Monday, June 27, 2011

Colorado Rockies are in a world of hurt

It was just one game. It was just one loss.

However, for some reason, it seems like the Colorado Rockies loss to the Chicago Cubs in a makeup game at Wrigley Field meant more than that.

The Rockies had their ace, Jhoulys Chacin on the mound. In his right arm, the Rockies had a chance to go home with a 4-3 road trip. They had a chance to build on some positives that happened away from Coors Field. They had a chance to build a little bit of momentum before a run of 13 games in 13 days before the All-Star break.

Instead, Chacin faltered, and the Rockies couldn't push runs across the board on Chicago's Matt Garza. The Rockies lost, and they currently sit 5-1/2 games behind the division-leading Giants, a team that has enough pitching to allow them to win games 2-1 and 1-0 consistently.

It's not quite doom and gloom for the Rockies yet. They still have a chance to make a nice run and put themselves back into contention. However, the talk of going on a run goes on and on, with no sign of anything significant on the field.

The reality is this. The Rockies have huge issues. Their starting rotation is missing Jorge De La Rosa, and Ubaldo Jimenez is a shell of his former self. He looks good every now and then, but to say he is dependable is a stretch at this point. Those two alone were carriers of quite a bit of the expectation load coming into the season.

Beyond Jimenez and De La Rosa, does anyone seriously think the Rockies should consider themselves a viable playoff option with Aaron Cook pitching every fifth day? To get inside of the collective front-office's heads, it would be a stretch to think that they believe that they can win with Cook out there for the rest of the season. However, improving on that fifth spot is easier said then done.

The best trade target that the Rockies have for another starter is Wandy Rodriguez, currently in the Astros rotation. He has a great left-handed curveball and can get the job done. His ERA is below 3.00 in one of the best hitter's parks in baseball. However, don't be fooled into thinking that the Rockies can ship off a couple of Single-A prospects and get Rodriguez. That simply won't happen.

The Astros are going to need to hire another receptionist for the amount of calls that they are going to be getting on Rodriguez. He is the most valuable starting pitcher that might be available via the trade, so every team in contention is going to at least call. That makes the price go up significantly.

On top of the high demand, Rodriguez just signed a three-year $34 million deal in the offseason. To take that contract on seems like something that is out of character for the Rockies ownership group.

On top of the Rockies needing another starter, it's not as if the club is doing just fine on the offensive side of the ball. They have yet to hit their offensive stride, which, to many, means that at the half-way point, they probably won't hit their offensive stride. They are who they are at this point. Ty Wigginton has done an excellent job filling in at third base for the disappointing Ian Stewart, but after a great road trip, Wigginton is playing well above his expectation level.

Chris Iannetta has done a great job of taking the reins and being a valuable starting catcher, but the power that he possesses comes out far too rarely. His swing still has a slight hitch in it that causes the Rhode Island native to just barely get under the pitch to hit. When he connects, the ball travels a long way. However, that just doesn't happen enough for what the Rockies need.

Todd Helton is also exceeding expectations. He is showing how good of a player he is, and always was, but at some point, it is almost certain that some of the back issues will re-surface.

The point is, if the Rockies want to get into contention, the talk of going on a run needs to turn into the act of going on a run sooner, rather then later. They need to get close, and they need to do it before the All-Star break. If they don't, they may just be the latest example of a Rockies team that failed to reach their expectations.

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