Tagged: Huston Street

Colorado Rockies Must Trade For Setup Man to Bolster Playoff Hopes

With an improbable June and a stellar July so far, the Colorado Rockies are showing naysayers they are here to contend.

 

With Monday’s 10-6 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, along with the San Francisco Giants being pounded by the Atlanta Braves, the Rockies can say that if the regular season ended today, they would become the National League wild card winners for the second time in the past three years.

 

Problem is, there are still 68 games to play.

 

But with a record of 33-15 since May 29 when manager Jim Tracy took over, the Rockies look like they can compete to the end.

 

With the trade deadline approaching in T-9 days, what the Rockies desperately need is a strong middle reliever.

 

The club’s bullpen looks nothing like its opening day roster. With the exception of Huston Street, who also lost his role as closer once, the bullpen has been shuffled around and mix and matched in its entirety.

 

Matt Daley, Josh Fogg, Juan Rincon and Ryan Speier were not on the club’s opening day roster. Franklin Morales was, but not as a reliever. The club traded Jason Grilli while sending down players like Joel Peralta and Matt Belisle.

 

The team also lost a quality arm in Taylor Buchholz to Tommy John surgery and a veteran leader in Alan Embree to a broken leg. They recently added veteran Matt Herges to a minor-league deal and is reporting interest in free agent Mike Timlin.

 

Sure, signing a guy with the name Roy Halladay would bring excitement to Blake Street, but for what, two months? And Matt Holliday had a great stay in purple pinstripes, but a reunion tour is not what needs to be done to make an October push.

 

What the Rockies need is a reliable setup man.

 

Not some has-been or could-be. Not multiple washed up pitchers like in years past.

 

The organization has minor league depth in nearly every position. I’m not suggesting throwing away the farm, but package a couple prospects for a guy that can bridge the gap between the starting rotation and closer Huston Street. Or even better, if O’Dowd can find a club that will unload Garrett Atkins or Yorvit Torrealba, take it.

 

Chad Qualls is, perhaps, the biggest availability.

 

With 18 saves for a dismal Diamondback team, Qualls is paving his best year in the majors. He sports a lifetime 3.31 ERA, but one of his more impressive stats is just three home runs allowed this season. This would help in the thin air of Colorado.

 

Other possible names on the market: Boston’s Takashi Saito, Baltimore’s lefthander George Sherrill and Cleveland’s Rafael Bentancourt.

Colorado has a good team, no doubt. But with its bullpen ranked 14th out of the 16-team National League, it is apparent that a strong setup man is needed.

 

Perhaps the biggest evidence, however, is the last two nights. On Monday night the Rockies held a 10-1 lead leading up to the seventh inning, when the relievers surrendered five runs, causing our closer to get warmed up in the ninth inning.

 

In Tuesday’s loss to the Diamondbacks, the Rockies blew a 4-0 lead, with the relievers allowing the final runs for the loss.

 

In less than two months, the Rockies have jumped from 10 under to eight over. I believe it’s time the Rockies become buyers at the deadline and purchase a durable arm.

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Colorado Rockies Have Dynamic Duo Late In Games

Huston Street and Manny Corpas will pitch in the 8th and 9th innings

It was a difficult decision.

 

One that couldn’t be made until four simple days before Opening Day.

 

But nonetheless, it’s becoming a reoccurring decision for the Rockies organization lately.

 

I’m talking about the Rockies’ closer–the ninth inning guy that goes in with more pressure on his shoulders than anyone else.

 

Much like a pinch hitter, the closer enters the game after sitting for the first eight innings, waiting for his opportunity to shine.

 

When he does it right, he’s seen as a hero, a firefighter, and he’s given the accolade of a “save.”

 

When he doesn’t do it right, he’s often booed, and seen as the reason the team’s failure.

 

The Rockies named Huston Street as the club’s 2009 starter (at least for now) Thursday afternoon. Street was awarded the position over Manny Corpas, who won the hearts of Rockies’ fans during the playoff run in late 2007.

 

Corpas was lights out after taking over as the Rockies’ closer when then-closer Brian Fuentes blew four consecutive saves opportunities in late June.

 

The native of Panama had an ERA of 1.02 after the switch, and successfully saved 19 of his 20 opportunities. His only blown save was in the World Series.

 

After posting these numbers, Corpas was given the opportunity to close the 2008 season. However, once again, a series of struggles early in the season caused manager Clint Hurdle to revert back to Fuentes, who closed the remainder of the season before filing for free agency and signing with the Los Angeles Angels.

 

Corpas then seemed to be the Rockies’ 2009 closer, and even when Street was acquired from the Athletics in a trade for Matt Holliday, many fans believed he would still win the spot.

 

In roughly the same amount of innings pitched in spring training, Corpas allowed fewer hits (seven to 11), fewer earned runs (one to six), more strikeouts (five to four), and a lower ERA (1.00 to 5.23).

 

However, Street’s statistics can be read misleadingly due to the fact that he was still overcoming a quadriceps injury in early March. Take away Street’s first two appearances, and in his final eight, he gave up just one run, a single hit and zero walks.

 

Many fans are upset and have multiple speculations on why Street was given the role over Corpas.

 

One theory is to make the controversial offseason trade sending Holliday to the Athletics look better.

 

The three players the Rockies received in return for Holliday include Street, starting pitcher Greg Smith and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Smith and Gonzalez will both be starting the year in Colorado Springs playing Triple-A ball, while some say that Street was given the closer role so that at least one of the players featured in the trade would be seen as a major factor in 2009.

 

Another possibility is Street’s experience.

 

In his four-year career, Street is 21-12 with a 2.88 ERA. In addition, the former A’s closer has 94 saves on his resume. Street has missed time each of the last two seasons, however, due to injuries.

 

Despite the front office’s decisions sometimes, I do believe that this team’s intentions are to put the best group of players onto the field each day and to win ballgames.

 

Both pitchers will still get plenty of experience, with Corpas currently being the set-up man and Street closing it out.

 

The way I see it, the Rockies have two solid late-inning pitchers that are both capable of closing ballgames. Whether it is Street or Corpas that gets it done, having both pitchers in the final two innings of a game should be a very valuable asset to the club and very intimidating to opposing teams.

 

And for you Corpas supporters, having him not being named the opening day closer might not be that bad of a thing. If history says anything, he may regain his role. The last two years, the backup has been the one that ends up closing games by the end of the year.

 

It’s a long, 162-game season. Things can change. But either way, the Rockies have a reliable duo that they can count on.

 

This article is also featured on Bleacher Report.

Huston Street Claims Rockies’ Closer Role

One of the biggest questions facing the Colorado Rockies coming into spring training has been answered.

 

Manager Clint Hurdle will announce this afternoon that Huston Street has beat out Manny Corpas for the club’s closer role.

 

The decision brings much controversy among Rockies’ fans.

 

After Street’s slow start to spring training, many believed Corpas would claim the spot.

 

Street’s spring stat line is not impressive. In 10.1 innings pitched, the former Oakland Athletic has allowed 11 hits, seven runs (six earned), surrendered two home runs and walked two in addition to a hit batsman.

 

Corpas, the Rockies’ opening day closer in 2008 until losing the role to Brian Fuentes partway through the season, pitched 9.0 innings this spring, allowing seven hits and just one run.

 

Many fans believe Corpas deserved the ninth inning position. In roughly the same amount of innings pitched, Corpas allowed fewer hits (seven to 11), fewer earned runs (one to six), more strikeouts (five to four), and a lower ERA (1.00 to 5.23).

 

One theory of why Street was given the position is to make the controversial offseason trade sending Matt Holliday to the Athletics look better.

 

The three players the Rockies received in return for Holliday include Street, starting pitcher Greg Smith and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Smith and Gonzalez will both be starting the year in Colorado Springs playing Triple-A ball, while some say that Street was given the closer role so that at least one of the players featured in the trade would be seen as a major factor in 2009.

 

I don’t buy the theory, and believe that both Street and Corpas will be valuable assets whether pitching in the eighth or ninth inning.

 

In addition, Street’s statistics can be read misleadingly due to the fact that he was still overcoming a quadriceps injury in early March. Take away Street’s first two appearances, and in his final eight, he gave up just one run, a single hit, and zero walks.

 

This article is also featured on Bleacher Report

 

Several Uncertainties Remain For Rockies In 2009

Coors Field on Opening Day 2008
Just 16 short months ago, Coors Field and downtown Denver was riding purple fever high above the Rocky Mountains. The glory years, more like year (1995), was here again and Lo-Do Magic was back.

Fans were quickly sent back to reality early in 2008, however, when the Colorado Rockies fell off the mountain and couldn’t rebound after a 20-38 start and ended up towards the bottom of an awful National League West.

Spring has arrived, however. The calendar has turned, the weather is slowly beginning to warm up and players are arriving in Arizona for Spring Training. A new season and fresh opportunities.

So as the 2009 season approaches, there is optimistic hope among fans and players alike. But the question of how realistic the goals of turning this season’s team from a 74-88 record in 2008 to the 90 wins and World Series birth the year prior remains with several “ifs.”

It’s not easy to remain positive after losing the face of the franchise in Matt Holliday. In return, they received a couple of prospects (Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez) and an established, but also often-injured closer, Huston Street.

The first question regards Holliday’s replacement in left field. Although not a stellar outfielder, his solid .320+ batting average, .530+ slugging percentage and 25+ home runs will be missed. His most likely replacement is Seth Smith. In 67 games last season, Smith hit .259, but his future is bright with the glimpses of power last season.

Gonzalez will most likely start the season in Colorado Springs (the Rockies’ AAA affiliate) while third basemen Ian Stewart will get a few spring looks, trying to make the transformation from the infield to the outfield after the Rockies resigned Garrett Atkins earlier this month.

The Rockies lost most of their speed in center fielder Willy Taveras, but the speedster lacked getting on base last year. A .308 on base percentage won’t cut it for a leadoff hitter. Last year’s backup, Scott Podsednik will get a look, but the favorite is Ryan Spilborghs, who had a breakout season last year, hitting over .300 and getting quality starts in the outfield.

Prospect Dexter Fowler is a name that gets fans excited for the future, but, like Gonzalez, may be better suited starting the year in Colorado Springs until after the All-Star break.

The hot corner seems set with Atkins getting most of the starts, and Stewart, who has gold glove potential and am improving bat, filling in when Atkins shifts across the diamond to first base when veteran Todd Helton needs some rest for his ailing back, which was surgically repaired during the off season.

Troy Tulowitzki, who grabbed fans’ hearts during his rookie season, seems to be back from his sophomore slump, but we won’t know for sure until April.

Helton says he feels good, but how will his surgically-repaired back hold up 100 games into the season in the grind of the hot summer?

The Rockies signed two proven managers during the off season as manager Clint Hurtle enters 2009 in the last year of his contract. One this is for certain, fans won’t let the Rockies ownership give Hurdle an extension on Opening Day this year until he proves himself.

Will Hurdle even be manager of the club in mid-May? Or will an early losing streak promote bench coach Jim Tracy or hitting coach and former Rockies manager Don Baylor to skipper?

And of course, saving the most uncertain for last, the pitching staff. Their 2007 ace, Jeff Francis, will likely undergo season-ending surgery before the season even begins. Aaron Cook (16-9, 3.96 ERA last year) needs to prove himself again this season. With the acquisition of veteran Jason Marquis, the fellow sinkerballers could work well together. Could being a key word.

The team signed Ubaldo Jimenez to four more years last month. With the speed of an ace, the 25-year-old needs to perform consistently and work on his control. And the back-end of the rotation? It seems like the team had an open invitation to Spring Training with Greg Smith, Franklin Morales, Glendon Rusch, Jason Hirsh, Josh Fogg, Greg Reynolds, and Jorge De La Rosa all fighting for the final two spots in the starting rotation.

So the questions remain. Will Seth Smith’s lack of experience fill the shoes of an All-Star like Holliday? Can Helton return to his earlier form? 2008 was the first time in his 11 full seasons without hitting above .300 or hitting double-digit home runs. Has Tulowitzki controlled himself and developed himself into the leader and face of the franchise that he needs to be?

Catcher Chris Iannetta proved himself last year, but can he remain consistent behind the plate? And the biggest questions each year in Colorado remain with the pitching staff. Who will fill the fifth spot? Will Manny Corpas or Street close? Do the Rockies need to trade for a top-of-the-line pitcher for the second half of the season? Will the Rockies even be in contention by the second half of the season?

With the West looking mediocre at best again this year, it could be anyone’s game. If the Rockies can play consistent .500 ball, they might have a legitimate shot. Of course, that is if they can do that.

Grab your erasers because nothing is certain. The beauty of a new season, though, is that there’s always hope.