Welcome Back, Rockies!

Here at On The Rox, we like saying one phrase more than any other. That phrase? "We told you so."
We told you the Rox were playing good ball. We told you yesterday 8 losses in a row was enough. We may not have guaranteed victory yesterday, but we certainly IMPLIED it. So, with the losing-streak-monkey off the Rox back, we’d like to say, WELCOME BACK ROCKIES! Welcome back from the All-Star Break…only 5 days late. You may be in last place, but that’s just an unfortunate momentary unpleasantry. Right now, The Colorado Rockies are the best **** last place team in baseball, and there’s nowhere to go but up! And as such, today’s edition of On The Rox will focus on the theme: Welcome Back!

WELCOME BACK ROCKIES BATS!
Thank the big dude upstairs, the Rockies bats are back. After scoring only 8 runs in their previous 4 games, the Rox struck for 13 last night against the Pirates. They weren’t hitting with men in scoring position, but they did last night. They hadn’t had a rally in what seemed like weeks, and there it was, a few rallies last night. So, welcome back, Rockies bats. We missed you! Don’t ever leave us again!

WELCOME BACK SHEALY!
The call-up of Ryan Shealy may have been a mere footnote in most newspapers, but here at On The Rox, Shealy is our boy. Heck, we wish he had been healthy all season! But yesterday may be–and should be–Shealy’s final call-up to the majors. For those who don’t know Shealy or haven’t followed his saga this season, the guy hits a ton but is behind Helton on the depth chart, so Hurdle tried to convert him to an outfielder during spring training. The experiment back-fired and Shealy hurt his shoulder from all the throwing, and just finished his rehab stint in the Springs. But, he’s a major-leaguer who deserves a roster spot, has earned his roster spot, and deserves some playing time. Unfortunately for him, he’s playing behind Todd Helton, so he probably won’t see much PT this season, unless the Rox deal him. (AND WE ALL HOPE THEY DON’T DO THAT, AHEM….DAN O’DOWD!)
Our hope is that he gets spot starts here and there to keep Helton fresh, maybe use his right-handed bat versus tough lefties, and use his legitimate power bat off the bench in late-game situations, a la Jorge Piedra. And of course, here at On The Rox, we must also point out that when the Rox make the World Series this year (yeah we said it), Shealy’s bat will be a great DH in AL parks. (Come on, the glass is always half-full here, so we won’t start talking about "next year" until we’re mathematically eliminated.)
So, crack the champagne, here’s our toast to Ryan Shealy: Shealy, welcome to the majors for good. May your years be prosperous, may your homeruns be plentiful, may your yearly RBI totals reach the triple digits, may your batting average always be north of .300,  and may you do all of it in a Rockies uniform.

WELCOME BACK GONZO
Gonzo, we feel sorry for you. You’re our boy, and it hurts us to see
you lose the everyday spot at 2B, really it does, becuase you earned it last season. But, we also love
Jamey Carroll. Our slogan: "You’re number 1, Jamey!" is meant both
literally and figuratively from the bottom of our hearts. But we digress.

As a team
player, we know that you’ll adjust back to your utility role, and I for
one, am here to say, "Thank You, Gonzo, and Welcome Back!" You were
there for us last year whenever anyone went down. You played first base
when Helton was hurt. You played everywhere in the infield and even
played some outfield. You socked some homers, and have an incredible
errorless streak when starting at second base. Gonzo, we love you,
thanks for being a team player, and welcome back, buddy! We missed you.
Here’s to Gonzo, a team player and a class act!

WELCOME BACK SMITTY!
Also a big welcome back goes out to Jason Smith. Most Rox fans only remember him as the guy who owned the Padres in that early season series at the unfortunately named Petco Park. But Smitty came back in a big way last night, socking a homer in his first at bat since being recalled from the Springs. Good on ya! Way to be Smitty.

WELCOME BACK PREDICTION

Our welcome back prediction is that in two weeks, we’ll be welcoming back Rockies fair-weather fans. The Rockies seem poised to rattle off two good weeks of baseball, catapulting themselves back into the NL West race. (Not that they’re out of it now, by any means.)(But we mean, enough to where the fair-weather fans will return.) Anyway, that’s the type of scoop we dish here at On The Rox, because our glass is always half-full!

Eight is Enough!

Here at On The Rox, we take our baseball straight up on the rox and the glass is always half full. Let us remind you of that fact as we delve into the Rockies current 8-game losing streak. Sure they’ve lost 8 in row; sure they’ve been swept twice; sure they haven’t won a game since the All-Star break; sure the offense hasn’t had a rally in over a week; and sure the bullpen has been pretty bad–BUT, there are bright spots. And here at On The Rox, it is our job to illuminate that.

STARTING PITCHING AND DEFENSE
Fear not, Rockies fans, despite the 8-game losing streak, there is one
thing that shines through the mess. The Rox have been in every game. 3
of the 8 losses have been by 1 run, 4 have been by 2 runs, and only one
loss was by 3 runs. What does this mean? Well, despite losing, the Rox
ARE playing good baseball. They’ve had stellar starting pitching, in
fact it’s unfortunate that they’ve blown such good pitching during this
stretch. However, this is baseball, the season is a marathon, things
will turn around. And with good pitching and good defense, good things
will happen for these Rox. Don’t let the national media convince you
otherwise. Get out to Coors Field and support our boys.

GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY
Clint Barmes has finally managed to find the form he had at the beginning of last season. Over the past week, Barmes is hitting .389 with two HRs, 3 RBI and 1 SB. Barmey was hitting under .200 just a few weeks ago and now has his average up to .218. With Barmes providing some good offense to go with nearly flawless defense, Barmes should provide a spark to Rox offense if he can keep up this hot clip, which he proved he’s capable of carrying for at least 2 months at the beginning of last season.

Nothing epitomized Barmes’ hard-nosed play more than a pinch-hit AB on Saturday. For those who missed it, Omar Quintanilla, getting a rare start, fouled a 1-2 pitch off his shin. A huge knot formed immediately on his shin and Quintanilla was lifted for Barmes. Inheriting a tough count at 1-2, and after sitting on the bench all game, Barmes came in, looked for a breaking pitch off the plate and flung his bat out, flipping a Texas-Leaguer into center for a basehit. But Barmes wasn’t done trying to energize a team in the midst of a long losing streak. He stole second on the first pitch, catching everyone off-guard.

Since then, Barmes has homered in 2 straight games. Go ahead, Clint, make our day.

LAZY BOY MANAGING
Yesterday was the first time all season that Jorge Piedra got the start in centerfield. It was an interesting move by Clint Hurdle, one that lined up perfectly for success. Piedra came up with runners on base nearly every time, but failed to capitalize. Smart move by Hurdle to try and shuffle things up during a losing streak. Here at On The Rox we hope this was just an experiment for now, because we like having that power bat on the bench for late game situations, and the pristine defense of Cory Sullivan in center. If it were up to us, here’s how the line-up would look:

1. 2B J. Carrol (R)
2. CF C. Sullivan (L)
3. LF M. Holliday (R)
4. 1B T. Helton (L)
5. 3B G. Atkins (R)
6. RF B. Hawpe (L)
7. SS C. Barmes (R)
8. C  J. Closser (S) or Y. Torrealba (R)

I think it is important to keep the line-up flip-flopping from right-hander to left-hander, this way in a late game pitching change, you either force the other team to use multiple relief pitchers, or you get a good at least one good match-up.

Also, Helton is a career .349 hitter in the second half of the season. Putting him behind Holliday will only increase his production. Using Sullivan in CF provides the best defensive option, and his bunting skills would help generate more RBI opportunities for Holliday and Helton, should Jamey Carroll reach base to lead off an inning. For those who missed it, Sullivan set a record for most sacrifices in one game earlier this season. Barmes has been one of the best clutch hitters in the Rox line-up, just look at his RBI total. So it makes sense to keep him down in the line-up in a spot where he’ll either be called upon to drive in runs, or start rallies.

Alright Rox fans, keep the faith, here at On The Rox, our glass is always half full.