Monday, June 2, 2014

Is it time for the Colorado Rockies to start building for next year?

Time for Bill Geivett to shake things up for the Rockies.
It is going to take a minor miracle for the Colorado Rockies to make the playoffs.

One bad road trip and suddenly a fan base that was injected with optimism is jumping from the bandwagon as if it is filling up with smoke and flames. When things go bad for the Rockies, they go bad in a hurry.

Suddenly a team that looked like it didn't have any holes whatsoever now has far too many holes to count. The starting rotation is broken and battered. A guy who once looked to be the future long-term ace of this franchise, Jhoulys Chacin, has been terrible in his return. Juan Nicasio and Franklin Morales have been anything but the model of consistency, and without a major surprise from Jordan Lyles, this rotation would be Jorge De La Rosa followed by four games of hoping for an eight-run night from the offense.

The bullpen is the only thing that is in disarray more than the starting rotation. In a classic example of how baseball can humble someone, Rex Brothers was being talked about as an All-Star snub just 11 months ago. He was the best lefty reliever in baseball for the first half of 2013. Suddenly he can't find the plate, and when he does, the ball can't find a mitt, except for possibly a fan in the right field seats.

LaTroy Hawkins, brought in to shore up the bullpen and give Brothers a chance to grow as a pitcher before taking the reins as the closer, has been a nightmare. This is a guy who has been pitching since the infamous baseball strike of 1994. Expecting him to be productive and to get late inning outs was probably not the most logical of decisions anyway.

With the exception of Adam Ottavino, the Rockies bullpen has been nothing short of a train wreck. Watching this team, not one single pitcher, with the exception of Ottavino on most nights, gives fans the warm and fuzzy feeling that they are going to be dominant and get outs.

For the Rockies, there isn't much leeway to continue to struggle. They still sit at a very respectable .500 record. While the road trip was disastrous, remember back to 2007, the Rockies were climbing back into things and it looked like they were on their way. They had just swept the high powered Yankees at home and were heading to Toronto to start a 10-game road trip. Three blown saves from Brian Fuentes, and a 1-9 road trip led to fans feeling duped. Instead, the Rockies got back on the horse and played well the rest of the way. It wasn't easy, but they hung on by the skin of their teeth to make the playoffs, and eventually won the National League pennant.

Will the Rockies win the pennant? The easy answer to that question is probably not. This isn't going to be an easy ride for Colorado, and frankly, no one is expecting them to go to the World Series. However, if they want to make noise, if they want to actually be in contention in September, they can't afford too many more bad stretches.

The reality is, both the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers aren't going anywhere. The Giants are a league-best 37-20 despite not having the talent on paper to be that good. The Dodgers have been hitting speed bump after speed bump, have yet to hit their stride, and are still 31-28. The fact is, neither of those teams figure to go away. The Rockies are going to need to play extremely good baseball to stick around in the race.

To play really good baseball, they have to figure out how to win on the road. The finger can be pointed in many different directions as to whose fault it is that the Rockies can't win on the road. It is easy to suggest that it is management, that it is the players, that it is the front office, that it is player development, or any other reason. However, with 22 years of struggles on the road, the reality is, the reason the Rockies can't win on the road is something that no one really has the answer to. To suggest that it is an easy fix has nearly a quarter century of evidence that would suggest it isn't an easy fix.

With the road struggles raring their ugly head, it is very important for the Rockies to win at home. Their struggles away from Coors Field put a significant amount of pressure on them to win at home. The problem with that kind of pressure is that baseball is a long season. To be  constantly under high pressure -- at home to win nearly every game -- on the road to scrape a few games away from the opponent when it seems very difficult -- can start to tax a team. Baseball is 162 game season. To play with that much pressure every single day is exhausting.

To try and play with that kind of pressure with a rotation that boasts only two guys who have been reliable enough to take some of the pressure off of the offense makes the task even more difficult. The reality is, the odds are stacked against the Rockies.

However, this is still a team that can succeed. They have reinforcements at the minor league level for the first time in many years. They will eventually get both Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson back from their injuries. In four weeks, Nolan Arenado should be back in the lineup and bring a boost to the club.

With the idea that the Rockies can still make a run, they need to bridge the gap right away. They must find a way to succeed while they wait for the three injured players to return. If that means calling up a couple of prospects and taking a chance on them, then now is the time to make that move. It is time to take a chance on Tyler Matzek, Christian Bergman, Eddie Butler or Jon Gray. They don't have to, and don't need to, take a chance on all of them, but with the season slipping away, there is no longer any room for error. There is no time to keep watching Franklin Morales fail as a starter.

The Rockies can stay in this race. They need to be willing to adjust and make some bold moves, even if those moves weren't in their original plan.

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  1. The only thing working in the Rockies favor now is that there is no one running away with the 2 wild card spots. Most of the big name contenders are all hovering around .500.
    This is why the Rockies should do something NOW to fix the rotation by at least not giving away a freebie every 5 games when Morales takes the hill.
    The offense should have the talent to at least be competitive if the rotation can at least give them a chance.
    By doing nothing, it gives the appearance the front office doesn't care as this is where this perception is driven from. I realize they are trying to not start these pitchers arbitration clock a year early but at what cost? The cost is the 2014 season.

    1. I agree, bring in one of the young guns and out with Morales......

  2. David,
    How does that purple Kool-Aid taste now? As you stated the other day... the Rockies need to change their plan.

  3. The Rockies are just plain losers, when was the last time, they played over 500 ball for a season, Cargo talks a great game, and yet still doesn't produce, excuse after excuse

  4. We've heard how well off the Rockies' farm system is. How they are building players in the minors. These players get to Denver and what happens? Over 22 years we know one thing....ANYBODY can hit at Coors Field. Why not take some of these position player prospects and trade for some pitching? How about build your team around winning on the ROAD. They play 81 games on the road. Throw all of the resources to being the best road team in baseball....then take your chances at home.

    That's my biggest frustration with this club. If they would focus on playing well on the road, they would focus on building a team that plays fundamentally sound baseball. You win games playing fundamentally sound baseball, no matter where the game is held. Coors Field would just amplify those fundamentals and make the team that much better and give them MORE of an edge. What is fundamentally sound baseball you ask? Pitching, defense and small ball offense. Throw strikes, don't kick the ball around and get a guy on base, get him over and get him in. The Indians won a game the other night doing just that. They drew a walk, bunted the guy over to second and singled him home. I can't remember the last time I saw ANY Rockie execute a bunt properly. Stop slugging the ball around and play solid baseball Rockies. You have 100+ years of data that will show you how to win. Altitude won't change that. Stop using the "thin air" as an excuse.

  5. Where did you learn to write English.. the grammar is horrible

    1. No the English is improper, the baseball is horrible!

    2. Here is what your comment should have said. "Where did you learn to write English? The grammar is horrible."

      You missed your question mark, a capitalization, and a period.

      Thanks for the comment though.

    3. I agree with anonymous, best way to get some quality pitchers, get rid of Tulo & Cargo, get some quality pitchers. They are the bulk of the roster's payroll, and yet the Rockies can't win with them. Since them two have been in Denver, How many Division titles, have they won, how many play-offs have they won.

    4. Yeah, "remember back" to 2007.. lmao.. anyway . new owners and new philosophy in Denver .. and they tried getting the best pitchers for tons of money.. "remember back" to how that worked?

    5. I'm not sure I understand your comment. I don't think anyone is advocating for spending a ton of money on pitchers. I didn't write that in the piece, and no one said it in the comments.

  6. I think that it is time for Walt Weiss to go. Geez! You listen to him doing radio interviews and he sounds like a little league coach. If he speaks to his team like they are kids then that is a problem. I respect Walt but you don't just take a high school coach and expect him to be an MLB manager.

  7. Thank you, Dale Meyer. I have been saying that very same thing. You do not hire a High School Baseball Coach, to be a Major League manager. Just another way, the owner saving money. Weiss, might be a good man, but, not now anyway, a Manager.
    Put Tulo, in say New York, then see how his batting average goes,, He is like Helton and others, hit a ton at home, but look like a triple AAA player, on the road.

  8. Let's be patient. O'Dowd has only had a lousy 15 seasons to build a winner. He needs another 20 at least, minimum.