Dinger’s Dunces

If there was ever a sport in which using your intelligence (or lack thereof) affected the outcome of a game, baseball would be it. One way to win games is just to have everybody healthy. This is a cerebral effect because, for the most part, you can keep yourself in shape and well by just taking care of yourself. Some baseball players just haven’t quite mastered that throughout the years.

“Dinger’s Dunces” will rank three of the dumbest injuries that have happened out of sheer stupidity in recent memory. Without further ado, let’s get after it.

3. Bret Barberie

Barberie was known more for his marriage choice rather than his playing skills. Barberie played for four clubs in six years, hitting .271 in his short career. Though his career ended with a .071 batting average for the Cubs back in 1996, he was able to snag Fox NFL Sunday’s Jillian Reynolds.

Though he may have been a rising star on the field, Bret Barberie wasn't in the kitchen. (Trading Card Database)

Though he may have been a rising star on the field, Bret Barberie wasn’t one in the kitchen. (Trading Card Database)

While a member of the Marlins (1993-94), Barberie was cooking a meal before a game and accidently rubbed his eye after cooking with chilli peppers. After washing his eyes out, Barberie ripped his contact and couldn’t see. The burn didn’t let up as Barberie sat out of the lineup that evening.

He would later divorce Jillian and flame out of the majors. Poor Bret. He puts the “fun” in dysfunctional.

2. Marty Cordova

Cordova won the 1995 AL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Minnesota Twins, where he had 24 home runs and swiped 20 bags. He enjoyed a pretty decent career, finishing with 122 homers, 540 RBI and a .274 batting average.

What brought Cordova to fame was a self-induced injury when we was a member of the Baltimore Orioles (2002-03).

Cordova wasn’t in to the spray-tanning phenomenon and didn’t think he got enough rays during the season. Cordova decided to go tanning before a game and fell asleep on the tanning bed. What woke him up was the sound of his face grilling. He would have to miss the next few games while he recovered from a facial burn.

But, man was he tan!

1. Adam Eaton

Settle down, Diamondbacks fans. Not your Adam Eaton, but this Adam Eaton.

Eaton was a former first-round selection of the Phillies back in 1996. He made it to the majors in 2000 and finished his career with the Rockies in 2009. He won 71 games and never had an ERA below 4.00, playing for five different organizations.

Adam Eaton is unfortunately known more by his injury than his performance. (Yardbarker)

Adam Eaton is unfortunately known more by his injury than his performance. (Yardbarker)

What made Eaton famous was a blunder that happened during his tenure with the Padres. He was trying to open a DVD case with a paring knife and ended up stabbing himself in the stomach. He later went to the emergency room and made a full recovery.

Eaton’s “horror film” does have my backing. Those cases are hard to open!

Baseball is considered by many as a game of chess. Let’s hope these three aren’t playing against Bobby Fischer anytime soon.

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Draft Blasts

The MLB Draft is just one day away. This draft doesn’t garner nearly enough attention as does the drafts of both the NFL and NBA. It does, however, give teams a chance to peg their future on a stud coming out of college or high school. The Rockies have nailed many picks in their organization’s history. With Colorado selecting No. 8, there should be a surplus of talent to choose from.

This has me thinking, though. Who have been three of the best picks to ever play at Coors Field? Let’s take a gander at who I believe are the three best to ever be picked up by the Rockies in the draft (present team excluded).

Aaron Cook

Say all you want about his career 4.60 ERA, this guy could win games. The 1997 second-round pick of the Rockies notched 72 wins in his 10 seasons in Colorado. He did this all without averaging more than four strikeouts per nine innings. How is this possible? Cook had a sinker that was regarded as one of the best in the game during that stretch. He began his career with just a fastball and some off-speed selections, but added a dimension to that fastball by getting it to sink – and sink a lot. Cook induced 2,648 ground balls that led to outs with the Rockies.

Keeping the ball down is important for a pitcher, especially at Coors Field. Cook had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 2.45 throughout his career. This shows that he kept the ball in the park, even if he wasn’t striking a lot of guys out.

Aaron Cook finished his career with the Rockies as the all-time leader in wins with 72. (Creative Commons)

Aaron Cook finished his career with the Rockies as the all-time leader in wins with 72. (Creative Commons)

Though Cook went on to become an All-Star and pitch in the World Series, what may have been his greatest feat was pitching two complete games on fewer than 80 pitches. In 2008, Cook hurled a complete-game shutout on just 79 pitches against the Padres (Side note: see where Troy Tulowitzki was batting?!). One year earlier, the right hander from Hamilton, Ohio threw a complete game against the Padres on only 74 pitches. Those two performances were the lowest pitch count total of a complete game since 1990.

Matt Holliday

A year after Cook was selected, the Rockies took a kid out of Stillwater, Okla. in the seventh round named Matt Holliday. Little did they know, Holliday would become an All-Star and Silver Slugger three times. The 2007 runner-up in NL MVP voting smacked 128 home runs and 483 RBI during his tenure with the Rockies.

Holliday enjoyed one of the best seasons in Rockies history in 2007. The outfielder led the league in hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and batting average (.340). His 2007 season was best exemplified by this game-winning slide against the Padres to get to the playoffs. Holliday finished second in MVP voting, despite have better numbers than the eventual winner, Jimmy Rollins.

Holliday was traded after the 2008 season to the Oakland Athletics for Carlos Gonzalez, Houston Street and Greg Smith. He now mans the left-field corner for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Todd Helton

Helton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 1995 draft, went on to have a pretty decent career, I guess. Helton finished his 17-year career as one of the greatest hitters to ever put on a Rockies uniform. He ranks first in Rockies history in hits (2,519), doubles (592), home runs (369) and RBI (1,406). The “Toddfather” also was no stranger to acceptance speeches as he accumulated five All-Star appearances, four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. Helton will be the first player to have his No. 17 retired on Aug. 17 to celebrate his illustrious 17-year career.

Todd Helton will go down as one of the best players to ever put on a Rockies uniform. (Creative Commons)

Todd Helton will go down as one of the best players to ever put on a Rockies uniform. (Creative Commons)

Added on to his success on the field, Helton has been named “Tennessean of the Year” and been inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He still awaits the grandest of awards, though – Cooperstown. If it were up to only Rockies fans, he would have a bust and a section dedicated to just himself.

With the eighth selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, might we see somebody of this caliber join the organization? One can only hope.

 

Grades by Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks a day where we as Americans can express our gratitude for all those serving our country. Though this is just one day set aside for our troops, every day should provoke thought and hope from US citizens nation-wide.

As it pertains to baseball, Memorial Day is the first gauge that we as fans can look at our club and see if we are contenders or pretenders.

Below are my grades on a few notable Rockies up to this point in the season.

Troy Tulowitzki, A-plus. What else is there to say about this guy? Tulo is a prime candidate for NL MVP this season. He leads the league in batting average (.378), on-base percentage (.480), slugging percentage (.720) and is ranked in the top-5 in RBI (36), home runs (14) and hits (62). Tulo committed his first error of the season on Monday, bringing him back down to earth along with the rest of majors.

Charlie Blackmon, A. It’s officially “Fear the Beard” season in Denver. Blackmon has embraced the leadoff role for the Rockies and has thrived doing so. He has a batting average of .319, nine home runs and 33 RBI thus far in 2014 – all are career-highs. The 27-year-old is in his first season as a full-time starter. The only reason he is not an A-plus is due to his regression this past month. After a scalding April, Blackmon is hitting .253 and has struckout 13 times thus far in May. Sure, we all saw the regression coming, but how we he respond to a disappointing month? Go show us what you’re made of, Chuck.

Charlie Blackmon has been a nice surprise to Rockies this season in centerfield. (Creative Commons)

Charlie Blackmon has been a nice surprise to Rockies this season in centerfield. (Creative Commons)

Justin Morneau, A-minus. Whomever was going to man first base this season was surely going to have high expectations, due to the large shoes Todd Helton left. Morneau has welcomed the challenge and passed with flying colors in the first two months of the season. The Canadian is hitting .315, with nine home runs and 32 RBI. A move to Coors field has treated Morneau well, as he slugging .607 with an OPS of 1.005 in Denver. He needs to show more consistency on the road and fend off pitches. Morneau has struckout 15 times on the road as opposed to only seven at home. Let’s hope he remains healthy and keeps his mind right. If he does, he is in for a terrific season.

Jordan Lyles, B-plus. Two months in and it is apparent that the Rockies destroyed the Astros in their offseason trade. That largely is credited to Lyles and his ability to stay in the rotation. Lyles has done an excellent job keeping the ball on the ground, owning a 55-percent ground ball rate. This has led to a .268 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) – a career-best. What has exposed Lyles is when he leaves the ball up in the zone as he experienced in his last start against the Padres on May 15. Here’s to hoping the 23-year-old keeps hovering around the 3.50 ERA mark all season long.

Carlos Gonzalez, B-minus. What has gotten into CarGo? The two-time All-Star has battled a couple of injuries and is only hitting .270 on the season. The power is still there as he has seven home runs and 29 RBI, but there is something that is troubling with CarGo. His plate discipline has been a cause for concern this season. He is swinging at an alarming 39 percent of balls outside the strike zone. He is also swinging at a career-high 53 percent of all pitches. Pitchers are aware of this statistic and will keep pitching around CarGo until he learns to hold his swing. Once he gets back to form, the average will blossom and we will see the old CarGo.

Carlos Gonzalez needs to get back to being patient at the plate as the 2014 season progresses. (Creative Commons)

Carlos Gonzalez needs to get back to being patient at the plate as the 2014 season progresses. (Creative Commons)

Jouhlys Chacin, C-minus. After having a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 5.9 last season, it was time for Chacin to solidify himself as one of the top pitchers in the NL. Instead, he has gotten off to a horrendous start this season. Starting the 2014 campaign on the DL with shoulder issues didn’t help. Chacin was rushed back to the Rockies and it has shown how rusty he is. In five starts, Chacin is 0-4 with an ERA of 5.20 and a WHIP of 1.48. What myself and other Rockies fans need to realize is that he just needs time. The 26-year-old is still young and has shown us how well he can pitch throughout his tenure in Denver. Optimism is key to Chacin’s grade as he will improve with more starts under his belt.

A.J. Ellis’ ability to celebrate, F. Don’t fret, Rockies fans. I haven’t lost my mind. Yes, Ellis plays for the Dodgers, but he needed to be included in this report card due to unfortunate landing on the DL. Oh, those Dodgers.

 

 

Gyorko deal puts value on home run

The Rockies aren’t the only team in San Diego that are making noise this evening.

The San Diego Padres have agreed to a five-year extension with power-hitting second baseman Jedd Gyorko. The deal itself is worth $35 million guaranteed and has a club-option for a sixth year worth $13 million.

Gyorko’s deal is the third-largest for a player with only one year of experience in the big leagues. He trails only Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58 million) and Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun (eight years, $45 million).

The Padres slugger had a team-high 23 home runs in his rookie season.

“We are happy to sign Jedd … he is a homegrown player in his fifth season with the organization and has been a consistent performer every step of the way,” said Padres GM Josh Byrnes.

His .249 batting average ranked 52nd in the National League last season, showing just what is valued by teams today.

Jedd Gyorko hit a team-high 23 home runs last season. (Creative Commons)

Jedd Gyorko hit a team-high 23 home runs last season. (Creative Commons)

The most recent example of a power-hitting second baseman receiving such a large deal and to hit below .250 would be Atlanta’s Dan Uggla. Uggla signed a five-year deal for $62 million back in 2011 with the Atlanta Braves after he slugged 33 long balls for the Florida Marlins the past season. Since he has been a member of the Braves organization, he has tumultuous averages of .233, .220, .197 and .195 in progressive years, respectively.

He even was a member of the “Couch Potato Club” in last year’s playoffs, watching his team play while he was not invited to the postseason roster.

This just goes to show what is really being valued by MLB teams the past few years. Players that can hit the long ball receive more money than players who hit for average and play solid defense.

Players like former Rockies second baseman, Marco Scutaro – who has led the NL in batting average the last two seasons – aren’t making what they should unlike Uggla and Gyroko. Scutaro agreed to a deal with the Giants for three years, $20 million. That’s one-third of what Uggla makes! If you asked the Giants, do you think they would rather have a power hitter like Uggla who rarely gets on base? Or someone like Scutaro who can get on base more often and give his team a chance to win?

My guess is the latter.

What does this mean for the Rockies?

This is more of a general meaning to all of baseball as a whole. Teams are valuing the long ball and want the big play versus making a more consistent approach – and are willing to pay for it. Players like Scutaro, DJ LeMahieu and even Mets’ Daniel Murphy are being overlooked because they do not hit the ball as far as their competitors.

This game is changing, and I’m not sure it is heading in the right direction.