No Ifs Ands or Buts

After finishing 2013 with a 74-88 record, good enough for last place, the Colorado Rockies appear ready to improve only if everything goes right, and the team stays healthy. But there is hope.

If Tulowitzki and Cargo stay healthy. Both Tulo and Cargo are MVP caliber players, both are gold glovers and both are among the best in the league at their positions.

These two players are guys that every team wishes they could have, but they both have stuggled with injuries throughout their careers. If they can remain healthy the Rockies have a chance for a winning season.

With these two anchoring a lineup that will include Wilin Rosario, Michael Cuddyer, and Justin Morneau, the Rockies are likely to score a lot of runs this season.

And De La Rosa and Chacin carry the pitching staff. Neither pitcher is ace quality but they both have had their times when they perform like one.

With Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood following them in the rotation, and Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle anchoring down the bullpen, things are looking up for Rockies pitching.

No one thinks that the Rockies will have great pitching, but they do have a chance to be average and that might be enough.

The Los Angeles Dodgers look like they have a tight grip on the NL West, but the Rockies have a chance, while it might be a slim one, to overtake them, no ifs, ands or buts about it. by David Schoenfield

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United in Orange

The Denver Broncos may have played one of the worst games in Super Bowl history, but it’s still a good time to be a Broncos fan.

The Broncos just played in the seventh Super Bowl in their history. That is only one appearance shy of tying the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most all time.

This season, Peyton Manning set records for the most passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season while helping the offense become the highest scoring team in the history of the NFL.

The loss in the Super Bowl was devastating but at least we were there and we will be back.

John Elway and company have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to free agents and the draft but Denver is still in great position to make another run.

First and foremost Peyton Manning is still in orange and blue. As long as he is able to clear his physicals this offseason, the Broncos will always have a chance.

Elway will continue to bring in top free agents and develop good young talent.

The Broncos also will have Von Miller, Ryan Clady, Chris Harris, Derek Wolfe, Rahim Moore and others back from injury. With those players back, the Broncos will improve next season.

You add all of that up, there is nothing to feel sad about. The Broncos lost the Super Bowl, but there are 30 teams in the NFL that would have killed to be in that position.

Hold your heads high Broncos fans, stay strong and stay united in orange.

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Super Bold Predictions

The football gods have smiled upon us this season. When the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks face off for the NFL championship, it will be a matchup of the league’s best defense against the best offense in the history of the game.

This is sure to be a game for the ages. In every aspect of this game it will be strength versus strength.

The Broncos boast the best passing offense while the Seahawks counter with the best passing defense.

The Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch ready to go beastmode against a Broncos defense that has allowed only one 100 yard rusher all season.

Peyton Manning is looking to cement his legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time while Richard Sherman is looking to end the debate over who is the best cornerback.

With all of those stories sure to make this game one for the ages, it’s time for me to make some bold predictions.

Peyton Manning will finish this season with a bang.

Manning has been playing like a man possessed this year, having statistically the best single season ever for a quarterback.

Seattle has an incredible defense that matches up reasonably well against the juggernaut that is the Broncos offense but even this great defense won’t be able to slow them down.

Even if Richard Sherman manages to shut down Demaryius Thomas and Byron Maxwell can stop Eric Decker, there are still far too many weapons for the Broncos.

With their first two options out of the game, the Broncos would be forced to rely on Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Knowshon Moreno.

The Broncos have five pro bowl caliber options for Peyton Manning to choose from. No matter how good Richard Sherman thinks that he is, he can’t stop everyone.

The Prediction: Manning will throw for over 300 yards and 3 TDs on Sunday.

Someone will go beast mode and it won’t be Marshawn Lynch.

The Broncos run defense has been dominant all season only allowing one person to go over 100 yards on them (Ryan Matthews).

This trend will continue on Sunday when the Broncos will load up the box and dare Russell Wilson to beat them through the air.

Terrance Knighton will continue to be a dominant force up the middle and will help to bottle up Lynch and keep him to under 100 yards.

Meanwhile Knowshon Moreno will be able to run all over the field as Seattle has to focus on stopping Manning and company.

Moreno very quietly put up solid numbers this season in a pass happy offense, rushing for over 1,000 yards and a solid 4.3 yards per carry.

The Prediction: Moreno will rush for over 150 yards while Lynch only manages 50.

Champ Bailey seizes the moment.

Bailey has been one of the best cornerbacks in the game over the past 14 seasons and is arguably the best that has ever played the game (Deion Sanders might have him beat).

But this season has been a bit of a lost cause for him as he only played in five games and didn’t make much of a contribution.

That will change on Super Bowl Sunday. Champ will give this game everything that he has left and will be the impact player that Broncos fans are used to seeing.

Bailey has never made it to a Super Bowl in his long and storied career and now he finally has a chance, I do not see him letting that go to waste.

The Prediction: Champ Bailey will have an interception while Richard Sherman does not.

The Broncos ride off into the sunset as champions.

The Broncos simply have too many weapons. Even a great defense like the Seahawks just cannot matchup against them.

The emotional edge also sits with the Broncos. As the Ravens rode the emotion of Ray Lewis last season, the Broncos will play that much harder to get rings for Manning and Bailey.

The Seahawks will struggle to run against a stout Broncos defensive line and fast linebackers.

This will force Wilson to throw against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey. This will prove to be too much for Seattle’s offense to overcome.

The Seattle Seahawks will have their day, it is just not this day. This day is for Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos.

The Prediction: The Denver Broncos will defeat the Seattle Seahawks 34-17 in Super Bowl XLVIII.

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An Attitude of Ineptitude

Before I begin, I would like to congratulate the Denver Broncos on making it all the way to the Super Bowl. The Broncos have become the model for winning in Denver.

It’s too bad that the Rockies can’t learn from their success. They continue to show their incompetence and this winter has been no exception.

The Rockies have made few moves this winter but the ones that they did make you scratch your head.

First they went and traded Dexter Fowler for essentially nothing. While Fowler was inconsistent, he was just starting to show some consistency. He was worth more than what they got.

To replace an old and over-the-hill Todd Helton, they went and signed an old and over-the-hill Justin Morneau. At least they are consistent.

Then there’s the rotation.

Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio are all the projected starters for what should be another below average group of starting pitchers.

De La Rosa and Chacin have showed that they can start at the major league level but neither is a genuine ace or even can be questioned as number two starters.

The other three are all big question marks. Anderson has had injuries every season since his rookie year. Over the past two seasons he has only made 12 starts and missed a whole season before that because of Tommy John surgery.

Chatwood had a good season last year but the question now is whether or not he can adjust after hitters have had a season to adjust and to figure him out.

Nicasio is easily the biggest issue. Last season he went 9-9 and posted a solid 5.14 ERA. Gotta love a guy with an average fastball and nothing else.

The Rockies figure to have an above average lineup to go with one of the worst rotations in baseball. This is the model that they have been using since their inception. I guess you know what they say, “If it’s broke don’t fix it.” At least I think that’s how it goes…

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New Nuggets, Smoother than Carmel-o

Carmelo Anthony. A name that is familiar to most anyone that follows the NBA. A name that is even more familiar to Denver Nuggets fans. In 8 seasons with the Nuggets, Anthony averaged 24.9 points per game (including the first half of 2010-2011). During his time in Denver he became renowned as one of the best scorers in the league and one of the best closers in the game. A star had been born in the Mile High City and life was great… or so we thought. At the beginning of 2010, ‘Melo told the Nuggets that he wanted to play in New York and that he would likely decline a contract extension. This was bad news for the entire city of Denver. The star forward out of Syracuse, the guy who had led the Nuggets to their first Western Conference Final since the ol’ Alex English days in the 84-85 season, the man who resurrected a team, was leaving. Whether the Nuggets liked it or not, he was leaving. Just like LeBron James left the Cleveland, Anthony soon would leave Denver.

In response to this announcement, the Nuggets hired a new General Manager, Masai Ujiri. Ujiri is definitely not a household name but what he did next might be one of the best trades in NBA history. On February 21, 2011, The Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors‘ 2012 second-round draft pick, the Warriors’ 2013 second-round draft pick, and $3 millon in cash. If you are anything like me you thought, “Holy cannoli! That is a large price for the Knicks to pay for one guy!” Though I was sad to see Carmelo go, I did not have the apocalyptic outlook that I expected myself to have. The Nuggets had just received several quality players from the Knicks, along with 3 draft picks and cash for one incredible player, and it has paid off.

This season the Nuggets are 5-2 and are playing remarkably. They have key wins against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Utah Jazz. They have also beaten the Milwaukee and Sacramento and have only lost to The Lakers and the Trail Blazers. The Nuggets 5 wins have come by an average of 16 points and their two losses have come by and average of 6. The best part of how the Nuggets are winning is the fact that they are winning as a team from top to bottom. Denver is averaging 45 ppg from their bench with 62 in their most recent game against the Kings! A case could be made that the Nuggets are the most talented roster as a whole. I know that on any given night the Nuggets do not have the most talented single player on the court, but they have the most talented unit. Against the Kings, every active Nugget (Nene had a foot injury) played and played well. Everyone scored a minimum of 6 points and everyone except for Arron Afflalo had at least one rebound.

The thing that the Nuggets do well is they play as a team. The Nuggets operate as a single cohesive unit that if broken into its parts would be nothing special, but as a team they become something more, they become great. The lack of a star player has actually helped the Nuggets become successful. They no longer have to worry about getting one guy a certain number of touches every game, all that they have to worry about is winning and that is what matters. On any given night, any given Nugget can be the star, whether it be point guard Ty Lawson, center Nene, or shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, the Nuggets simply find a way to win day in and day out. The lack of a star player also helps by making it harder for the opposing team to defend one player. When the Nuggets had Carmelo, opponents would simply put their best defender on him and often double team him; without ‘Melo, who are teams supposed have their defensive specialist guard? Lawson? Gallinari? The fact is there isn’t one single player to defend, the opposing team has to defend 5 players on every possession instead of focusing on one.

The Nuggets are young, athletic and a refreshing team to watch. For those of us who believe that the NBA style isn’t basketball as it should be, have been able to find relief in Denver. If you despise watching a team take the ball down the court only to turn it over because they are looking for the star player, then the Nuggets are the team for you. They actually pass! This has become a bit of a lost art in the NBA, with a few exceptions (Steve Nash, and Chris Paul). The Nuggets carry the ball down the court and find the open guy no matter who it is. This might sound like common sense but too often in the NBA do you see someone pass up an opportunity to give the ball to someone open, only to take a wild and contested shot.

The Denver Nuggets of 2012 are as cool, crisp and refreshing as the Rocky Mountains. With their combination of youth, athleticism, size and unselfish attitudes, the Nuggets will be a contender for the Western Conference crown for years to come.

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The Cloud of O’dowd

In a world filled with Tebowmania, a much more pressing issue has been haunting my mind. While most others do not know about it, I have been keeping close watch on another Denver area sports team.

For most of my life, being a Colorado Rockies fan has been, well… painful. Sure we have had the few bright seasons (1995, 2007, 2009), but aside from that, the Rockies have been anything but a contender. But in 2010, the team finally had a legitimate ace for the first time. Ubaldo Jimenez went 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA in the first half and became the first Rockies pitcher to start an all-star game. However, his second half was much less spectacular going 4-7 with a 3.80 ERA. Jimenez ended the season with a 19-8 record with a 2.88 ERA as the Rockies missed the postseason. Now, obviously you can’t expect him to have the same incredible numbers as his first half, that would be ridiculous, but you do expect him to do a little better than 4-7.

Then came the 2010-2011 off-season, one in which Jimenez was reported to have spent most of his time traveling instead of working out and trying to get better. I understand that the off-season is his time to do with whatever he pleases, but you cannot spend the entire time doing things that aren’t baseball related. Jimenez went 4-8 and had a 4.14 ERA in the first half of 2011, not exactly the all-star performance of a year before. Soon thereafter, Jimenez was traded to the Cleveland Indians for top pitching prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, as well as pitcher Joe Gardner and utilityman Matt McBride. At the time of the trade I was infuriated that the Rockies would give up the best pitcher in Rockies history, but as time passed I realized that O’dowd might have known what he was doing. Jimenez struggled at first in Cleveland and the Rockies seemed to bond together and play well for a time. But let us step back and review what the Rockies got in return.

  • Alex White– The most MLB ready of the three pitchers. A 23 year old righty with a good hard sinker that would work well in Coors Field. White also has a plus splitter and an improving slider. He went 3-4 with a 7.01 ERA in 2011.
  • Drew Pomeranz– The “gem” of the trade, has a fastball that tops out around 95 and a very good knucklecurve. He is projected as a 1-2 starter and is working on a changeup to compliment his fastball. He went 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 2011.
  • Joe Gardner– A big, strong pitcher who relies on a very good sinker. He has an average slider and changeup that he only uses to keep hitters honest. He wend 3-3 with a 2.48 ERA with AA Tulsa in 2011.
  • Matt McBride– A utilityman that has good potential at the plate. He has a good eye and makes contact well. A below average defender but who hits very well. He hit .277 with 58 RBI at the AAA level last year.

Overall, the Rockies look to have gotten a good deal out of this trade. White and Gardner both are the type of pitchers that tend to be able to succeed at Coors Field. McBride looks to be a decent hitter who could have much success in the open spaces in Denver. Pomeranz is the most important part of this trade though. He is the only one of the pitchers who looks to have the stuff that could make him the ace of a staff.

After I had reviewed these numbers I became a believer in Dan O’dowd (The Rockies executive VP, and Chief Baseball Officer/General Manager) but recently the tide has turned the other way. O’dowd has recently traded Huston Street, Ty Wigginton, and Ian Stewart. Granted, none of these players are anything special but let’s look at what the Rockies got for each.

  • For Huston Street the Rockies received cash and a player to be named later.
  • For Ty Wigginton the Rockies received cash and a player to be named later.
  • For Ian Stewart the Rockies received Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu.

So let me get this straight, Huston Street, a guy who had 29 saves in 33 chances last year, was essentially worth cash to the Rockies? Ty Wigginton, who started the majority of the Rockies games at 3rd base and batted .242 with 47 RBI and 15 HR, was worth cash as well? And finally Ian Stewart, a career .236 batter and a plus defender at 3rd with potential to become a decent hitter, was traded for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu? While Stewart definitely had not played up to his potential as a Rockie, I still am baffled at the trade. Colvin is a left fielder with a career .215 batting average. The Rockies now have an even more crowded situation in left with Seth Smith, Ryan Spilborghs, Charlie Blackmon and now Colvin. LeMahieu is a second basemen with a career .250 batting average. While the Rockies need a second baseman, Eric Young Jr. and Jonathan Herrera have similar stats and Young can light it up on the base paths. So the Rockies have traded three players this offseason in return for come cash and a couple of guys that aren’t even going to help.

I simply do not understand why these moves have been made. As I explained at the beginning I believe that the Jimenez trade was necessary and it was superbly done, but the latter three trades that I have stated simply do not make sense. Street was an above average closer for the Rockies and while he did not have the demeanor or the pitches that would simply intimidate opponents, but he got the job done. Wigginton and Stewart were nothing great or even good at third but Wigginton has a good eye at the plate and is a very professional hitter who has had success in the past. Stewart is a guy who has potential, talent, and can play great defense, but has been inconsistent in his career and has fallen short of expectations at every turn. However, Street, Wigginton, and Stewart are all better players than what the Rockies got in return.

Another trade that the Rockies have made was for Starting pitcher Kevin Slowey. The Rockies need starting pitching as much as anyone but not this kind of pitching. They have plenty of middle to back end of the rotation talent and now they just added yet another back end guy. Slowey was 0-8 last season with a 6.67 ERA, not exactly the kind of guy I would want on my team.

I understand that it is important to stockpile talent at the lower levels, but this is not the way that it should be done. If there are guys out there that improve the quality of talent, then you should go get them, but you should not trade the guys that you have for players that are less talented or less skilled. I do not have all of the inside information that Dan O’dowd does, but from this fan’s perspective the Rockies are simply not making the right moves.

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