Monday, May 21, 2012

Colorado Rockies take their losing streak to South Beach

Jim Tracy has looked confused by his team's play often in 2012.
What is left to say about these Colorado Rockies? They are running out of ways to lose baseball games.

After being spotted a four-run lead in the 1st inning, Jamie Moyer couldn't pitch well enough to hold the Marlins at bay. His final batter, Giancarlo Stanton, blasted a grand slam just inside the left field foul pole to give the Marlins a 6-4 advantage.

After tacking on another late run, the scoring was over, Marlins win 7-4.

Moyer got crushed, victimized by batters adjusting to the slow speed of his pitches after seeing them a couple of times through the order. He didn't give the Rockies much of a chance to win, but it wasn't a night when the starting pitcher was the lone man to blame.

After putting up four runs in the first, the Rockies offense shut it down. Instead of continuing to pile on the runs, the bats cooled down, not collecting another hit until the 8th inning when Jordan Pacheco came through with a base hit.

The interesting aspect of the Rockies losing streak is that so much of it feels so similar to a season ago. The offense might put up a few runs, but then they would go quietly for a long stretch. It looked like the big inning had taken all of the energy that they could muster.

The pitching was much the same as well. In 2011, a starting pitcher would give up a few runs and instead of limiting the damage, they would seem to always give up the long ball, or allow a bad inning to become a horrible inning.

That wouldn't be such a big surprise except for the fact that the major selling point for the Rockies offseason was that they were going to get rid of the passive attitudes in the clubhouse. These attitudes were blamed for the team's lack of fight and lack of focus. The disappointment that was the 2011 season was blamed on the players that were shipped out before spring training arrived.

So, if the bad apples that contributed to a poor season in which the pitchers couldn't get the job done and the batters lacked focus and desire were removed from the roster, why is the club getting the same results? Is it because the person who is motivating them is still in that same position? Is it because the guy who has been anointed as the face of the franchise tries to be the entire franchise when the team is struggling?

The hard questions must be asked. They have to be asked because the offseason was full of blaming players, guys who are trying to make a living in professional baseball, for the failures of a whole team. Maybe an apology from Dan O'Dowd is required to guys like Jason Hammel who seems to be doing just fine in his new home.

The problem is, the Rockies wanted to blame their struggles on the guys who were role players. Guys like Hammel, Ty Wigginton, Ian Stewart, and even Chris Iannetta should never have had to be leaned upon for the team's success. They were pieces to the puzzle. When a season goes bad, the non-leaders on the team are not the ones who fingers need to be pointed at. The fingers get pointed at the leaders on the team. It starts with management, then goes straight to the guy who has been ordained as the face of the franchise.

As great of players as they are, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton have to take a certain amount of responsibility for the failures that this team is facing. To their credit, neither one of those guys is suggesting that it isn't their fault, but neither has done anything to pick the team up and get them back on track.

As things go from bad to worse, the finger also has to point at both the manager and the general manager. Jim Tracy would love for fans to believe that this team simply isn't talented enough to contend. After nearly every loss, Tracy is busy telling the media that they must tip their cap to the other starter. Sure, he is giving credit where credit is due, but he is also subtly letting everyone know that he believes the other side is more talented than the group that he is commander of.

Tulowitzki, trying his hardest to be the leader of the club, perhaps feels the pressure of the losing streak. Despite a home run in the 1st inning, the shortstop hit into two double plays later in the game. He continues to roll over on pitches on the outer half of the plate, trying to pull the ball. When Tulo is at his best, he is driving the ball to both gaps. When he is at his worst he is pulling everything that he fires at.

With frustration mounting, it is anyone's guess as to when, or if, the front office will make a move. Some would argue that making a coaching change or managerial change right now wouldn't make a difference. That isn't the point. The point is to say that being the worst team in baseball is not acceptable. It is saying that when things don't go the way they should, someone has to pay the price. It raises the bar in the clubhouse, in the manager's office and in the front office itself.

If nothing happens, it is the Rockies admitting that they never thought that this team had a chance to compete. It is them saying that this is what they expected.

If that is the case, fans can expect to see similar types of performances all summer long as they saw on Monday, and for that matter, the entire month of May.

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1 comment:

  1. Certainly time to stop preaching patience and start the makeover.

    Moyer seems like a decent enough guy but obviously doesn't figure into the future. Cut him loose and bring back Pomerantz. If we are going to lose this year might as well do it gaining experience for guys who will probably be around down the road. Same thing with the future 3rd baseman from AA - bring him up and let him learn while there is no real pressure. Maybe sit Scutaro and let EY Jr. work at 2nd. Sure the fielding will be rough but he brings things to the offense that an aging Scutaro doesn't. I'm still a Todd fan, but if he continues to struggle it could be an opportunity to start to answer the longer term question at 1st.

    If the season is already going up in flames why just sit back and watch it burn? Are we using the Cubs model of "wait until next year"? Any Cubs follower knows the response to that one is..."this was next year".