|Ryan Spilborghs called out the Rockies effort.|
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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