This weekend is loaded with baseball...could it get any better?
I drew all three games of the Rockies/Marlins series for MLB.com and am now sitting here in the press box getting ready for game 2. Last night the Marlins came away with a 4-2 victory behind a nice performance by Dontrelle Willis in 7 pretty strong innings (and 120 pitches I might add) to notch only his second win of the year. BTW, as I drove in to the park today I listened to the podcast of BP Radio with Will Carroll. Guests Jonathan Mayo, Kevin Goldstein, and Cleveland AGM/Dir, Scouting John Mirabelli were all very insightful. Interesting stuff for Royals, Indians, and Rockies fans for sure. Be sure also to check out Kevin's draft previews of both the AL and NL along with Rany Jazayerli's final installment of his draft study. Excellent stuff.
As has been the trend the Rox continued to struggle to score runs and now sit second to last in the NL in runs scored at 224 ahead only of the hapless Cubs at 207. They scored 2 or fewer runs for the eighth time in the last ten games - all of them losses. One of their problems is that they are third from the bottom in walks with the main culprits being Matt Holliday with 6 walks in 202 at bats and Clint Barmes with 3 walks in 192 AB (hate to say I told you so about Barmes but...). In April the Rox scored 2 runs or less in just 3 of 25 games. Back then they were scoring runs in bunches which I noted at the time was probably more indicative of good fortune than exceptional skill. That said, Todd Helton continues to struggle and so when he comes around the run scoring will increase as well. I continue to be impressed with rookie Ryan Spilborghs however. He is patient at the plate and can hit the ball with a little authority homering off of Willis last night. I'd like to see him log more time in centerfield and at least be the fourth outfielder.
One of the most impressive things I saw last night (and again the first inning tonight) is the hustle of Marlins rookie shortstop Hanley Ramirez. In both instances he hit line drives to left center that would normally be singles but instead of slowing up he never broke stride and beat the throws to second for doubles. The larger outfield at Coors makes this more possible than in other parks and I wonder if Ramirez has been doing this all season or if his visit to Coors inspired him.
The Rox lack of run scoring despite playing in Coors Field brings to mind the topic of the humidor and how Coors is playing this season. Many folks around the league think that Coors now plays neutral or even as more of a pitcher's park. I'll investigate that notion and how the sample size through 24 home games this season factors in next week in my Schrodinger's Bat column on Baseball prospectus.
Tonight I'll get to take a look at Rickey Nolasco who was perhaps the biggest component of the trade that sent Juan Pierre to the Cubs - a trade that may, when all is said and done, be counted as the worst trade of the Jim Hendry era as Cubs GM. It's rumored that the Cubs are already looking to shop Pierre but I imagine his .270 OBP makes that a difficult proposition. Nolasco's only been in the rotation a short time with one good outing against the Cubs and one bad against the Mets.
Tomorrow Jason Jennings, coming off of his 2-hit shutout will take the mound against Jeff Olsen and afterwards there will be a high school all-star game played at Coors Field which I hope to catch a few innings of.
But earlier today I had the opportunity to take my 10-year old daughter to a youth baseball clinic put on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. There was no fee thanks to sponsors such as Louisville Slugger and was hosted by the Air Force Academy and Falcons Field. It was a great event and featured several former big leaguers including:
There were about 180 kids there from ages 6 to 16. They were split by age group and rotated through a half dozen or so stations over about two and half hours. I was especially impressed with Neibauer, also a Yankees scout, who made all the kids laugh while teaching some basic throwing mechanics.
The hitting instruction was also done very nicely (I don't recall who was coaching however) and explained in a way that the kids could really understand the importance of "loading up" and shifting their weight, elbow position, and where their power comes from.
After the stations were complete Doug Loman took a few minutes to talk to all the players and parents about non-baseball issues, which was well-received. It was a great morning and both my daughter and I had a blast. This was the 9th year for the clinic here in Colorado Springs and we'll certainly be back next year (hopefully with my younger daughter as well).