clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

head-to-head matchups - rockies v. cards

New, comments

since the last time i talked to you, the whole world has changed. like the cherry blossoms of spring, baseball has come back and made residents of washington, d.c., think about something beautiful that happens right in front of them for roughly 10 minutes before they return to the televised bloodsport that is american politics, or schtupping their latest interns, or counting how much money has been relayed to them in unmarked bills in a plain manila envelope, or possibly all of the above at the same time.

in washington, just like the cherry blossoms, the baseball team is eliminated within a week.

here, in sunny cardinal nation, though, life is good. it would be hard to conceive of a better start to the season.

well, i lie a little. a better start would likely involve someone other than jason motte pitching to jonny gomez, preferably one capable of throwing more than one pitch. but hey, we in cardinal nation are not greedy. we are the best fans in baseball (tm).

despite some minor headaches to face from the bullpen, i consider the first week of baseball a huge success. first, BASEBALL! second, we have had four of five starters pitch a game, each of them more or less competently and, most importantly, with each part of their anatomy apparently uninjured after the fact. cardinal fandom, much like alcoholism, is a one day at a time thing. third, nick stavinoha has now reached what i am optimistically calling the peak of his trade value. for serious, mo, you better be on the horn to dayton moore all weekend before nick goes 2 for 37 with no walks for the remainder of april. fourth, COLBY! fifth, the cardinals have a two game lead on the cubs after playing four games. sixth, the cardinals have a three game lead on the astros after playing four games.

personally, i am undeterred by the problems - at this stage in the season, i'd say potential problems - in the bullpen. it's an area of concern, and it will cost us a few games, but realistically a bullpen full of unspectacular guys will do us very little harm. the only thing about the bullpen that has ever REALLY killed the team was having a pitcher who was just unbelievably bad, because of injury, surrounded by a mostly incompetent staff. okay and even mediocre we can live with; as long as we don't drift into awful, where the highlights begin and end with russ springer and brad thompson, we should be okay.

i enjoyed this article on high strikeout rates among starters; check out who tops the list and who is at the bottom. the widely varying pitching philosophies of some teams are suggested by the article.

from the "former cardinals" and "don't look now but a danup man crush is teasing us with fine performance before inevitably crashing to the ground" categories, daric barton has a .438/.565/.563 line for a .488 wOBA. mind you, that does not approach colby rasmus, with a .400/.647/.800 line, for a .605 wOBA, but you have to like that so far. barton has staked an early claim to 1b duties in oakland in a crowded 1b/dh circle of candidates that includes jake fox and eric chavez, and until recently included jack cust.

this week, moving east on our tour of american cities most likely to host national league playoff games, we visit the mile high city.





Chris Carpenter


Ubaldo Jimenez


Adam Wainwright


Aaron Cook


Brad Penny


Jorge de la Rosa


Kyle Lohse


Jason Hammel


Jaime Garcia


Greg Smith/Jeff Francis






** WAG - presupposes something like a full season.

it's not hard to spot the source of a major discrepancy in the projected value of the colorado rotation. greg smith projects to be dreadful: CHONE gives him a 5.01 projected FIP. jeff francis has been out so long he doesn't have a WAR projection, but he has been a valuable player when uninjured. if francis really is healthy and able to rejoin the team within the next month, the rockies have a very deep rotation, a lot like the braves we saw last week. basically, a real ace in jimenez, who is a candidate to win the cy young finish behind adam wainwright and chris carpenter for the cy young award. he is a lock for the best first name in the national league award, though. behind their ace come four pitchers, each potentially worth around 3 wins. it's nice to have all that value and have it well distributed among your pitchers, so that injury to one is not disastrous.

on the other hand, if the next step down from jeff francis is greg smith, that's a huge dropoff in talent. a brief, uninformed perusal of the rockies 40-man supports the notion of generally unappealing backup starting options in colorado, with jhoulys chacin (CHONE FIP projection - 5.02) probably leading the pack. i don't know what the money situation is like in colorado, but a glance through the remainders bin of unsigned starting pitchers might not be a bad idea.

the bullpen in colorado is a real mixed bag. huston street is out until may-ish. betancourt is a tremendous reliever. manny corpas is decent. i can't think of a reason to be particularly excited about franklin morales or matt belisle or most of the other relievers in the group. joe beimel is at AAA right now, but may join the team soon.

most disturbingly, the only loogy currently with colorado's big league club is randy flores. randy flores spent much of last year in AAA ball, but did well in his few major league appearances - at least as measured by peripherals (10.5 k/9, 1.5 bb/9). he still got stuck with a 5.25 ERA. the ex-card has proved to be eminently hittable - posting BABIPs against of .377, .366, .390, and .362 over the last four major league seasons. it could be that he's somewhat unlucky, but after facing 600 or so batters in that time i begin to doubt that. i would recount this data in innings pitched (134), but randy's MO of entering a game and giving up a couple hits without an out make that number seem a little misleading.






Yadier Molina



Chris Ianetta


Albert Pujols



Todd Helton


Skip Schumaker



Clint Barmes


Brendan Ryan



Troy Tulowitzki


David Freese



Ian Stewart


Matt Holliday



Carlos Gonzalez


Colby Rasmus



Dexter Fowler


Ryan Ludwick



Brad Hawpe






the rockies have a good team on the field, with only one player projecting to be worth much more than 3 wins. they have some interesting depth, with melvin mora in the infield (probably platooning with stewart) and jason giambi, leaving a bit of a vacuum in the middle infield for depth, although the rockies have some good prospects in the middle infield should they be needed. seth smith and ryan spilbourghs round out the outfield, with at least smith probably being a better option than trotting brad hawpe out there. i don't know if smith has the arm for RF, but hawpe certainly doesn't. hawpe regularly competes with adam dunn for worst defensive OF in the majors. miguel olivo is a very capable backup at C.

like all the teams we are looking at, the rockies are a playoff caliber team. their foundation is built a little bit on sand - with 6th starter candidates only optimistically called replacement value - and the roster could be managed a little better, but the team should definitely be in the race at the end.