|Boone Logan had another horrible night for the Rockies.|
While the Colorado Rockies seemed happy to sell extra tickets using a Star Wars Night gimmick, the play on the field looked all too familiar.
After a lackluster performance on the mound from starter Franklin Morales, the bullpen came in and did what they do best. They made sure that the Rockies had no chance to win the game. Besides the lack of ability to get outs, the Rockies pitchers main issues remain not giving up hits, but finding the strike zone.
For a team that prides itself in pitching to contact, the Rockies lead the National League in walks at their home ballpark. They walked nine Marlin batters on Friday night. When a team gives the opposition nine extra baserunners, the odds of winning that games are slim-to-none.
Dwelling on the game is pointless right now. Everyone who is still watching the Rockies already knows the issues. The starting rotation has one reliable member and the bullpen is beyond awful. The Rockies are a team that was built with no margin for error and the amount of error that has happened is a very long list.
At this point, as the season slowly drags to a conclusion, it is time to focus on what the Rockies need to change in order to be competitive.
The issue with a management group that has been in place before anyone knew if Y2K would be a true issue or not, and a principle owner that has been there even longer, the Rockies have watched the times change, but haven't mixed up their model for building their club.
At Coors Field, the ball flies off the bat and pitchers struggle to get their pitches where they want them. Since the park opened in 1995, and frankly, since the Rockies came into existence, the model was to take advantage of the thin air and build a team that is stacked with quality hitters. The focus has always been to win games in football style, with the goal being to score a touchdown and a field goal and only allowing the opposition to score a touchdown, winning games by the score of 10-7.
For years that model seemed to be the only one that would work at Coors Field. Consistently teams would come to the Mile High city and watch their ace get blown out of the water. They would also see the Rockies ragged bullpen trying to get the team through nine innings after a starter was lucky to get through five innings night-in and night-out.
The problem is, while that model seems like it was the only way to do things in the 90's and early 2000's, the game and the park have changed extensively. Without presuming guilt over anyone in the Rockies clubhouse, the Mitchell Report, which called out at least one player from every franchise for performance enhancing drug use in the early 2000's, was damning to an era that saw the ball flying out of nearly every park, whether it was Coors Field or elsewhere.
The reality is, part of the reason the ball was flying out of the park so frequently was because of the thin air. However, another reason was because the players were juiced.
The other factor is that the Rockies did to neutralize Coors Field was to install the humidor. That eliminated the ball drying out and not only being difficult to grip, but also made it heavier, keeping the ball in the ballpark just a little more often.
The Rockies and Major League Baseball made moves that helped change the game and the way that things played out at Coors Field. However, the Rockies kept their model the exact same, building lineups to mash the ball out of the park while disregarding the pitching.
Times have changed, and it is time for the Rockies to get with it.
Instead of trying to build teams that are all-hit, no-pitch, the Rockies need to flip it around. Who cares if they play at Coors Field? The Rockies should adopt the model of both teams that play by the bay in California. Both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's first priority is to build a starting rotation that can go deep into games. Then, they build a bullpen from the back to the front with guys who have power arms and throw strikes.
While the offense is fun to watch at Coors Field, the reality is, baseball in late August when the Rockies completely out of the race isn't fun to watch at all. It doesn't matter if Nolan Arenado logs four hits, as he did on Friday night, no one cares anymore. They are focused on the Broncos and whether or not their backup quarterback was a good pick or not.
The Rockies should look at Jorge De La Rosa, the one guy who has figured out how to pitch in Denver. Remarkably, since his return from Tommy John surgery, the lefty is 19-3 in the Rockies home park. He knows how to get it done at altitude and he isn't intimidated by the park.
The reality is, the Rockies will have to draft and develop guys who can pitch, but that needs to become their priority. They need to put less focus on bringing in guys who can hit, like Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau, and find quality arms in their system that they can develop, and eventually sign to deals that they can afford because the business model allows it.
Will guys get blown up at Coors Field? The answer to that might not be so obvious. Coors Field is certainly a great place to hit, but is the reputation what it is because the Rockies have always had a team that can crush the ball? Is the reputation in place because the Rockies have always had a pitching staff that consists of several pitchers who don't belong on a big league roster?
Maybe if the club finds arms that can actually pitch, the reputation might change.
The conclusion is that what the Rockies are doing, and what they have been doing for so long isn't working. The front office has tried to figure out how to win by going with unconventional idea after unconventional idea. Maybe it is time to go back to conventional thought, but just switch the style in which they try to build. Maybe the Rockies don't need to try and be outside the box thinkers, instead, going back to the basics, but focusing on pitching.
The Rockies model of mashing the ball and outscoring the other team might be fun, but when the pitching staff walks nine batters in one game and watches the bases get loaded eight times by the opponent, it doesn't matter how many great hitters are in the lineup, winning is going to be difficult.
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