Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Colorado Rockies 'pitch to contact' mantra isn't working

Tommy Kahnle struggled on Tuesday night.
There is only one guy left to be convinced, but that guy is the only one that counts.

After another brutal loss in extra innings to a terrible Chicago Cubs team, the Colorado Rockies are in a bad spot. Not only are they dead last in the National League West, they are hopeless. This is a team that has a bullpen without any options, and a general manager without a prayer.

Everyone sees the glaring issues. Everyone knows how bad of baseball this is. The problem is, the one guy that matters, owner Dick Monfort, doesn't understand baseball well enough to know the difference between a great game that goes 12 innings and a terrible game that goes 12 innings.

Based on the way things have gone over the past few seasons for the Rockies, Dan O'Dowd is busy telling Monfort how unfortunate the club was on Tuesday night because they watched Brett Anderson leave the game in the 4th inning with a back injury. That had to have been the problem. If Anderson was healthy, the Rockies would have won the game. Aw shucks.

The explanations from O'Dowd seem to fly with Monfort year-in and year-out. Monfort doesn't seem to dive into the stats and see the truth, that the Rockies bullpen walked nine Cubs batters on the night--nine.

The top of the 7th inning was such a bad exhibit of baseball that it would made a Little League pitcher blush. The Rockies bullpen, three pitchers to be exact, combined to walk six Cubs batters in the frame. Six in one inning. The Cubs started the inning down 3-1 and finished the top half of the inning with a 4-3 lead. The ironic part of the situation is that all three runs were scored without the Cubs getting a hit.

Shut off the lights, close the door, that is simply the definition of bad baseball. The Rockies apologists, the ones who insist that the club's struggles are due to injuries and bad luck, can't keep making excuses for this.

The Rockies take pride in their pitch-to-contact mantra that they preach throughout spring training and in their farm system. They put up contraptions for their pitchers in spring training to help them pitch to the bottom half of the strike zone. When August rolls around and the bullpen at the top level of the system walks six batters in one inning, it spits in the face of the pitch-to-contact theory.

Those who watch baseball, those who pay attention to the rest of Major League Baseball and watch other games that involve teams that play with fundamentals and allow their pitchers to pitch to their talents, understand the Rockies issues. They see what is wrong with the Rockies theories and they can tell the difference between good baseball and absolutely terrible baseball. However, it seems that Dick Monfort doesn't fit into that category. It seems that he fits into the category of someone who simply thinks that it is bad luck that has plagued the Rockies again.

If Monfort truly believes that the Rockies simply got snake-bit again with injuries, and that without things going terribly wrong that this team would be in the thick of a playoff hunt, this franchise is in serious trouble. Even if he fires Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett, which is frankly a huge long-shot at this point, the next guy that he hires will not only have to scrap a terrible team and start from scratch, but also have to convince Monfort that he doesn't need to meddle in the business of baseball. He will have to educate the Rockies owner on the game, teaching him what O'Dowd never was able to do.

There is a contingent of Rockies fans rooting for this team to lose 100 games. They believe that reaching that magical triple digit loss total will help make Monfort see that this team is truly a disaster and needs to be overhauled. However, those fans might want to brace themselves for a huge disappointment when Monfort announces at season's end that the front office of this team is going to remain nearly unchanged.

Monfort doesn't know the difference between 81 losses and 120 losses. Fans keep thinking logically when it comes to Monfort. They use their baseball sense when they think of what it will take for O'Dowd and Co. to get fired. The problem is, Monfort doesn't know baseball. He doesn't understand what makes 100 losses so bad. That number doesn't mean anything to him. Baseball logic doesn't resonate with a man who is nothing more than a casual fan.

Want to see how Monfort thinks? Find a friend who doesn't know anything about baseball. They might go to a few games a year to hang out with friends or drink a few beers while staring at green grass. Ask that friend how many losses would represent a really terrible season for a Major League team. The answer will likely be a funny look followed by a shrug of the shoulders. That is who Monfort is. He likes games, he thinks they are fun, but if he didn't own this team, he wouldn't be the guy with season tickets. He wouldn't be the guy who makes his daily schedule based around when the Rockies play. He would be a guy who casually attends games to spend time in the summer with friends.

The reality is, this team's issues simply aren't going away any time soon. This team requires changes throughout the front office, and someone to convince Monfort that the best way he can help this team is to take a really long vacation, one that requires him to leave his iPad at home.

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  1. Baseball has always been a big part of my summer. I guess that's why this hasn't really seemed like summer. I may go to one more game. It's really hard to stomach though.
    Thanks for keeping up the blog, I know it must be tough. May god help us, because dick monfort won't.

  2. What might wake up Monfort (though highly unlikely) is for Tulo to firmly state "I've had it...I want to win and it's clear to me that it's not going to happen with this culture...so, as much as I love the Rockies fans, the City of Denver and the State of Colorado, I would like to spend the next phase of my career in a winning environment. Stated directly, I want to be traded".

    This is also "highly unlikely". Tulo will suffer for the rest of his career as will the Rocky fan base. The only salvation is to think only of the Broncos. If only Elway were the GM of the Rockies; the results would be different. Baseball is not rocket science.

    1. Tulo will walk into Monfort's office and demand to be traded and he won't be saying all the nice things about the fans or the City of Denver. Honestly he is such a prima donna and not exactly a team player.

  3. It always boils down to the same thing because over a 162 game season success in baseball is a function of pitching. No worthwhile free agent pitcher is willing to come here and the Rockies farm system never develops viable major league talent. Six walks in one inning against a poor hitting offense is unfathomable and yet probably didn't surprise most fans when they read the game summary. It was just another drop in a never ending stream of creative ways to lose. When you combine no talent pitching with position players who have lost both focus and heart you get the 2014 Rockies. Tulo and Cargo types are expensive luxuries that return little on the investment because of the lack of effective arms. The Oakland model is spot on...if you routinely limit the other teams runs you can always find serviceable players for the lineup that can scratch out enough to win.

  4. D.Martin - "Shut off the lights, close the door, that is simply the definition of bad baseball. The Rockies apologists, the ones who insist that the club's struggles are due to injuries and bad luck, can't keep making excuses for this."

    Re - Which one of the 100+ games this season am I talking about?Starter throws a few mediocre innings, then goes on the DL. Bullpen implodes to a degree unfamiliar above Single-A. Baserunning blunders and pointless attempts give easy outs. Rockies outhit, but barely score and lose. Defensive and small-ball failures abound.

    If anyone here reads PurpleRow, you may have seen a new trend - a new take on deflecting blame. Instead of the altitude, injuries or bad luck excuses PurpleRow has been referring to the "baseball gods" being responsible.
    Hypothetically, if there are such gods we can either conclude; a) they are a cruel and unjust group targeting the Rockies for amusement. b) Dan and Bill be eternally damned and they know exactly why/what they did to bring this upon everyone/thing around them.
    Hypothetically, while there are some Greek, Roman and Jewish stories portraying gods of the former, the vast majority depict deities as the latter. Thus, we can probably assume PurpleRow considers the Roxs' FO personnel damned and the losing shall not abate as long as they remain.