Restoring the rosters: No. 7 – Colorado

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
The Rockies’ presence in the top 10 may surprise many, but they boast one of the deepest lineups of any team and an underrated starting rotation. If only they could do something about the pen.
Rotation
Aaron Cook
Ubaldo Jimenez
Jeff Francis
Jake Westbrook
Franklin Morales
Bullpen
Manuel Corpas
Mark DiFelice
Jamey Wright
Jason Jennings
Sean Green
Matt Daley
Jhoulys Chacin
Cook and Jimenez are both legitimate No. 2 starters, with Jimenez potentially on his way to being something more, and Francis could again jump into the same boat if he’s able to get healthy. Mix in a strong innings-eater like Westbrook and a still promising youngster in Morales and it’s a fine group. The problem is depth. Only untested prospects like Chacin and Christian Friedrich are behind them.
The bullpen is a real problem, but the breakthrough seasons experienced by DiFelice and Daley help somewhat. It’s still a terribly shallow group, and I’m not sure it wouldn’t be a better arrangement to have Morales in a key late-inning role and Chacin in the rotation.
Lineup
2B Chone Figgins
1B Todd Helton
LF Matt Holliday
SS Troy Tulowitzki
RF Brad Hawpe
C Chris Iannetta
3B Ian Stewart
CF Dexter Fowler
Bench
OF Juan Pierre
INF Garrett Atkins
INF Craig Counsell
OF Ryan Spilborghs
C Josh Bard
How about that for a nice top-to-bottom lineup? Two legitimate stars hitting third and fourth and two more players with 900 OPSs this year in Helton and Hawpe. The top six are all clearly above average regulars, and Stewart and Fowler aren’t far away from fitting into the same category. Plus, just look at the bench. Pierre and Atkins could resume playing regularly next year, and Counsell’s solid OBP and excellent defense make him very valuable. It’s such a strong group that Seth Smith, Clint Barmes, Jody Gerut and Jeff Baker all failed to win spots.
Summary
7th out of 30 in developing talent, yet never once first out of five in the NL West race. In 16 seasons, the Rockies have finished second twice. Since the Diamondbacks made it a five-team division in 1998, they’ve finished fourth or fifth nine times in 11 years. Of course, things have gone a lot better lately. The Rockies lost the World Series in 2007, and after a very disappointing 2008, they’re back in contention now. Still, it shouldn’t have taken so long. A ballpark that made it incredibly difficult to win on the road took a heavy toll, but so did poor management. GM Dan O’Dowd used to pick a plan and stick with it for a good three weeks or so. I’m still not completely convinced that shouldn’t have gone in a different direction long ago, but O’Dowd has done more good than harm the last few years. The Rockies are in fine position for the future if they keep their current pieces in place.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.

 

Justin Turner talks “Easy D”

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up prior to game six of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:

No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!

Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:

It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:

I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.

And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.