Catching up with the Rockies – Purple Row

To preview the Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies series, we sat down with Jeff from one of the best Rockies blogs on the net, Purple Row, to talk baseball,  the Hall of Fame, and commercials.

The Nats Blog: How does it feel to have a worse record than the Nationals right now?

Purple Row: Considering the horrible circumstances the Rockies have been faced with so far this year (death of team president, injuries to 3/5 of the starting rotation, the closer, and several key position players, etc.), I’m quite pleased with the performance of the Rockies thus far (16-17). I mean, their run differential is +29, giving them a Pythagorean record of 20-13. In other words, the Rockies are playing very well.

The fact that their record happens to be worse than the Nationals is inconsequential to me. There are two reasons for this reasoning: One, the Nationals’ pitching performance (especially in the bullpen with Clippard and Capps) has been ridiculously unsustainable — and their -16 run differential is reflected in their 15-19 Pythagorean record. Two, in the NL West, while the division-leading Padres have a great record (and actually deserve it), they are not a long-term threat to the Rockies, who are still positioned well for a run at the NL West Crown and another playoff berth.

The Nats Blog: Jhoulys Chachin has been nasty in his first two starts. Tell us a little bit about the kid and what you expect from him down the road?

Purple Row: Chacin is a beast. Word from scouts has him at a 2/3 starter ceiling, but his great command of 3-4 pitches (especially his changeup), low 90’s fastball, and extreme groundball tendencies have Rockies fans looking for big things from Jhoulys Chacin (pronounced yo-lease sha-sheen). Add in a decent strikeout to walk rate to this package and I expect Chacin to be a mid-rotation starter this year with potential to be the 2 to Ubaldo Jimenez going forward. For more info, check out his Fangraphs page.

The Nats Blog: Is Todd Helton a Hall of Famer?

Purple Row: There are a number of schools of thought on this subject. Here’s an article on one of them. My opinion on the matter is that Helton, who is probably a fringe candidate given his stats and previous HOF voting patterns, will get in because he has been identified as Mr. Rockie and the Hall will want a Rockie represented. In my opinion Larry Walker might be a better choice for this slot, but Helton is more “famous” and he played in the post-Humidor era, after which Coors has merely become a good hitter’s park and not a huge outlier. The Coors Canaveral argument has created a bias against Rockies hitters that is probably more than a little unfair, but in the case of Helton I believe that he’ll make it in eventually, especially if the Rockies win a ring in the next three years.

The Nats Blog: What do the Rockies need to do better to win this series?

Purple Row: To win this series, the Rockies have to keep up what they’ve been doing for the first six innings of games, but then in the last three they need to improve their performance considerably. They’ve been the worst team in the league offensively from innings 7-9, which has contributed to their poor record in close games. They’ve also performed poorly in high-leverage (otherwise known as “clutch”) situations this year (rating 28th in the league according to Fangraphs), which has also contributed to some of the close losses. In terms of pitching, the Rockies will be helped by having both Jimenez and Chacin pitching, as well as the projected return of Jason Hammel (3.9 WAR last year) and Jeff Francis. These favorable pitching matchups (I see a Colorado advantage in all four so long as Greg Smith isn’t pitching one of them) should lead to a 4-0 or 3-1 series win.

The Nats Blog: Approaching June, what moves would you like to see Colorado make to improve?

Purple Row: In terms of moves that need to be made with this team, I quite frankly don’t see any right now that need to be made. Despite the turmoil this year, the pitching staff ranks 4th in MLB in WAR (with 5.3). If Jorge De La Rosa returns healthy and Chacin continues to pitch well, I don’t see any need in terms of starting pitching. In addition, the bullpen is loaded right now and will add closer Huston Street and set-up man Taylor Buchholz in the next month, so there isn’t a need there.

In terms of offense, the Rockies’ depth is such that several injuries haven’t harmed the team’s performance so far. A move that gets catcher Chris Iannetta and outfielder Seth Smith more playing time would be welcome, as would manager Jim Tracy more consistently getting his best players in the lineup, but I’m seriously happy with our roster as is.

The Nats Blog: All time favorite Rockies commercial?

Purple Row: My favorite Rockies commercial would probably have to be one of the Humidor commercial from 2007, the player endorsements commercial from 2009, or the 2008 Toddfather commercial. There really have been a lot of good ones.

Catching up with the Rockies, Purple Row

purple_row_lgTo prepare for the coming series against the Rockies, we sat down with one of their top team blogs, Purple Row, to discuss the coming series. Here is what Purple Row had to say:

The Nats Blog: Earlier in the year when the debate raged about whether or not to fire National manager Manny Acta, many cited the Rockies Clint Hurdle as the perfect example of a good manager who needed to be removed because he was no longer effective. Do you think his removal is the reason for the Rockies resurgance?

Purple Row: Hurdle’s removal was the sine qua non of the Rockies’ turn around, but I’m not sure I’d ever classify Hurdle as “a good manager who . . . was no longer effective.” Was he ever a good manager? Was he ever effective? For the most part, I’d answer both with a “no.” His reign was far too long, and even with the events of Rocktober, he wasn’t the most influential person in all of it.

The Nats Blog: In a recent article you pose the question, “Who would you rather have – Ubaldo Jimenez or Johan Santana,” that is quite the comparison, but a good one. How good do you think Jimenez can and will get?

Purple Row: One of my fellow writers, Poseidon’s Fist, actually posed that question. But yes, it’s a good question to ask. I think U-Ball has the makings of a legitimate ace–provided he doesn’t let walks turn into a problem. With a fastball that can reach 99, this is the guy the Rockies have missed since their inception. If this season has truly been a turning point for the Rockies, Jimenez is helping to lead the charge.

The Nats Blog: The Rockies find themselves in pretty good position to win the wild card at this point in the season. How big of a threat do you consider the Marlins and Cubs are to challenge for the fourth playoff spot?

Purple Row: I think the Marlins pose a serious challenge, especially after their recent series victory over the Rockies this weekend. As for the Cubs, that’s a sinking ship. The Cubs will need to wait another year. 

The Nats Blog: What is one need that you wished the front office addressed before the deadline that you didn’t see happen?

Purple Row: The Rockies did pretty much what I expected them to do: acquire relief help (Rafael Betancourt, Joe Beimel). I still wish they had traded Garrett Atkins, but he’s not entirely dead weight as of late.

The Nats Blog: What do the Rockies need to do to be successful in this coming series against the Nats?

Purple Row: Though not much recently, the Rockies have played to the level of their competition. The pitching has bolstered the Rockies the entire season, so as long as that holds the team should win at least two in this series, even if the bats go into a funk.