|Rockies fans want the old Rex Brothers back.|
Too harsh? Prove me wrong. I'd love to see someone give a solid reason as to why this Rockies team has a fighting chance to crawl back into the race. Sure, they are just two games under .500 after the latest disaster, but the reality is, that record doesn't speak to the true issues that this Rockies team has.
The reality is, the offensive explosion that came courtesy of nearly historic runs from Troy Tulowitzki and Charlie Blackmon, along with the rest of the lineup that was doing their part as well, hid the fact of just how flawed this team is. Start with the bullpen. There is no answer in the pen. There isn't one pitcher who should be trusted with important outs. Adam Ottavino is the only one with an argument, but he has struggled of late.
The early offense was perhaps the worst thing for this team. It made them and their fans believe that they had taken the steps needed to go from being a perennial dud to a serious National League West contender. The thought of that right now is an absolute joke.
When the offense naturally regressed (you didn't really expect Troy Tulowitzki to hit .450 all season long, right?), the Rockies suddenly slumped back to reality. The fact that their starting rotation consisted of Juan Nicasio and Franklin Morales was covered up by the offense covering up the five or six runs that those guys were giving up. When the bullpen walked batters, gave up hits and allowed four or five opponent runs to turn into six or seven runs, it was covered up by an offense that was scoring runs like they were facing the Smoky Hill High School Junior Varsity squad.
The wins jaded fans. They made them think that this team was ready to compete and ready to contend. Don't blame the fans. Fans are desperate for a winner. They are passionate about this organization and they long for Rocktober to return again someday. Forgive them for jumping the gun. However, reality has set in, and it has come with a swift kick to the mid section.
Right now it is easy to start pointing fingers. The problem is, no one has enough fingers to point in all of the appropriate directions. It would be easy to suggest that Walt Weiss should choose his relievers differently. He has certainly made his fair share of mistakes, but give Weiss some credit, his choice of relievers is equivalent to having the choice of fighting a forest fire with a garden hose or a bottle of Aquafina.
It would be easy to blame Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett, as they are the ones who put this team together, but they also could never have predicted the struggles of Rex Brothers, the lack of effort and enthusiasm from Jhoulys Chacin and the injuries of both Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood.
The other finger can be pointed at Dick Monfort, who irresponsibly bragged that he believed his team could win 90 games. He forgot to mention the asterisk, which was that the Rockies would have to be playing in the Pacific Coast League in order to attain that mark. His lack of baseball knowledge and his strong ability to open his mouth and sound like a fool seem to know no bounds.
There are plenty of places to point fingers already, and it hasn't even reached the players.
Rex Brothers has been absolutely brutal. Matt Belisle has been awful. The innings have clearly gotten the best of him. Chacin has been worse than a no-show. His contribution has been to help finish off the hope that Rockies fans had just a little bit earlier so that they could make plans to visit the mountains this summer instead of buying up game tickets.
Sure, the Rockies are just two games under .500. However, pointing to that fact is choosing to bury your head in the sand and ignore the obvious issues. Traditionally, the Rockies are not a team that responds well when things go poorly. This isn't a franchise that has fielded teams that gets motivated by tough losses. This is an organization that allows bad things to snowball and go from bad to worse. This is a team that mentally quits. It is a team that has been built on the model of excuse-making.
There is no way to sugar coat what the Rockies are going through right now. There is no way to make things look better. This is a very bad baseball team right now. This is a team with a ton of issues and they have had their hearts ripped out and trampled on far too many times in the past two weeks. Would anyone be surprised if they were emotionally spent? Would anyone be surprised if the confidence of this team was so low that it would be next to impossible for them to recover?
Keep in mind, this isn't a team that was predicted to win 95 games and is faltering. This is a team that was predicted by most experts to win 85 games at the very best if they stayed healthy all season long. This is a team that is coming off of a 73 win season. To think that they still have a shot at the playoffs is ignoring who the Rockies are. It is assuming that the talent level of this team is much higher than it currently is. They are already playing from behind in the National League West. They don't have the talent that the Giants or Dodgers have. With that in mind, they don't have the leverage to struggle the way that they are struggling. They can't afford to dig themselves a hole.
Even with reinforcements like Eddie Butler and potentially more prospects, the Rockies aren't going to turn the ship around. When the Rockies made a run in 2007 it was largely in part to the promotion of Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales. However, that team had already gotten things on the right path. They had the best record in baseball from the middle of May through the remainder of the regular season. Jimenez and Morales certainly contributed, but they weren't the guys who brought a team back from the dead, they were the finally pieces to a team that had figured it out.
At this point, the best thing Rockies fans can do is to adjust their expectations. They need to realize that a successful season for this team is to finish around .500. If they can cruise to a record of 81-81 this season will be a success. It will be a step in the right direction and show them that they are building things the right way. However, getting to .500 isn't going to happen with the bullpen is disarray like it currently is. It isn't going to happen without wholesale changes.
The bullpen is just one issue for the Rockies. They have pressing issues in nearly every facet of the game. Figuring out what those issues are and addressing them as soon as possible will define whether 2014 was a successful season or not.
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