Tuesday, October 16, 2007

AL Beware

In just 9 days the 2007 World Series will begin, The Colorado Rockies have punched their ticket to the Fall Classic, and wether it be Boston or Cleveland who faces them, beware. I can't say it enough, Matt Holliday is the National League MVP and no one will debate that, Clint Hurdle will be the NL Manager of the Year, and Troy Tulowitzki is hands down the NL Rookie of the Year. These are just a few of the reasons the "Rocks" have won 21 of 22 games since September 1st. While the Colorado Rockies may seem like a team of destiny and also somewhat of a gimic, make no mistake about it, this team is loaded with good young talent. With a young athletic team like Colorado you will see slow starts, losing streaks, and impatient hitters, but since September One they have done the other things young talented ball players do, hustle and win ball games, alot of them. Along with the Rockies that I already named, players like Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe, the only Rockie you probably know Todd Helton, and Eli Manning's back up at Ole' Miss Seth Smith, these Rockies are poised to take the World Series by storm. With 9 days in lingering before the world gets to see this team (due to the fact that they won 7 games in a row to prime them for the series) I figured what better time to introduce you to a few of them:

Manager: Clint Hurdle (442W-509L)

Hurdle has done a tremendous job down the stretch keeping this team level headed and showing them the ability to take each game without looking ahead. Having one of the coolest names of any major league manager, the Rockies skipper has been at the helm since 2002 and boasted the best home record of any of the Rockies past managers. Hurdle has steadily increased the clubs win totals in each of the years hes been with the team going from 67 wins in 2002 to 90 wins this past season. I really like this guy as a coach, he seems firey enough to stick up for his club, and has the ability to not be a crazy a-hole like Lou Piniella.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki

The extremely talented rookie hit 24 homeruns and drove in 99 runs to make his case for NL ROY. If the BoSox made it to the Fall Classic it'd be interesting to compare the two middle infield rookies in Tulowitzki & Boston's Dustin Pedroia. Tulowitzki's defense is vastly underrated, just last night in Game 4 of the NLCS Tulowitzki made a leaping grab on a shot that would have surely been driven through to the outfield, the grab made me drop by water all over the PS2, so it was worth mentioning. Like the rest of the Rockies team, Tulowitzki hit for average better in the second half of the season, and added six more home runs than he had in the first half, in the second half.

Right Fielder: Brad Hawpe

Hawpe is the outfielder playing opposite the NL MVP Matt Holliday, so he gets overlooked as much as Lisa Turtle did playing opposite Kelly Kapowski in Saved By The Bell. Hawpe hit .291 this season and slammed 29 home runs for the Wild Card Rockies. The 3rd year righ fielder has steadily increased his batting average twenty points each of the last three seasons, and belted in 116 runs while finishing the season with a .316 batting average in the month of September. Yet, another reason why the Rocks had one of the best months a team has had in the history of Major League Baseball.

Ballpark: Coors Field

Yes, Fenway Park & Jacobs Field clearly give significant homefield advantage, but don't count out Coors Field. No longer is Coors Field "Home Run Central" for major league hitters, after the implementation of the "humidor" designed to keep your cigars fresh and prevent them from drying up errrrrrr, wait, what? it's not that kind of humidor? Oh yes, right it was designed to maintain the balls used at Coors Field are the same size as used around the rest of the Major League. It's worked, I'm not a scientist, so blah blah blah right? That really isn't what I was thinking though, for the last two days I watched the entire games 3 & 4 and it reminded me of the Angels Championship run in 2002. Those fans had a champion for the first time, they were slamming thundersticks & rally monkeys, gave the Angels a place to play, and a rowdy one at that. The last two nights, the Rockies fans were waving white towels, and were on top of the Diamondback ballplayers. After traveling half way across the country which is what Cleveland and Boston will have to do when they get to the series, the last thing you'll want is to be listening to a deafining crowd.
Ace: Jeff Francis
So ask yourself who is the guy who defeated Phillies rookie sensation Cole Hammels, then ask yourself who is the guy who defeated Cy Young winner, Brandon Webb, his name, Jeff Francis. The Canadian Southpaw finished the season with a 17-9 record and a 4.22 era, now that's pretty impressive. What impresses me most heading into the World Series is the Rockies #1 Starter has pitched in 2 games, with a 2-0 record, allowing just 3 runs and 11 hits in 13 innings pitched. The big stage doesn't seem to affect Francis. Hammels & Webb are excellent young pitchers to duel with, but the offenses of both Cleveland & Boston will be alot larger task for Francis, and facing Cy Young Candidates Josh Beckett & C.C. Sabathia is no walk in the park.
Good Luck American League Champs!

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