Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rock Slide: Colorado Rockies continue skip of historic proportion

Chad Bettis has been destroyed by the Rockies.
There are 53 mountains in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet.

On July 22nd, after another blown lead by the bullpen, it feels as if the Colorado Rockies have been on a 14,000 foot slide down the standings. After Tuesday night's loss, the club has lost 24-of their last-28 games.

In 2007, the Colorado Rockies reeled off 21 wins in 22 games to get to the World Series. The run was as miraculous as it was exciting. As great as that streak was, as unbelievable as it is to look back on that run, the current losing funk that the Rockies are in the midst of is equally as impressive, for the complete opposite reason.

In all three games in Pittsburgh to kick off the proverbial second half of the season, the Rockies had a lead and watched their bullpen blow the lead. The trend continued on Tuesday, as Yohan Flande gave the Rockies more than they could have asked for. Despite a line that tells the story of Flande giving up four runs in five-plus innings, much of the damage occurred when Chad Bettis came into the game with two runners on base. With his glove on his left hand, Bettis carried his kerosene in his right.

Brooks Brown gave up two earned runs in just a third of an inning, then Rex Brothers predictably gave up a solo home run that gave the Nationals a three run cushion and essentially put the nail in the Rockies coffin for the night.

Dick Monfort slipped up in his radio interview with 850 KOA a week ago. He allowed it to be known that Bill Geivett was taking the blame for the Rockies failed play on the field in 2014. It would be easy to suggest that it is yet another excuse that Dan O'Dowd is feeding to Monfort in order to preserve his own job.

While Geivett has absolutely zero redeeming qualities in what he brings to the table, to blame only Geivett is completely ignoring what has been one of the Rockies main issues for several years, the failure of the development department.

O'Dowd has been the lone man completely in charge of the minor league operations according to Monfort and the Rockies. In those two years, one trend has not only continued, but has become even more glaring than it was in the past.

Take a look at the prospects that the Rockies have developed, or have allowed to come to the big leagues over the past couple of years. One trend seems to be extremely common, especially in the pitchers. They all have a certain level of initial success, then they don't simply regress, the absolutely implode.

Chad Bettis is a good example of that. While his numbers in his cup of coffee in 2013 were nothing to write home about, he showed plenty of promise as a starting pitcher. With only two very good pitches, the Rockies accurately decided to make him a member of the bullpen. It is what he did in college and all signs pointed to him being a solid bullpen member for the Rockies in 2014.

Instead, Bettis looks like he has no business on a big league mound. His pitches fool no one and his ERA has done nothing but balloon into the Colorado thin air.

Another example of that is a guy currently trying to figure out his way in Triple-A. Juan Nicasio made the jump from Double-A to the big leagues in 2011 because he was looking like an ace in Tulsa. He made a quick impact in the big leagues, and has regressed to the point that even those suggesting that Nicasio is better suited for the bullpen are having their doubts about his ability to be a decent Major League pitcher.

Bettis and Morales are just two examples. How about Drew Pomeranz. The lefty dominated the minor leagues in his short stint before his call-up. He looked to be the real deal, which justified the Rockies decision to make a huge trade to acquire him. When he made his big league debut, his first two starts were great. However, the Rockies felt that he needed to change his arm slot and pitch to contact more. They made him work out these "issues" in Triple-A. When he finally made his way back to the big leagues he looked like a deer in the headlights.

Rex Brothers is another example. This is a guy who threw 96 MPH from the left side. However, the Rockies convinced him that he should also pitch to contact and throw in the low-90's instead. The results have been horrifying.

The Rockies development department has ruined the careers of so many young pitchers that it is hard to keep track of all of them. While Bill Geivett takes the blame for what is happening on the field at the Major League level, who is the guy responsible for making sure that the talent available at the big league level has been adequately prepared is non other than O'Dowd.

If O'Dowd can't develop the talent at the minor league levels, and in several cases his development plan actually leads to regression, how is it Geivett's fault that the team at the Major League level can't seem to figure out how to win?

The reality is, O'Dowd has pulled the wool over Monfort's eyes for so many years. There is always a scapegoat. There is always a reason for the Rockies failures. If he isn't blaming the players for not trying hard enough, he is blaming the altitude for causing injuries. When those excuses have run dry, he set up a new system in which he can blame Geivett for his failures.

In the end, nothing will change unless the Rockies make big changes in the front office. Dick Monfort doesn't necessarily need to sell the team, but he needs to step away from the decision-making process. With that, he needs to remove the other decision-makers as well and bring in baseball people who are not in over their head. After 14 years, it is clear that O'Dowd's plan for success is one that involves everything going right in order for success to be had. It is a plan that ends up working once or twice every 15 years.

That level of success might be alright for ownership, but fans want more. They are tired of the same old story every year, and they are tired of hearing about how good the prospects are down on the farm. The time for change is now. It isn't at the end of the season, it isn't after the 2015 season in which another batch of prospects comes to the big leagues underprepared. The time is as soon as possible.

It doesn't matter if Monfort doesn't know a single person in the baseball industry beyond his own employees. He needs to do his research and let someone else have a shot at the job. He owes it to the fans.

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  1. Even if the Colorado Rockies had been completely healthy , would they have a better team than Washington or Atlanta in the East? How about the power 4 of the Central in Milwaukee , Pittsburgh , Cincinnati, & St Louis? The two teams in the West ( Los Angeles & San Francisco)?

    The answer is no. At best , the Colorado Rockies would be the 9th best team in the National League. Should the 9th best team qualify for the playoffs?

    I will offer a suggestion. Try to move to the American League. You get the benefit of the DH. You don't have to use pinch hitters as much or make double switches. You can use the roster spot currently held by Charlie Culberson for an extra pitcher. I don't mean to demean Culberson. He just could be replaced on the roster.

    Even if the Colorado Rockies were to move to the American League, they would not win but at least with a DH, you get an extra slugger and can carry 13 pitchers and more importantly score 7 runs. I miss my tacos.

    I do want to recognize Root Sports for at least acknowledging the Rockies are no longer close to 1st place. This season wasmmore than just injuries and a "tough" schedule .

  2. Anonymous

    Injuries are exactly what started the fall. Have you even watched the Rockies?smh

    O'dud and Monfort both are incompetent when it comes to building this team. Comments made toward the fans who are disgusted with the same low budget glued together teams prove managements attitude.

    Sit back, sign older retreads and blow smoke before the season starts. Then Tulo or Cargo goes down and the pitchers are dropping like flies. Changes are needed or attendance will continue to drop.

    1. Injuries may be part of the reason but they aren't an excuse. The team should have been built better....more depth, better overall talent. I maintain the heart of the problem with the Rockies is the overall mindset of the organization. The bar isn't set high enough. Dick said the goal is to make the playoffs 2 out of every 5 years (I think the players weren't told which 2 ..ha ha). Not win the NL West. Not win the world series. Just make the playoffs. The bar needs to be set higher. As a fan I expect the Rockies to win the NL West every single year. I expect multiple championships each decade. Instead I get excuses and an owner doing damage control interviews every year.

      I want to see some sort of action taken..ANY action. Cut a player, fire somebody, call out someone for poor play in the media, have a bench clearing brawl. Have teammates fight in the dugout. ANYTHING. All I see is acceptance of losing and a 'We'll get em tomorrow boys" attitude.

      My support of the team has changed over the last few years. I root against the Rockies now. I want them to lose 100 games. I want the club to hit rock bottom so hard that Dick will have no choice but to clean house. Nevertheless I know even that won't happen. Fans will still go to games. Football will start and all will be forgotten. Until denver has more true baseball fans that demand excellence it will be status quo.

  3. Very good article as it hit all the main points of what is wrong here. To me the injury excuses might have cost them some games but the implosion is greatly caused by the bullpen. This cast of players have been relatively healthy but all seemed to be horrid from day one. Rex has blown more games than we can count, Belisle is a disaster, Otto started good but has regressed to the level of the others and if Hawkins is considered your closer than you have real problems.
    Another name besides Bettis to look at is Rob Schahill...another guy that looked real good last year but every time he is brought up, he now implodes as well....Something is seriously wrong with the development of the pitchers...let them pitch to their strengths and stop messing with their heads to try this and that.