Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Colorado Rockies early success has hidden continued bad upper management

Apparently Wilton Lopez was a better 7th inning option than Chacin.
97 pitches.

That was all Colorado Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin was allowed to throw on Tuesday night in San Diego. Despite giving up just one run on five hits through six innings, Chacin was done after the 6th. The reason was the same as it has been for the past two seasons. Pitch count.

Let's get this straight. A pitcher can warm up by throwing long toss, throw 20-30 pitches in the bullpen prior to the game, throw eight pitches before the 1st inning, then five more pitches between each inning, yet for some reason if he throws over 100 in-game pitches, he will magically get hurt?

Chacin, who has been marvelous for the past six weeks, was saved from injury by his manager Walt Weiss on Tuesday. Is that sarcastic? Absolutely. Chacin was the Rockies best hope for a win in San Diego, and some fictional pitch count is what ended up costing both him and the Rockies the win. The question should be, what does it matter if all of the Rockies pitchers hurt their arms if either way they aren't going to play in the playoffs?

For those who haven't been paying attention, the Rockies front office has a theory that pitching half of the teams games at altitude not only inflates a pitcher's ERA, but it also increases their likelihood for long-term arm injury. The sad thing is, that theory didn't get laughed out of the conference room it was presented in, it was adopted and implemented, and it has cost the Rockies baseball games ever since.

It would be one thing if the Rockies wanted to limit their starters pitch count if they were able to shorten games with a bullpen that was capable of picking up three innings every night. When the answer, as it was on Tuesday night, is Wilton Lopez in a one run game, it is time to start re-thinking the sanity of the guys making decisions.

Think about it. The Rockies theory is that if Chacin went one more inning, perhaps 15 more pitches, he would be susceptible to injury. So instead of throwing those 15 extra pitches in a game played at sea level, the Rockies thought it would be a better option to go with Wilton Lopez, a sinkerball pitcher who is getting far less than 50 percent of his outs on the ground and sports an ERA at 4.43. Lopez gave up one run on four hits, digging the Rockies a deeper hole.

Lopez was lucky to get out of the inning with just one run. He was given a two gifts, first, a bad suicide squeeze bunt that ended in an out at the plate, then, with the bases loaded, Lopez hung an off-speed pitch that Carlos Quintin crushed to left field. However, he got under it so much that it fell into Tyler Colvin's glove 15 feet shy of the wall.

Despite the poor decision to take Chacin out of the game, the loss falls on the shoulders of a non-existent offense. The Rockies failed to get to Eric Stults, who threw a complete game against them, only giving up one run in the 9th inning.

The Rockies trotted out a lineup that featured Tyler Colvin, who managed to lower his batting average to .160 with his 0-for-3 night, Jordan Pacheco, who suddenly has forgotten his approach at the plate and is hitting .239, Josh Rutledge, who doubles as a second pitcher in the lineup with a Mendozian .216 batting average.

The reality is, the early season standings helped to blind the eyes of desperate Rockies fans in the early going. Despite a change at manager, one that gave the team some hope, the same guys upstairs are clearly calling the shots. The organizational mentality to limit pitch counts to 100 isn't something that both Weiss and Jim Tracy happened to have in common. This is something that was directed to both managers.

Pretend for a minute that the Rockies altitude theory is actually correct. Even if it is, why would the front office decide to make it so publicly known? What pitcher would be excited about being drafted by the Rockies? Beyond that, Coors Field was never exactly a place where free agent pitchers wanted to land, now that is supposedly causes injuries and there is a stiff pitch count rule, why would any pitcher with anything left in their arsenal, actually choose to sign with the Rockies? The club's theory has successfully destroyed any chance the Rockies have to improve their team beyond growth through the farm. Even if they are able to develop pitchers, with this mindset, those young starters will have a timer set for when they become a free agent and can sing elsewhere.

The Rockies will want their fans to believe that the injuries of Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez is the reason the Rockies offense couldn't get going in recent days. The problem with that once again goes back to the front office. If the idea of the front office is to simply cross their fingers that those guys will stay healthy and produce, it is utter incompetence. Of course those guys aren't easy to replace. No one is going to be able to come in off of the bench or from Triple-A and produce the way those guys do. However, it is the front office's job to put as many guys around their core of players that when guys go down, the team isn't in utter disarray. The Rockies front office has failed miserably at that.

The early record may have deceived those who watched a team lose 98 games a year ago. The reality is, this team has the exact same issues that they had a year ago. The problems begin in the front office and trickle down into the dugout from there.

Sometimes when a person or group becomes so immersed in something for so long, it becomes difficult to see the forest through the trees. That seems to be the case at 20th and Blake. It is time to make changes. Even if the Rockies are able to turn their deflating season around, it only buys an incompetent front office more time to continue down the road of mediocrity.

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  1. Totally agree with you, David. What gets to me is every single hitter it seems has the worst approach to the pitcher. How many complete games have been thrown against the Rockies where we get one or less runs? These guys get up to the plate and are so eager to be the one to break up this pitcher's timing that we forget the way to do that is make him throw to you, not swing at the first "maybe" strike you see. We are swinging at the first pitch, and giving the pitcher 10 pitch innings deep in the game when we should be making him work to throw strikes, and drive his pitch count up. I know part of the issue is that these guys are also fighting for their spots so they want to be aggressive but as a whole for this club, I would have to say our plate approach must be "less is more." They need to take it from Cuddy or Todd and learn what it is to fight in an at bat and quit giving so many of them away. Learn to take a walk. I heard Cuddy in an interview talk about his hitting streak and all he said is he is "trying to keep it simple." Its like the whole team is trying to win the game each time they step to the plate.

    Lastly, can our CF from last night's ballgame please step aside? Embarrassing...

  2. Hello, Mr. Martin.
    your perception is correct and the sad tale is nothing will change for this franchise until the Monforts are long gone.
    Monforts have proven year after year they are incapable of delivering a division winning team.
    Weiss has no business being a major league manager, and will fail miserably as the season progresses. His willingness to toe the corporate line weakens the performance on the field and denies talented players from delivering winning baseball.
    Bichette must be driving some hitters insane as their approach at the plate seems confused, lacking discipline.
    Game 1 of Dodger series to Dodgers as another lefthander puts the ring in the Rockies nose.
    If they win one of the next three, that win will come as a huge surprise.
    Disgusted with Rockie owners/management.