Tuesday, June 3, 2014

With season slipping away, Colorado Rockies make bold move, turn to Eddie Butler

Eddie Butler finally got the call. He starts on Friday for the Rockies.
The Colorado Rockies front office is painfully patient.

That should give a pretty good idea as to how important this homestand is for the Rockies. With the season hanging in the balance, and the clock on the Franklin Morales experiment coming to an end, the Rockies front office finally pulled the trigger. On Friday night, highly touted starting pitching prospect Eddie Butler will start on the mound for the Rockies.

Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett are the guys who will sit in a traffic jam on the highway for an hour when traffic reports are telling them that the side roads are moving just fine because the highway is the way they go everyday. So when they take the detour, it means that desperate times call for desperate measures.

It might be a day late and a buck short for the Rockies. On Tuesday night they looked lifeless. They looked defeated. They looked like, despite a day off in-between their horrid road trip and their longest homestand of the season, that they were still feeling the ill effects of what has become of their season.

On Tuesday, even with their ace on the mound, the Rockies couldn't get the offense going. After starting the season 0-3, Jorge De La Rosa showed why he is the ace of this team. He reeled off six straight wins and may have won another one had the weather not washed out his start against the Giants in May. However, on Tuesday he didn't have his best stuff.

Despite not having his best pitches and location, De La Rosa showed why he is so important to this team, even in a loss. He still managed to get through seven innings and give up only three runs. An ace is able to get outs, even without dominant stuff. De La Rosa did just that on Tuesday. It was the type of outing that is usually good enough to give the home team at Coors Field plenty of chances to pick up a win. Instead, the offense continued to be missing in action and couldn't get the job done.

With all of the holes that this team seems to have, the offense isn't an area that anyone thought would be of concern for the Rockies. It is something that has left many Rockies fans scratching their heads in bewilderment over the struggles.

It all makes sense, however, when it is broken down. The offense slugs at home, then has to make huge adjustments on the road. When the pitching struggles at home, the offense was able to shrug off the issues, knowing that they would be able to get back in the game with a flurry of runs. When they go on the road, they aren't able to stack up the runs at home, and they know it, so suddenly they feel a sense of urgency, even early in the game, to strike quickly and even the score. That pressure changes the approach at the plate. Instead of being patient and forcing the pitcher to throw good pitches, the Rockies batters press and start to swing at pitches out of the zone. This leads to the electricity being pulled on the Rockies offense.

Of course, that is just a theory. If someone had the answer to why the Rockies go through such highs and lows, they would be multi-millionaires. However, it seems to make sense. The adjustment when the Rockies head onto the road is a difficult task, so when the starting pitching doesn't get the job done, the offense feels the pressure.

Unfortunately for a pitcher like De La Rosa, the offensive struggles cost him games. Giving up three runs in seven innings should be plenty to pick up the win. However, with the offense mired in their slump, he had to be nearly perfect in order to keep his winning streak in-tact.

The Rockies aren't done yet. The fact that they are willing to pull up Butler, risking starting his arbitration a year early suggests that the front office feels that they have the talent to make it happen. They feel that despite the struggles that with holes filled in the rotation that the Rockies might have a fighting chance.

Give credit to the Rockies front office for making the move. The easy decision would have been to cross their fingers and hope that Morales was good enough every fifth day to bridge the gap until either Tyler Chatwood or Brett Anderson returned from injury. It would have been easy for them to blame the injuries and stick with Morales, feeling sorry for themselves once again.

Instead, there has been no mention of injuries getting in the way. They aren't pointing to their poor luck, but instead doing something about it and filling the holes that clearly need to be plugged.

The excitement over Eddie Butler should infuse the Rockies with some energy. It should give them enough of a jump start to potentially help them get going once again.

The Rockies are in a tough spot. They must make this homestand productive, or the hole that they are going to have to crawl out of won't be fun. They are relying on a young arm who has yet to be tested at altitude. However, the reward that the Rockies could get out of making the move to bring Butler up has plenty of upside. If it gets this Rockies team going, they won't regret it.

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  1. Good read. Wish you would have mentioned that Jorge had a quality start despite not having his best stuff. Think it is important to note Rockies scored two runs Tuesday night - both on solo home runs. Isn't this late enough that it's past that deadline (or is it a gamble?) Feel it's definitely a risk calling him, but definitely need a change!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Ed. Jorge De La Rosa definitely deserves more credit for pitching well, even though he didn't have his best stuff.

      As far as the Super-2 deadline on Butler, I believe that it is a huge risk right now. I am pretty sure this will essentially qualify him as a super-2.

  2. Great article, Mr Martin. It will be interesting to see Butler pitch on Friday. I read what Chase Anderson said after the game. He said that he didn't pitch with any thought about the park, he just concentrated on each batter. Well, something to that effect.

    1. Funny how that works...forget about the environment and focus on what you can control. The Rockies seem to overthink everything so much. I think it is time to go back to the basics. Seems to be working for De La Rosa.

  3. I was shocked watching yesterdays game just how lifeless the offense was against a rookie pitcher at Coors no-less...We have been hearing forever about this high potent offense but it seems since Nolan went down this team looks like a dead fish. Was he the high octane guy that pushed this team?
    Weiss needs to call a team meeting asap and snap whatever is ailing this team out of them. Cargo needs to sit....he is hurting the team right now by being an automatic out as Dickerson should be able to fill in just fine. Charlie has cooled off so maybe start using Stubbs in CF as well and see where this all goes....
    There are defining points in every season and it looks like they are entering one now...lets see how they respond. If this turns into a .500 home stand or worse they are probably toast. They can talk injuries all they want but look around the league this year and tell me who hasn't had the same or worse than the Rockies.

    1. Mike,
      I truly believe that the offensive struggles have come from the pressure of sustaining a 7-run per game approach. When the starting pitching (with the exception of De La Rosa and Lyles) has been so bad, it makes the offense press and try to do too much. When the pitching gets better, I believe we will see the offense get back into gear.

  4. While I would like to think Butler is the spark this team needs, I only have to look to last year to say "NOPE."

    We called Nolan up a little earlier, but the team looked much the same, flat, lifeless, and lost. The team continued to look that way after Nolan started his big league career. I'm thinking, because the Rox are known for doing the same thing, the exact same thing will happen this year with Eddie.

  5. Unfortunately, half of the problem with the stike outs of late has been the HORRENDOUS strike zone. A guy spends his ENTIRE CAREER from little league to the bigs, learning to not swing at pitches out of the strike zone. Then you get some ego bloated bone head behind the plate calling pitches 12 inches off the plate strike 3. June 3rd 9th inning 2 down DJ Lemahieu at the plate called strike 3 with the overhead showing the ball inside the BATTERS BOX he was standing in.
    I have not missed a televised ROX game this season and I have seen this repeatedly. The commentators have mentioned it themselves. Pitches called strike for 1 team but not the other. How the hell is anyone supposed to be competitive in that atmosphere??? The umpires in this league have WAY TOO MUCH CONTROL over the outcome of a game!! Can't argue Judgement calls. No, but I sure aint blind.

  6. The same old crap from the owner and front office every year, just a bunch of greedy (you know what's) continuing to feed off the people of Colorado. We used to be a real good AAA team playing in the big leagues, now we aren't even that. You have people from the owner to the head coach who have no idea of how to compete and get to the playoffs, let alone win a game. Mark my words, the Tulo's and Cargo's aren't going to hang around in their prime with a team that won't contend for a championship, you watch.

  7. A good craftsman never blames his tools. Blaming the umpire is exactly what Dick Monfort wants you to do....find another excuse that isn't the fault of the organization.

    I saw the called 3rd strike too. It was a bad call. However, last time I checked each batter gets 3 strikes to work with. What happened with the other 2 strikes? The problem is not with the umpiring. The problems is lack of fundamental baseball. There is no definitive game plan in place for hitters, no definitive game plan in place for pitchers and there is no definitive game plan in place for substitutions. If there were you'd see guys lay bunts down or go the other way with an outside pitch. You wouldn't see pitchers hang breaking balls in the middle of the plate after battling with a hitter through multiple foul balls. All this happens on a regular basis. Why? Lack of mental toughness. David has mentioned it several times in his columns. This starts at the top. Dick Monfort HOPES year in and year out to catch lightning in a bottle. He HOPES for no injuries. He has no plan. He has hope. This attitude filters down. There is no plan, no accountability and no urgency. Therefore there is no success.