You’ve perhaps noticed that my posting on here has been relatively sparse lately. My internship has a lot to do with that, as I’m working forty hours a week, in addition to commuting an hour each way every day (and not getting paid for it, imagine that.)
The Rockies have been playing well lately, no doubt about it. Since dropping a series to Kansas City from May 18-20, the team’s gone 14-7, including winning every series save for a four-game split against the Cardinals. A win tonight against the Red Sox and the Rockies will have won 6 of their last 7 series, including four straight on the road. What’s more, the Rockies, should they hand Josh Beckett his first loss of the season tonight, will be a .500 ballclub. Imagine that.
Still, this franchise just seems like a tease. They had a winning record after the All-Star Break in that dismal 2005 season, and they led the NL West for a good portion of the first half last season, but they’re still capable of tanking at times. There’s no doubt that the team’s gotten a bit lucky; they’ve been outscored by 30 runs and have a Pythagorean record of 29-36, and that’s no doubt enhanced by last night’s 12-2 shellacking of the Sox. Of course, we’re 8-7 in one-run games, so it’s not like we’re disproportionately winning those ballgames.
The Devil Rays come to town over the weekend, and while normally that would be cause for celebration — what better way to get to .500, or even over .500 — the Rays are hot right now, having won 7 of their last 10 games. Much of this has to do with getting better starting pitching. After watching the triumvirate of Edwin Jackson, Casey Fossum, and Jae Seo be completely awful over the early part of the season, the Rays noticed that the Triple-A Durham Bulls had a better starting rotation. Then they noticed that, well, the Bulls were their AAA franchise and there was no point in having Fossum and Seo blow up any more, so they ditched Seo and sent Fossum to the bullpen. Now in their place are Andy Sonnanstine, who had an excellent 66/13 K/BB ratio in 71 innings at Durham, and J.P. Howell, with a likewise excellent 64/18 ratio. I guess Jackson gets to stick around because he’s young and still has potential, but it’s almost impossible to think well of his 0-8 record and 8.20 ERA. Unfortunately, the Rockies won’t get to tee off on Jackson this weekend, instead getting Sonnanstine on Saturday, sandwiched between the two Rays starters who have been consistently good, James Shields (6-0, 3.04 ERA) and Scott Kazmir (4-3, 4.07). For us it’s Lopez, Hirsh, and Cook.
My colleague Mark at Bad Altitude thinks that Willy Taveras is just awful, a sentiment I don’t agree with. Even Willy’s .367 OBP and 15 stolen bases haven’t convinced Mark. I guess he’s entitled to his own opinion, but I don’t want Cory Sullivan in center field any time soon, and since the Rockies apparently don’t plan on giving Ryan Spilborghs a shot at starting, that’s the best we can really hope for. If there’s one thing I don’t like about the sabermetric approach, it’s that sabermetric types often seem to be convinced that hitters who don’t hit for power are useless, which I don’t agree with. The 1990s, when every two-bit shortstop in the majors suddenly became a home run threat, are over, and it’s hard to expect that they’ll be back any time soon what with the rigorous steroid testing now in place (I assume it’s rigorous, anyway, but then again Barry Bonds has not tested positive for anything, so who really knows.) The humidor at Coors Field hasn’t completely eliminated the old Coors Field game (you know, lots of homers, no lead is ever safe, final score something like 12-8) but it’s becoming less and less common. That makes a guy like Taveras, who can cover the huge center field at Coors and use the huge outfield to his advantage as a hitter, very valuable. That’s the main reason why he’s been better this season than he was in Houston.
Anyway, I’m hoping for a win tonight, but it’ll be tough against Beckett, particularly after the Rockies pantsed the Sox last night. Curt Schilling has done just about everything short of giving a pitch-by-pitch breakdown of last night’s game. Yes, Curt, you lost to Josh Fogg. Deal with it.