Friday, May 18, 2012

Colorado Rockies victims of complete-game shutout by Kevin Millwood

The Colorado Rockies may be at rock bottom.
Can it get any worse than this? How bad can this team really be?

A day after playing one of the worst games in franchise history in a 9-7 loss at Coors Field, the bumbling Colorado Rockies were shutout by veteran and former teammate, Kevin Millwood on Friday night.

The pitching got blamed on Thursday, but it wasn't their fault on Friday as Alex White went seven innings and gave up two earned runs. He struck out seven and walked none. It was the type of outing that gets a starting pitcher a win the vast majority of the time at Coors Field. This, however, was not one of those times.

When the pitching is good, the offense doesn't show up. When the offense is good, the pitchers can't buy an out.

It's tough. It has been going so bad, for so long that it is tough to continuously be negative about this team. At some point, there needs to be something positive to say. The only bright spot in the past three weeks has been the emergence of Christian Friedrich, the Rockies starter on Saturday.

This teams under performance is remarkable. Some people would like to believe that they are not a talented team. That just isn't true. This team has proven players. They have veterans who know how to win and young players that have a ton of talent.

The rotation has struggled, but really, are they as bad as their numbers? There are plenty of teams that would be thrilled to have a combination similar to Juan Nicasio, Jhoulys Chacin and Drew Pomeranz. Add in other young pitchers like Alex White and Friedrich and the rotation might not be great, but to suggest that they are anything less than average is a mistake. This rotation is good enough to compete.

Even if the Rockies rotation is simply average their lineup is better than average. They should be able to score more runs than their opponent more often than not.

Before the season began, I felt the heat from the disgruntled Rockies fans when I said that they were better than they were being given credit for. I bought into the clubhouse turnover. I thought that guys like Ian Stewart and Chris Iannetta weren't interested in winning and that they were bringing the club down. I thought that bringing in a gamer like Michael Cuddyer, even if they overpaid for him, would be a positive influence.

Couple those moves with the fact that the team grossly underperformed a year ago, and the signs pointed to a team that could really surprise some people. Playing in the National League West, with no real dominant teams, the Rockies had a chance. It all made sense.

The detractors suggested that the team didn't do anything good, they just got older. They became more veteran, but those players would wear down quicker. They also were quick to point out that the real issue was pitching, and bringing in Jeremy Guthrie as the sole move would not work.

Still, buying in to Dan O'Dowd's past success of finding diamonds in the rough like Jason Marquis and trading Matt Holliday and getting Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street, I felt that the moves might just pay off. I was positive. I picked the team to win 84 games. That is an improvement of 11 games from 2011. That is being very positive.

However, before Memorial Day arrives, the Rockies have removed all doubt that the bold spring training prediction was one that made fools of the people who believed in the franchise. It wasn't easy to be positive, but the moves could be seen as winning moves.

Diving in and trying to figure out what is wrong is the next step. Well, if the clubhouse was an issue and guys didn't care enough about winning, then why does this team play with the same lack of effort since the losing started? Is it Troy Tulowitzki's fault for not leading well enough? Is Todd Helton too quiet? Are both of those guys failing in the batter's box too often?

The issue might be beyond the talent on the field. Is Jim Tracy too nice? Is he afraid to bring the hammer down when someone needs to be put in their place? Is it his crazy lineup moves, and indefensible bullpen maneuvers that have doomed this team?

Does the weight of this team's struggles fall on the shoulders of Bob Apodaca? After all, the biggest issue is that the starting pitchers have underperformed. Well, at what point is it coaching when none of the pitchers attack the strike zone? When nearly all of the pitchers are three to four MPH down in their velocity, is the message from the pitching coach not resonating?

Is it an organizational issue? Are the Monforts too soft? Do they treat their employees too much like family that making tough decisions takes too long?

It's tough to be positive. It's easy to be negative. At some point is it just complaining? I'm not sure. It is incredibly difficult to lift something positive out of a team that is struggling so badly, yet is so unwilling to acknowledge that things must change in order to right the ship. It is frustrating to watch a franchise accept status quo and tell their paying fans that instead of making an effort to turn things around, they are juts going to blindly drive the car into the brick wall with the gas pedal to the metal.

Being positive will come back. It will return when the Rockies make difficult decisions. It will come back when the owners say that enough is enough and let everyone know that mediocrity isn't going to cut it.

Some people think that changing a manager or a coach won't do anything to turn the season around. They might be correct. However, what it will do is tell a fan base that the franchise isn't content with losing, that they aren't content with being a joke around the league and that they are willing to make tough decisions in an effort to become better.

That day needs to come soon. The fans are starting to become cynics. They have every right to be. This team stinks and nothing is being done about that.

If the owner's don't tell someone it is time to pack it in, the fans will pack it in themselves and quit paying attention. It's time to make a move. It's time to start handing out pink slips. Who gets the first one is not important, but it has to happen soon.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm beginning to wonder if Dim Jim has lost the clubhouse, and the players are giving an effort of 60% in order force the hands of the GM and owners. That is honestly the only answer/excuse that seems to fit anymore.