The former big leaguer who was known for his gritty work ethic and ability to always take a good at-bat stepped into a position that had so much potential. The Colorado Rockies lineup is chock full of talent. It sports two of the league's premier young hitters in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
When the club failed to hit to it's potential, it didn't take long before people were demanding that Lansford was failing and should be let go.
Of course, Lansford deserves his fair share of the blame. The club hasn't responded to his teaching and hasn't gotten the job done, plain and simple.
What is baffling about the Rockies critics is that they are quick to jump on Lansford, but when the team's pitchers are equally as bad as the hitters, nothing is said about Bob Apodaca, the Rockies longtime pitching coach.
Jason Hammel, who gave up six runs and six hits in just three innings of work, is the biggest argument for Apodaca's failures. The tall right-hander was poised to finish the season with double digit wins for the third straight season in April. He has shown dominance in the past, pitching 27 straight scoreless innings in June of 2010.
Yet, as Hammel continues to struggle, with no sign of emerging from his slump, Apodaca takes no blame. Why is the pitching coaches message not being heard, or why is his message not working?
If the only Rockies pitcher struggling was Hammel, there would be no reason to question Apodaca. However, the former Rays farmhand is far from the only pitcher with issues.
Jhoulys Chacin, a 23-year old with ace written all over him, hasn't gotten better since looking like he had taken the next step forward. However, Chacin has begun to struggle. In his last outing, Chacin had a chance to help the Rockies build on the previous night's walk-off win momentum. Instead, he couldn't make it to the fifth inning. He gave up five earned runs on eight hits in those four innings.
His start previous to that came in Cincinnati, he was phenomenal, pitching a complete game in a 2-1 loss to the Reds. However, prior to that start, he picked up a win against the Nationals, but was unable pitch more than five innings as his pitch count rose to 100 pitches. He was staked to a large lead, yet still walked five National batters in the inning.
Beyond Chacin and Hammel is the now former Rockie Ubaldo Jimenez. How can a guy go from complete domination, having the best half season in recent history, and then simply forgetting how to pitch. Jimenez won only four games in the second half of 2010 after winning 15 before the All-Star break. The struggles weren't a product of a tired arm, as Jimenez continued to struggle in 2011. His struggles in 2011, however, included losing four miles per hour on his fastball.
Those three pitchers were not run of the mill pitchers who are lucky to be on a Major League roster. All three of those guys are very good Major Leaguers. Even Hammel, who is the least talented of the three, has shown over the past two seasons that he has the talent to be a dominant pitcher.
Those three pitchers are clear examples of Apodaca's failures, and that doesn't even go into the struggles of former All-Star Aaron Cook.
It only takes six weeks of work before a Rockies hitting instructor starts getting questions. Yet, Bob Apodaca has had his chance to make an impact for almost 10 years as the pitching coach, and no one questions what he is doing. No one says that it is time to go in a different direction. He gets a free pass from the media and from fans. Maybe it's time for him to take some blame.