How has the Rockies' four-man rotation experiment panned out so far?
In June, you'll recall, the Colorado Rockies announced that they would be going to a four-man rotation, with each pitcher limited to 75 pitches. Josh Outman was the first pitcher to start in the new format, and the consequences of the Rockies’ shift were immediate: lots of people became aware that Josh Outman was pitching for the Rockies now. In the Seth Smith trade? You don’t say!
It’s still too soon to say what the four-man rotation—with 75-pitch limits on the starters—has wrought, and will wrou... uhh... whatever the heck the infinitive of wrought is. Work? It seems to be work. Wrought seems to be the past tense of work. Forget it.
On Saturday, June 9, both Ryan Vogelsong and Jeff Francis started games for the teams that drafted them. Their journeys and their destinations couldn't have been more different.
Jeff Francis was the ninth-overall pick for the Rockies in 2002, sped through the low minors, and was a mainstay of the Colorado rotation by 2005. In 2007 he led his team to the World Series, starting all three Game Ones. A torn labrum sidelined him for all of 2009, and although he was moderately effective in 2010, the Rockies decided not to pick up his option. After a stint with the Royals in 2011, he began 2012 in the Reds minor league system.
Ryan Vogelsong was the fifth-round (158th overall) pick for the Giants in 1998. Prior to 2011, if you remembered Vogelsong at all, it was as one of the guys shipped to the Pirates for Jason Schmidt. Vogelsong sat out the whole 2002 season (the year Francis was drafted—symmetry!) recovering from Tommy John surgery, and pitched unremarkably for the Pirates after that, finally heading over to Japan to ply his trade in the Far East for three seasons. He pitched in the minors for the Phillies and the Angels in 2010, and made the Giants in April 2011 only because Barry Zito went down. All he’s done since then is pitch 250 innings with an ERA+ of 136, and make an All-Star Game appearance. No big deal.
An AL powerhouse against a Rocky Mountain-high Cinderella--who has momentum, and who's got the advantage?
Tonight, the Colorado Rockies will become the fifth franchise in the past 11 years to make its virgin appearance in the World Series, following in the footsteps of the 1997 Marlins, the 2001 Diamondbacks, the 2002 Angels, and the 2005 Astros. The Rockies combine elements from each of those clubs. Like the 1997 Marlins, they are an odd mix of veteran talent and youth, and squeezed into the playoffs as a Wild Card team in a league that featured a great deal of parity. Like the 2001 Diamondbacks, they are an expansion club from the Mountain West that is set to square off at long odds against one of the AL East's superpowers. Like the 2002 Angels, they are a 'small ball' team that has excelled by vacuuming up with their defense when their opponents tried to put the ball into play. And like the 2005 Astros, which at one point were more than 200:1 underdogs to reach the postseason, they saved their best baseball for late in the year.
With LCS action over, it's time to turn the spotlight onto one of the two teams' aces in Game One of the World Series.
If there is one thing the Colorado Rockies have lacked throughout most of their history, it's been a consistent ace that they can rely on. Guys like Bill Swift, Pedro Astacio, Kevin Ritz, Armando Reynoso, and Jason Jennings have had their moments, but were never consistent enough in their performances to help the Rockies field a winner. Jeff Francis has helped the Rockies change that on the way to helping the franchise make its first World Series appearance, and the Rockies will need him in top form against the Red Sox's ace, Josh Beckett. How did Francis get to where he is, and what can we expect out of him in the coming games and years?
Each author's ballot may be found later in the article. Here, we neatly summarize
the results. In each division standings table you'll find the average rank of the team, plus the standard deviation. The lower the standard
deviation, the more in agreement the authors were about that team's place in the division standings. In our AL column, the
Royals had a standard deviation of 0, meaning that all authors agreed they would finish last. We have similar consensus with
the old/new Washington Nationals, also picked to finish last across the board. Such agreement is rare around here, and
obviously means that both the Royals and Nationals will finish third in their respective divisions.
In preparing the annual top prospect list for Baseball Prospectus 2004, BP authors participated in the annual extended roundtable discussion of baseball's top prospects. The ranking and review process balanced translated statistics, scouting reports, and injury reports with the strong personal opinions of BP's finest…all with the goal of putting together the "best damn prospect list the world has ever seen." In Part I today we'll listen in on the discussion of the top prospects among pitchers, catchers, first basemen and second basemen. Parts II through IV will run Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We'll also unveil the final list Tuesday, with the Top 50 prospects (we've expanded from prior years' Top 40) revealed. Rany Jazayerli will be along to discuss the Top 50 list and the process that went into compiling it in Tuesday night's Chat.
Placed RHP Al Levine on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis), retroactive to 6/27; recalled RHP John Lackey from Salt Lake. [6/28]
I don't disagree with the idea of bringing up John Lackey to move into the rotation. Lackey is the organization's best upper-level prospect, and he's obviously ready to go.