The Rockies filled a hole when they traded right handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen to the Red Sox for Marco Scutaro. As a shortstop for the Red Sox, he was solid enough with a .299 batting average and 59 runs. For the Rockies, it looks like he’ll move over to second base and be the double play complement to Troy Tulowitzki.
Scutaro has had some of the best seasons of his career at the plate the past three seasons. Three of his top four seasons when measured by OPS have come here late in his career and while his defense seemed to slip this year, he’s been solid in the past. He hasn’t played a lot of second base the past few years and you have to go way back to 2008 when he played 50 games at second where he got a nice chunk of action there.
Mortensen was solid in 16 games for the Rockies last year after a train wreck of a season at Colorado Springs. He was going on 27 so he’s no spring chicken and he doesn’t look like he would have done well in a hitters park like Coors Field. Then again, Fenway has it’s own difficulties so it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts.
Kevin Goldstein released his list of the top eleven Rockies prospects and there’s definitely some talent at the top of the list. At number one is third baseman Nolan Arenado. He had a really nice year last year as a 20 year old at High-A and it also helps that the Rockies traded Ian Stewart. Double-A is most likely where he’s headed but we could see this future star in a Rockies’ uniform in 2012.
Number two is the Indians 2010 first round pick, Drew Pomeranz. The left hander was one of the keys in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and he spent part of the season at High-A and part of the season at Double-A. He’s another guy who’s close and he could actually compete for a rotation spot with the Rockies but short of that, he’ll be at Triple-A in 2012.
Number three is Wilin Rosario. With Ramon Hernandez being signed, Rosario will see most of his time at Triple-A in 2012 but he has some power and he’ll definitely force the Rockies hand if Hernandez struggles. Chad Bettis (RHP) and Tim Wheeler (OF) round out the top five.
John Sickels put out his top twenty Rockies prospect list and you basically have the big two then everyone else. Topping the list and given an A is third baseman Nolan Arenado. Sickels talks about his low strikeout rate to go with his solid power. Good player and worth keeping an eye on going forward.
Number two and given an A- is LHP Drew Pomeranz. He came over from Cleveland in the big trade and he should get tested at the Triple A level next year. From there it’s B’s down the board. Chad Bettis (RHP), Trevor Story (SS) and Tim Wheeler (OF) round out the top five.
The Rockies signed outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a three year, $31.5 million deal. Cuddyer is older then I thought. He had a solid season on a bad team last year with a .284 batting average and 20 home runs.
Cuddyer’s best season was 2009 when he hit 32 home runs and he had an OPS of .862. In the past six years, he’s had 100+ OPS+ in five of those six seasons and in three of those seasons, it was over 120. It’ll be really interesting to see how his numbers translate to Coors Field. Target Field is a pitcher’s park although Cuddyer is just one for twelve in three games at Coors Field.
The Rockies made a deal prior to the Winter Meetings and they sent catcher Chris Iannetta to the Angels for pitching prospect Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood had a rough major league debut season in 2011 but keep in mind he was just 22 years old.
Ianetta has had a rocky road for the Rockies and he became expendable when the Rockies started talking to Ramon Hernandez. With the team close to signing a two year deal with the veteran backstop, Ianetta could be sent elsewhere and in exchange, the Rockies got another solid pitching prospect.
The Rockies have been stocking up on young pitchers. They’ve made deals to get Drew Pomeranz and Alex White in trade deadline deals during the 2011 season. Hopefully some of these guys pan out down the road.
When you have a prospect like Nolan Arenado, you have to think about how he’s going to make his debut and move his way up the chain. The Rockies came one step closer to bringing Arenado up when they sent third baseman Ty Wiggington to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash consideration.
Wiggington has been solid but Arenado has been special. He hit .298 and drove in 122 runs in Class A this year and then he went on and won the AFL MVP award. The Rockies do have some backup plans though because they have Ian Stewart in the wings and they also signed Brandon Wood to a minor league deal. This should be fun spring as we get to see who rises to the top in this competition.
The 2011 season is in the books and it’s interesting to see how the Rockies fared in 2011. Coors Field was a big time hitters park again and that helped boost the Rockies offense to put them as the second best in the NL. They finished fourth in batting average but third in OPS.
Troy Tulowitzki led the way with another great seaosn. He belted 30 home runs and drove in 105 despite missing some time. Carlos Gonzalez was also on the shelf but he hit 26 home runs and drove in 92. Todd Helton had another nice season with an .850 OPS in 124 games at the ripe age of 37.
Mark Ellis once again missed quite a bit of time and he was ineffective at the plate. He hit just six home runs in 70 games and with an .317 OBP. Ty Wiggington also struggled and he had an OPS of just .731. That probably doesn’t sound as bad as it does considering he plays in Coors Field.
So the Rockies were good, but some of that was because of the park. If they can get another big bat to complement Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, it would go a long towards the Rockies contending in 2012.
SAN FRANCISCO — Colorado salvaged some of their season in the final regular season game against the San Francisco Giants. They avoided getting swept for the third time in their last four series as they defeated the Giants 6-3 Wednesday afternoon.
The game had little meaning as the defending champs had been eliminated from the division and wild card last week. But Colorado needed this win to have something positive to head into the offseason than dropping 11 of their last 14.
Colorado jumped out early and never looked back in the regular season’s finale.
Eric Young hit the first pitch of the game to right field for a lead-off triple. Dexter Fowler then singled to drive in the first run of the day for Colorado. Later in the inning, Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled to advance Fowler to third, allowing Seth Smith to groundout to second base, scoring Fowler for a 2-0 lead.
The Rockies doubled their lead in the fifth as both Kouzmanoff and Jordan Pacheco hit RBI-singles, giving Colorado a 4-0 lead over the former World Series champions.
However, in the bottom of sixth, San Francisco crawled to within a run of the Rockies as they piled up three runs in the inning. Justin Christian led-off with a double and Jeff Keppinger brought him home on his RBI-single. Brett Pill hit a two-out double to put runners in scoring position for Mark DeRosa and he delivered a two-RBI single to center as the Giants now only trailed 4-3.
In the seventh though, Kouzmanoff and Pacheco drove in two more runs as the Rockies doubled up the Giants 6-3 in the final regular season game of 2011.
The Rockies will have to reevaluate a lot of things after this season. Their rotation will look very different without Ubaldo Jimenez in uniform in mid-February. Another concern is Todd Helton. He is getting old, 38, and maybe not be able to be an everyday position player. His best option now would be to join the American League as a designated hitter.
In addition, the Rockies need better production out of Troy Tulowitzki, Ty Wigginton, and Carlos Gonzalez for an entire season.
DENVER — Colorado closed Coors Field on sour note. In their final three game series in front of their home fans, the Rockies got swept by last-place San Diego, losing for the seventh straight time.
The Padres oddly enough won each game against the Rockies with all-around solid pitching. They allowed a combined total of three runs in the series, shutting out the Rockies in the finale.
Colorado managed just one extra-base hit that came at the hands of Dexter Fowler who also broke the no-hit bid San Diego starter, Anthony Bass, had thrown through 3 2/3 innings. The Padres starter pitched five-innings of two-hit ball for his second win.
San Diego’s offense was no surprise as they compiled four of their nine hits in the first alone en-route for a four run inning. Those would be the only runs the Padres would score the rest of the game as aside from Cameron Maybin’s leadoff double in the first, San Diego never had another batter go for extra bases.
Jeremy Hermida took four sinkers from Aaron Cook and headed to first on the walk. Chris Denorfia followed with a bunt groundball for a single, loading the bases for Chase Headley with nobody out.
Headley drove in the first run of the afternoon on a sacrifice fly to left-field.
Another walk from Cook to Luis Martinez loaded the bases again and Alberto Gonzalez took advantage of the runner standing at third, driving in Hermida for a second sacrifice fly. Anthony Rizzo and Andy Parrino both followed by hitting back-to-back RBI-singles for the third and fourth run respectfully before Bass even stepped on the mound.
Both teams have six games left with the Padres closing PETCO Park with two three game sets with the Dodgers and Cubs. Colorado also takes on a NL Central foe in the Astros before heading to San Francisco in what may be the last games played at AT&T Park this year. Colorado could end the Giants playoff hopes if San Francisco somehow manages to win or sweep their series with Diamondbacks this weekend. But I see champagne being unleashed Saturday night in Phoenix.
DENVER — Welcome to the major leagues Drew Pomeranz.
In Sunday’s finale with the Cincinnati Reds, and Colorado eliminated from playoff contention, it was time for some minors to get big league experience. Pomeranz joined three other rookies on the field as he made his first major league appearance.
Needless to say, the southpaw did not display his nerves to the fans or opponent. The lefty pitched five-innings as he was limited to a 60+ pitch count by manager, Jim Tracy. For those five-innings, Pomeranz did nothing but impress the fans and coaching staff, allowing just two hits to a team who earlier in the season was competing for the NL Central crown.
His counterpart, Edinson Volquez lasted five-innings too, but gave up the runs to Colorado that would lead to a Rockies victory.
Scoreless through 3 ½-innings, Ty Wigginton put Colorado on the board with his solo home run to left. The very next inning, Eric Young hit a grounder up the middle for a one out single. Young would steal both second and third before Jordan Pacheco, another rookie, drove in the Rockies second run of the afternoon.
Young singled again in the seventh, and once again, stole second for his third steal of the day. He later advanced to third as Fowler followed with a single, putting runners at the corners with no outs. A wild pitch by Ramon Hernandez with Pacheco batting gave Young the easy opportunity to score while advancing Fowler to second.
Fowler later took third on Pacheco groundout, scoring on Kevin Kouzmanoff’s groundout for a four-to-nothing lead through seven.
NL MVP, Joey Votto, broke the scoreless innings for the Reds, as he sent home run number 28, a solo shot, into the right field stands. But starter, Jason Hammel pitched the final four-innings after Pomeranz debut, earning his first save of the season.
Colorado could do their division foe, the D-backs, a favor if they can pull out some victories over the Milwaukee Brewers. With just games left in the regular season, the only competition left in the National League is to determine who will get home field advantage after the Philadelphia Phillies, where they posses home field throughout the post-season unless they get knocked off. Gotta love the Midsummer Classic mean so much for post-season play.
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