Required Rockies: Corey Dickerson

The only love Corey Dickerson is getting these days is from his mom. As great as that may be, it’s time the rest of the league takes notice. This kid is here to stay.

Dickerson is in just his second season in the majors. The 25-year old has made an impression on manager Walt Weiss these past two seasons.

Corey Dickerson has made the most of his opportunities this season in order to help the Rockies win. (Creative Commons)

Corey Dickerson has made the most of his opportunities this season in order to help the Rockies win. (Creative Commons)

Dickerson’s first season was about as average you can get. He had a .263 batting average, 17 RBI and a .459 slugging percentage that was largely in part to his five home runs and five triples. What he gained from the 69 games he played in has served as a springboard to this season.

The bright lights have shown just how effulgent Dickerson can be. The lefty has improved dramatically is just one season, upping his batting average (.324), on-base percentage (.376) and slugging percentage (.600). He already has posted seven home runs and 18 RBI in 17 fewer games than he played in last year.

Largely considered the fourth outfielder on the depth chart (Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, Charlie Blackmon), Dickerson has made the most of his opportunities when they have been given to him.

Screenshot of Corey Dickerson's spray chart. (FanGraphs)

Screenshot of Corey Dickerson’s spray chart. (FanGraphs)

As you can see, he has been reluctant to pick a side of the field he likes to hit to – and that’s a good thing. He’s had 15 hits (43 percent) to the opposite field, eight hits (24 percent) up the middle and 11 hits (33 percent) down the pull-side.

To the opposing pitchers out there: good luck trying to figure out how to pitch him.

Dickerson’s impact hasn’t just been felt in the batter’s box. Though he has started a majority of his games (17) this season in left field, Dickerson has notched nine starts in center field and five as a designated hitter. Any chance Weiss has had, the manager has given Dickerson the nod.

The Mississippi product has yet to make an error this season and has 128 putouts for his career. (Quick, somebody go knock on wood!) He makes the tough plays look easy.

Though he won’t see the field as much as he rightfully deserves due to the glut of outfielders this season, Dickerson will provide the Rockies with a go-to option off the bench in case of injury or if there is a need for a pinch hitter.

And at this stage of his career, that’s just fine.

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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.

Rox Linx

After giving up 11 runs in the eighth and ninth innings against the Diamondbacks, I thought that was rock bottom. This guy would beg to differ. Only one more day until Eddie Butler’s start! Positivity!

Rockies Rumblings

The Colorado Rockies are currently two games out of a Wild Card spot, despite being 28-30. They are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, losing 10 of their last 12 games. With Colorado being in an awkward position (are they contenders or pretenders?), there have been some rumblings around the organization whether to try to improve the roster via trade or blow the whole thing up and rebuild. Considering how the roster is structured, it would be easy to see both points of the argument.

On one hand, the Rockies could break the backs of their fans by trading Carlos Gonzalez. It’s tough to see him in another uniform, especially with his buddy Troy Tulowitzki still holding it down for Colorado. I don’t envision this happening because Gonzalez, 28, is in the prime of his career. Sure, Corey Dickerson, Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs are off to great starts this season. Sure, “CarGo” seems to find himself on the DL more and more. But, at any point, who is more feared by opposing pitchers? CarGo. Who is more clutch and can be counted on when it matters most? CarGo. Dickerson, Barnes and Stubbs will get their plate appearances, but they shouldn’t expect to be starting for Colorado anytime soon.

Despite rumors from MLB's Ken Rosenthal, Carlos Gonzalez should finish his career with the Rockies. (North Platte Post)

Despite rumors from MLB’s Ken Rosenthal, Carlos Gonzalez should finish his career with the Rockies. (North Platte Post)

The haul for CarGo would be juicy. However, with most of them being prospects, how does anybody know they would be able to contribute even half of what CarGo has? I’m squashing this rumbling like a bug.

On the other hand, Colorado could risk its future for the now. Trading for a solid arm, such as Jeff Samardzjia, has been a topic that seems to be lurking in the shadows. Samardzija would have to sign long-term for this to even be considered by the Rockies. The Cubs would be asking for a high price that could include any of Eddie Butler, Jon Gray or Tyler Matzek. The recent call-up of Butler complicates matters because if he does well, Colorado will be hanging on to him for the long haul. If he struggles, he won’t have as much value to the Cubs, thus cancelling this trade.

Jon Gray is the most coveted prospect in the Rockies farm system. Giving him up for anything short of an ace in their prime seems unlikely as he oozes potential to be the cornerstone of the franchise in years to come. Tyler Matzek might not be seen in the same light as Butler or Gray by other organizations. Matzek has had a rough time in Triple-A, showing that he might not be the answer that other clubs are looking for. Like the CarGo trade, this rumbling can be smashed.

A more realistic approach would be to improve the roster by trading proven players for proven players that help out both teams. The final rumbling is a trade involving the Red Sox. Though there are no specifics given, both the Rockies and Red Sox seem to be terrific trade partners.

The Rockies need help with left-handed bullpen relief. Current southpaws in the bullpen, Rex Brothers and Boone Logan, have ERAs of 5.47 and 5.87, respectively. The Red Sox have two solid, proven veterans in their ‘pen that can help this issue.

Andrew Miller is a lefty who owns an ERA of 2.55, which is impressive considering he pitches in a toughest division in baseball – the AL East. Hitters are only batting .196 and left-handed hitters have collected a total of seven hits against Miller.

Andrew Miller can help the Rockies bullpen with his experience and ability to get left-handed hitters out. (Creative Commons)

Andrew Miller can help the Rockies bullpen with his experience and ability to get left-handed hitters out. (Creative Commons)

The Red Sox need outfield help just as badly as the Rockies need a southpaw reliever. The best outfielder for Boston, Shane Victorino, is hitting .242 with only 10 RBI. The worst-hitting outfielder, CarGo, is hitting .255 but has the potential to be a MVP candidate when healthy.

Meanwhile, every Rockies outfielder has an OPS of at least .730. The best OPS number for the Red Sox comes from Jonny Gomes – .713.

I can see a deal of Barnes or Stubbs for Miller happening. Both teams have dire needs and both can be filled without giving up players with high potential or large contracts. I’ll let this rumbling stick around for a bit.

The Rockies can improve their organization without breaking the backs of their fans or the structure of their farm system. All they have to do is find the right trade partner.

 

 

Podcast: MLB Draft

The Rockies hold the No. 8 pick in the 2014 MLB Draft on Thursday, June 5. This podcast will discuss how the Rockies got here, the No. 8 pick’s history, how the Rockies have selected at No. 8 in years past and looks at who will be there for Colorado to select in this year’s draft.

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.

 

Rox Linx

It’s hard to be giddy after a 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, but with Eddie Butler being called up, Rockies fan have something to celebrate.

Duck on the Pond: Where Colorado can improve

Welcome to the first installment of Ducks on the Pond where I will analyze an area the Rockies need to improve in order to reach their full potential. This area is crucial moving forward and will be easily monitored as it controls whether Colorado comes out a victor or a loser.

In order to get back to its winning ways, Colorado must get their starters into the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

The Rockies bullpen has already compiled 179.2 innings up until June 3. Though that ranks just 15th, teams that have thrown the fewest bullpen innings are set up to win in August and September because they won’t have tired arms. The three teams that have gone to their bullpens the fewest are Cincinnati (138.1 innings), Atlanta (149.1 innings) and Detroit (157.1 innings). Atlanta and Detroit are both leading their respective divisions, while Cincinnati is below .500 but has had tough luck with injuries thus far in 2014. You can never count out the Reds, as they have been playoff contenders since 2010. At least one of Atlanta or Detroit have made the postseason in each year since 2010.

Jorge De La Rosa and his fellow starters need to log more innings in each start the rest of this season. (Mile High Sports/Chris Bianchi)

Jorge De La Rosa and his fellow starters need to log more innings in each start the rest of this season. (Mile High Sports/Chris Bianchi)

These are teams that the Rockies need to model their pitching structure after.

Starters for Colorado have pitched the sixth-fewest amount of innings (326.1) in the majors this season. Check out the stats from the four pitchers the Rockies have started the most:

Jorge De La Rosa: 12 starts, 66 innings, 5.5 innings per start
Jordan Lyles: 11 starts, 65 innings, 5.9 innings per start
Franklin Morales: 11 starts, 62.2 innings, 5.7 innings per start
Juan Nicasio: 11 starts, 62 innings, 5.6 innings per start

Of that list above, De La Rosa has pitched seven or more innings four times, Lyles three times, Nicasio two times and Morales just once. That means that 22 percent of that time, the bullpen will not be overworked. Complacency will settle in and that can give a shock to starters who are asked to pitch into the seventh, eighth and ninth inning. What will happen when the bullpen arms are exhausted and starters reach the late innings?

One can only assume that those innings will not be pretty for Rockies fans.

Hitters have started catching on to how relievers are pitching them. Opponents have a .256 batting average against Colorado relievers, ranking 24th in baseball. Opposing hitters hold a .743 OPS against the bullpen, ranking them 26th in that category.

Considering these numbers, what makes the bullpen a better option than keeping the starter out for an extra inning or two? If starters can go just a little deeper into games, relievers will remain fresh and provide quality innings where they matter the most.

If it is just June and the relievers are being torched due to soreness from being overworked, Rockies fans will be in for a long summer.