Clint Hurdle out as Rockies manager

Friday, May 29, 2009 2:06 PM

Me with former Rockies manager, Clint Hurdle in July 2008 The Denver Post is reporting that the Rockies have fired Clint Hurdle.  While I truly like Clint as a person and have had a couple of very positive interactions with him, it had become clear that he had lost the locker room and that his presence, along with the daily will-he-or-won't-he be fired discussion, was hurting the ballclub.  Hurdle will always be remembered fondly for the 21 Days in Rocktober 2007, the Rockies' first and only World Series appearance. While the mess that is the 2009 Rockies is clearly not entirely his fault, the reality is that his presence had become a detriment to the team at this point.

I truly like Hurdle as a person and wish him well in his next venture.  I have had two very positive interactions with him, first on Rockies Photo Day 2008 (pictured above) and second at Spring Training 2009.  In both cases, he made sure that everyone who wanted a picture with him, or an autograph from him, left satisfied, even when it meant taking more time than he should have.  This is not a common trait in sports today, and leaves me with a great amount of respect for the man.

I also believe that this is only the first step in a needed housecleaning in the Rockies organization, and I'm not enamored with the report that Jim Tracy will be taking over as interim manager.  I believe that General Manager Dan O'Dowd and Pitching Coach Bob Apodaca should follow Hurdle out the door.  My criticism of O'Dowd is that he tends to overvalue his own players, declining to trade from places of abundance (outfield prospects)  for places of need (second base, pitching).  This was evidences by the fact that the Rockies were the only team in baseball to field a starting lineup on Opening Day that consisted of entirely homegrown players.  My criticism of Apodaca is that the young pitchers that he has been entrusted with developing either fail to improve, or regress under his care.  For a team committed to building from within, this is unacceptable.

I'm an eternal Rockies optimist, and this season has been very disappointing.  At the beginning of this season, I thought that this team had the best pitching staff the Rockies had ever assembled and a lineup that should have had us in contention in the National League West.  As I write this, we're 18-28, in last place, and 14 games out of first place.  We're playing meaningless games already and we haven't made it out of May yet.  This team has shown no heart (no wins when tied or trailing after 7 innings), has remarkable penchant for giving up runs with 2 outs, and has truly abysmal clutch hitting.  Without the bright spot that is Todd Helton returning to his form of 5 years ago, this team would be in even worse shape.  It's really too bad, but I've come to the conclusion that this roster needs a major overhaul and that we should be major sellers as the trade deadline approaches.

I think the Rockies need to look to move a number of players with an eye on contending in 2011.  I think the current core to build around is Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Iannetta, Dexter Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki, and possibly Ian Stewart.  Beyond that, effectively everyone is fair game.  My trade recommendations are as follows:

  • Brad Hawpe - RF - I hate to say this one because he is one of my favorite Rockies, but Hawpe, is 30, is having an All-Star campaign and would clearly bring back one of the best returns of any of the current Rockies in trade.  We also have a ready replacement in Colorado Springs in Carlos Gonzalez, one of the key pieces of the Matt Holliday trade.
  • Huston Street - RHP - One of the key pieces in the Matt Holliday trade, he hasn't given up a run in nearly a month.  This would be another sell high move to a contender in need of bullpen help at the deadline.
  • Aaron Cook - RHP - Cook was an All-Star in 2008 and is an innings-eating sinker-baller who would be very valuable to a contender in need of starting pitching.  Cook is 30 now and is likely as good as he ever will be, making it less likely that he will be a major contributor on the next contending Rockies team.  This being said, the offer would still have to be very good to move Cook at this point for the same reason.
  • Jason Marquis - RHP - Marquis is in the final year of a 3-year, $20 million contract.  He is a veteran innings-eater and has been the Rockies' most consistent starter so far.  He is 31 and his profile is very similar to Aaron Cook.  Marquis should bring a good return from a contender looking for pitching around the deadline.
  • Ryan Spilborghs - LF/CF - Spilly is miscast as a starting outfielder, but would be valuable 4th outfielder with some pop on a contender.  Spilborghs is also almost 30, so he is likely as good as he will ever be and is contributing to the logjam in the Rockies outfield.
  • Garrett Atkins - 3B/1B - Atkins has declined steadily since 2007 and is hitting under .200 as I write this.  He has been one of the team leaders in RBI over the last 3-4 years, but has been particularly atrocious with runners in scoring position this year.  Atkins is in his last year of arbitration eligibility and is likely in line for another raise despite his poor performance this year.  Atkins is also blocking Ian Stewart at third base.  Atkins should be traded to a team like the Mets or Cardinals that needs a first or thir baseman due to injury, but his value is not what it would have been a year ago.
  • Clint Barmes - 2B - Miscast as a starting second baseman, Barmes is a free-swinging utility man with some power.  As a 30 year old, what you see with Barmes is likely what you will get.  He is the type of piece that is largely interchangeable with some of the minor league options, like Eric Young, Jr., that we already have at a lower pay grade.  Barmes could easily be traded for the proverbial player to be named later just to clear salary space with almost no measurable impact on wins or losses.
  • Omar Quintanilla - INF - Q is the epitome of a glove guy.  Almost entirely used as a late-inning defensive replacement, Quintanilla is simply taking up bench space (19 AB in 46 G in 2009) and should either be traded or released at this point.

So what happens after all of these moves?  Well this team needs to build towards 2011.  We need to find out if Ian Stewart can be an every day third baseman.  These trades should bring in some higher level pitching prospects, a second baseman, a potential replacement for Todd Helton after his contract expires in 2011, and then effectively the best overall prospects at any position that we can get.  I envision our 2010 Opening Day lineup looking something like:

  • C - Chris Iannetta
  • 1B - Todd Helton
  • 2B - Acquired in one of the aforementioned trades or free agency
  • SS - Troy Tulowitski
  • 3B - Ian Stewart
  • RF - Carlos Gonzalez
  • CF - Dexter Fowler
  • LF - Seth Smith/Matt Murton or acquired in trade or free agency

and the pitching rotation would look like:

  • Ubaldo Jimenez
  • Jorge de la Rosa
  • Franklin Morales
  • Two of:
    • Jason Hammel
    • Greg Reynolds
    • Greg Smith
    • Jhoulys Chacin
    • Brandon Hynick
    • Jason Hirsh

I think this is a team that should be .500 or so next year with an eye on being a serious force for 2011-2014. 

As you can see, I think that rebuilding the Rockies is far from a simple task, but some pieces are in place for a very quick return to contention if the right moves are made.  Firing Clint Hurdle will not fix everything, but was a needed step in the right direction.  Hurdle is truly one of the good guys and I wish him all the best in his next endeavor.

Until next time: Go Rockies!

By: Shane


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Memorial Day in New Mexico

Thursday, May 28, 2009 9:12 AM

Andrea, Dad, Ivy, and I take in the game as the 'Topes play the Salt Lake City Bees This past Friday, Andrea and I drove down to New Mexico to spend Memorial Day weekend with my dad.  We left Denver at about 4 pm.  The traffic from Denver to Colorado Springs was as bad as I've ever seen it, so that slowed us down a lot.  South of Colorado Springs, we cruised all the way to Taos, where we stopped for dinner at Orlando's before heading into Los Alamos, arriving at about 10:30 pm.

On Saturday morning, we woke up to a relaxing, rainy morning.  We ended up just hanging out at my dad's house until about 1 pm when we left to go to Albuquerque.  In Albuquerque, we ran some errands with Dad and Ivy before heading to Sadie's for dinner. 

After dinner, we drove over to Isotopes Park to watch the Albuquerque Isotopes take on the Salt Lake City Bees.  Isotopes Park is a really beautiful minor league park and it turned into a great night for a game.  It stopped raining right when we got to Albuquerque and stayed dry until the end of the 8th inning.  The game got really interesting in the 3rd inning when former MLB All-Star Jason Schmidt, in Albuquerque on a rehab assignment, was knocked out by a line drive off of his forehead.  Fortunately he was ok, with only a bad bruise, and the Isotopes won an entertaining game 11-8.  After the game, there was also a fireworks show for Military Appreciation Day, so we stayed to watch that too in the light drizzle before heading back to Los Alamos.  Photos from the game are in the Photo Album.

On Sunday morning we slept in a bit since we didn't get back from Albuquerque until midnight.  We had a pretty relaxing morning and dad made pancakes for breakfast.  We then decided to try to go see the Puye Cliffs ruins that had just reopened following the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000.  Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans as the rain picked up again right as we were getting there, so we decided to head to Santa Fe to check out the grand opening of the new New Mexico History Museum.  We had to wait in line for about 45 minutes to get in, and later found out that over 10,000 people had gone through in the 5 hours that the museum was open that day.  The museum is a beautiful facility and definitely worth a stop if you're in Santa Fe.  We are planning on going back again on a normal day when it's not so crowded.  After the museum, we drove to Española for dinner at La Cocina with Ivy and Micah before heading back up The Hill for the night.

Monday morning we hung out with dad in the morning and watched the F-16 flyover for the Memorial Day service at the Guaje Pines Cemetery from his back deck.  We then went to Grandma Church's house and sat and talked to her for a while, before dad took us to lunch at The Hill Diner.  We headed back up to Denver, stopping briefly for some wine tasting at Black Mesa, La Chiripada, and Vivac in the Rio Grande Gorge on the way.

It was a good, relaxing weekend, and we're definitely looking forward to our next trip back.

By: Shane


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Access2Justice 5K

Thursday, May 21, 2009 1:06 PM

Organizers of the 1st Annual Access2Justice Sean May Memorial Run This past Saturday, May 16, I ran in the 1st Annual Access2Justice Sean May Memorial Run at Barr Lake.  Andrea was one of the organizers, so we got up early, picked up Lauren, and then got out to Barr Lake by 6:15 am to help set up.  The run started at 9:15 am with a 15K and 5K race.  I ran/walked the 5K in 42:41 (good for 105th of 167) and Lauren did it in 38:17 (94th), proving yet again that I'm not a runner.  After the race we hung out for awards and the raffles before helping clean up and heading home.

They really did a very good job for a first annual run.  There were 227 finishers of the 5K and 15K combined, far exceeding their expectations.  Full results from the race are at Finish Line Timing.

By: Shane


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Windows 7 – First Impressions

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 2:45 PM

Windows 7 I downloaded the Release Candidate (Build 7100) of Windows 7 last Friday and I've been running it on my primary laptop since Saturday morning.  I did an in place upgrade of my Windows Vista Ultimate install and I can't really report on how long that took since I started it Friday before bed and woke up to a fully upgraded system on Saturday morning.  The upgrade advisor recommended that I uninstall Windows Mobile Device Center, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008, however I only uninstalled Windows Mobile Device Center since uninstalling the other two would defeat the purpose of doing the upgrade instead of a clean install.  The upgrade went very smoothly and I had no issues reinstalling Windows Mobile Device Center afterwards.  When I first logged in, Windows Update also updated Visual Studio and SQL Server as well to patch the known issues with them.  The only issue I had after the upgrade was with my Pinnacle USB HDTV Ultimate Stick, which was quickly resolved by a trip to the Pinnacle website for the Windows 7 beta drivers.

The first thing you notice in Windows 7 is the new taskbar.  This is by far the biggest change in Windows 7 from any previous version of Windows.  Gone are the text window titles.  Gone is the Quick Launch toolbar.  All you get are icons.  This has definitely required some getting used to, but the more I use it, the more I'm liking it.  You can pin applications to the taskbar and when the application is active, it is shown highlighted in the taskbar (Windows Live Messenger, Libraries, and Paint.NET are active in the screenshot above).  Hover the mouse cursor over any active icon to see a screenshot of the window(s) associated with that icon and click to activate any of those windows.  You can also drag and rearrange the icons in the taskbar in any fashion you like.

I've also had a chance to use the new XP Mode.  XP Mode is a Virtual PC running Windows XP that runs on top of Windows 7.  You have to have a processor capable of supporting hardware assisted virtualization to take advantage of this feature.  When you first install XP Mode, it boots up the Windows XP image.  I recommend installing a virus scanner and all of the Windows Updates on the Virtual PC as well to keep yourself protected.  Once the machine is initialized, the magic starts.  Windows 7 monitors the Virtual PC's All Users Start Menu folder.  When you install new applications there or make a new shortcut there, Windows 7 adds a new shortcut to your start menu to launch that application in Windows 7.  The application then shows up as a new window in Windows 7 with an XP style border and runs like any other Windows application with the exception of a small startup delay while the Virtual PC starts.  I've used this feature to run IE 8 as a Windows XP app because my work's VPN doesn't consider Windows 7 a valid operating system yet, and it worked like a charm there.

Beyond those two features, most of the changes that I've noticed so far are small changes from Windows Vista that add up to a subtly improved user experience:

  • If you drag a window to either the left or the right edge of the screen, you can dock it to take up half of the screen.  This is a really nice feature to be able to compare the contents of two documents.
  • Click on the title of any open window and shake the mouse and all of the other windows minimize themselves.  Shake it again and all of the minimized apps reappear.
  • The Disk Management utility allowed me to delete the HP Recovery partition on my C: drive and seamlessly expand the main partition to reclaim this wasted space.  Disk Management on Windows Vista wasn't capable of this.
  • Gone is the Windows Vista Sidebar.  You can arrange your gadgets anywhere on the screen, though I'm still preferring to keep them on the side where the sidebar was.
  • If you hover your mouse over the taskbar in the bottom right corner of the screen, all of your windows will turn transparent, allowing you to see the desktop.  To minimize all of the open windows and show the desktop, just click in the same place.

User Account Control (UAC) popups are much less frequent than in Vista.  I must admit that I didn't find them to be a big annoyance in Vista, but they are less common in Windows 7 and are truly worth paying attention to because they only show up if an application is making system settings changes as opposed to the user making the changes.

This is a pretty complete list of the features that I've used so far.  There's a lot of stuff to like here, and I'd highly recommend Windows 7 to anyone currently running Windows Vista.  From the news today, it sounds like the final version of Windows 7 will be released in October and will be available on new PCs in late October or early November.

By: Shane


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Interesting discovery in the .NET System.DateTime Class

Monday, May 11, 2009 8:49 AM

Unlike most of my posts here, this one is going to get a little technical.  While working on a new application to display upcoming birthdays from my Outlook contacts on the new Windows Mobile 6.1 sliding panels home screen, I had a bug that was resulting in one birthday on April 29 displaying in the sorted list between two April 30 birthdays.  Wierd! 

Let's see if you can spot the "feature" in the following code:

   1: public AnniversaryItem(string firstName, string lastName, DateTime date, AnniversaryItemType type, string id)
   2: {
   3:     FirstName = firstName;
   4:     LastName = lastName;
   5:     Date = date;
   6:     ItemType = type;
   7:     Picture = null;
   8:     NumDaysUntilDate = Date.DayOfYear - DateTime.Today.DayOfYear;
   9:     if (NumDaysUntilDate < 0)
  10:         NumDaysUntilDate += 365;
  12:     DateTime nextDate = DateTime.Today.AddDays(NumDaysUntilDate);
  13:     Years = nextDate.Year - Date.Year;
  15:     OutlookId = id;
  16: }

The relevant line here is line 8.  And here's where the interesting stuff happens:  What I'm doing here is finding out how many days it will be until the next occurrence of the birthday or anniversary, so I subtracted the DayOfYear property of today from the DayOfYear property of the anniversary then added 365 if the answer was negative. 

So why was April 29 showing up between two April 30 birthdays?  Well it turns out that the DayOfYear property is leap year aware!  The three birthdays were April 29, 1980, April 30, 1980, and April 30, 1990.  In this scenario, 1980 is a leap year.  In the leap year we add a day on February 29.  What happens here is that April 30, 1990 is day 120 of the year 1990.  April 29 of 1980 is day 120 of 1980 and April 30 is day 121 of 1980.  So when you sort by the DayOfYear, you get April 30, 1990, April 29, 1980, and then April 30, 1980.  Very clever on Microsoft's part and very confusing if you're not aware of the consequences!

The solution is as follows (lines 9-12):

   1: public AnniversaryItem(string firstName, string lastName, DateTime date, AnniversaryItemType type, string id)
   2: {
   3:     FirstName = firstName;
   4:     LastName = lastName;
   5:     Date = date;
   6:     ItemType = type;
   7:     Picture = null;
   8:     NumDaysUntilDate = Date.DayOfYear - DateTime.Today.DayOfYear;
   9:     if (((DateTime.IsLeapYear(Date.Year) && !DateTime.IsLeapYear(DateTime.Today.Year)) ||
  10:         (!DateTime.IsLeapYear(Date.Year) && DateTime.IsLeapYear(DateTime.Today.Year))) &&
  11:         Date.DayOfYear >= 60)
  12:         NumDaysUntilDate--;
  13:     if (NumDaysUntilDate < 0)
  14:         NumDaysUntilDate += 365;
  16:     DateTime nextDate = DateTime.Today.AddDays(NumDaysUntilDate);
  17:     Years = nextDate.Year - Date.Year;
  19:     OutlookId = id;
  20: }

What I ended up doing to correct this situation is check to see if one of the two years being compared is a leap year.  In addition, I check to see if the date is after a theoretical February 29.  If one of the two years is a leap year and the date is after February 29, I subtract one from the calculated number of days until the anniversary to correct the sorting issue for the leap year.

Just one more example of why date math can be very challenging!

By: Shane


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2009 Home Run for the Homeless

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 7:53 AM

IMG_7402-journal This past Sunday, May 3rd, Lauren and I ran in the 2009 Colorado Rockies Home Run for the Homeless 5K.  The race started at 8:15 am and I did pretty well through the first mile but right after the first mile marker, both of my quads started cramping.  I walked for a while and, after stretching them out ran some more too.  I walked most of the middle mile and a half before running around the warning track at Coors Field and to the finish line.  I'm betting my time this year will be about the same as last year (which wasn't very good).  After the run, we hung out in the bleachers in left field and enjoyed the free food and watched the prize drawing before heading home.  It was a good time and I definitely plan on going again.

My next 5K will be on May 16th for the Access2Justice - Sean May Memorial Run at Barr Lake that Andrea is helping organize.

By: Shane


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