “Am I Fired Now?”
- Sends Troy Tulowitzki out as a pinch runner a week after groin surgery. Verdict: Not Fired!
- Starts a 49-year-old LHP in the worst fly ball park in baseball (Note - Jamie Moyer is now a Toronto Blue Jay). Verdict: Not Fired!
- Place Joe Sakic in the rotation (younger than Jamie Moyer). He makes his battery mate a snowblower and calls split fingers all game. Verdict: Not Fired!
In Case You Missed It
- Rays relief pitcher, Joel Peralta, was suspended 8 games for having pine tar on his glove, a move that ticked Joe Maddon right off. Luckily for us, we got exclusive footage of Maddon and Washington Nationals manager, Davey Johnson, trying to talk the issue out.
- After blowing a save Saturday – his first BS as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, Jonathan Papelbon put up $5,000 for the player who gets a walk-off shot. The first batter of the inning, Jim Thome, hit one to the stands and called Papelbon on his bet. That may not be the sort of bounty Jonathan Vilma and Gregg Williams intended, but $5K for a home run seems like good value.
- Juan Pierre hit a home run. Over the fence. In the Majors. That is all.
- On Wednesday, Stephen Strasburg went 7 innings, giving up 5 hits, 2 runs and striking out 10 . That brings him to 9-1 with a 2.46ERA and 110 K’s. Probably the most important number for Strasburg is the 84 innings, given all the talk about the 160 inning limit set by the Nationals brass. Whether they stick to it or not, it HAS to be monitored. Thus….The Strasburg Watch = 76 innings left.
After Sunday’s game, the Angels have pulled to 40-33, 5 games within the division leading Rangers. A 20-8 run over their last 28 has them playing their best ball of the season. The credit has been given, and rightfully so, to Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. But the one name that hasn’t been brought up nearly enough is Mark Trumbo. In only his second full season, the right handed hitter is hitting .318/.370/.618 with 17HR and 48 RBI. During their last 28-game-span, Trumbo’s splits are .319/.364/.764 with 11HR and 29RBI. Unlike Trout, Trumbo honed his skills in the minors for six seasons. He was a power bat who needed to work on his game, and he has done just that. His biggest weakness was his knack to swing at every pitch, which directly affected his strikeout and walk numbers. His base on balls in a season have never been above 44, until the 2010 season where he walked 58 times at Triple-A Salt Lake. Those advancements at the plate seemed to be unrealized in the big leagues when last year he walked only 25 times in 539 at-bats. He struggled with the improved, yet maybe more importantly, new pitchers. Just like in the minors, adjustments were made and he now has 19 walks (14 on the road) in 233 at-bats.
With all the success and discipline at the plate Mark Trumbo has shown, he still hasn’t found the same rhythm on the road that he has at home:
-.377/.398/.697 – .262/352/.591
-9 HR, 27 RBI, 5 BB – 8 HR, 21 RBI, 14 BB
-BABIP: .440 – BABIP: .282
He has gotten very lucky at home with his average, and a small decline can be expected. But his improved eye and great power should send one of the best bargains in baseball (making $500K this season) to the All-Star Game and send the Angels into a much anticipated bloodbath for the American League West crown.
Double: Can Anyone Pitch?
The main reason the aforementioned Jim Tracy has to go to the ridiculous four-man rotation is because he has not one major league caliber arm on his roster. Though White and Friedrich have potential, they are not yet ready to pitch half their games at Coors Field. Josh Outman and the “Canadian Gas Can” Jeff Francis round out the quintet that has the worst ERA, WHIP and quality starts in baseball. The only respected name they have is Jeremy Guthrie, and he was moved to the bullpen. Speculation is growing that Guthrie could be traded, and the one team consistently mentioned in those rumors are the Toronto Blue Jays.
At this point last month (up until June 16th actually), the Toronto Blue Jays’ rotation of Ricky Romero, Henderson Alvarez, Kyle Drabek, Brandon Morrow and Drew Hutchison had made all but one of the Toronto starts this season. But in one week the Jays lost Kyle Drabek to a second career Tommy John surgery and both Brandon Morrow and Drew Hutchison were sent to the 15-day disabled list. The desperation has reached a point with the Jays that Jesse Chavez is making consecutive starts and David Pauley is eating innings out of the bullpen. Surely Toronto will address this issue before the trade deadline – as I mentioned earlier, they have just acquired the nebulous efforts of Jamie Moyer – but the wind has been taken out of their sails for the foreseeable future. Both the Jays and the Rockies will be giving up runs in bunches, which will make both teams almost impossible to wager on. In Toronto’s case, they can score at home and on the road, while Colorado seems to just be able score at Coors Field. Picking the right spot to wager your money is always crucial, but there would be no situation where I would feel confident taking the under in a Rockies or Jays game.
Triple: Trade Watch
Every week we will give you three players who could be traded, what they’re chances are from 1 to 10, and some teams that could be interested.
Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs
There has been smoke around this rumor all year, and just seems like a matter of if, not when, the veteran will be traded. He would be a welcomed addition to a playoff contending team needing a good second or third starter.
Chances – 10
Teams of Interest: Tigers, Dodgers, Red Sox, Indians and Blue Jays.
Marco Scutaro, Colorado Rockies
Scutaro is not in the future plans for the Rockies, and he would bring value to any team needing help up the middle. He can hit above league average and plays above average defense.
Chances – 9
Teams on Interest: Tigers, Dodgers and Reds.
Reed Johnson, Chicago Cubs
Johnson is the Cubs first option off the bench to pinch hit, and has done a very good job, hitting .301 in just over 100 plate appearances. The Cubs are looking to the future, and Johnson has value to a playoff team needing a clutch base hit off the bench.
Chances – 9.5
Teams of Interest: Dodgers, Nationals, Reds and Pirates.
Home Run: Match-ups for the Week
Detroit @ Texas (Monday-Wednesday)
A rematch of the ALCS from last year takes place in Arlington with a Detroit team that can’t score runs against a Rangers team that has won 8 of their last 9 and 11 of 13. This is a big series for the Tigers, but not having Justin Verlander pitch will hinder their cause. Expect Tiger killer Nelson Cruz to have a big series.
The light hitting Giants should struggle against CY Young winner, Clayton Kershaw, but will the Dodgers be able to solve the mystery that is Ryan Vogelsong? The soft throwing righty has a 6-3 record with a 2.41 ERA. He is the poster child for mediocrity succeeding in the NL, and a Dodgers team minus Matt Kemp (out until after the break) falls in line with the weak hitting lineups Vogelsong sees more often then not.
Pittsburgh @ St. Louis (Friday-Sunday)
It was the end of July last year that Pittsburgh hosted St. Louis in a three-game series. The Pirates were still in the division race and the city was buzzing with excitement. The Cardinals went on to win 2 of 3, went on to lose a 19 inning game two days later and proceeded to go 18-42 to finish the season. This series has that sort of feel, with the Pirates taking two from the Tigers on the weekend and sitting just a game behind the World Champion Cardinals. Will they win the division? Probably not. Their pitching needs to continue being fantastic and the clutch hitting needs to transform into consistent hitting. But like last year, Pittsburgh fans need to just enjoy the ride while it’s moving.