Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Colorado Rockies can't use injuries as an excuse for not trying hard

Ryan Spilborghs called out the Rockies effort.
The only thing worse than injured bodies in team sports is selfish play.

There is no doubt that the Colorado Rockies have been riddled with injuries once again. While the past few seasons have been bad, the 2014 campaign has been marred by guys going onto the disabled list. No one will ever know how this season would have gone for the Rockies had they stayed healthy. However, the reality is, the amount of injuries that the Rockies have dealt with have crippled them.

The problem is, Rockies fans are tired of the injury excuse. Why is it an excuse? The reason is simple. For the past few seasons, the team has been injured, but there has been an elephant in the room that no one wanted to talk about. When things started going bad, the Rockies didn't fight, they rolled over and gave up.

When fans watch a team hamstrung by injuries, they get frustrated, but generally understand that when top players go down, the record generally follows. Smaller markets get effected more, and Rockies fans, for the most part, are understanding.

The problem is, when those fans keep hearing about how injuries have plagued a season, they can buy the excuse. However, when they watch the product that goes out on the field--albeit a less talented group--go out and go through the motions instead of playing with a certain level of pride, it makes the injury excuse ring hollow.

For years, when the Rockies start to go in the tank, those who broadcast the games refuse to acknowledge that the team has quit. In fact, it is often talked about how close the clubhouse is and how everyone gets along and keeps playing hard. The problem is, the words don't match up with what is being seen on the field. Of course less talented players are going to lose more games than those who possess more talent. That is simple logic.

However, when that lesser talent mails it in when they face a tough pitcher, or get behind by a run or two, the injury excuse doesn't fly. There is never an excuse for big league baseball players to not play hard.

The problem is, when those who represent the team are denying it, there is no way to call out the team. It becomes strictly speculative and insulting to say that a team isn't playing hard.

On Tuesday night, one of the members of the Rockies broadcast team broke the code and spoke the truth. After the Rockies dropped the second game in Washington to Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals 7-1, former Rockies outfielder and current Root Sports talent, called out the Rockies. In the first minute of the postgame show he was quick to point out that the Rockies didn't play hard. He called out the team for going through the motions.

What Spilborghs said was a relief to a fan base that feels like they have had the wool pulled over their eyes for several years. Fans can give their team a pass if they are playing hard but just falling short, but there is no excuse for a club showing up to the ballpark with no intention of trying to win.

If the Rockies are truly in give-up mode, which they seem to be considering their eight-win June, it is time to reevaluate the guys who are putting the team together. While Walt Weiss has started to become a better manager, if the club isn't playing hard, the first person responsible is the manager.

Anyone who watches the Rockies, however, knows that Weiss isn't the issue. Another reason a team might quit is because they don't trust that the people putting the reinforcements on the field have done a good enough job to fill the holes that are arising with injury. The Rockies have seen a plethora of injuries, but it's not like reinforcement No.1 was that much better than reinforcement No.7.

The Rockies have seen pitcher-after-pitcher drop due to random injuries. However, with all due respect to Christian Bergman, did anyone expect him to pick up more wins than Christian Friedrich? While Eddie Butler possesses top shelf talent, was he going to be the savior for this team in his rookie season? Were the Rockies expecting both Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood to stay healthy all season long? Both pitchers have a long history of injuries, which suggests that the Rockies should have had even more depth than most teams would plan for.

Over the past few years the Rockies should have learned one lesson. That lesson is that a team simply cannot have too much pitching depth. However, they don't seem to have learned that lesson. Heading into his final season under contract, Jorge De La Rosa, according to sources, was never approached for an extension. De La Rosa is certainly going to be expensive, and no one knows if he will ever win 16 games again, but the fact that the Rockies didn't even attempt to extend their best pitcher from a year ago shows that they don't understand how important it is to have pitching depth, pitching depth and more pitching depth.

The Rockies are going to sell their fans on the fact that this team has simply been unfortunate once again. They will act like they were true contenders, if only they hadn't been injured. The problem is, the Rockies have had to use 12 starting pitchers so far in 2014, but they only had six good options. No one has 12 good starting pitchers ready to go, but teams who build by drafting and developing should have more than six starting pitchers who are at least Major League serviceable.

Injuries give the Rockies some leeway, but when the depth that comes up isn't anywhere close to Major League talent, and when the team is starting to quit, it is time to address deeper issues within the clubhouse. If it comes down to players not giving it their all, they need to be shipped off. If it is a culture issue, management should be addressed.

At some point, status quo simply can't be acceptable. The Rockies must demand better play, whether it is their fist starter, or their 12th.

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  1. The problem is the culture. Losing is acceptable. I cannot remember a season where I heard the Rockies' goal was to win the NL west. It has always been win the wild card. Why? Winning the division is too lofty a goal? The standard is to compete for the second chance ticket into the playoffs? This club sets expectations lower than they should be. Why not expect to win 2 out of every 3 games or win every series, regardless of if it is at home or on the road...regardless if there are injuries or not. Nobody gets fired with the Rockies any more. That sends a clear message that your job is safe no matter how you perform. Mediocre expectations yield mediocre results. Dick monfort must like the view from the back because he surely doesn't do anything to change the culture. With the padres passing the rox it won't be long before the dbacks are in fourth place with the rockies in the cellar AGAIN.

  2. I think the broadcasters are getting a little frustrated. Remember the "bunch of 8 year olds" comment after the Friedrich wild pitch that scored 3 runs?

  3. Sorry, but my sympathy for anything rockies is long gone. Good organizations don't quit, their players don't hop on the injury bus with each ache or pain, they respect the fans and find ways to stay competitive. This is the most fragile, weak willed bunch I have ever seen. Please Dick either sell the team or get out of the way. You are not a big league team president. Turn it over to a professional and enjoy your owners box.

  4. What I laugh about every time I hear the injury excuse is who was killing it before they went down with an injury? Arenado obviously but very few if any of the others.

    Chatwood and Anderson looked like #5 starters, Chachin looked like garbage since spring training and when you start the season thinking Nicasio and Morales were rotation ready then you cannot evaluate talent.
    Dickerson has more than made up for Cargo's weak play before he went down and did you really expect Cuddy to duplicate his 2013 performance?

    David is right when he says it is a cultural issue. When management is more interested in excuses than accountability, don't you think that permeates throughout the clubhouse. When the front office brings in a manager with zero experience at the MLB level do you think that reinforces anything with the club....of course not.
    It wouldnt surprise me if many on the roster are planning their escape to the DL just like the others. If I am playing poorly than put me on the DL...cough cough Chachin.

  5. I don't even watch the Rockies any longer, too frustrating. I watched 7 year old boys this past year play with more heart and I watched high school boys play with pride for themselves and their school. These boys play through minor injuries (unless they have a bone protruding from their bodies) why? they lose their starting position if they didn't. The Rockies are a mess from the ownership down, therefore possibly the fans need to stay enough! We paid for your stadium give us some effort! Sports players will play to the level that is expected of them, crappy team crappy play/effort....That is the Rockies.

  6. I have been watching the Rockies for years, and my sympathy for them has also went out the window. They have traded some of their best players. It seems to me that some are faking injury just keep from getting embarrassed by the way they are playing. Come on YOU GUYS ARE SUPPOSE TO BE A MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM. I think you need to final deserve the monies you are earning and step up to the plate.

  7. The Rockies organization is hampered by the numb-nut of its owner. How do we fire the owner? The players get hurt because they are over taxed on basics. Maybe. If we had better experience and skills, the simple stuff would be less hazardous. The owner is no horse trader. But will not trade up, and has a track record of trading down. Sigh :-(

  8. I'd sit out with yet another "tweaky" injury til they traded me..eh, Tulo? Can't blame you for your honesty saying you want to be with a winner. That's never going to happen here with the current regime. This is soooo frustrating and hard to watch..so I won't. Bye.

  9. Got to get rid of O'Dud. He has hypnotized Monfort. At the beginning of this season, my right hand bet my left hand that the Rockies would lose 100 games. That was BEFORE the season started.

    I have had season tickets since the beginning of the Rockies, but I don't think I can take the pain anymore.