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The Good, the Bad and the Rockies

By Chris Jacobson

It’s been a great year to be a Rockies fan, and though the season is not quite over, the Boys from Blake Street’s playoff chances certainly are. Colorado fans were privy to a September to remember and while most of baseball had given up on the Rockies, the team closed what was once a double digit gap to trail by a couple of games. A lot of credit should be given to Manager Jim Tracy and his staff for keeping their guys in line and ready to play every day. It would have been very easy to have a major mutiny on the club as the team went from a game out of first at the all star break to double digit gap just a few weeks alter.

Sure, some decisions need to be made this off season and some priorities must be addressed. While Ubaldo Jimenez still has a few years left on his deal and Carlos Gonzalez is arbitration eligible for the next three years, it is imperative that keeping these two young superstars become priorities 1 and 1a. Barring that, decisions have to be made about several players, Ian Stewart, Chris Ianetta, Manny Corpas, Aaron Cook, Clint Barmes and Jason Giambi to name a few. Many of these players are at the end of deals or flat out underperformed. Merely being a cheap but mediocre player is no longer a viable way to stay with the Colorado Rockies (see: Chris Ianetta)

Over the season the Rockies fan definitely got shortchanged in another way; injuries. With Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, many of the relievers and closers and most importantly Troy Tulowitski missing extended playing time due to injury, we may never really know how far this team could have gone. Judging by Tulo’s September, it would be fair to offer that they probably would have won a few more games had he played in more than 120 games this season. Having Manny Corpas and Franklin Morales close games while Huston Street was down cost us a few more. Every team deals with injuries, but it seems this year the Rockies had more than their fair share, which seems to be a trend in Colorado sports right now.

While the season is essentially over, there were some bright spots on this team this season. The previously mentioned Tulowitski September was one to remember. The fifteen home runs and forty RBIs were something to marvel at. It seemed like every swing during the month was right on the screws. He would be the Rockies obvious 2010 MVP if it wasn’t for the breakout performances of Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Gonzalez.

Ubaldo looked fairly hittable after the All-Star break, but we shouldn’t forget the history making first half of the season. While he is 4-7 since the break, he should have a few more wins as his run support slipped as the year went on, but pre-break he was an unbelievable 15-1 with a 2.20 era and a no-hitter to boot. The first half of the 2010 season wasn’t just the best half in Rockies history; it is arguably in the top five of all time. That’s something considering he plays at Coors Field and is just becoming a recognized “ace”. He will get some Cy Young consideration but would need nothing short of a no-hitter in his last start to pry the award away from the consistent ace Roy Halladay.

Jimenez was fantastic this past season, but Carlos Gonzalez deserves true MVP consideration. He has been as consistent as he has been clutch. He is leading two of the three Triple Crown categories and will win the batting title by better than fifteen points. He has had what is probably the best season ever by a Rockies hitter, matched perhaps only by Larry Walker’s 1997 MVP campaign and Todd Helton’s 2000. CarGo has done it in the “Humidor” era and not Coors Canaveral. Putting up numbers that best the likes of Joey Votto and the “Machine” Albert Pujols is no small feat and to do it with the altered ball of Coors Field makes it all the more impressive.

The Rocks got great contributions from Miguel Olivo, Barmes, and Melvin Mora. We saw solid contributions from Jhoulys Chacin, Matt Belisle and Huston Street as well as the re-emergence of Jorge De La Rosa. Fans marveled at the speed of Eric Young Jr. and Dexter Fowler, both of which will help the Rocks on the base paths for years to come. Finally, we got to see another day in the sun for a couple of legendary first basemen; Jason Giambi and Colorado icon, Todd Helton.

While it looks like Todd will stick around for one more season, Rockies fans would be remiss to forget someone we said good-bye to last April, team president Keli McGregor. McGregor was felled by a rare heart virus and it sent shock waves through all of Colorado sports. McGregor was an All-American at Colorado State, a draftee of the Denver Broncos and a long term employee of the Colorado Rockies. He was a rising star in major league baseball as well as a humanitarian and philanthropist. Regardless of the teams on the field successes this season, ultimately it is a season of loss for anyone attached to the organization. From one fan, thank you, Mr. McGregor.

There is a week of baseball left. The Rockies are all but finished but an exiting post season is headed our way. Upstarts Minnesota, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Texas are all in the mix. Here’s to a low budget team smacking around the likes of the Phillies and the Yankees. Award season is almost here and perhaps one of our young guys can steal away some recognition from someone east of the Mississippi. Looking forward to a fun off-season and a competitive 2011.

1 comment:

  1. A nice summary of what has been both an exciting and frustrating year of baseball. It is certainly time to say goodbye to some old stalwarts (Francis and Iannetta, perhaps sadly, Helton as well). The Rocks farm system continues to produce quality ball players. I think Colorado's biggest need is for a power hitting first basemen or corner outfieder to hit 5th behind Tulo and Cargo. The Rocks have the assets to acquire Prince Fielder. It wouldn't be cheap, but would certainly give Colorado the push it needs to continue its quest for a World Series