Sunday, July 14, 2013

Colorado Rockies don't need another pitcher to contend

Do the Rockies need a starter, or a hitter?
As the Colorado Rockies hit the All-Star Break, they sit just four games under .500. That might not sound great to those who have been watching them, but reality is, they have made huge strides in the right direction.

On Sunday, Jhoulys Chacin continued his impressive statement for the Rockies. In picking up his ninth win, the right-hander went six strong innings, giving up one run on six hits. He struck out six and walked three. He was done after 94 pitches.

The defining moment for Chacin, which was a prime example of the step that he has taken in his career, came in the 6th inning. With the Rockies up 3-1, Chacin walked Andre Ethier to begin the frame on four pitches. After getting A.J Ellis to fly out, Scott Van Slyke singled up the middle to allow the go-ahead run to step to the plate with only one out.


In years past, this is where Chacin would implode. The script became so predictable that it was tough to watch. A great five innings would go by the wayside as Chacin would give up three or four runs and pitch his offense out of the game.

However, over the past two months, something has changed. Chacin, instead of folding and failing to throw his best pitches, has become more mentally tough. He isn't giving in to hitters. He isn't afraid to throw on the inside half of the plate, and he challenges the batters instead of trying to hit the corners in an effort to get the strikeout.

On Sunday, he continued his recent trend. With the game hanging in the balance, Chacin got Jerry Hairston to strike out on three pitches, then got Yasiel Puig to fly out to center field, ending the threat and allowing the Rockies to go back to the dugout in the same situation that they were in when they left it.

Chacin lowered his ERA to an impressive 3.50. With nine wins he leads all Colorado pitchers in wins.

The offense once again struggled. The only production came from the bat of All-Star Michael Cuddyer. His 1st inning RBI single got the Rockies on the board for the first time since Friday, and his 5th inning two-run homer was the dagger in the back to the Dodgers.

With calls for the Rockies to make a deadline move to be a winner, the reality might have to slap some in the face. This baseball team doesn't need another starter. This team needs hitters.

The story is 20-years-old. The Rockies can't hit on the road. It is something that is baffling. Sure, Coors Field helps out the batting average, but the adjustment that it takes to go on the road is a problem that no team wearing purple has been able to figure out.

However, this is a team that has been so highly-touted for it's offense, there is no excuse for the lack of production they have displayed for over a month now. This team was shutout twice on the roadtrip and scored one run two other times. The two times they scored one run, both came in the 9th inning after complete futility in the first eight frames.

Despite having young hitters, this team has enough Major League experience that they shouldn't be having trouble scoring runs. Wilin Rosario, who hit 28 home runs in his rookie campaign, is typically hitting in the six or seven hole. The ability to hit the ball out of the park is prevalent from top to bottom in the order.

Every team is going to go through stretches where they can't move runners over, where they can't score runners in scoring position, and where they make bad pitchers look like Cy Young. However, that trend shouldn't continue for more than a couple of weeks. Even with Troy Tulowitzki out of the lineup, this is a team that should be able to put runs on the board.

The other side of the coin is that the Rockies may not have the most depth in their starting rotation. Their fourth and fifth spots have been a black hole. However, the top three spots, between Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood, have pitched well enough for their team to win in seemingly every outing. The reality is, the majority of teams would love to upgrade the backside of their rotation. The Rockies pitching issues are no different than the majority of Major League teams.

The Rockies will benefit from the All-Star Break. They have played like a team that has been worn out by the long season.

With the fan base calling for the front office to pick up a starting pitcher, the real need on this team might be for someone who can make a difference at the plate.

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23 comments:

  1. This might not be the most popular sentiment on the board...but I felt from day one that the Dante hire was nothing more than a publicity grab for the 20 year reunion.

    What this team could use is a teacher type of coach considering the amount of youth on the roster and if you notice who has regressed badly...its all the young players as I believe every one of them have taken at least one step backwards. It might even be a good idea to consider the AA batting coach who worked with most of these guys coming through the system.
    As much as the players revolted against Carney Lansford last year, you do have to say he got alot out of them...especially Colvin who currently looks completely lost.

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    1. Mike,
      I have gone back and forth on this one. Bichette was extremely fun to watch take batting practice. He would methodically take two balls to right field, two balls to center, then two balls to left. He would hit two in each gap, then do it all over again before letting it fly. I figured if he could impart that approach at the plate he would be successful. I haven't seen it yet.

      That said, the Rockies have gone through so many hitting coaches in the past 10 years it's easy to forget who they all were. I'm not sure if it is Bichette, Lansford, Baylor, Alan Cockrell, or Duane Espy...the problems stay the same even when the hitting coach changes, so I don't know who to blame.

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  2. before it was the pitching now the hitting. well let's see on the experience we have in hitters. arenado(rookie) herrera(2nd year)rutledge(2nd year)lamahieu(2nd year)pacheco(2nd year)rasario(2nd year)as most of the team made up of the rockies are sophmores. since tulo has come back he has not 1 hit, but according to him it's not his fault we lost all those games since no one else got hits either. it's still pitching on any team and will always be pitching. all in all a good combination of both and it's ROCKTOBERFEST.

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    1. If the Rockies get a combination of good hitting and good pitching all at the same time, this Rockies team has a serious chance. However, I'm just not sure it is going to happen.

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  3. the players are good enough to win 2013 west division title.
    the question remains.........
    will owners/management make the necessary on field adjustments to have more power, more offenive production?
    and of course will Tulo stay healthy enough to play.......funny, maybe Tulowitski's nickname should be Yugo.

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    1. So where do you put the new offense? Cuddyer, Gonzalez and Fowler are solid defense in outfield. Rosario is solid at catcher.Tulo and Arenado are fine on left side of infield. Hererra is servicable at second. First base is the only need right now and they won't officially replace Helton this year.

      As far as hitting on the road, it is the adjustment to the breaking ball after long homestands that kills them. Coors is not the only hitters park, but Rockies have a harder adjustment when they travel. Their first game on a road trip is traditionally a offensive disaster for them but they then have adjusted.
      Ther is also the domino effect of losing your best(and one of the league's best) right handed hitters in Tulo. When they drift toi a more left handed line-up with no protection for Gonzo, they usually are pretty weak.

      They could use an extra arm, but certainly not a warmed over road-kill that they usually pick up cheaply. Jake Peavy would pitch well at Coors and if Nicasio gets his head straight that would provide one of the best current starting fives in baseball. No number ones here, maybe not a strong two, but certainly 5 consistent starters with a pen that is credible.
      in this western NL division, anyone could get hot and win it

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  4. ideally, to add allstar offensive punch you would replace the Pacheco/Helton 1b combo with a Cuddyer/Helton combo.
    Cuddyer should play 1b 3-4 times a week and you eliminate the incredibly weak offensive play of Pacheco. Who would you rather have on first, Pacheco or Cuddyer.
    Rotate Blackmon/Colvin in right when Cuddyer plays first, and use Helton as a premier late inning pinch hitter, a pinch hitter now with a lot less power but most likely would provide a high on base percentage as pinch hitter.
    Blackmon and Colvin are both better defensively than Cuddyer and both have base stealing speed which Pacheco lacks. They also have more power than Pacheco.
    Pacheco has low obp, no power, no speed. Why Pacheco is in the mix is the a huge mistake by Rockie owner/management.
    Do you think Pacheco/Helton is a better offensive combo than Cuddyer/Helton?...............Herrera is a spot fill in at 3 infield positions. Second base is and should belong to LeMahieu........

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    1. I think both Pacheco and Cuddyer represent a defensive liability at 1st base. However, the lineup needs to have some sort of continuity if this team is going to get things going. That might mean Helton on the bench and the everyday job handed to Cuddyer, or someone else.

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  5. anytime you include Tulowitski as part of the offensive equation, you have to consider he is only available about 65-70 percent of the time.
    a fragile franchise player puts incredible pressure on an offensive lineup when that player isn't able to play for unreasonably long periods of time.
    If you change the 1b situation and Tulo is healthy the rest of the season, the Rocks should win the division, because the players are good enough.

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    1. Tulo's health is a huge question mark. He's gotta stay healthy for the Rockies to gain momentum.

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  6. I would trade Rosario to an AL team looking for a DH. He has wonderful power but I think he gives away too many runs defensively and I don't think his handling of the pitching staff is top notch. It would be nice if they could get a starting pitcher or a solid bullpen arm in return, but if not, even a solid veteran catcher to team with Torrealba would probably put them in a better place than they are in now.

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    1. We have to remember Rosario was called up early to learn last year, and due to injury was forced into a starting role too early. His bat is what earned him the starting job this year, and he has improved a ton this year behind the plate. If he continues the improvement I have no doubt he will be an All Star within 3 years.

      Other than Lopez who do you suggest we move out of the pen to put in the solid arm you mention? I don't see the Rockies moving Lopez ($$$), and frankly who would want him?

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  7. I think any talk of trading Cuddyer is ridiculous. He is the 2nd most productive hitter on the team and he doesn't seem to sway as much on the road. My concern is the bull pen. they are not as good as advertised. Ottavino, Brothers, Belisle(usually) and Betancourt are keepers but Escalona, Corpas, Lopez and maybe Outman should all be upgraded.

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    1. The bullpen is fine as long as the starters are going deep into the game. They struggle when they get several five inning outings from starters. Wilton Lopez is terrible, and Josh Outman isn't trustworthy. However, I think with rest, Brothers, Belisle and Betancourt are as good as it gets.

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  8. I too agree that the Rox should look at a Rosario trade to the Amer. Lge.. He would make a great DH. It is obvious he does not have the def. skills. Even many of the pitches that are deemed to be wild pitches, most catchers would make. Not Wilin! Go with Torrealba 75% of the time and begin the search for the next first baseman. It's def. time to do something with Pacheco, he brings nothing! In my mind, the greatest coaches are the greatest motivators. Apparently quiet Walt lacks on the motivation side, just as Tracy did! You need a leader of a coach, who can kick you in the rear when you need it! Put some heat on a lot of these primadonnas! "Either hit better...or pitch better, or you'll never play on this field for us again!" Enough of this babying! Drew and crew, the game analysts, make it sound like every pitcher they face is the greatest ever! It's the dadgum lack of hitting and the non-caring attitude that ticks me off! No wonder why when you go to a Rox home game, you can hear a pin drop it's so quiet. Fans are bored, sick and tired of the lack of desire by too many of these players!

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    1. Rosario's defense has been beyond brutal. He looks like a little leaguer sometimes back there. I don't know if it goes beyond what he is capable of, or if he loses focus, but countless wild pitches should have been blocked. I don't know what the answer is for him except to hope for the best. The Rockies don't have a catching prospect anywhere close, so I think he is the guy for a while. His offense helps to bridge the gap, but he has to get better behind the plate. It is far too important of a position to be forgotten about.

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    2. As I mentioned in a previous post, Wilin wasn't ready to be moved to the big league either. Yes he defense isn't anywhere where it should be, but he is a big leaguer 2-3 years early. Give him another couple of years to really learn the catcher position and he will be an All Start.

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  9. I think that they not only need a couple of pitchers but also a couple of experienced hitters. The Roxs should have never released Garland instead they should have released one other. They had my interest for a while but lost it just like the donkeys have.

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    1. I think Garland did himself in by complaining about the pitch limit. I happen to agree with him, but probably not a good thing to say on the same night that you gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher.

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  10. Garland's experience underscores the Rock style of 'over the top micro management' that undermines on field player performance.
    Truly sad conditions for the players.

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    1. the almost cruel rotation of rookie Dickerson in three of positions was so very painful to watch and not good for Mr. Dickerson.......but that activity illustrates how owner/management can be brutally callous/unthinking.

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  11. What were the Rockies thinking in bringing Oswalt in to pitch? He needs to go back to AA along with Lopez and Corpas.

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