Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Breaking down Colorado

The second of our two World Series breakdowns focuses on National League champion Colorado.

OUTFIELD: Left fielder Matt Holliday had an MVP-worthy season at the plate and his defense has improved in each of his four major league seasons. Center fielder Willy Taveras seems to be over his quad injury and saved Game 2 of the NLCS with a full-extension catch of a Tony Clark liner. Taveras is a burner and, despite missing substantial time, led the majors in bunt hits. He is prone to lose focus when he has to go back on balls and make over-the-shoulder grabs. Brad Hawpe is an excellent hitter in the 6 hole and has become a solid defensive outfielder after playing mostly first base at LSU. Fourth outfielder Ryan Spilborghs is a nice asset off the bench.

INFIELD: Great gloves abound, a big part of the reason the Rockies set a major league record for fielding percentage as a team. Third baseman Garrett Atkins hit .345 after the All-Star break and drove in 100-plus runs. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies' emotional leader and surpassed the 20-home run mark as a rookie. He's a Gold Glover in training. Second baseman Kaz Matsui is a lot like Taveras -- he uses his speed as a weapon. He also came through with some big hits in the Rockies' magical run. Remember his grand slam in Game 2 of the NLDS against Philadelphia? Todd Helton has manned first base in Colorado for more than a decade and, while his numbers don't show it, has been a rock in his first postseason. He remains a slick fielder who can hurt you with a timely hit.

STARTING PITCHING: Left-hander Jeff Francis and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will start Games 1 and 2 and couldn't be more different. Francis is a thinking man's pitcher, who occasionally will hit the 90s with his fastball. Jimenez is a hard-throwing 23-year-old who lights up radar guns and has shown remarkable poise for a rookie. Josh Fogg earned the nickname "Dragon Slayer" for his propensity to beat opposing aces. He could oppose Curt Schilling or Daisuke Matsuzaka in Game 3. Lastly, Aaron Cook returns after missing two months with an injured ab muscle. Cook will need his trademark sinker working to combat Boston's lethal lineup.

BULLPEN: Colorado needed a closer after All-Star Brain Fuentes went down in July. Enter Manny Corpas. All the 24-year-old Panamanian did was go 18-for-21 in the regular season and save all three division series games. Corpas throws hard and his pitches have plenty of movement. Fuentes returned and has been a nearly flawless setup man. In front of him, Matt Herges and LaTroy Hawkins are castoffs who have made a home in Colorado and been very good while there. Jeremy Affeldt found his niche as a lefty specialst and the Rockies get 21-year-old Franklin Morales into the bullpen. Morales' fastball reaches the high 90s.

MANAGER: Much like his Boston counterpart Terry Francona, Clint Hurdle is a player's manager. He caught some flack earlier this season for not changing his lineup. Now he has his full complement of players and has hit all the right buttons this postseason.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home