Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tough loss shows areas where the Colorado Rockies need offseason improvement

Matt Belisle
It's easy to blame Matt Belisle. The reliever has been a shell of himself since before the All-Star Break. The Colorado Rockies have asked him to get the job done in several high pressure situations, and frankly, he hasn't gotten it done.

With Belisle more than willing to admit that he didn't get his job done, what Rockies fans are really seeing is that the reliever is actually human. As writer Thomas Harding pointed out, Belisle's 295 appearances over the past three seasons is more than any other pitcher in the big leagues.

The Rockies have called on Belisle to do more than he should be expected to do. He has largely been able to get the job done. It is safe to say that the Rockies are not getting the same Belisle that they were getting two years ago.

At some point, the Rockies cannot continue depending on one pitcher. They must build a bullpen, whether with guys in their farm system or through free agency, that can get the job done late. They have to find a guy who can be dependable when their top guys, like Belisle, need to have a couple of days in a row off.

Heading into the season, it was all but made public that the Rockies wouldn't be able to keep both Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle beyond the 2013 season. Both relievers have a club option for $4.5 million. That figure is too much to pay for two relievers. Well, with Betancourt's fate determined by a ruptured UCL in his elbow, it seemed clear that Belisle would be back. However, the Rockies must determine if the overuse of Belisle can be fixed with rest in the offseason, or if the damage has been done permanently.

The reality is, the Rockies desperately need Belisle back. They don't need the current Belisle back, but they need the one who was consistently able to get them out of jams and be dependable to throw strikes and get outs. Having that Belisle back isn't the answer alone either. They need someone on top of him who can get it done as well.

Saturday's loss also threw another log on a fire that has been burning in the minds of Rockies fans for the majority of the summer. This team is desperately lacking the one thing that they thought they had plenty of, bats that consistently put up runs. One run against the Padres, whether at Petco Park or at Coors Field, simply isn't enough. If it was the first time that it happened, it wouldn't be an issue. However, the lack of runs is something that has plagued this team since June.

Something that has become far too common is seeing Troy Tulowitzki arguing with an umpire after being called out on strikes. At some point, the common thread isn't the umpire, it is Tulowitzki. The fact is, the Rockies don't want Tulo to be taking walks. Especially with Carlos Gonzalez out with injury, the club needs Tulo hitting doubles and driving in runs. Instead, he seems to be too commonly arguing his point that he should be walking to first base instead of back to the dugout.

The Rockies must prove to fans in the offseason that they understand that there are serious issues with this team. They must go to the free agent market and find another consistent hitter, someone who can hit the ball out of the park. They also need another late-inning reliever who is dependable enough to let Belisle spend a few pressure situations on the bench.

If it takes the team having to overpay for a reliever, then so be it. This is a team that needs to lock down the late innings, and will have a huge hole with the loss of Betancourt.

The Rockies have plenty of talent. However, they are a few solid pieces away from being actual contenders. They Rockies need to address those issues in the offseason instead of standing pat and hoping for the best from the guys they are trying to develop.

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  1. Fact is the Rockies haven't had a truly dominating closer since the mid 90's, if ever. Betancourt was best as an eighth inning set-up man, then you crossed your fingers as Street came in to close. Now with Belisle overtaxed there are at least two additional ways to blow a game. Being realistic, this team is and has been for years a frustrating reflextion of incompetent, minor league management.

  2. The bullpen has 4 decent pieces - Belisle, Brothers, Betancourt, and Corpas.

  3. Is the Oswalt "experiment" (see Jamie Moyer), over yet?

  4. rockies are........"consummate losers',
    the brainchild of feckless cronies.