At this point I don't think there's anything new we can say about Tyler Colvin. You're either in or you're out; you either believe or you don't. Let's give him one more push in this edition of Closing Time (most of this will be review, so skip the full lead if you prefer), and then we'll bank the case for good. You decide if you want an emerging power hitter who plays half of his game in the Mile High air.
The lanky 26-year-old slugger has been on a ballistic tear for a solid month now (.372, 10 homers, 27 RBIs), with things especially clicking this week. Colvin homered twice in Friday's win at Washington (and added a single later), with all of the strikes against all-world Stephen Strasburg. Colvin also went deep Thursday, Tuesday and Monday — all on the road, by the way — and now has a nifty .311/.339/.644 slash line with 13 homers in just 180 at-bats.
There's nothing in his front-door splits that should worry you: he's hitting lefties and righties, at Coors and out of a suitcase. Colvin's ownership tag stood at a mere two percent in Yahoo! leagues back in the middle of June; it's chased up to 25 percent now. Still some room on the bandwagon, gamers.
We've been trying to push the story along, trying to get you to jump on board. Colvin was the first lead in our June 13 Closing Time, and he was a secondary lead (with a familiar picture) in Wednesday's wrap. But the grass roots campaign was centered around social media; that's where the heaviest case was made. Sometimes you need the immediacy of Twitter.
Let's have a look back at the Colvin Tweet Initiative from the past week:
• Colvin cranked homers Monday and Tuesday, which fired up the Twitter feed: I'd like to see what Tyler Colvin could do with regular playing time. A very quiet 10 homers in 168 at-bats.
• And when the readers pushed back, I tried to keep minds open: I underestimated how much Tyler Colvin ticked off people in 2011. Still, he's 26, first-round pedigree. Too early to say he can't be good.
• While you were firing up the grill on the Fourth, the keys were tapping: Tyler Colvin unowned in 91% of Y! leagues. There's a certain Plouffiness here. Four paths into lineup, if any OF gets hurt (or Helton). Those themes were repeated (and expanded upon) in Opening Time.
• Some readers questioned Colvin on the road, but the spreadsheet backed him up: Regular Rockies who have a higher road OPS than Tyler Colvin: Rosario, Tulo, Cargo. That's it. That's the list. [And as of 7/7/12, Colvin is ahead of Cargo.]
• And then, finally, glorious Friday came around. July 6 basically morphed into Tyler Colvin Day. First came the two homers, and then the obligatory Twitter note: Two more homers for Tyler Colvin tonight. This is the Trevor Plouffe post-hype story, NL version. Last call, gamers. Go.
But the warning siren didn't stop there. We fielded a Colvin-related call on the Fantasy Freak Show (at the top of the baseball hour), instructing a listener to drop Torii Hunter and pick up Colvin. We posted a Colvin note on Roto Arcade's Facebook Page. I put out a public challenge-trade offer to Jeff Erickson on Twitter, my Fab Fab Freddie Freeman for his Colvin. Hey, I'm not afraid to sell low and buy high once in a while (especially with my team buried under 10 feet of snow), and Freeman has the finger problem anyway. Jeff quickly accepted. One more Reggie Cleveland All-Star for him, while I have to worry about the whims of Jim Tracy. We'll get to that in a minute.
My night ended with a phone conversation with a friend. Just as we were hanging up, I offered one more thing: "Do me a favor, would you? Go get that Colvin guy. I think he can help you."
To be fair, everything isn't sunshine and lollipops with the Mile High Masher. Let's quickly address some of your logical counters:
-- Yes, Colvin was terrible in 2011 (.150 average), but sometimes that happens with young players. And the Cubs pulled the plug after 206 at-bats, so it wasn't a full season.
-- Sure, Todd Helton is around — but he's also closing in on his 39th birthday (Aug. 20) and dealing with a sore hip. Helton's only seen seven at-bats this month (he's down to a sorry .239 /.333 /.404 slash), and remember Colvin can spell any of the outfielders, too. There's no way the Rockies can bench their emerging star right now.
-- Colvin doesn't have the most patient approach, though he did draw 30 walks over 358 at-bats in 2010. This year it's just eight free passes against 47 strikeouts. Those are worrisome numbers, no doubt — the .311 average is the flukiest part of this story — but the power is 100 percent real.
Bottom line, you never know when the light bulb might go on for a young, talented player. Colvin was the 13th overall pick in 2006. Coors Field speaks for itself, and the Rockies have a glorious home stretch coming after the All-Star break (15 Colorado games in 21 starts, along with a three-gamer in Arizona). Don't be locked out on Blake Street, amigos. Colvin will be in the lineup more often than not, and I love his chances to produce. A few weeks ago it was the Trevor Plouffe out-of-nowhere tour, and now it's Tyler Colvin's time in the spotlight. Buy in.
• Sergio Romo posted a 1-2-3 ninth inning — and a firm handshake — in Friday's win at Pittsburgh, but it didn't really clean up the foggy Giants bullpen much. Scuffling Santiago Casilla was considered unavailable because of a blister, and apparently he's not in immediate danger of losing his closing gig. The club still worries about Romo's ability to handle a heavy workload - he's had a history of elbow issues - and it also likes him as a right-handed specialist who can work in any number of key spots, not just the ninth.
I only see two logical paths at the moment: Casilla gets back in form and it's business as usual, or he continues to slump and forces a committee approach — with Romo getting the biggest piece of it. Hold all tickets, save chasers. I still think Romo should be owned in just about all formats no matter his role; a 0.72 ERA and 0.72 WHIP over 25 innings is absurd, and he's grabbed two wins and five saves this year even without the ninth-inning baton.
• The Yankees and Red Sox played a typical AL East game at Fenway Park. The pitchers worked oh-so slowly, the batters stepped out regularly, Bob Costas went into over-context mode (man, do I miss the 1980s version of that guy), and the rotoheads picked up a bunch of offensive numbers. Josh Beckett (5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K) was mediocre in his return to action and Hiroki Kuroda struggled as well (5.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 R, 1 BB, 3 K), par for the course in this hitter-friendly yard. The Yankees ultimately secured a 10-8 win through bullpen work, though credit Joe Girardi here: he went with Rafael Soriano for a four-out save.
As I've said on Twitter and in this blog space a few times in the past 24 hours, I'm not trusting any starting pitcher in this series. Phil Hughes has a dreadful history at Fenway Park (9.00 ERA, 1.91 WHIP) and I can't ignore that, no matter that it's over a mere eight appearances (four in relief). Franklin Morales is out of his routine after Bobby Valentine played the Oakland switcheroo game. Don't be a hero, gamer. This is not the place to take chances.
Before we leave the Back Bay, your obligatory Red Sox injury update: Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) is doing fine so far and has moved up to Triple-A, and Clay Buchholz should be ready for a game of bocci rehab start Sunday. But Carl Crawford has hit a snag: he's being pulled back from his rehab assignment due to a mild groin strain, and it's also believed that his elbow will bother him all season. Just five more years of this, and then Crawford's a free man after 2017. Dustin Pedroia (thumb) says he doesn't need surgery, but he's expected to miss at least three weeks.
Speed Round: Ryan Dempster (shoulder) will return to action Sunday at the Mets. I don't like to start anyone right off the DL, so in roto formats, this is a pass for me. … Ryan Howard had a solid debut for the Phillies, going 2-for-4 with a double. He will enjoy taking his hacks next week, when the Phillies head to Coors Field. Don't be concerned about Howard not playing Saturday, that was a planned absence in advance. … Frank Francisco (oblique) might be ready to start a rehab assignment as early as Wednesday. If Francisco can prove he's 100 percent healthy, he'll get the Mets closing gig back (per Terry Collins). … Although the Padres say Andrew Cashner doesn't have any significant elbow damage, his lat injury will keep him out about a month. The club plans to keep Cashner in the starting rotation when he returns. … If Justin Smoak doesn't rebound quickly he could be sent down to Triple-A Tacoma, the Seattle Times speculates. He's carrying a .202/.266/.329 line around (though he does have 11 homers), and he's had a difficult time with pitch recognition (especially on sliders). The paper also wonders if Dustin Ackley's job might be in jeopardy. "It's just been Groundhog Day too many times for me," manager Eric Wedge said. "We're not going to keep watching people do the same thing over and over again and live with it."… Chris Carter has received sporadic at-bats for the Athletics but he's made the most of them: he's 6-for-12 with three homers, including the titanic walk-off blast Friday. He was a hyped prospect for several years (making the Baseball America Top 100 list in 2009, 2010 and 2011), and he's still just 25. That said, Oakland has Brandon Moss handling first right now and there are plenty of DH types on this roster. In anything short of a very deep league, Carter is a name to monitor, not someone to grab right now. . … Giancarlo Stanton (knee) is scheduled to play Saturday, a very encouraging sign. I still think the Marlins are crazy if they let him participate in the meaningless exhibitions Monday and Tuesday. . … Anthony Rizzo stroked a homer and three other hits against the Mets and looks terrific; a .295-45-15-50 second half would not surprise me at all.