The Phillies offense did something tonight they hadn’t done all season, hit. Here are three guys I’m glad to see finding their swing:
[4 Games] Before Tonight: 2-for-15, 1 R, 1 RBI
Tonight: 3-for-5, 2 R
Before Tonight: 3-for-16, 2 R, 1 RBI
Tonight: 2-for-4, 1 R, 3 RBI
Before Tonight: 2-for-10
The two-spot through six-spot hitters (Victorino, Chase Utley, Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez) combined to go 10-for-22 with 7 runs scored and 7 RBIs. I was happy to see these guys starting to play. I think that it comes down to getting away from all the “championship buzz.” Whether they accept that or not, I think that’s the true reason they’ve been struggling. They usually get off to a rough start and I’m happy to see that they’re seeing the ball better. It is just one game though, we’ll see how they do the next few games where they’ll be facing Aaron Cook tomorrow in Denver and Daniel Cabrera on Monday while in Washington.
While in DC, they’ll be visiting the President of our country. More reigning champions talk could affect them but I hope it doesn’t. I guess we’ll find out if my theory is correct on their struggles.
PARK TO START FIRST GAME IN RED PINSTRIPES
Tomorrow, Chan Ho Park will start his first game for the Phils. He won the fifth starters spot in spring training over JA Happ and now must show everyone why they picked him. He’s determined to have this job and keep it.
It would also be nice to see a quality start out of Park after our first five games where starting pitchers have allowed 4 ER in 6 IP (Brett Myers), 4 ER in 5 IP (Jamie Moyer), 7 ER in 4 IP (Joe Blanton), 7 ER in 3.2 IP (Cole Hamels), and tonight 4 ER in 7 IP (Myers). The best start of the year has been Myers start tonight but it would be nice to see a starter allowing under four runs in seven (what pitchers are supposed to pitch).
BRING THAT LOU KID UP
Lou Marson has been called up to the big team. I’m glad to hear that our catcher of the future is joining the team. It’s expected that Chris Coste and Marson will share time behind the plate. So Marson will get his at-bats because it’s said that Coste is more effective when he only plays a few times a week. This news comes on the heels of Carlos Ruiz being placed on the 15-Day DL. I don’t want to see chooch on the DL, and he doesn’t want to be on the DL. But I can’t help but saying that maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Maybe Marson will show that he’s ready to play everyday this year and I am hoping that despite how much I love Ruiz behind the dish.
Marson did have a bad, bad spring. In 14 games, he went 1-for-20 with three walks. But I wouldn’t take that small sample and use that to judge the kid. In Double-A Reading last year, Marson batted .314 with a .433 OBP and an .849 OPS.
Season Preview: Colorado Rockies
Projected MLB Rank: 13th — NL Rank: 8th — NL West Rank: 4th — Record: (85-77)
The Colorado Rockies were the story of 2007. They ran through September and the playoffs until they hit the wall in the World Series, also known as the Boston Red Sox. One year later, October 2008, they were sitting at home and watching eight other teams. They had harnessed a 74-88 record. Only four other NL teams did worse last year.
This season, the Rockies will attempt to recreate the two month magic they generated at the end of the 2007 season. This time, they need that magic for seven months.
This offense is one of the most potent in the league, even after trading away keystone Matt Holliday. Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, and veteran Todd Helton will be looked to to make up for that production. Helton had a very down year last year. Last year he played only half a season and still only hit 7 homeruns and drove in 29 RBIs. Even more concerning is the .264 average he posted in those games. Helton had hit for over .300 for the ten seasons before. The lifetime .328 hitter is 35 years old, but I do believe he can rebound from a low 2008 and regain his status as a consistent hitter.
Atkins, who had been rumored to be traded this offseason, seems to be staying in Denver for his contract year. He will post big production numbers and expect him to be traded if the Rockies are out of the race early. Brad Hawpe is a great ballplayer. He has the potential to hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 runs now that Holliday isn’t there to take the production. He also has a cannon from rightfield.
Shortstop Troy Toluwitzki should continue to tear it up as he did last year at the end of the season as he hit .327 in the second half. Chris Iannetta did a great job in the WBC and should continue his rampage at Coors Field. In only 333 at bats last season, he hit 18 homeruns and drove in 65 RBIs.
Seth Smith, is a great hitter but has yet to show it at the major league level. Once he starts getting consistent time in Colorado, he will become a .300 hitter (I saw this kid hit for the cycle when he was with AAA Colorado Springs). There is a lot of competition for the starting centerfield spot. Ryan Spilborghs leads the way as he batted .313 in 89 games last season. Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez are also in the competition for the job, but I expect it to go to Spilborghs.
The pitching staff last season had a rough one. They had the second worst ERA in the NL (4.77) and gave up the third most runs per game (5.07). Losing Jeff Francis certainly hurts so now it starts off with Aaron Cook. The righty won 16 games last season with a 3.96 ERA. He’s a great pitcher for the thin Colorado air because he’s a sinkerballer, so expect more success from Cook in Colorado. Ubaldo Jimenez, who is the projected number two, is dirty. His stuff is phenomenal but he has control problems as he walked 103 batters last season. He had a good BAA last season (.245) so look for him to develop into a possible all star if he can get off to a good start.
Jason Marquis is the projected number three, coming over from the Cubs where he was the fifth starter. He’ll win you ballgames, but he won’t put up huge strikeout numbers and he will let guys get on base. Jorge De La Rosa’s stats don’t look too pretty last season but don’t be decieved. In the second half, he posted a 3.08 ERA with about a strikeout per inning. 23-year old Franklin Morales should compete for the last rotation spot along with Greg Smith and Jason Hirsh.
The bullpen is underrated. Manny Corpas and Huston Street are duking it out for the closer role. Corpas’ shaky 2008 might make him the eigth inning man and the experienced Street would get the closer role. Taylor Buchholz had a fine season last year posting a 2.17 ERA in 63 games. Jason Grilli had a great strikeout rate last season while compiling a 3.00 ERA. Alan Embree and Ryan Speier will also get a bunch of appearances out of the bullpen.
This is probably my biggest stretch of a prediction having the Rockies do 11 games better than they did last year. Especially finishing fourth in the division. I have the NL West as a strong division this year (another bold prediction). This division did get better though. I hear everyone that’s saying .500 could win the division, but I don’t feel like that will be the case this season with the west. It’s improving, and so are the Rockies with it.