Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coors Field finale perfectly sums up Colorado Rockies season

The Colorado Rockies lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in their home finale on Wednesday 7-6.

The one run loss summed up the Colorado season perfectly.

Once again, the Rockies lost the game, the Dodgers didn't win it. With four games remaining in the season, it is easy to look back and see how many opportunities the Rockies had in 2010 and failed to take advantage. On top of that, it is hard to count the number of times the Rockies played themselves out of games.

The extent of the damage the Rockies did to themselves is perfectly summed up by Jhoulys Chacin's line. The 22-year old gave up seven runs on four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out seven. Then comes the shocker--only two of the seven runs he gave up were earned.

An Ian Stewart error in the third inning allowed Matt Kemp to come to the plate with the bases loaded. Kemp, doing what he does best at Coors Field, deposited the 3-1 pitch into the right field stands for a grand slam.

Later, Miguel Olivo had Trent Oeltjen out by close to 20 feet on a poorly attempted stolen base. However, Olivo airmailed the throw into center field, allowing Oeltjen to take second base, and eventually score.

Stewart, with a chance to make up for the error, came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th inning. Stewart promptly struck out, ending the threat.

At this point in the season, it is easy to look at Stewart as one of the major frustrations with the Rockies. Despite being extremely talented, Stewart failed to take the next step forward. Whether that was Don Baylor's fault, Jim Tracy's fault, or Stewart's perceived lack of effort, the results are the same, disappointing.

Call it coincidence, but it is hard to ignore the fact that the Rockies season finally turned the corner when Stewart found himself on the bench with a rib cage injury.

Melvin Mora, signed because he brings a veteran presence to the club and the ability to take a great at bat, showed exactly what the Rockies missed in 2010. Throughout the whole season, Stewart never was able to take good at-bats. Even when he was hitting well it seemed like he was simply getting hits when he was behind in the count. All too often he would find himself letting the fastball go by, only to wave at the slider.

Simply put, the 2011 Rockies absolutely need a better year from Stewart. He may never be a .300 hitter, but he must find a way to hit in the neighborhood of .285 with 25 home runs. Even more importantly, Stewart must find a way to reduce the 106 strikeouts through 376 at-bats that he is currently sporting.

The frustration with Stewart is that he can hit the ball a country mile. He possesses all of the talent required to be not just a good player in the big leagues, but potentially an All-Star. His defense shows flashes of brilliance, as does his bat, but more often than not, he simply looks like he wishes he was somewhere else. That may come with age, but the fact is, Stewart has one more year to prove that he is going to cut it in the big leagues or it may be time to acknowledge that his ceiling might not be as high as everyone expected.

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