Monday, May 30, 2011

Is May over yet? Colorado Rockies drop 20th game of the month

Twenty losses in May. Twenty. With one day to go.

It almost takes effort for a Major League team to lose 20 games in a month. The nature of baseball would suggest that just by showing up a team should be able to avoid losing 20 games in any month. There is no reason a team should lose 20 games in a month.

Stretched out over the course of a full season, if the Colorado Rockies played the way they have played in May, they would lose 120 games. That would be one for the record books. That would be a huge disappointment, even if they were the worst team in baseball.

What is so maddening about it is that the Rockies are not the worst team in baseball talent wise. They are nowhere near the worst team in baseball. In fact, they were picked by many experts to be the best team in the National League West, better than the team who hoisted the World Series trophy at the end of the 2010 season.

Those following the club feel as if they are stuck in a horrible remake of the movie Groundhog Day with the Rockies playing the role of Bill Murray. The alarm keeps going off everyday, but the results stay the same.

The ironic thing about the Rockies is that they struggle the most when they have the other team on the ropes. They consistently let the opposing pitchers off the hook when they have a chance to cut their throats. On Monday, the Rockies did it again, racking up 14 hits and scoring only one run. It doesn't even seem possibly to have that many hits without more runs scoring.

Amazingly, the Rockies went 1-for-14 with runners-in-scoring-position. For whatever reason, the Rockies batters feel pressure when they step to the plate with a chance to hurt the other team. They don't realize that the pressure isn't on them, the pressure is on the pitcher to make good pitches and get a guy out.

Instead, hitters like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez continually expand their strike zone and swing at pitches well off the plate. The results are harmless ground balls that find mits and create outs. If those two in particular would realize that they need to wait for their pitch and drive it when they get it, they would be on top of the league in hitting. Instead, they continue to bail out the opposing pitchers and leave men on base.

When a team loses 20 games, fan bases get upset. They start pointing fingers, and generally a finger gets pointed in nearly every direction. Is it Jim Tracy's fault? Maybe. He definitely hasn't found a way to light a fire under these Rockies in quite some time. Maybe he needs to get more aggressive. Maybe he needs to have his pitchers throw a pitch behind a batter after a hitter pulls a move like James Loney did on Monday and watches his home run for three seconds before he starts running. Instead, the Rockies play nice-guy and let other teams walk all over them. That falls on Tracy.

Is it Carney Lansford's fault? Maybe. His approach certainly has the Rockies looking like nothing more than a mirror image of a homer-happy team that failed to reach expectations in 2010.

Is it Bob Apodaca's fault? Maybe. If Ubaldo Jimenez doesn't have a win by June and there is no injury to speak of, some blame has to fall on his coach of five seasons.

Is it Dinger's fault? Maybe. His annoying antics behind home plate rank him as possibly the worst mascot of all time.

The fact is though, it is the whole team's fault collectively. Losing 20 games in one month is a team effort. There is no one man who can take the blame for a team failing in so many games.

The reality is, this Rockies team needs to figure out how to get over the mental hump that is plaguing them from the top to the bottom. If they don't figure it out soon, they may need to start making plans for a postseason run in 2012.


  1. Could you expand your thoughts on Lansford's role in this mess? I'm curious because you wrote a great piece recently about his approach to the Rockies' hitting and how it may be a while before we saw the results of his efforts. Do you think that's still the case, or are his coaching methods really not working?

  2. I HATE Dinger with a passion. Even more so now with the rockies playing so poorly.

  3. Rockies Woman-
    I'm not pointing my finger at Lansford. I was trying to make a point that everyone, including myself, has been pointing fingers at one person or another, when in reality, a slide like this isn't one person's fault. It is the team as a collective whole that is failing.

    Rocky- I hate Dinger as well. Does he really appeal to anyone who is a Rockies fan? Mascots are fine, but don't stand behind home plate at the end of the game.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. But at least Dinger is making an effort behind home plate.

  5. I agree that this certainly isn't one person's fault over another's. I'm just wondering if you still think Lansford is an effective coach.

  6. RW-
    Yes. I still think that Lansford will have a profound impact on this club. At this point, however, he deserves some of the blame, as does everyone who puts on a Rockies jersey on a daily basis. Everyone has to take their fair share of the blame when a team is playing as bad as the Rockies are right now.