Burnitz Not a Good Fit
December 22, 2003. The Rockies signed Jeremy Burnitz to take the place of Jay Payton as the starting left fielder.

On the positive side, Burnitz has shown power throughout his career, averaging just over 30 homers a year since coming up with the Mets in 1993.

Now for the negative.

When compared to Payton, the Rockies will be downgrading the position in terms of foot speed, base running, fielding, throwing, and all hitting categories other than homeruns.

Payton probably did the best job of playing left field in the history of the franchise. Burnitz, on the other hand, has only played left field in 84 of the 1045 games he has played.

The Rockies are claiming that they had to downgrade left field in order to upgrade shortstop by getting Rich Aurelia.
Well, they had better get him now, or get used to the term 'last-place Rockies'.

However, even with the extra money, the chance of getting Aurelia to come to Colorado are small and possible non-existent.

Even if he comes, Aurelia may be a downgrade from Uribe, certainly in the field, and possibly at bat if his current two-year slump continues. Even if he has a great year, it may not be enough to compensate for the Burnitz - Payton deficit.

But again, the Rockies don't have much of a chance of getting him anyway, so you can expect to see play of an even lower caliber in 2004 at shortstop.
Fans will be treated to either watching a rookie learn how to play at the Major League level, or a procession of cast-offs from other teams taking turns.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?


Season Ticket Prices Frozen by Rockies for Fifth Straight Year

Remember supply and demand? To refresh your memory, it goes thusly: When the demand for goods exceeds the supply, prices rise until demand drops. Conversely, when supply exceeds demand, prices drop, thereby stimulating demand. The goal is for supply to equal demand, resulting in the best return for both buyers and sellers.

Demand for Rockies tickets is at an all-time low, with attendance diminishing for the 8th consecutive year, dropping by over 400,000 last year to the club record of 2,000,000 over 81 games, for an average of 1 per game.

So, according to the laws of supply and demand, ticket prices should be reduced.

Instead, while fewer and fewer tickets are sold, the Rockies are not just holding the line, but are actually raising prices! This is due to the fact that individual game prices have actually been increasing, due to a deceptive system of applying surcharges.

So, the Rockies are actually applying powerful forces to REDUCE the number of tickets sold.

However they came up with this plan, it is not working, as any economist, statistician, or 8 year-old running a lemonade stand could have told them.

Think about it. Assume for a moment that the Rockies depend solely on people actually attending games and ignore other sources of income. Obviously, the goal should be to fill up the stadium for all 81 home games, not only for the ticket revenue, but for the additional profit for the Rockies from the sales of concessions. A full stadium also provides the surrounding community with many streams of revenue, such as parking, food and merchandise sales, etc, not to mention the repeat business that will be enjoyed by the surrounding businesses if they make good impressions on the game attendees.

 A full house also tends to make the team better, provides a better experience for all those in attendance, and creates the kind of excitement that makes lifetime fans out of casual observers.

So, it is imperative that the Rockies try to fill up the stadium for every home game. Not just for their own profit, but for the well-being of the merchants in the area, the city, and by extension, the population of the community who have invested hundreds of millions in the team.

The Rockies management is doing the opposite. They are raising the prices of tickets for fans that canít afford season tickets, and by keeping season tickets the same price, they are assuring the continued erosion of that group as well. Why?

According to Rockies owner Monfort, they believe that the only way they can increase attendance is by fielding a winning team. The only way they can field a winning team is by building from the ground up with home grown talent developed through the minor leagues, because their declining revenues will not allow them to hire quality, experienced players. In fact, they are trying to trade all of their popular stars in order to free up money to get more lower quality players.

Does this strategy make sense to anyone?

First, winning is obviously not the only way to have a successful baseball team. If it were, there would only be one team Ė the New York Yankees. Even the Atlanta Braves have only won one World Series in the last decade and they are a successful team. Most people alive today canít remember the Cubs or Red Sox winning a championship and yet most Rockies fans would be happy to have their success.

Two things these successful clubs have in common are dedicated fans and consistently high attendance. And they didnít get that way by winning championships every year.


Speed Kills Marlins

October 10, 2003. The Marlin's speed killed opponents all year long, so it was ironic that speed did them in during the 3rd game of the National League Championship Series, as they lost to the Chicago Cubs in 11 innings to fall behind, 2 games to 1.

It was the threat of Cub center fielder Kenny Lofton's swiftness that caused the Florida team to fall behind and the foot speed of their own player, Luis Castillo, that sealed their fate Friday night.

Lofton had rapped a single to right with one out in the eleventh when the trouble started. Kenny, a former University of Arizona basketball player has always been known for stealing, either basketballs or bases, though the word is that he has been slowing down lately. But no one told the Marlins. Relief pitcher and former closer Braden Looper, seemed to paying more attention to Lofton then he was to the batter, pinch-hitter Doug Glanville. Both the Marlins infield and outfield had the same preoccupation, as if stopping Lofton from stealing second was more important than the game itself. In the end, he didn't steal the bag, but it cost them the contest.

In his zeal to prevent the speedy Cub from thievery, Looper appeared to throw a pitch that was designed more to be caught and thrown by the catcher than it was to fool the hitter. So, of course, it didn't fool Glanville, who lined the pitch sharply to the shortstop. Or to where the shortstop would normally have been, except that he had gone to the second base bag to get the throw on the steal attempt. So, the ball went through the infield and bounced its way toward the centerfielder. Except that he wasn't where he was supposed to be either, because he had moved in to back-up the play at second base. So, the ball rolled all the way to the wall, despite the best effort of Jeff Conine, the left fielder whose lack of speed prevented him from stopping the ball short of the wall.

When the smoke cleared, Lofton had scored what proved to be the deciding run, and Glanville was on third base with a stand-up triple.

But, the curse of speed was not done with the Marlins on this night, under a full moon in Miami. Part two of the one-two speed punch at the top of the Florida lineup is Luis Castillo, who represented the possible tieing run in the bottom half of the 11th inning. Castillo was on second base with two outs in the bottom of the eleventh when the batter hit a slow roller to the Cub's third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Anticipating that Ramirez would throw to first too late to get the runner, Castillo apparently decided that he would be able to score from second on the play to tie the game. So, he took off running toward third base, assuming that Ramirez would field the ball and quickly throw to  first in attempt to get the last out and end the game. Then, something happened that ruined the speedy second baseman's plan and doomed the Marlins - Ramirez bobbled the ball. Realizing he could not make the throw to first in time, the Cub's third baseman picked up the ball and started looking for Castillo, who by now was halfway to third base. Castillo put on the brakes and started back to second, but it was too late, and he was caught in a rundown and tagged out.

It's impossible to know what would have happened, of course, but we do know that if Castillo hadn't had such confidence in his speed, he would have stayed at second base and the Marlins would have had runners on first and second with two out - and another chance to tie the game.

Denver Baseball Coverage Continues Decline

October 9, 2003. Try it yourself. Read the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News (collectively known as the Denver Newspaper Cartel) coverage of the playoffs (the links are at left). Then go to any of the online sports sources and read their reports of the same events.

What you will find is a semi-literate, chatty and irrelevant account in the Denver Rags, heavy on self-aggrandizing and airily light on facts and details. In the other venues' reporting you will generally find engaging prose dependant on the players, the actual events, and the intrinsic charm of the game itself.

The Baseball Observer can't help but wonder why the Denver papers send Mike Klis to Chicago and Troy Renck to New York (and certainly others) to spend 10 minutes per game writing bad, short articles, when they could just publish the infinitely superior Associated Press reports. Especially when you consider that both papers were insisting that they were so broke that they would have to shut down if the government didn't allow them to combine their business operations.

They are apparently spending so much of their budget on sending sportswriters on boondoggles around the country that they can't afford luxuries like competent reporters, proofreaders, fact-checkers and spell-checkers, resulting in the misspelled, illiterate mess we like to refer to as the worst daily newspapers in the world.

New Ex-Rockies

October 8, 2003. Jose Jimenez and Chris Richard are gone. Both players refused assignment to the minor leagues and were given their releases in the past week.

Jimenez, 30, was a bust at closer, but showed promise as a starter and will probably catch on as a 3rd or 4th starter with someone next year. He pitched a no-hitter and a two-hitter in consecutive starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks while pitching for the Saint Louis Cardinals in 1999.

Richard, 29, was a regular for Baltimore in 2001, hitting .265 with 15 HR, 61 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 136 games. Since then he has been hampered by an injury to his right, throwing shoulder most of the time. He was a highly regarded hitter with power and good knowledge of the strike zone when the Rockies traded star prospect Jack Cust for him in March of 2003. Colorado acquired Cust in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for lefty relief specialist Mike Myers.

Reporting in Denver Falls to a New Low

October 6, 2003. Troy Renck, chief baseball hack for the Denver Newspaper Cartel apparently flew to Oakland, California to cover the American League Divisional Playoffs. Unfortunately, he couldn't find time in his busy schedule to attend the game or devote enough time to writing to produce a reasonable quality product. Unfortunately, this quality of work is consistent with the Denver papers as a whole.

Renck started his coverage with the following passage:

"Monday Night, Boston Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe stood on the mound white-knuckling a two-run lead against the Oakland A's."

Not only does the sentence make no sense, Lowe never had a two run lead to "white-knuckle" or anything else. The score was 4-3 when he entered the game in the ninth with two runners on base - a huge difference that should have been discovered immediately by Mr. Renck or proofreaders long before the edition went to press. Not only that, but if you go to their web site you will see that they haven't discovered the mistake yet (7 AM Tuesday morning).

But Troy E. Renck is not satisfied with completely blowing the account of the game, he lapsed into incoherence, throwing the following passage into the article:

"After the 10-minute delay, Ortiz, visibly upset, took exception to a fan's taunts down the first-base line and started screaming at him. The fan was removed from the stadium."

The problem is, Renck never mentioned Ortiz before, so we as readers have no idea who he is or why the fan was taunting him. But that's how he ended his account of the game.

In a separate article on the same page Mr. Renck penned another example of his incisive style:

"As Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kaplan depart BART - the Bay Area's sub system..."

Did he mean submarines, or was it just another typo that nobody noticed at the Post?

Ex-Rockies Factor Plays Out in Both Championship Series

October 17, 2003. Both participants got to the World Series due to the ERF (Ex-Rockies Factor). The Cubs lost because, although they have the same number of ex-Rox on the current roster, 3, (counting Tony Womack who is on the DL) they used to have Jose Hernandez, who they later traded to the Pirates in the deal to acquire Aramis Hernandez and Kenny Lofton, and they also released es-Rockie Lenny Harris, who is now on the Marlins. So, certainly the ex-Rockies Factor was stronger for the Cubs than the Marlins, as evidenced by the outcome of the NLCS.

With the Yankees and Red Sox, there was no contest. The Yanks have two ex-Rockies in Pitcher Gabe White and coach and fighter Don Zimmer, while the Red Sox have three, ergo, Boston loses the Pennant.

The Yankees will win the World Series, of course, since they only have 2 ex-Rockies to the Marlin's 3.

ERF Becomes Complex

October 7, 2003. The ex-Rockies Factor is going strong in the National League, while it may have the opposite effect in the AL. The trouble now is that both the Cubs and the Marlins have three ex-Rockies and we know they aren't going to tie

ERF is Fallible After All

October 5, 2003. The Yankees knocked off the Twins with an 8-1 victory in Minnesota, showing that the Ex-Rockies Factor is not always the deciding one - or is it? According to our research, the Twins have absolutely no ex-Rockies on their team, while the Yankees have one - Gabe White. However, because the theory seems so powerful, we are going to keep on digging - perhaps there are ex-Rockies influences in the Twin Cities we haven't dug up yet - stay tuned.

Twins (0) beat Yankees (1) Yankees won 3-1.

A's (1) beat Red Sox (3) Red Sox won 42-2.

Marlins(3) beat Giants(4) Marlins won 3-1.

Cubs (3) beat Braves (5) Cubs won 3-2.


Ex-Rockies Factor Proving Infallible

October 3, 2003. Don't look now, fans, but the teams with the most ex-Rockies are all on the very brink of elimination. If this keeps up, the Colorado is going to have a lot of trouble moving players from now on.

First Round:

Twins (0) beat Yankees (1) Tied 1-1.

A's (1) beat Red Sox (3) A's lead 2-0.

Marlins(3) beat Giants(4) Marlins lead 2-1.

Cubs (3) beat Braves (5) Cubs lead 2-1.


You Know the Playoffs are Starting Badly When...

All of the winning team's runs score on errors (Twins-Yankees 9/30/03)

Proceeding According to the ERF Plan

October 2, 2003. Nobody said the Cubs would win it in three, but they will win the first round series against the Braves, if the ERF theory holds water, at least. Here are the current results:

First Round:

Twins (0) beat Yankees (1) Twins lead 1-0.

A's (1) beat Red Sox (3) A's lead 1-0.

Marlins(3) beat Giants(4) Tied 1-1.

Cubs (3) beat Braves (5) Tied 1-1.


Second Round:

Twins (0) beat A's (1)

Marlins (3) beat Cubs (3)


World Series:

Twins (0) beat Marlins (3)


Rockies in the Playoffs

October 1, 2003. Recent updates have caused changes in the current Ex-Rockies Factor (ERF) report. While we do not have access to the complete playoff rosters, yet, we have discovered that Henry Blanco has been dropped from the Braves roster in favor of Johnny Estrada, lowering Atlanta's number to 4. In addition, we discovered that former Rockies player Lenny Harris had not been counted for Florida, raising their number to 3. Here are the results of the revisions:

ERF (Ex Rockies Factor)

Juan Pierre, Marlins
Lenny Harris, Marlins
Todd Hollingsworth, Marlins
*Eric Young, Giants
Andres Galarraga, Giants
Neifi Perez, Giants
Jeffrey Hammonds, Giants
Mike Hampton, Braves
Vinnie Castilla, Braves
*Henry Blanco, Braves
Darren Holmes, Braves
Darren Bragg, Braves
Tom Goodwin, Cubs
Dave Veres, Cubs
Tony Womak, Cubs
Todd Jones, Red Sox
Todd Walker, Red Sox
Gabe Kapler, Red Sox
Adam Melhuse, A's
Gabe White, Yankees
Don Zimmer (coach), Yankees

*not on playoff roster currently.


Rockies in the Playoffs

September 29, 2003. At least some EX-Rockies are in the postseason:

Juan Pierre, Marlins
Lenny Harris, Marlins
Todd Hollingsworth, Marlins
*Eric Young, Giants
Andres Galarraga, Giants
Neifi Perez, Giants
Jeffrey Hammonds, Giants
Mike Hampton, Braves
Vinnie Castilla, Braves
Henry Blanco, Braves
Darren Holmes, Braves
Darren Bragg, Braves
Tom Goodwin, Cubs
Dave Veres, Cubs
Tony Womak, Cubs
Todd Jones, Red Sox
Todd Walker, Red Sox
Gabe Kapler, Red Sox
Adam Melhuse, A's
Gabe White, Yankees

*not on playoff roster currently.

Since the Diamondbacks erased the ex-cub factor stigma by winning the World Series with 4 ex-Cubs, we are introducing a new jinx: the Ex-Rockies Factor. Using the ERF, the teams that will win in the playoffs and the World Series are the ones with the fewest former Colorado players, including coaches and managers. We are still checking the playoff rosters for players or coaches we have overlooked, but pending any discoveries, these are the picks determined by the ERF:

First Round:

Twins (0) beat Yankees (1)

A's (1) beat Red Sox (3)

Marlins(3) beat Giants(4)

Cubs (3) beat Braves (5)

Second Round:

Twins (0) beat A's (1)

Marlins (3) beat Cubs (3)

World Series:

Twins (0) beat Marlins (3)

Millwood Throws Game

June 24, 2003. When the Atlanta Braves and Kevin Millwood cooked up their nefarious scheme, they couldn't have wanted his antics to be so obvious. The plan may not have even included Millwood purposely losing games to the Braves, but his loyalty to his old - and future - team just got the best of him. The strategy was simple - the Braves couldn't afford Millwood this season, so they needed to work out a way for him to play somewhere else for the year, then come back to the Braves before the 2004 season. They hoped it could be an American League team, or at least out of their division, so he wouldn't get in the way of their pennant plans, and they could avoid any potential problems that might cause the deal to go awry.

Unfortunately, the only team with they money and the inclination to take on Millwood, were the Philadelphia Phillies who happened to play in the same division as Atlanta. We'll never know how the discussions went, of course, but Kevin blew the lid off the whole thing with his actions in the last few weeks.

Twice, in the last two weeks, Millwood has lost to the Braves while pitching for Philadelphia, and amid extremely suspicious circumstances. Earlier in the year, Kevin threw a no-hitter, demonstrating his excellent control of the strike zone as well as his ability to remain strong for an entire game. He also proved to be very stingy when it came to giving up homeruns.

But, in his last start, all of a sudden, he was throwing balls right over the middle of the plate to sluggers Javy Lopez and Andruw Jones. Not only that, but he was throwing them fat strikes when he was way ahead in the count, something he is practically legendary for never doing. He threw two mid-80's fastballs down the middle to Lopez after getting two strikes, and the Braves catcher responded by launching both of them out of the park. But the biggest blow was a 2-run shot by Andruw Jones, following a walk to Chipper Jones. It doesn't take a wizard to see that Millwood walked Chipper on purpose and had obviously pre-arranged the first pitch gopher ball to Andruw.

A breakdown of the Rockies' ownership group, by investor and percentage
1. Charlie Monfort 31.6
2. Dick Monfort 22.2
3. Coors Brewing 17.1
4. Jerry McMorris 14.5
5. Denver Newspaper Agency 8.5
6. Cary Teraji 1.7
7. Clear Channel (KOA) 1.7
8. Beverage Distributorship 1.7
9. Linda Alvarado 0.9

The Rockies' projected 25-man cash payroll for 2003 will be just more than $60 million, including money owed to Mike Hampton, who was traded in the offseason, according to figures obtained by The Denver Post.

Player and salary:
1. Todd Helton $10.6 million
2. Denny Neagle $9 million
3. Charles Johnson $7 million
4. Larry Walker $6.5 million*
5. Preston Wilson $6.5 million
6. Jose Jimenez $3.55 million**
7. Todd Jones $3 million
8. Hampton Fund $2 million***
9. Jay Payton $1.85 million
10. Gabe Kapler $1.75 million^
11. Vic Darensbourg $1.3 million
12. Justin Speier $850,000
13. Jose Hernandez $800,000
14. Nelson Cruz $700,000
15. Steve Reed $600,000
16. Greg Norton $600,000#
17. Chris Stynes $550,000#
18. Bobby Estalella $500,000#
19. Jason Jennings $320,000
20. Denny Stark $310,000
21. Brent Butler $305,000#
22. Shawn Chacon $300,000#
23. Scott Elarton $300,000+
24. Juan Uribe $300,000#
25. Pablo Ozuna $300,000#
26. Aaron Cook $300,000#
27. Brian Fuentes $300,000#
Total $60.385 million

*Walker has $6 million deferred from $12.5 million salary.

**Jimenez's $3.55 million salary is midpoint in yet-to-be determined arbitration case.

***Although Mike Hampton is with the Atlanta Braves, the Rockies will pay $2 million of his 2003 salary.

^Rangers will pay $1.5 million of Kapler's $3.25 million salary.

#Salaries if they make the opening-day roster.