All the hype. All the anticipation. All the predictions. All the talk. Everything that went into how good the Colorado Rockies were going to be, and, on July 7th, the verdict is in.
The Rockies stink.
It may sound negative. It may sound like pessimism, but let's be honest, this team is looking more and more like a team that is quitting than a team who is about to turn the corner. It doesn't get much worse than Thursday afternoon, when two of the Rockies heroes over the past week showed that they can't be relied upon either.
On three separate occasions on Thursday the Rockies had the bases loaded. They were a base hit away from doing serious damage. All three times, the Rockies had a guy who had been getting it done in the clutch at the plate. Twice it was Mark Ellis, the newest member of the team to come down with the disease that prevents him from hitting in the clutch, and Ty Wigginton, the third baseman who caught fire on the previous road trip.
Twice Ellis had the bases loaded. The first time he hit into an inning-ending double play, the next time, a tapper back to the mound. When it was Wigginton's turn, he flailed at a slider in the dirt, allowing the Braves to wiggle off the hook and secure a four-game sweep of the reeling Rockies.
Face the facts, it's time to sell on this bunch of Rockies. Whether it is clubhouse chemistry, coaching, pitching or hitting, the Rockies have issues that are as deep as the Grand Canyon, and with the loss and the Giants win on Thursday, the team is now 8-1/2 games out of first place. Even one more game out before the All-Star break and they are, for all intents and purposes, done.
The Rockies need to sell. It is clear that the farm system is void of the talent that seemingly was continuously flooding the Major Leagues over the past five years. The biggest indicator of that is Aaron Cook continuing to climb to the mound and get embarrassed every fifth day. The reality is, there is no one in the Minor League system that is anywhere close to ready to step into the big league rotation. Christian Friedrich might be the closest, but he is repeating Double-A for a reason.
Rockies fans, and frankly, their ownership, continuously point to both 2007 and 2009 as a reason that that the Rockies are still in the race, and shouldn't sell their talent off. As great as those runs were, and as many fun memories as both of them brought, they have lingered as only a curse for the future of the franchise.
Because the team pulled off two of the most improbable runs to make it to the playoffs, the club and their fans now believe that they can do it every year. They think that it doesn't matter how bad of a first half they have, they just need to win 11 or 12 in a row and get right back in the race.
There is a reason that both of those runs were dubbed miraculous. They were so special because they don't happen often--or in the Rockies case--ever. Both of the Rockies recent runs to the playoffs were completely unprecedented. No team had ever done what the Rockies did. Not once.
History should be a lesson. History should tell the team that if they don't make up a game or two over the weekend, that their season is over.
Now is the perfect time to get value out of underperforming players, or players with large contracts that could be dealt to teams who will help re-stock the Rockies minor league system.
Here is a list of perspective trade candidates:
I get it. He's having a good year. He's made strides. He has been better defensively. But be honest, he isn't the catcher that everyone envisioned four years ago. He is never going to be. He has a modest contract with a year-and-a-half left on it. Plenty of teams are looking for a good catcher, and those teams in the race will pay dearly for it. If a good fit is out there, pull the trigger and see if Wilin Rosario, the Rockies next big catching prospect is ready.
Street is having a great year. Sure, Rockies fans are generally missing half of their fingernails before he locks down the save, but the point is, he usually locks down the save. It might not be pretty, but he gets the job done. There isn't a single team in baseball that wouldn't like to have a guy like Street in their bullpen for the stretch run. With another year on his deal, worth $7.5 million in 2012, it is financially wise to get rid of him, plus he could net some very good prospects from teams looking to win now.
Betancourt has struggled in 2011. He is giving up home runs far too often and lately seems to be giving up a run or two every time he goes out. However, his track record suggests that he is one of the best eighth inning guys in the game. With his career numbers, he won't struggle for a long time, and most teams know that. He would be a great guy to bolster a bullpen for a contender, plus he is scheduled to make $4 million in 2012.
This might come as a surprise, with Smith being the most consistent offensive performer for the Rockies in 2011. However, he heads to arbitration for the first time in 2012 and stands to get a huge raise. Couple that with the fact that he has played far better defense in 2011 and is a left handed bat with pop and the Rockies could trade Smith to a contender for a significant return.
The third baseman has been an overall bright spot for the Rockies. Imagine where they would be without him considering Ian Stewart's struggles. However, he is not a long-term solution, and he could be seen as a role player for a contender. Saving the $4 million he is due next year wouldn't hurt either.
Those are the guys with real trade value at this point. Those are the guys who could bring back enough to not only save money to get a few quality players in free agency during the offseason, but they could also help to rebuild a dying farm system full of players who don't look to make a big splash at the big league level.
It might be surprising to say that the Rockies are done on July 7th after all of their expectations, but the reality is, if they don't have a great series in Washington before the All-Star break, they may as well pack it in.