Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Colorado Rockies can't keep streak alive as Jeff Manship struggles, underscores lack of depth

Jeff Manship was asked to make another start for the Rockies.
Jeff Manship was given an opportunity to pitch in an emergency situation last Thursday in New York. He pitched five decent innings, enough to give the Colorado Rockies confidence to let him get another start.

Or was it because the Rockies had no option?

Either way, the Rockies had Manship on the hill for his second start of the season, and he pitched the way a guy who was sporting a 4.85 ERA in Triple-A might pitch at the big league level.

After the Rockies offense got things going in the 1st inning, scoring four runs and giving Manship a three-run cushion, the Rockies call-up proceeded to give the lead away, allowing the Padres to score four runs of their own in the top of the 3rd inning.

Manship held on to pitch five innings, perhaps accomplishing one thing on the day, not completely burning out the bullpen.

Without being overly negative about the Rockies situation, Manship represents what the problem is with the Rockies. The Rockies right-hander struggled, but so would most struggling Triple-A pitchers who were asked to make two big league starts.

With all due respect to a guy who is doing his best to get better and compete, Manship has no business being on a big league roster. He was called up because of one reason, the Rockies don't have sufficient talent at the minor league level to have a Major League-ready arm in the wings, or close enough to the big leagues to be able to be dependable.

To simplify the complex models of building a baseball team, there are essentially two ways to build a team that most franchises follow. The first model is reserved for the boys with a ton of money. It is to forget about the farm system, and go sign big name free agents to huge contracts. When there is a prospect that is creating a buzz, there is less thought on that guy being at the big league level, and more thought around who that prospect would bring back in a trade.

The other category, the one the Rockies claim to be a part of, is the build-from-within model. This model ignores the big-name free agents. Instead of spending big money on a proven Major League commodity, the team drafts well, then develops crop after crop of minor leaguers who are going to help the big league team produce. When it is time to pay them, the team can attempt to convince that player that the team they came up with is worth taking a slight pay cut to be a part of. If that player is bent on getting top dollar, the original club is simply out of luck. The best thing they can do is survey the situation and try to trade that player before he hits free agency in an effort to build the farm.

Here is the problem for the Rockies. They have decided to build from within, but they haven't actually accomplished that task. Their prospects seem to be extremely promising in the minor leagues, and even sometimes in their initial Major League stints. However, that quickly turns and the Rockies are left with a player who doesn't seem to be able to produce at the big league level.

That issue is abundant on both sides of the ball, but it is even more apparent among the pitchers.

Take a deeper look at the Rockies organization. Who have they developed? Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Juan Pierre and, well, that is about it. It could be argued that Aaron Cook, an All-Star, was a product of the Rockies development. Jeff Francis was a 17-game winner, and Ubaldo Jimenez has been a better than average pitcher at the big league level, so credit the Rockies with him as well.

The issue is clear, however, that the Rockies aren't doing a good enough job of developing players at the minor league level.

Developing players isn't an easy task, and it isn't something that happens overnight. However, the Rockies have been at this model since the failed signings of Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton, over 10 years ago. Even with a few inevitable failed draft picks along the way, the Rockies farm should be significantly stronger than it is.

So the Rockies have struggled to develop players, fans can be patient, right? Sure. Rockies fans are definitely some of the most patient fans in the game. However, the criticism is deserved when the front office of the Rockies continues to turn a blind eye to the struggles, then claims to be contenders. If Jeff Manship is the emergency answer, the team is probably not ready to contend.

Think about the Rockies situation for a moment. This is a team that lost 98 games a year ago. If the front office was preaching the message that they are building, and working on getting better everyday, would fans be upset? What if Dick Monfort told the media that they are doing everything to be a contender, they won't give up, and they are working their tails off to get to where they need to be?

If the front office would preach the message that this is a work in progress, and that progress is clearly being made, would fans be so upset? Fans would probably look more realistically at the team they love and realize that if the Rockies win 75 games, they have improved 13 games from a year ago. Sure, no one is thrilled with that result, but if the team is playing hard, and clearly getting better, fans can live with it.

However, when the front office and ownership insists that the team is a run away from being a contender, the bar is elevated for expectations. The fans now are looking for a division title and a playoff appearance a year after losing 98-games.

The Rockies farm system is clearly in shambles. The depth is equivalent to a baby pool in a backyard filled up with dirty hose water. Beyond the stars, the Rockies don't have a ton of talent, both at the big league level and the minor league level. It will take time, good draft picks, and even better development in order for the model to start producing fruit for the Rockies.

While that is in the process, the Rockies should quit trying to pull the wool over their fans eyes and say it like it is, this is a team that made a few mistakes and is trying to rectify that situation, and it requires some time to get there.

If that was said, there would be a significantly less amount of anger thrown in the Rockies direction.

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  1. David even though we lost our streak last night I saw a lot of encouraging things. It has become more evident to me with the fight and talent they show that Monfort has put the right pieces in place and is dedicated to a World Series in Denver. It's nice to see that. the Rockies are much closer to winning a world series then the Broncos ever thought about winning a Super Bowl. Rockies have superior athletes to them ac compared to Broncos. I.E. When Manning played for Tennessee he sat the bench because Todd Helton was much better qb and athlete and Todd got the start. This is going to be an exciting run through October and we have all the right people in place mgmt and players and money spent wisely to do it. I can't wait to sit back and watch the stretch run and bask in the glory of the boys in purple.

  2. ^ Are you joking? You can't really be this dumb...right?

    Good try Dick or O'Dowd...nobody believes you. Drink the Kool-Aid...The Rockies are terrible.

  3. I want some of what Michael is smoking....This team is so far from being a contender let alone a perpetual playoff team that it's not even funny. I love the Rockies and always will but the Monfort's efforts to continually put lipstick on the same old pig year after year is maddening.

  4. Monfort is killing MLB in Colorado..............
    Put up or Shut up.
    Put out or Get out.
    We will not support a second rate baseball venue.