Tag Archives: Colorado Rockies

My National League West prediction for the 2012 season

With a heaping helping of faith and wishful thinking, I’m picking the San Francisco Giants to win the National League West this year. Even as I typed that sentence, the nagging voice in my head was saying, “What about the Diamondbacks?”

The pick comes down to arms versus bats, and the Giants have the better pitching. But I have my doubts about the San Francisco staff this year. I don’t think Tim Lincecum is a lock to have another dominating season, and I fret about closer Brian Wilson’s health.

On offense, the Giants should be more productive this year. That’s predicated on the iffy proposition that Buster Posey regains most of his 2010 form, Brandon Belt proves he can hit as a starting first baseman, and Melky Cabrera approximates his 2011 numbers.

I put the Diamondbacks a close second and the Rockies hard on their heels in third, with the Dodgers and Padres trailing.

That analysis and $1.35 will get you a tall Pike Place Roast at Starbucks.

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After the first full week of play, some startling names atop the baseball standings

As I write this post, the Yankees and Red Sox (again!) are playing on the Sunday night telecast. If the Yankees win, they’ll manage a tie in first place of the American League East not with the Sox but with the Baltimore Orioles.

Whoa.

And check the AL Central standings. The Indians, who (be honest) most people on the planet expected to have a wretched year even by Cleveland standards, are on top.

No surprise in the AL West, where the Rangers have revived themselves and have raced to an 8-1 start.

Over in the National League, it’s not a big surprise that Philadelphia is leading the East. But Atlanta in the cellar? That’s a surprise. And so, frankly, is the Pirates’ .500 record in the NL Central.

Out west, the Rockies are out front and the defending champion Giants are in last place. Neither surprises me much, especially with San Francisco missing Cody Ross, who propelled their playoff offense last fall, and closer Brian Wilson off his game.

I’m glad some of the divisions are mixed up and confounding the experts. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Orioles take the AL East?

Gaining a new appreciation for the cactus in Cactus League

A family matter brought my wife and me to Tucson for a few days, the closest I’ve ever gotten to Spring Training in Arizona. While time did not permit us to travel north to the Phoenix area where the major league teams are training, I was able to stop by briefly at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, where the Cleveland Indians trained many years during my youth.

In this photo taken outside the park Tuesday, I’m wearing my San Francisco Giants 2010 world champions cap and a Tim Lincecum T-shirt. I’d put them on not knowing I’d be at the park, but it worked out well for the photo – a little dig at the Giants’ National League West rivals, the Colorado Rockies. They trained in Tucson until moving to new Phoenix facilities this spring.

Later in the day, we took a drive west of town into Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountain Park. It was in the latter that I had a close encounter with some “jumping” cholla cactus pods that attached themselves to my jeans. I used my iPhone to brush the first one off but the cactus dug its hooks into the index finger of my left hand. Others stuck into my left leg. I’ll spare you the details of removing them, but tweezers were involved.

I’m grateful my pitching hand wasn’t affected!

Jason Giambi keeps hanging in there

Like the drips falling off icicles on the eaves, baseball news comes in slowly but steadily during the month of January. I just did a quick check of the latest deals on MLB.com and chuckled when I read that the Rockies have reached a minor league deal with Jason Giambi.

If Giambi finds a way to make the Colorado roster, it will be his 17th year in the big leagues – remarkable longevity for the slugging former American League MVP.

I got to watch Giambi play in his prime with the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees. He just marked his 40th birthday, and I’ve got to admire his tenacity — especially since he’s in the National League and not hanging on as a designated hitter in the AL.

Here’s hoping Jason stays healthy and makes the cut when Colorado breaks camp.

Does the term ‘pennant race’ mean anything any more?

“Pennant race” conjures images of clutch hits, great catches, overpowering pitching and long shadows slanting across the diamond. But with baseball’s division structure, there isn’t a true pennant race left.

Right now, the team I follow — the San Francisco Giants — has a slim lead over San Diego and Colorado in the National League West. The Yankees and Rays are locked in a tight battle in the American League East.

To me, the pennant represents the league championship, rooted in the pre-playoff American and National leagues when eight or 10 teams vied for the title and the right to play in the World Series. So it was in 1909 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as illustrated above.

In a diluted way, today’s races for the division championship and even the wild card playoff spots are a part of the pennant chase.

So I’ll do my best to cast off my curmudgeonly traditionalist attitude and accept that even a team in the hunt for the wild card is in a “pennant race.”

I don’t want to burst anyone’s gonfalon balloon.

MLB Independence Day ball caps are looking good

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For the Independence Day weekend, Major League baseball players are wearing patriotic caps. I think the red bills with white crowns look good, and from the highlights I saw last evening think they go better with most uniforms than previous models. The caps that were used in 2009 were heavy on the red. The new version is more understated and more likely to complement than clash.

Here’s a photo of the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum grinning as he walks off the mound. Lincecum, who got pounded by the Rockies in Denver last night, hasn’t had much to smile about lately. The dominating starts that characterized his first two full seasons and the early part of this season have mysteriously stopped. The Giants, in a horrid slump, fell to Colorado last night for their seventh consecutive loss.

Today, they face Ubaldo Jimenez — who has pushed aside Lincecum as the best pitcher in the National League and, perhaps, all of baseball.

A crazy day for baseball!

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Here it is, nearing the end of Week 2 of the Major League Baseball season and I’ve yet to post on anything. This is a good day on which to break my silence. Ubaldo Jimenez (shown in a photo from earlier this season) no-hit the Atlanta Braves, and as I write this the Mets and Cardinals are still battling in the 19th inning in St. Louis. And in Pittsburgh, my daughter took my infant granddaughter to her first baseball game as the Pirates came from behind to defeat the Reds 5-4 in the ninth inning.

Whew!

A side note: In 2005, Jimenez spent the first half of 2005 playing for the Class A Modesto Nuts. I saw him pitch at least once, and he’s the first minor-leaguer I can recall seeing who has gone on to do something outstanding in the majors. So did Jimenez make The Modesto Bee all-decade team? No.