Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Colorado Rockies starting to turn heads with April play

The Rockies continue to win baseball games.
Old habits die hard.

As bad as the Colorado Rockies have been in the last few years, it is easy to be skeptical.of this team. In each of the past three seasons, the Rockies have come out and played well in April only to fade into oblivion in August.

The scar tissue remains with many fans. They aren't going to buy in until this team proves that they can win in more than one month. The story line is all too familiar to those who have invested time and money into watching this Rockies club.

For some reason, this April seems different. Maybe it is because the bar was set so low by the way the Rockies played in August and September of 2013 that a team winning baseball games looks like pennant contenders. Regardless, this team is much different than the teams in the past. This team seems to be more complete.

Make no mistake, the Rockies still have their fair share of issues. The starting rotation has a guy who has one pitch as the fourth man in Juan Nicasio and a guy who has electric stuff, but can't seem to corral it consistently in Franklin Morales. After Tyler Chatwood left Tuesday night's game with elbow stiffness, a dreaded feeling for a pitcher, the Rockies may have to depend on those two pitchers for a significant amount of time.

The bullpen is also full of question marks. Matt Belisle is clearly struggling after years of overuse. He isn't as dependable as he has been in the past, and frankly, at this point he is a huge liability. The bullpen consists of a guy who was loading washers and dryers at Lowe's two years ago in Chris Martin and another guy who the Rockies snagged in the Rule-5 draft from the Yankees, Tommy Kahnle. Both of those stories are great, but they shouldn't provide a ton of confidence that they will consistently get the job done.

The Rockies closer pitched before, during, and after the steroid era. That should give a strong enough idea as to how much the Rockies should struggle.

However, the interesting thing is, with all of the issues the Rockies pitchers face, something strange is happening. The Rockies are winning. They aren't just winning at Coors Field either. They are actually winning real baseball games where they have to manufacturer runs and where they have to mount a fight against a good pitcher in an opposing team's ballpark.

To give credit where it is due, despite it being early, some credit needs to go to the Rockies front office. Something that the Rockies lacked desperately in seasons past was depth. If one guy went down with injury, or if someone was ineffective or mired in a slump, the Rockies were a completely different team.

This Rockies team doesn't seem to be the same. This Rockies team has guys who seem passionate about winning and finding ways to get better. Charlie Blackmon wears his passion on his sleeve and seemingly in his beard. No one has ever questioned that Troy Tulowitzki wants to be the best baseball player in the history of the game, but the extra players are the ones making the difference. Brandon Barnes is a grinder, Justin Morneau still has the ability to give the Rockies a similar swing to the one that won him the American League MVP in 2006. Drew Stubbs, who crushed the game-winning home run on Tuesday night has been a starter for his whole career and is now relegated to bench duty.

In addition to those new players, Nolan Arenado is starting to show why the scouts were in love with his bat. This is a guy who suddenly has figured out how to hit at the big league level. His hitting streak has now reached 19 games as he recorded two additional hits on Tuesday.

This Rockies team has issues, but they have the intangible factors that are required for them to become a serious threat. They seem to believe in themselves. They seem to believe in each other. The Rockies talent relies heavily on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez being successful, but they don't rely on those guys alone as they have in the past.

This is a team that is significantly deeper than it was a year ago. They are very prepared for anything that might come up. Instead of having to go with inferior talent when one of their stars goes down, the Rockies have guys who are good enough to be every day players in the big leagues.

Te Rockies go for the sweep for the third time this season. With the Diamondbacks struggling greatly to get out of the gate, this is the Rockies chance to grab another game when they are fortunate enough to play a talented team like the Diamondbacks when they are struggling so mightily.

The reality is this, the Rockies are a much better team than they were a year ago. They aren't great yet, but they are getting closer.

For Rockies fans, the key is for this team to be watchable all summer long.

Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"


  1. What was the deal with Chris Martin pitching only 1 inning last night? He relieved Chatwood with the bases loaded, no outs and 1 ball on a batter. Martin did a hell of a job by not allowing a run.