Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bob Apodaca continues to escape criticism as Colorado Rockies starters struggle

When does Bob Apodaca start getting heat?
An exciting night at Coors Field on Tuesday night came to an end with the Colorado Rockies hottest hitter, Carlos Gonzalez, striking out to end the game, leaving the Rockies one run short.

Three innings earlier, the Rockies were down 7-0, struggling at the plate against lefty Ted Lilly, but more importantly, out of the game because of yet another poor performance from should-be ace Jhoulys Chacin.

The Venezuelan native looked terrible. He continues to struggle locating any of his pitches. On Tuesday, he gave up a leadoff home run to Dee Gordon, the shortstops first career home run. The route was on from there. Chacin gave up four runs before the Rockies came to the plate, then one more in the 3rd inning and two more in the 5th. All seven runs were earned, they came on 11 hits. Chacin also walked four while striking out three.

Despite the rough outing, the offense showed their character. They battled back and scored six runs despite being stymied by Lilly for five-plus innings. The offense has shown the attitude that they won't quit. They fight until the end, which is a great sign for Rockies fans.

However, seven runs given up by the starting pitcher is never a recipe for a win. Chacin, however, was required to go further into the game than he deserved due to the fact that the bullpen is probably already on their second Costco-sized bottle of Advil due to overuse.

Many will be frustrated with Chacin. This was supposed to be his breakout year. Fans have the right to be mad at him. He hasn't pitched well.

What is interesting is that the man who is in charge of teaching the pitchers how to get outs, Bob Apodaca, seems to escape blame. When was the last time Apodaca was mentioned in a negative light?

For years, Apodaca has had the built-in "Coors Field is a tough place to pitch" excuse. The only problem is that opposing pitchers haven't had too much of a problem, yet the home pitchers continuously struggle. Is it just a coincidence that many pitchers with promise have come through the Rockies farm system only to fizzle out at the big league level? How about the pitchers who have come to Colorado, enjoyed a certain amount of success, then suddenly forgotten how to pitch, only to go somewhere else and become effective again.

As an example, look no further than the offseason trade that sent Jason Hammel from Colorado to Baltimore and brought Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies. Guthrie was no super hero, but he was a guy who the Orioles always counted on to get outs. Despite a poor winning percentage, largely due to pitching in the AL East, Guthrie's ERA was always at least formidable. In 2010 he had a 3.83 ERA followed by a 4.33 ERA in 2011. Although early in 2012, he sits at just under 6.00 at 5.92.

Look on the other side of the trade. Hammel has been nothing short of phenomenal. Through five starts, Hammel owns a 1.98 ERA. He has 30 strikeouts and just 10 walks. Those are interesting numbers for a guy who was so bad down the stretch for the Rockies in 2011 that he was removed from the rotation.

For another example, look at Aaron Cook. The former All-Star combined to go 9-18 in 2010 and 2011, finishing 2011 with a dismal 6.03 ERA. He simply couldn't get outs in his final 2-1/2 years in a Rockies uniform. The Rockies let him walk after the season. He signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox and is currently the most clamored for starting pitcher in Boston. While the big club struggles, Cook had a good spring, and then followed it up with a 3-0 record in five starts for Pawtucket, including a 1.89 ERA.

Those are just two examples of former Rockies pitchers who have gone on to be more successful after they left.

Flip the script for a minute. Remember how fans were demanding that Don Baylor be fired after the Rockies offense looked lost at the plate throughout the 2010 season? Then, after just two short months in 2011, Carney Lansford, the hitting coach who replaced Baylor, was already getting calls for his head after a pathetic offensive showing in 2011.

Both coaches deserved their fair share of criticism. Both coaches failed in certain aspects of the game.

The point is that it doesn't take much failure on offense before the hitting coach is feeling his seat in the dugout get really hot, regardless of who that hitting coach is. However, the pitchers can struggle day-in and day-out, yet Apodaca continues not only to feel no pressure, but to receive praise.

At what point does Apodaca get held accountable for the starting pitcher's struggles? How many talented pitchers have to look completely lost on the mound before it becomes clear that either Apodaca is sending the wrong message, or the players are tuning him out? For 10 years now, he has had a free pass.

It's time for the Rockies front office to start demanding better results from their pitching coach.

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1 comment:

  1. It is about time someone else recognized that the pitching coach is not effective. This has been going on for years and years. Every year the fans complain about the pitching but there are never any changes made. It is time for a quality pitching coach in Colorado!