Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't expect Colorado Rockies to play spoiler

At this time of year, for teams in the Colorado Rockies boat, talk turns to the team playing the spoiler role.

In his pregame press conference with the media on Tuesday in Milwaukee, Jim Tracy alluded to that role, according to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post.

There are plenty of stories of a team that seems to figure it out down the stretch. They suddenly start playing with energy and look like a completely different team then they were for the first 135 games or so. Teams like that seem to pop up on a contender's schedule about this time of year.

The spoiler role is also one of those things that a non-contending team's manager can point to as a way to motivate his team when they really have nothing to play for. It becomes something that they can rally around and finish a disappointing year on a good note.

For Tracy, no one can really blame him for hoping that his team can fill that role. He is the manager. It is his job to find something that will motivate the guys in his clubhouse to not just go through the motions down the stretch of the season, ending up even worse than they were before.

However, as admirable as that approach is, it is tough to believe that Tracy actually believes that this Rockies team can play the spoiler.

The Rockies couldn't get motivated when they had a seven game lead in the National League West going into May. They couldn't get motivated when they were just a few games out after a May that saw them go 8-24. They couldn't get motivated when they had a chance to turn their season around after the All-Star break. They couldn't get motivated when simply playing average baseball would have put them squarely back into the race.

So why would they suddenly embrace the spoiler role? The fact is, this Rockies team will do nothing more than play out the string of their games and try to pad their own personal stats. This team hasn't played like a team all season long. They play like a bunch of guys who are desperately trying to make their own batting averages and home run totals go up.

With the exception of Todd Helton, who always takes a good at bat, always works counts, and seems purely focused on helping his team win, there isn't a member of the regular lineup that has played the game with a team approach. Off season acquisition Ty Wigginton is notorious for swinging at 3-0 pitches when the pitcher can't seem to find the zone. Troy Tulowitzki looks like he often forgets that he can't hit a six run home run.

The reason that the Rockies haven't played up to expectations in 2011 is simply because they have played for themselves all season long. When teams start playing to pad their own statistics, the one stat that represents the team as a whole goes by the way side. That stat? Wins and losses.

If the Rockies want to contend in 2012, or anytime in the near future, they need to figure out a way to infuse the clubhouse with a team-first mindset. How they do that is going to be easier said than done.

Whether that is to get a few veterans in the clubhouse that can change the mindset around, or get rid of a few bad apples, the Rockies must do something in order to mix it up, or they will be in the same boat as they are now one year from now.

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