Thursday, February 9, 2012

Colorado Rockies- The Purple Mountain Tragedies

What has happened?  The Colorado Rockies are home to two of the game's brightest young stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, yet have fallen from the NL West grace, and fallen hard.  The Rockies finished fourth in the NL West for the 2011 season, a miserable 21 games behind the first place D-backs.  All season long the Rockies lacked a certain excitement and energy that slugger "CarGo" had in recent seasons provided.  At times, skipper Jim Tracy looked absolutely helpless, as his club slid downhill as the season progressed.  After trading away Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians for a handful of minor league-rs, the pitching staff posted an agonizing 22-32 record during the months of August and September.  So what viable options are there for the Rockies?
Rockies skipper, Jim Tracy.

Well unfortunately, the one they approached was not one of them.

During the off season, every other team in the NL West re-energized their clubs with new stars and/or contracts to help pursue success in 2012.  The division winning D-backs took major strides in improving their rotation, acquiring young and talented hurler Trevor Cahill from the Athletics, as well as resigning Joe Saunders.  The Dodgers, though in the midst of financial turmoil, were successful in signing NL MVP runner up Matt Kemp, to an 8 year $160 million deal.  The SF Giants resigned 2 time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, and will benefit hugely from the return of the NL ROY Buster Posey, as he missed the majority of the 2011 season with injury.  The Padres lost ace Mat Latos, but acquired young slugger Yonder Alonso to the lineup, who is sure to add some pop to desolate Petco Park.

So that leaves the Rockies...

With all their division opponents adding off season talent, predominantly young, why were Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd and the front office staff so persistent on getting older?  The Rockies made 5 major off season acquisitions, 4 position players and 1 pitcher:  Michael Cuddyer (age 32), Marco Scutaro (36), Ramon Hernandez (35), Casey Blake (38), and Jeremy Guthrie who is 32 years of age.  To claim this group of guys as the ultimate Geritol Gang of the off season would be putting it nicely.

 It is no secret that the Rockies have coveted utility man Michael Cuddyer for a long time, and not having many strong IF positions locked down this move made sense.  Of course, the Rockies don't have but 1 OF position that looks secure, maybe 2 if they will leave Dexter Fowler alone.  I like the Scutaro move as well, this will improve defense up the middle significantly.  But the other three.... OK maybe I can see Guthrie, if he can find some run support.

Let me put it to you this way.  The Rockies projected infield will have a combined age of 174 years.  Dream up a way to prove that statistic a positive one, and they'll have to make a whole pitcher of purple kool-aid for you out in Colorado.

Good luck, skipper.

*Projected NL West Finish: 5th place

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why the Miami Marlins Are Poised for Success- Just not yet.

Miami Marlins- New logo, new stadium, new names.  After a monster offseason, the Marlins and their new skipper Ozzie Guillen are ready to strike in the NL East.  After signing dynamic shortstop Jose Reyes, solid closer Heath Bell, and a durable starter in Mark Buehrle, the Marlins have all the signs of a division winning club.  They have all the momentum of a revamped club, with some of the most exciting names and colorful personalities in the game.  

Unfortunately though, that's not enough.  Not this year anyway.

The Marlins still have a very young, very wild spirited group of guys.  Hanley Ramirez is known for being lazy throughout his career, though he has the potential to be the best shortstop in the National League.  Ramirez made it no secret that he had no intentions or desire of moving to third base after the club signed Jose Reyes to a six year $106 million dollar deal.  Six years.  Ramirez is under contract with the club until 2015.  So if his attitude does not improve, he will be playing at the hot corner against his will for at least three seasons.  Ramirez eventually will get over his ego and play third base, he has to.  But you can expect to see his energy and passion for the game at that position come and go with the Marlins success.

Marlins outfielder, Logan Morrison, is a promising young talent for the fish, but a wavering one at the same time.  Morrison had solid numbers last year for the Marlins, hitting 23 HR's and 72 RBI's while only playing in 123 games.  The power is there.  The run production is there as well, as he hit 25 doubles and 4 triples.  He will play a key role in this 2012 Marlins club, if he can keep his mind on baseball.  Miami is an exciting, dynamic city with as many night life options as one could think of.  Logan Morrison is not the most mature player off the diamond, and will need to stay out of the city life scene to build on his success from last season.  For him to be successful, he'll need to grow up and realize this is the big leagues, and to stop treating the media as his personal spotlight.  Morrison loves attention, lets just hope for the Marlins sake that he gets it on the diamond and not have to look elsewhere.

And then there's Ozzie.  Miami is a perfect fit for this skipper, the community is as diverse as his erratic behavior.  In short he'll have to let his players know real fast that he means business, and that he is not there to be their friend.  He will have to stay off of the MLB radar for his weirdness and allow his managing ability to bring the spotlight to him.  He wants to win championships, there is no question about that.  But relaying that to his players without losing their respect at the same time will be difficult.  Especially with attitudes such as Ramirez's and Morrison's. 

The Miami Marlins are one of the most promising up and coming clubs in the major league, but for 2012, there are just too many question marks.  Ramirez needs to get over the attitude and play third base.  The game is much better served when Hanley is hitting and stealing like we all know he can.  "LoMo" is gonna have to focus on baseball.  He can have a great season, if he will let all the rest of Miami fade out of view.  Josh Johnson, the ace of the club, will be monitored way to close for comfort this year, as he missed most of the 2011 season plagued by injuries.  Mark Buehrle needs to reestablish himself as a 15 win guy, though now in the NL.

Yes, things in Miami have the potential to be great.  But it'll be after these young guys, in a new stadium, with a new manager, get settled in through a full 162 game season.  April and May will be hot for these guys, but once that little taste of failure hits, you may see the Marlins of old take over. 

Oh and Ozzie, try not to do anything TOO stupid.

 *Projected NL East Finish: 3rd Place