Troy Tulowitzki: Ubaldo Jimenez Did Not Properly Prepare Himself for the Season

Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the best stories of the baseball season last year. The former Rockies pitcher went 15-1 in 18 starts before the All-Star break and was nearly unbeatable. He had a sub-1.00 ERA in June and had thrown a no-hitter. He rode a fastball in the upper-90s with crazy movement and a wicked breaking ball to unprecedented Coors Field success for a pitcher. Ubaldo finished the year 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. He had established himself as an ace in the National League and he was expected to anchor the Rockies’ staff for the future. But it all changed this season.

Ubaldo entered the year reportedly dissatisfied with his contract situation. He had seen the franchise give Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez major contract extensions while he remained signed to a team-friendly deal. He got rocked on Opening Day and ended up on the disabled list with a finger injury. Turns out he was battling other nagging injuries since spring training, and it looks like a lack of proper preparation prior to the season is to blame.

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Nomar Garciaparra Thinks the Humidor is Illegal, Colorado Shouldn’t Have a Team

During the Phillies-Rockies game Wednesday night in Philadelphia, the broadcasting crew got into a debate about Todd Helton’s Hall of Fame credentials. Play-by-play man Dave O’Brien said that many people feel Helton playing at Coors Field will hurt his case because the altitude in Denver resulted in astronomical offensive numbers. Analyst and former All-Star Nomar Garciaparra disagreed, going off on a rant where he said the humidor should be illegal.

“It’s not his fault that’s the way it is there at Coors Field or let alone balls put in a humidor which I think is illegal,” Garciaparra argued. “You don’t adjust the equipment because of the ballpark. If there’s an issue with the ballpark, you shouldn’t have a ballpark there. If you’re going to have to adjust, if you’re going to determine guys’ value whether they’re worth the Hall of Fame because it happens to be in a place where there’s altitude, then you’re going to have to make adjustments to all the ballparks. ‘Well it doesn’t count because Fenway’s wall is so much closer than somewhere else.’ Right field at Yankee Stadium, maybe we’ll use balls that don’t count when they fly out that far, we’ll use a humidor there. You’re going to have start making adjustments, so this shouldn’t happen just because of the surroundings of a ballpark.”

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Pirates Think they Tricked Rockies into Pitching to Jose Tabata

The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3 in 14 innings Friday night. Both teams were shutout from the 7th inning on until the Pirates won things on a Jose Tabata walkoff double off the wall in right field.

The big question after the game was why the Rockies decided to pitch to Tabata with two outs and a man on in the 14th when relief pitcher Garrett Olson was on deck. Pittsburgh players were convinced a mind game intended to trick Colorado worked.

As Pirates writer Colin Dunlap explained, Pittsburgh sent Andrew McCutchen on deck even though he was really in the hole. They think seeing McCutchen on deck was enough to convince Colorado to throw to Tabata even though the right move would have been walking him to face the pitcher.

Tabata is Pittsburgh’s leadoff hitter and he’s batting .344 on the season. Olson is a relief pitcher who hardly ever bats. Nice call Jim Tracy, or maybe he just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible after the long night.

Are These the ’07 Rockies All Over Again?

The 2007 Colorado Rockies were a mediocre team playing around .500 ball most of the season until September. That month, the team went from 69-66 to 89-73, finishing up the year going 12-1 to force a one-game playoff with the Padres to determine the National League Wild Card winner. After beating the Padres, they continued their hot play by sweeping the Phillies and Diamondbacks before ultimately crapping out against the Red Sox in the World Series. What they did was not only improbable but also alarming — how could a team go from being average for 80% of the season to stellar the other 20% and wind up as the top team in the league? Well their luck seemed to catch up with them last year and this year’s team seemed to be following the same form. Until May 29th when everything changed.

The Rockies decided that they needed to switch it up at the top and they fired manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle was the same guy who presided over the World Series run so clearly he’s capable of leading a team to success, but it was apparent whatever was happening with him in charge wasn’t working. The front office fired him and promoted Jim Tracy who’s collected unemployment checks following stints with the Dodgers and Pirates. While Trace has made some important changes like moving Clint Barmes up in the order and dropping Garrett Atkins, the roster is pretty much the same. The difference is the team is hearing a new voice and feeling like they have a fresh start which clearly was necessary. Now the starting pitchers are performing and the hitters are turning things around.

The results have been astounding. On Monday night, the Rockies got out to a 3-0 lead against the Angels and pounced in the 5th with a Brad Hawpe 3-run home run to make it 6-1. They wound up winning 11-1 for their 17th victory in 18 games. The team is now 19-5 since firing Clint Hurdle and four games over .500 instead of 10 games under. Even when the Rockies were hot, they were still around the .500 mark and therefore not worth mentioning. But now they’re within reach of the Dodgers the way they’re playing, and certainly a serious player for the Wild Card spot once again. I don’t know how long this will last but the warning label has been advertised: watch out, this team might be for real once again.

Wait, Rockie Fans Actually Exist?

Stop yourself before you do a double-take. Believe me. Judging by the empty chairs April-August, I was wondering whether or not there was such a thing. Apparently there is:

As provided by the fine folks at Purple Row who prove the title of this post otherwise, every day of the year.

Holliday Was Out; Baseball Needs Instant Replay

Though the Rockies season has been incredible, their celebration magnificent, and the momentum in their favor, they never actually won Monday night’s playoff game. Matt Holliday never touched home plate on his dive. In fact, Barrett successfully blocked the plate and tagged him out, producing what should have been an amazing double play. Not to say that the Padres would have gone on to win the game, but just saying there was a bad call. As I stated at FanHouse, baseball needs instant replay for those types of situations. When a playoff berth is at stake, the most precise call possible needs to be made — and usually that’s with the aid of video replay.

So sure, the Rockies had all the momentum and were torching Hoffman, but the game wasn’t over. At the same point, it should be noted that with instant replay, Garrett Atkins would have been awarded a home run in the 7th. A few thoughts on that: how poorly did Hurdle manage the situation by pinch-running for Atkins in the 7th when the game went 13 (even though Carroll delivered the game-winner)? If there’s instant replay, then Atkins does his home run trot an never gets pulled.

Also, Jake Peavy blew it once again in a Padre playoff game. He’s now 0-3 in three post-season starts which he’s lasted 18 innings, given up 29 hits, and 19 earned runs. He has not been clutch by any stretch of the imagination. And finally, props to Trevor Hoffman for speaking to reporters, accepting the blame, and acting classy in what was probably the lowest moment of his career. He should be commended for that.

(photo courtesy Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Baseball Preview: Colorado Rockies

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

Colorado Rockies (76-86, T-4th in NL West)3 games

Get Crunked: LF Matt Holliday and 3B Garrett Atkins have emerged as some of the premier sluggers at their positions, posting some serious power and average numbers last year, and they’re just 26 and 27 years old respectively. Brian Fuentes is an All-Star closer, and Jeff Francis could be the best starter the franchise has ever had, which I realize is on par with being the skinniest person at the fat-farm.

Party Foul: The squad is pretty weak up-the-middle.  None of the potential catchers (Chris Ianetta, Javy Lopez, Yorvit Torrealba) are impressive, rookie SS Troy Tulowitzki may have been brought up ahead of schedule (just over 500 minor league at-bats), 2B Kaz Matsui leaves a lot to be desired offensively, and CF Willy Taveras doesn’t get on-base enough for a speedy lead-off man.  Â

Garrett Atkins was one of the best 3B in baseball last year

What’d my GM do: The most notable move was trading Jason Jennings to Houston for CF Willy Taveras and SP Jason Hirsh. O’Dowd took a few gambles on the starting rotation by signing Brian Lawrence who missed all of last year with an injury, and trading for Rodrigo Lopez who lost a major league worst 18 games last year (but was an All-Star in ’04). He also signed C Javy Lopez to a cheap one year deal which could pay dividends if Javy can still slug. Oh yeah, he also just brought in Steve Finley

Lay it on me Straight: It’s not like the Rockies are a bad club, not to say that they’re a good one either, but they just didn’t make enough moves to keep up with the rest of the division. The pitching is a problem like always, although it’s better than past years, but the offense isn’t as good as it used to be, which evens things out.Â

So where my boys gonna finish right now: Last in the NL West, but they’ll be within striking range of 4th place. Other people are more optimistic about the season.

Can we be better than that: Probably not. I don’t think there’s a whole lot that’s going to change where the Rockies finish this year.Â