The Rockies team slogan should go from "Todd and the Toddlers" to "Throw enough crap against the wall, some of it is bound to stick!"
Rockies hoping quantity pays off
By Troy E. Renck
Denver Post Rockies beat reporter
Article Last Updated: 02/11/2007 02:04:00 PM MST
Spring training is an exercise in optimism. So why bring up pitching?
It's to the Rockies what fruitcake is to Christmas: a total buzzkill.
The Rockies finished with 76 wins last season. This season, they are taking, nay, demanding a winning record. Thinking playoffs without fingers crossed behind their backs.
Then, what's the problem? Why do Las Vegas lines have them as 100-to-1 shots to win the World Series, with only two teams facing longer odds (Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Devil Rays)?
"The rest of the (National League) West has a better rotation on paper, other than maybe the Giants," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "But that's on paper."
There was a distinct philosophical difference in how the Rockies and their rivals approached their starting rotations this winter. Colorado focused on quantity and will trot out nine arms to compete for five jobs, including hyped prospect Jason Hirsh and veterans Rodrigo Lopez and Brian Lawrence.
If nothing else, the group is deep and intriguing. By comparison, the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres and Giants emptied their wallets for quality.
Los Angeles added Jason Schmidt. The Diamondbacks reunited with Randy Johnson and acquired Doug Davis. San Diego went for the old, signing Greg Maddux and David Wells. San Francisco opened the vault for Barry Zito.
"I am big believer in probability, of what guys' numbers have been historically," Padres GM Kevin Towers said. "If someone tells me that we can have a guy who pitches 200 innings and wins 15 games every year, like Maddux, I'll take that."
New York was a meat-grinder for Johnson, where he left a failure. Returning to the National League won't hurt. If you haven't noticed, outside the New York Mets, no NL teams feature lineups that resemble those in the AL East (a reason the Rockies think Lopez will rebound).
"When (Roger) Clemens left New York for Houston, nobody was in awe of him," Arizona GM Josh Byrnes said. "I expect Randy will pitch well for us."
Schmidt, Johnson, Maddux and Zito all have the potential to act as aces. Just the Rockies' luck these guys love the West Coast - and who can blame Maddux since his contract includes a Del Mar Country Club membership?
"There was a point in time this winter when I went to my backyard and went, 'Aaaaggghhh!!"' admitted Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. "And then I went back inside and I was good. Those guys coming here just made our challenge more intriguing."
If Byung-Hyun Kim is traded, the Rockies' projected rotation - Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Lopez, Josh Fogg and Hirsh - was 45-57 with a 4.97 ERA last season. That record must be reversed, or something close, or this season will be as enjoyable as, say, a mouthful of fruitcake.
Baseball will take a small step toward universal humidors this season, with all 30 clubs storing their baseballs in climate-controlled environments. And for the first time, according to Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's director of on-field operations, clubs have been ordered to use only baseballs purchased for the current season in games.
"I think humidors for everyone is the wave of the future, but it's not mandatory," Solomon said. "The only humidor is still in Denver."
While a few other clubs will store the baseballs where they have humidity control - Solomon didn't have the exact number - only the Rockies will be required to file paperwork each week documenting the size and weight of the baseballs used.
"The fact that you are keeping an eye on it, I can assure you we are keeping the same critical eye," Solomon said.