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Advantage, Rockies?

First, I'm interested in how many folks watched this game last night. I have this feeling that the NLCS could be pretty intriguing, and that some future stars could be discovered here. Take Jeff Francis last night. The guy's not overpowering, but as Colorado Manager Clint Hurdle said, "He's got a pretty slow heartbeat out there." He beat Brandon Webb. That's good enough for me.

But is anyone else interested?

Second, I think some juice entered the series when Justin Upton slid hard into Kaz Matsui at second base in the second inning. Therefore, that's primarily what I wrote about in this morning's gamer. I can't overstate how unengaged the crowd seemed before that moment. They said this was a sellout, and that might be the case. But there were several thousand seats empty at first pitch - in banks in the upper deck. The problem with the atmosphere, I think, stemmed from the fact that the Diamondbacks seemed to treat this as a regular season game. They ran the same old promotions with the same old tired act - their version of Clint, which is Mike and Vanessa. Not very postseason-like, to be honest.

Anyway, the crowd obviously got into it. Perhaps not in the right way, but they got into it.

That said, I couldn't be more impressed with the Rockies at this point. I've seen all four of their playoff games - all wins, naturally - and they really have things covered. I mean, let's go through things position-by-position in this one.

Catcher - Chris Snyder (Ariz.) vs. Yorvit Torrealba (Col.). I've been totally impressed with the quality of Torrealba's at-bats in the postseason, though his numbers (.255/.323/.376) are unimpressive. Snyder's are a bit better (.252/.342/.433). So I'll give the D'Backs one here. Advantage, AZ

First base -- Conor Jackson (Ariz.) vs. Todd Helton (Col.). I know he's older and slowing down, but it's easy to take Helton (.320/.434/.494) over Jackson (.284/.368/.467). Advantage, COL

Second base - Augie Ojeda (Ariz.) vs. Kaz Matsui (Col.). If Orlando Hudson was healthy, I'd say something completely different. But he's not. Advantage, COL

Third base - Mark Reynolds (Ariz.) vs. Garrett Atkins (Col.). Not close. Advantage, COL

Shortstop - Stephen Drew (Ariz.) vs. Troy Tulowitzki (Col.). Drew is full of potential. Tulowitzki is already realizing his. Advantage, COL

Left field - Eric Byrnes (Ariz.) vs. Matt Holliday (Col.). There's no doubting Byrnes's importance to the Diamondbacks. But would he even start for Colorado? Holliday is the likely MVP in the NL. A no-brainer. Advantage, COL

Center field - Chris Young (Ariz.) vs. Willy Taveras (Col.). All those bunt base hits and stolen bases make Taveras a dangerous player, but I can't get away from the idea that Young can have a larger impact with one swing of the bat. He nearly hit the first pitch he saw out of the park tonight. Advantage, AZ

Right field - Justin Upton (Ariz.) vs. Brad Hawpe (Col.). Anyone starting a team would take Upton, who will be a star. But check out Hawpe's key at-bat Thursday night (the two-run single in the third against Webb). And consider that Hawpe, the Rockies' sixth-place hitter, hit .291 with 29 homers and 116 RBI this year. Again, no-brainer. Advantage, COL

Rotation - Webb, Doug Davis, Livan Hernandez, Micah Owings (Ariz.) vs. Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Fogg, Franklin Morales (Col.). A toss-up, really. I can't escape the idea that Fogg is not suited for the postseason and Morales has nine big-league starts, so maybe I'll go with the D'Backs. Advantage, AZ

Bullpen - Again, I've seen the Rockies more, but I've been really impressed with the back end. Nothing against Tony Pena/Brandon Lyon/Jose Valverde, but right now, I think I'd take Brian Fuentes/Manny Corpas. That's just me. Advantage, COL

You can see who I expect to win this series. But it still could go a bunch of games. I suppose, of course, that would involve the Rockies losing at some point, which I'm not sure will ever happen, but whatever.

The ALCS begins tonight, and Sheinin had this preview on the power arms involved. He'll have the gamer from Boston tonight, and I'll have the late, late, late night game from Phoenix. (Possibly an online only special. Love those.)

I'm headed to see your Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League on Friday, and I'll give you any pertinent updates that I get there, though I'll likely save most of it for a story in the $.35 edition. Get ready for Friday's doubleheader. Should be fun.


By Barry Svrluga  |  October 12, 2007; 2:46 AM ET
 
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Next: Hill's second surgery; two more outrighted

Comments

RE: the last thread: Yeah, I've done more than my share of Ponce, both as a player and as an umpire.

Posted by: Catcher50 | October 12, 2007 6:32 AM | Report abuse

I watched some of it. I think I'm more interested in how the Peoria Javelinas do, though.

Surely Mike and Vanessa have to be a million times better than Clint? They really can't be worse.

Posted by: DC Sports Chick | October 12, 2007 6:36 AM | Report abuse

So much for my enthusiasm over the 8:30 start time. I fell asleep in the 7th inning.

Posted by: misschatter | October 12, 2007 6:41 AM | Report abuse

The Rockies have been fun to watch over the past month. They seem to be a team in the true sense of the word and are probably only going to get better in future years as Morales, Francis and Jimenez mature. I've been particularly impressed with how Matsui has become the type of player many thought he'd be when he came to the Mets from Japan. He's got great speed, he seems to come up with clutch hits very often and he's much better defensively in Colorado than I remember him being in NY.

Posted by: Hondo Lives | October 12, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

As a National League fan, I find the whole "does anybody care about this" media angle pretty insulting. (Not suggesting that Barry is inappropriate in asking the question, because the whole 'who cares' angle is pretty much throughout the entire media covering this series.) I know these guys, and I'm interested in this series. I think the Rockies are a pretty amazing story, and I think both teams give us Nats fans some comfort.

Watched most of it, but like most playoff games, the start time is too late for me to be able to make it through and be lucid at work today. I'm planning to watch the 10 pm game tonight though (although not the American League game because of Caps/Rangers.)

Posted by: Ray | October 12, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Two Nats questions:

Is Manny Acta's Spanish language coverage available locally?

What does the outrighting of six players mean? I don't remember this being done in the past. My hope is that they are clearing space for some trades and free agents (i.e. Adam Dunn!)

Posted by: Ray | October 12, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

5th for me...

I fell asleep in the 7th inning.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Actually, make that the 6th for me, but who's counting...

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Not that I'm not interested in the games, because I am. It's more a matter of my sleep habits (i.e., early drooling tendencies) conflicting with the later start times.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Watched the whole thing. Up at 6:00 for work by 7:00 today has me a little beat, but come on folks, this is October baseball!
-HJMcK

Posted by: HJMcK | October 12, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? Of course I'm interested. The difference is that I'm now I just try and catch whatever bits and pieces I can while I'm going about my other business, as opposed to putting my life on hold for the Nats games.

And I might add that you, Barry, and Dave are doing a really great job of sparking anticipation and excitement. I read Sheinin's piece on the ALCS this morning and by the time I finished the article I was AMPED!

Posted by: NatsNut | October 12, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I am interested but can't say I watched the whole thing. I turned it off after the AZ bases loaded threat ended in the 7th(?).

I found it interesting that Barry referred to Matt Holiday as the "likely MVP in the NL". I've heard his name in most corners as a candidate but usually as the runner-up to Jimmy Rollins. Post season isn't supposed to have any impact on MVP voting but when does voting actually take place? Are the votes cast prior to the playoffs beginning? If not, how as a voter, to you separate what occurred in the post season from your evaluation process?

Might popular sentiment still be leaning towards Rollins had the Phils advanced to the LCS?

Posted by: MKevin | October 12, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I watched the end of the game last night. A JV football game kept me away from the early innings but I stayed up and watched the end. Honesty compels me to admit however that I was on my way to bed until the Upton play and Arizona loaded the bases in the seventh.

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | October 12, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

MKevin: Barry told us right after 9/30 that the votes were already cast.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 12, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Yes, he did, in response to a question from me. Just proves that great minds think alike, MKevin!

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Ahh... thanks! Still the first time I've heard Holiday referred to as the likely winner.

===============

MKevin: Barry told us right after 9/30 that the votes were already cast.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 12, 2007 09:34 AM

Posted by: MKevin | October 12, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Think alike maybe but it certainly appears one moves much faster than the other... by two weeks at least :-)

==================

Just proves that great minds think alike, MKevin!

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 09:45 AM

Posted by: MKevin | October 12, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I was playing softball last night and didn't get to the bar until after the ridiculous cup-throwing incident in the 7th (how idiotic are the Arizona fans?!).

Can someone please explain to me why MLB doesn't start the pre-game at 7:30 (instead of 8:00), then have the first pitch at 8:07 (instead of 8:37)? They'd be surprised how many more people would stay up to watch the rest of the game if they did it that way.

And does anyone even WATCH the pre-game? BORING!

Posted by: e | October 12, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I made it through to the 8th, but konked out after that. That said, I'm very interested in this NLCS and think the Rox are an exciting team. I'd personally like to see them take it all.

However, I watch Hawaiian League baseball in the offseason and will sit and watch strangers play softball on the Mall, so I don't think I'm representative of the average baseball fan. In fact, I don't think anyone interested enough to post a comment on the NJ is representative of the average baseball fan. We're the diehards. I doubt many casual baseball fans east of the Mississippi watched a single inning of last night's game.

Posted by: Dupont | October 12, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I think any true baseball fan is a fan of October baseball regardless of who's playing. But do you lose market share when both teams are out left in smaller cities and with start times that prevent many of us from making it through the 7th? You betcha.

The Rockies clearly have the superior lineup. For me, the issue is whether their non-Francis starters are ready for prime time. Barry points out that Morales (who is 21) has only made 9 MLB starts. Jimenez (23) has only made 15. How will these guys handle the spotlight? The good news for them is that the D-Backs are young too, and might not take advantage of inexperienced pitchers the way a veteran team might. I thought the Rockies had the inside track last night behind their ace. But let's see if Arizona's bats can get to the next three Rockies starters.

In Nats News, the Javelinas pricked the Saguaros yesterday, 14-2. Unfortunately our Nats had little to do with it as Casto went 1-5 (though he scored twice) and J-Max went 0-6 with two Ks. Enjoy the game today Barry!

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 12, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Please elaborate on the how's and when's of watching Hawaiian League baseball. As you mentioned, I'm sure there'd be more than a couple of us here who would be interested.

===============

However, I watch Hawaiian League baseball in the offseason...

Posted by: Dupont | October 12, 2007 10:31 AM

Posted by: MKevin | October 12, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

J-Max has had a rough start to the AFL season. 1 for 14 (1B), 5K, .071 BA. Only 3 games so it's a long way from a representative sample, but I'm sure it's not the start he wanted.

Posted by: MKevin | October 12, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I saw the Rockies in June in Denver and was surprised how unified and solid they were as a team. So their incredible September was very exciting. (Note that their fans were completely quiet for that whole game. My husband and I stood up to cheer a good play, and someone in our group said, Why are you cheering, you're not even from here. I replied, Somebody ought to. Then Jamey Carroll got the walkoff RBI and finally the stands erupted.) (The last time before that I attended a game the Nats weren't in was at Fenway in 2004...so my money's on the Rockies taking it all.)

Got home during the 6th last night and stayed up for the rest. Great game for the Rox. Arizona just didn't look like an October team.

Can't stay up that late tonight, unfortunately.

Posted by: rallycap | October 12, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Why the NJ baseball geeks love Barry:

He's at his computer AFTER the game at 3am on his hometown clock writing a detailed analysis of the series between two teams he doesn't cover. Can I just say, if he wasn't a writer, he would be posting on this blog w/ us other nerds?

Of course I care about his series! But agree w/ the others that we are not representative. I lasted until the 6th so just missed the big slide. My wife turned it off and I mumbled, "a;lksafaddf" which meant, "hey I was watching that". She just laughed at me and went to bed. Tonight I will watch the whole thing.

Looking forward to hearing about the AZ league games. And one last Barry plug, how about our guy doing a double header in Oct?? Give that man a raise. Just double your regular NJ salary.

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | October 12, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Watched the game through the 8th. The Rockies seem like they're on a mission from God (to borrow from The Blues Brothers).

With all these young, home grown teams, wonder what this says about the Nats? Do we have to wait as long as the Rockies did before having a competitive team? If so, then its going to be a long wait.

Posted by: Ashburn | October 12, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

You may see the occasional player help the Nationals in the near term (next year or two), but to get to a level of the Rockies (and for that matter the Diamondbacks) it's going to take time/patience. Not every player drafted or signed is going to devlop. In fact, the majority will never make it (as is the case with any organization).

Posted by: Brian | October 12, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Ashburn, the Rockies, like the D-Backs, should actually make you feel as though the Nats are closer to the playoffs than we might have expected. Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales and Manny Corpas all represent relatively young homegrown talent that suddenly put it all together this year.

In other words, "we need more Zimmermans," young guys that are complete players and can play in the majors at 21, 22, 23 and compete for championships at 24, 25, 26.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 12, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Just read that Tony Batista and D'Angelo Jimenez have been outrighted as well. We'll see if they get cliamed by someone.

This leaves 32 on the 40 man roster (with 5 still on the DL).

Now if they'd only outright Langerhans and Traber and Fick ...

Posted by: e | October 12, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Nationals today outrighted infielders Tony Batista and D'Angelo Jimenez to Columbus of the Triple-A International League. Nationals Vice President and General Manager Jim Bowden made the announcement.
This now puts the Nationals at 32/40 on their 40-man roster with five players still on the 60-day DL.

Additionally ...

Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Shawn Hill had successful surgery performed on his non-throwing shoulder by Dr. James Andrews on Thursday in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Andrews repaired a partially-torn labrum in Hill's left shoulder, an injury sustained on April 20 at Florida while diving back into third base. Hill is slated to begin a throwing program in two months and is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Posted by: G-town | October 12, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I care very much about the NLCS, but I'm not making any promises to watch it. I'll put it on while I do laundry or keep an eye on the score on my laptop while I watch a movie or play Halo, but I can't get as enthusiastic as I do about my team, unfortunately.

I'm pulling for a Rockies-Indians series. It would be great to see Fall Magic verse Well-built Machine. I'm a bit more ambivalent about Arizona. That would be a case of cheering for Livo. As for the Yankees (North)... well, that's how I feel about them.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 12, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else see Torii Hunters line in the ALCS pre-view piece that facing Carmona is like "batting drunk"?

I still thonk he is too old for our CF plan, but the more I see and here about him the more I want him in our clubhouse.

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Of course I'm interested, as are all the baseball nuts posting here. And although it's inconvenient for me, I think the later start times are ok - baseball is a regional game, with fans following their local teams. So let the westerners have prime time. No matter the start time, I doubt it would be an eastern ratings bonanza. I bet the 5:30 start time to compromise wiht the eastern time zone kept attendance down in AZ.

Posted by: Geezer | October 12, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The only workable alternative to the current start times would be to have the leagues split East vs West like the NBA, and that would be a far worse alternative to my being a zombie today at work...

Posted by: estuartj | October 12, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes I am watching, cheering for the Rockies, and stayed up for the whole thing. Am I the only one who doesn't think 11:30 is that late? The last out was, to me, the epitome of the whole evening for the Dbacks. With two out they smack a double to left only to have the runner slide way past the bag at 2nd and get tagged out. Such a lame way to end a playoff game.

By the way, as a native Californian, I find all this speculation as to whether anyone cares about West Coast teams very weird

Posted by: JennX | October 12, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"Am I the only one who doesn't think 11:30 is that late? "

Crazy kids with your skateboards and your MTV...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 12, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

New post -- Barry's on a roll...

I'm rooting for the Rockies, too. Love the Mission from God comment!

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 12, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Mike Greenberg (of ESPN's Mike & Mike) has proposed solving this problem by doing away with the time zones and meeting in the middle.

I guess this means that games could all start at 7:05, which would be the same time throughout the US, but that the "new 7:05" would be what is now 8:35 on the East Coast and 5:35 on the West Coast.

Posted by: Bob O'Clock | October 12, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Watched it all (though I had to fight the nodding off), and I will watch tonight's 10:15pm tilt.

Thanks, St. Barry, for giving us the Byrnes feature, albeit intertwined with the Tribe, Hart, O'Dowd, and Shapiro. Great read, though Emilio needs to free up some more inches for you.

Posted by: WebberDC | October 12, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

i watched last night's game until the very end. colorado played very solidly, and of the two teams, seem to possess more depth, pitching notwithstanding. i'm not sure there is an easy out in that lineup. i love the fact that they won last night's game without an extra base hit. at this point, having dropped a game at home with their ace on the mound, i have to think that the diamondbacks are at a decided disadvantage, but there is still plenty of baseball left to play.

regarding an earlier post on kaz matsui, it's good to see him playing well. he brings good hands (terrific pivot on one of those double plays last night), speed on the basepaths, and a pretty good contact bat to the lineup. i think that new york made a mistake by trying initially to play him at short, and when he stumbled at the outset, the fans never warmed to him.

anyway, i'm sure that far more people will tune in to the boston-cleveland game tonight (hard not to find the beckett-sabathia match up compelling), but the rockies are playing the game the way it's supposed to be played right now. it would be a shame for that to go unnoticed.

Posted by: blueson | October 12, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Watched it all, thinking much of the time "How can you NOT want to see this?" The play Ojeda made on Francis's ground ball in the hole, esp. the throw -- that's great baseball. Matsui getting creamed on the dp he turned beautifully anyway in the (3rd?), and then staying the [RF] away from Upton, and getting creamed anyway -- not pretty, but that's baseball, too. These guys are good. Of course I want to see it.
(and maybe we should let Secretariat rest in peace. Just sayin.)

As for The BOB (before renaming) crowd, that place seems like the world's largest elevator, everytime I'm there. It's like they don't know anyone else is in the park, and they think you're going to steal their wallet if you make eye contact.

And what's with all the passed balls last night? Snyder must have had 3 from what I saw, and Torrealba had a couple, too, if memory serves.

Posted by: c!evans | October 12, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Missed the first half of the game, but got to watch the end. My father-in-law predicts it will be Clev. vs. Rockies for the WS - the most un-watched WS in history.

Posted by: Patty | October 12, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

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