• It seems Blake Street Bombers have returned

    Thu, May 31, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Those who don’t watch him will point to his numbers at Coors Field. Those who do watch him know that his home runs have nothing to do with the hitter’s park. On Wednesday, Carlos Gonzalez hit three home runs to help power the Colorado Rockies to a 13-5 victory over the Houston Astros.

    The amazing thing about a three-homer night is that it was simply a subplot, as the Rockies got a grand slam from Michael Cuddyer in the 1st inning, his second of the season, and a three-run shot from the suddenly resurgent Dexter Fowler.

    Suddenly, this Rockies team is playing the same brand of baseball that brought so many fans to the ballpark in the late 90s. With suspect starting pitching, the Rockies are figuring out that the offense is going to have to hit on all cylinders almost every night in order for the team to win.

    This was the way that the team knew it would have to be going into spring training. If they were going to win, it was going to have to come by way of a powerful offense that put the team on their backs on most nights. To win, this club does not need equal performances from the starting pitching, they need the offense to carry the load.

    On Wednesday, the outing the Rockies got from Christian Friedrich was not all that bad. Sure, he gave up five runs on 11 hits in six innings of work, but four runs came in one inning. As a young kid, making just his fifth big league start, a bad inning should be expected.

    An encouraging sign for the lefty was the three scoreless frames he pitched immediately following the big inning. The key for him, as well as many of the other young Rockies starters, is to mature beyond that big inning. They need to figure out a way to keep their composure until they figure out how to limit the big inning. It is all part of the maturation process. It is important to take the good out of these starts.

    For Friedrich, the impressive stat continues to come from the walk column. A stat that drives managers, pitching coaches, defenses, and fans crazy is when the guy on the mound gives up the big inning because he isn’t throwing strikes. Free passes kill a pitcher. On Wednesday, Friedrich walked only one. In his five starts he has walked only eight batters while striking out 32. That is a good sign for a pitcher who only spent six weeks above the Double-A level before making his debut.

    The outburst of offense has come in large part because of the sudden onslaught from both Gonzalez and Fowler. At some point, it was expected that Gonzalez would go through a hot streak. However, Fowler was the question mark. His up-and-down career had even his greatest supporters teetering on the idea that he may never reach that potential. Suddenly he has figured it out. The most baffling part, however, is the power. He is on pace to hit close to 20 home runs. Coming into 2012, he had a grand total of 15 career homers.

    If there is a team that is capable of pulling the bandwagon fans back on before they hit the dirt from jumping off, it is the Rockies. The U-turn that they seem to take annually is maddening. The talent is there, but they always seem to go through a rough stretch that buries them, only to play well enough to make people believe that they have it figured out.

    The reality is, the offense would have to keep up a torrid pace for a significant amount of time before this team could claim to be back in the race. In the meantime, watching baseball that resembles the Blake Street Bomber days might be fun for fans.

  • Rockies need new goals, including playing better at home

    Wed, May 30, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    The Memorial Day doubleheader sweep of the Houston Astros by the Colorado Rockies gave the few remaining believers hope.

    In reality, however, this team has dug itself such a huge hole that the dream of climbing out of it and back into contention is extremely unrealistic. Crazy things happen sometimes, but just because it has happened to the Rockies twice in recent history doesn’t mean it will happen again.

    The reason why this team won’t climb all the way back into the race is simple. They don’t have the starting pitching to make a run. The postseason runs in 2007 and 2009 came courtesy of phenomenal pitching. In ’07 Ubaldo Jimenez, Manny Corpas and Franklin Morales were baptized by fire, probably in too much of a whirlwind to realize what they were doing at the big league level.

    In ’09, Jeff Francis was in the midst of a career season, one in which he would never see again. Jorge De La Rosa put the issues that nearly sabotaged his career aside and pitched with confidence. Jason Marquis anchored the rotation in the early going while the team struggled to pick up wins.

    This 2012 team simply doesn’t have that type of ability. Make no mistake, the talent is just as prevalent. Juan Nicasio, Jhoulys Chacin, and Drew Pomeranz all possess the physical abilities to get the job done. However, for all of them to take the next step and be able to pitch the Rockies back into contention is about as likely as the Rockies’ offense scoring 10 runs in San Francisco.

    So if this year’s team doesn’t possess the ability to crawl back into the race, what should their new goals be?

    As difficult as it might sound for a Rockies fan, the reality is, the goal for this team should be to get back to .500 baseball. Currently they sit at 19-29 through 48 games. So to get to 81-81 by the time the season ends, the Rockies have to go 62-52 the rest of the way. That doesn’t sound like too difficult of a proposition, does it?

    Winning 62 of the next 114 games might not sound like an amazing feat, but it actually might be slightly more difficult than it sounds. The Rockies face a treacherous stretch in their schedule in the middle of June. Starting on June 15, Colorado embarks on a road trip that takes them from Detroit, through Philadelphia, and then finishing up in Arlington against the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers. The nine-game trip could easily make June look like a mirror image of May.

    Considering the way the Rockies play on the road, that road trip could decide whether this team’s focus is getting back to .500, or simply finding a way to avoid losing 100 games. Avoiding a devastating road trip in the middle of June is paramount to this team being respectable come September.

    The other aspect that has been missing over the past three seasons is the Rockies being dominant at their home park. Coors Field used to be one of the biggest advantages in baseball. Teams feared coming to the Mile High City to play in a ballpark where the tall tales suggested that infield bloopers turned into three run homers. Those myths have quickly gone away, and suddenly the only pitchers who can’t pitch at Coors Field are wearing purple pinstripes. Opponents seem to have no problem.

    The Rockies currently sit at a pathetic 11-14 at home. They must be better than that. Look up in the standings a few spots and the difference is easy to see. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 21-7 at home, a .750 clip. Playing at a high level at home gives some breathing room when the team hits the road. Instead, the pressure is on to win on the road.

    Another focus the Rockies must have is to find the right time to promote their young prospects. Nolan Arenado is the most commonly thrown out name. However, currently injured Tim Wheeler is another guy who probably will make his debut, as well as Double-A pitcher Edwar Cabrera.

    Cabrera is 5-4 in Tulsa, sporting a 3.13 ERA. He has struck out 52 batters in 63-1/3 innings while giving up just 16 walks. In 10 starts he has struggled with the long ball, giving up 11 home runs, but at some point, it is probably worth seeing what he can do at the big league level.

    It is time to go with youth. It is time to see what the kids can do. Of course, there is no reason to rush prospects to the big league level, both starting their arbitration clock as well as stunting their growth, but the focus needs to be on the future, and if that means making 2013 less of a shock to some of the prospects who are anticipating being on the roster, then 2012 should be used for that purpose.

    As sad as it might be for the optimistic Rockies fans, there has to be a new set of goals for the 2012 team. Those goals do not entail anything to do with playing in the postseason.

  • Fowler leads way to doubleheader sweep

    Tue, May 29, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    This is what the optimists envisioned when they believed the Colorado Rockies could contend.

    The Rockies gave their fans some good memories on an eventful Memorial Day doubleheader sweep of the Houston Astros at Coors Field.

    The night game was capped off by a resurgent Dexter Fowler lacing a triple down the right-field line, scoring Michael Cuddyer all the way from first base in the 10th inning to break a six-all tie. The triple completed a perfect night for the center fielder. Fowler went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, a leadoff home run, a triple, and a bunt hit that resulted in a two-base error, leaving Fowler on third base.

    However, as encouraging as the overall performance for Fowler was, the most impressive at-bat from the switch hitter came in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. It was the at-bat in which Fowler did the least, yet showed reason for optimism for his development.

    With the bases loaded and two outs, Fowler had two strikes and was looking for a base hit to keep the inning alive. Instead of trying to do too much, Fowler put the pressure back on Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles. Instead of swinging for the base hit, Fowler forced Lyles to throw strikes. He couldn’t, and suddenly the center fielder was headed to first base with a bases-loaded walk.

    Fowler kept the inning alive, and Marco Scutaro then stepped to the plate and laced a double to the right-center gap, scoring all three base runners and giving the Rockies a four-run inning.

    It was an at-bat like Fowler took that has been missing from a hideous May. Instead of allowing the game to play itself out and letting teammates be the hero, the Rockies have all too often forced the issue at the plate. They have tried to do too much and instead of working a walk, they swung at pitches outside of the strike zone and helped the pitcher out.

    In game one, the hero was Jordan Pacheco. In the eighth inning, Pacheco hit a flare into center field that fell just in front of Jordan Schafer, scoring two runs and giving the Rockies a chance to close the game out with Rafael Betancourt on the mound. The winning hit wasn’t the first contribution Pacheco made at the plate.

    After Rockies starter Juan Nicasio gave up two runs in the first inning, the offense came out in the bottom half of the inning and set the pace for scoring right off the bat. Pacheco helped get the scoring going, hitting a triple that one-hopped the wall, scoring Fowler and quickly starting a rally that would put five runs on the board.

    Pacheco and Fowler shared a big day. It was a day that optimistic Rockies fans thought that they would see more often in 2012.

    On paper, this Rockies team has promise. The lineup is as good as any in the National League. With as good of a one-two punch as it gets in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies have a good core. However, throw in players with career numbers like Todd Helton and Cuddyer boast, coupled with emerging bats like Wilin Rosario and Pacheco, and the hope of a good season from Fowler and the Rockies looked like they would have a chance to win every game in which they played, regardless of what the starting pitcher did on the mound.

    Of course, the true issue that faces the Rockies is their lack of starting pitching. They simply must find a way to be better. This team was depending heavily on Jhoulys Chacin and Drew Pomeranz to take the next steps forward. Neither one of them has, and Chacin has taken a step of two back.

    With the offense getting on a roll, it may be a good chance to eliminate the need for a starting pitcher to really go out and dominate and give the team a chance to climb back to respectability. The talent is there. The starting pitching is the question mark, and always has been, but this team is more talented than it has been playing.

  • Five HRs not enough; Moyer shelled; need to call up Pomeranz

    Sun, May 27, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Nine home runs were hit on Sunday at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Five of them were by the Colorado Rockies. In a slugfest, the Rockies found themselves on the short end, losing 7-5 to close out a six-game road trip at 2-4.

    The Reds showed exactly what the saying “solo home runs don’t beat you” means. The Rockies hit five solo bombs, the only five hits the club registered on the day. In fact, in an odd coincidence, Reds starter Mat Latos went 7-1/3 innings, giving up all five earned runs–and never pitched out of the stretch.

    The reason the Rockies lost was due to another poor pitching performance. For the second time on the road trip, Jamie Moyer was lit up on the mound. His low 80′s fastball wasn’t fooling anyone, and he quickly had the Rockies in a hole 5-1.

    Moyer was good enough to fight his way through five innings, but the club was reminded once again of just how important it is for the starting pitcher to be good enough to keep them in the game.

    As nice of a story as it has been for Moyer, as good as his career accomplishments have been and as inspiring it is that he is still in the big leagues at age 49, the reality is, he is done. The sad part is, he is done, but he is still not the worst starting pitcher that the Rockies trot out every fifth day.

    It might be conceivable that someone would consider trading for Moyer as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. However, a 5.70 ERA isn’t going to bring back any considerable returns.

    The reality is, the Moyer experiment may have already come to an end if the young starting pitchers that the club was depending on had panned out. Instead, Jhoulys Chacin sits on the disabled list with no timetable for return, and Drew Pomeranz seems as confused as ever, hitting only in the upper-80s in his last start in Colorado Springs.

    The questions need to be asked. At some point, do the Rockies put too much weight into making a guy perfect before he settles in to the big league rotation? Is it hampering Pomeranz’s development to continue telling him that his mechanics are so flawed? The answer seems to be that the Rockies focus so much on little things that it throws the big things out of whack.

    The reality for the Rockies is simple. It’s time to pull the plug on Moyer. Let him find a team that could use him. The reality is, he is doing nothing except filling a spot for the Rockies. He won’t be back next year and this season is lost for this team.

    Let Pomeranz pitch at the big league level and iron out his issues there. It isn’t going to hurt anything for him to do it at Coors Field where failure can be chalked up to big league hitters. Continuing to micromanage his mechanics in Colorado Springs is simply going to destroy his confidence as he gets rocked by minor league hitters in a park that plays like Coors Field did before the humidor.

    As quick as Pomeranz can return and take Moyer’s spot, a replacement should be in line to take Jeremy Guthrie’s spot. He is another guy who’s value continues to drop every time he takes the ball and gets shelled. Find a place to trade him. Get a couple of minor league pitchers for him, use him to restock the farm system and wash off the failed trade and move on.

    It is time to focus on the future. Of course, there is no reason to rush someone to the big leagues before they are ready, but at some point, the experience is necessary for these guys when the pressure to win every night is off.

    This team’s issues go well beyond a bad starting rotation, a poor manager, a bad pitching coach and a general manager who watched his farm system get depleted before he could restock it. This team’s issues are deep. The player development department certainly needs to be questioned, as well as the scouting department. Those are the two areas that need to be addressed immediately.

    The fact is, the Rockies have the right model to win in Colorado. They aren’t going to be the recipients of high-priced free agents. They must win with the draft and player development. That is where the strength of the franchise needs to be. Right now, it is the weakest link in the chain.

    The Rockies head home for a Memorial Day doubleheader against the Astros. First pitch is at 1:10 for the first game and 6:10 for the second game.

  • Gurthie doesn’t have any pitch that unsettles hitters

    Sat, May 26, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Jeremy Guthrie looked extremely pedestrian for the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night in Cincinnati as the Reds ended the Rockies’ two-game winning streak with a 10-3 victory.

    The Rockies main objective this offseason was to create a winning culture in the clubhouse. They made moves to get savvy veterans who would play team baseball. They wanted to bring in players who were hungry to win and would put their personal numbers aside to play the game the right way.

    On paper, it sounded good. The team impressed many around baseball by overpaying for Michael Cuddyer, a free agent who plays hard-nosed baseball. They were willing to take on the salary of Marco Scutaro, another hard-nosed veteran who knows how to take a good at-bat.

    The third big move was to shore up the pitching staff. General Manager Dan O’Dowd pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to Baltimore for Orioles ace Jeremy Guthrie. Hammel had fallen out of favor, and out of the rotation, in Colorado and Guthrie was a proven innings-eater.

    Guthrie led the American League in losses in both 2011 and 2009. However, that was easy to write off because he played on a horrible Baltimore team and was facing tough American League East lineups night-in and night-out. The right-hander had logged 200 innings in each of the past three seasons, meaning he would give the Rockies quality outings and save the bullpen from wear-and-tear.

    However, as it stands, Guthrie is one of the biggest problems on a Rockies team with no shortage of issues. On Saturday, he went five innings, giving up six total runs on 10 hits. He struck out five and walked one. The caveat in the line is that only two of the runs were earned.

    There is no doubt that Guthrie suffered from Jordan Pacheco’s first-inning throwing error. However, a true ace minimizes adversity. When things go wrong, they may give up a couple of runs, but for the most part, they figure out how to stay away from the big inning.

    On Saturday, Guthrie couldn’t do that. After Pacheco’s error, the inning continued down a bad path. Guthrie ended up giving up a long three-run home run to Chris Heisey, giving the Reds a 4-1 lead.

    In the fourth inning, Guthrie was again touched by the long ball, giving up a solo shot to Reds top catching prospect Devin Mesoraco.

    The problem is that Guthrie simply doesn’t have anything special in his arsenal of pitches. He throws hard, hitting the mid-90′s routinely, but there is no life on his fastball. The heater sails in with no movement, which makes it easily hit-able to a Major League hitter. On top of that, his slider isn’t good enough to be an out pitch. What that means is that he doesn’t have enough movement on any of his pitches for a hitter to be uncomfortable in the box. They can dig in and wait until the pitch is delivered to see what it is and tee-off on it. None of his pitches are a true strikeout pitch.

    Meanwhile, in Baltimore, Jason Hammel continues to do his part to make the trade look even worse for the Rockies. He leads in the league in wins, with six, and has a 2.78 ERA through nine starts. In 55 innings he has given up 17 walks while striking out 53 batters. Of course, there is no guarantee that Hammel will continue his hot start, but right now he is on the path that will earn him a roster spot on the All-Star team, while Guthrie looks like a glorified batting practice pitcher.

    Starting pitching has been the biggest issue for the Rockies this season. Things may have been completely different if Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin had been anywhere close to dependable. Instead, Chacin sits on the disabled list and Guthrie inspires little to no confidence.

    Clearly the Rockies thought that Hammel was a clubhouse concern. He may not have been a bad guy, but they seemed to lump him into the category of passionless players from the 2011 club that needed to be shipped off. Apparently that motivated the former Rockie, as he would be a huge boost for a team that is struggling mightily on the mound, and are getting no help from the guy that the Rockies received back for him.

    The Rockies look to take the series from the Reds on Sunday before heading home for a Memorial Day doubleheader against a surprisingly competitive Houston Astros team.

  • Rockies win two in a row, thanks to Friedrich, Helton, Tulo

    Fri, May 25, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Two in a row. The Colorado Rockies are the proud owners of a two-game winning streak.

    It doesn’t sound like much, but considering the way the team has performed in May, a two-game streak may as well be a 15-game winning streak.

    Friday night was a game that showcased why the club should be far better than it has performed throughout the month of May.

    The majority of the credit for the win has to go to left-handed starting pitcher Christian Friedrich. The rookie, making his fourth career start, once again was impressive for the Rockies. He continued looking focused and poised. Despite a poor outing on Saturday against the Mariners, Friedrich bounced back and pitched well, giving the Rockies a chance.

    The stats for Friedrich don’t look incredibly impressive. He gave up three runs in five innings of work. The Reds tagged him for seven hits. However, Friedrich was impressive. He got knocked around in the fourth inning, giving up three runs and allowing the game to be tied. Instead of allowing a bad inning to turn into a horrendous inning, Friedrich continued to battle. He struck out Ryan Hanigan and then Reds starter Johnny Cueto to end the inning.

    In the fifth inning, Friedrich got two outs, then gave up one of Joey Votto’s four hits, walked Brandon Phillips, his only walk of the game, and found himself in trouble again. Once again, the focus and poise was evident in Friedrich’s face. The lefty settled down and got Chris Heisey to pop out in foul territory to Wilin Rosario.

    Friedrich’s night was done, but for a kid making his fourth big league start, he was impressive. He struck out six and walked just one.

    The lesson learned from Friedrich’s outing is that the starting pitchers don’t need to be perfect, they simply need to minimize the big innings and pitch well enough to keep their team in the game.

    Pitching wasn’t the only positive for the Rockies. Some of the bats that have disappeared during the tough month of May are coming around. Todd Helton, owner of a .228 batting average, gave the Rockies an early advantage, launching a two-run home run off Cueto in the top of the 2nd inning. In the 5th, Helton came back to the plate and singled back up the middle to record his third RBI of the night helping to regain the Rockies’ lead.

    Troy Tulowitzki, often the victim of his own determination, went 3-for-4. Perhaps the best sign from Tulowitzki came in the top of the 9th inning. With Carlos Gonzalez on third base, Tulo waited on a pitch and flipped it to center field, collecting a hit and giving the Rockies an additional run.

    The at-bat was impressive for Tulowitzki because his struggles have consisted of doing everything opposite of what that at-bat consisted of. Instead of simply serving the ball to the outfield and keeping the inning going, the shortstop has been busy trying to do too much, squeezing the bat too tight, and ending up grounding out weakly or popping out to the infield.

    Part of the frustration with the Rockies in May is that this team has more talent than the way they have played. The outrage from fans is loud because, unlike the teams the Rockies put in the field in the early 2000s. Those teams weren’t very good from a talent standpoint. This team is probably not a World Series contender, but with a lineup featuring Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, Helton and Michael Cuddyer, this is a team that should be closer to first place than last place. They haven’t played to their talent level. Whether they will ever play at that level for an extended period of time remains to be seen, but they have the talent.

  • Rockies a game closer to respectable

    Wed, May 23, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    On Wednesday night in Miami, the Colorado Rockies won 8-4, giving them their first win in three months.

    So, it wasn’t three months, but that is what it seems like. In reality, the win is just their fourth since embarking on a West Coast road trip that was eight games long. That trip made the Rockies go from within striking distance, to fans looking for something to strike.

    Wednesday night was one of those games that makes the people who follow this team so frustrated. It was so easy. It went too well. The starting pitching performed. Alex White gave up four runs in six innings of work. He struck out three and walked one while giving up eight hits.

    From an outsider’s perspective, a starting pitcher going six innings while giving up four runs doesn’t seem like a great night. However, based on the way the pitching situation has gone for the Rockies over the past couple of weeks, it was a phenomenal start simply because White made it six innings.

    Again, White showed significant improvement from his short debut in 2011. The 23-year-old has done a good job of maturing on the job. The team has to be happy with one number in particular. One walk. That means White is attacking the strike zone and forcing the opposition to swing the bat. Over the course of May, when the Rockies have seemingly dropped game after game after game after game, the main stat that jumps out is the number of walks the club has given up. White has stayed away from that mold in his last two outings, pounding the strike zone and challenging batters.

    The pitching was good, but it coupled with an offense that didn’t quit.

    The Rockies offense tagged Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano for seven runs on five hits in five innings. The scoring was highlighted by Troy Tulowitzki, the subject of many fans ire, launching a three run homer in the 5th inning. Tulo finished the night with two hits and four RBIs.

    Carlos Gonzalez also contributed with two hits of his own, one coming in the form of his third triple of the season. Gonzalez drove in two runs on the night.

    With the win in the books, Tulowitzki was smiling from ear-to-ear. It looked as if the weight of the world had been lifted off of his shoulders.

    As much as the Rockies have struggled, as much as this 2012 season has turned into a disaster before Memorial Day, this club has a chance to improve. Much like he said in the offseason, Tulowitzki needs to learn how to turn the page on failure. For the majority of his month-long slump, ironically coinciding with the team’s slump, Tulo has been trying to do too much. He isn’t keeping his weight back and he is trying to pull every pitch into left field. When Tulowitzki is hitting well, he is hitting to right-center field.

    The win is the lone bright spot on a miserable day for Rockies fans. With owner Dick Monfort’s statements still leaving a bad taste in the mouth’s of those who watch the club, the team needed a win. However, the fact remains that it seems that status quo is going to be just fine for these Rockies. It seems clear that change isn’t on the horizon and that this team is content to ride out the season with the personnel that they have in place.

    Rockies fans would love to be proven wrong. They would love to eat crow in regards to all of the statements that they have made over the past few weeks about the general manager, the manager, or any of the coaches. Fans would love to see this team show fight and claw their way back into respectability.

    The road to recovery is going to be a long one, but for now, the team can celebrate a win. They don’t have to think about another loss, or another bad outing from a pitcher. Instead, they can be content that for just one day, they are a game closer to at least being respectable.

  • Rockies have very similar, bad, look to them

    Tue, May 22, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    What is left to say about these Colorado Rockies? They are running out of ways to lose baseball games.

    After being spotted a four-run lead in the 1st inning, Jamie Moyer couldn’t pitch well enough to hold the Marlins at bay. His final batter, Giancarlo Stanton, blasted a grand slam just inside the left field foul pole to give the Marlins a 6-4 advantage.

    After tacking on another late run, the scoring was over, Marlins win 7-4.

    Moyer got crushed, victimized by batters adjusting to the slow speed of his pitches after seeing them a couple of times through the order. He didn’t give the Rockies much of a chance to win, but it wasn’t a night when the starting pitcher was the lone man to blame.

    After putting up four runs in the first, the Rockies offense shut it down. Instead of continuing to pile on the runs, the bats cooled down, not collecting another hit until the 8th inning when Jordan Pacheco came through with a base hit.

    The interesting aspect of the Rockies losing streak is that so much of it feels so similar to a season ago. The offense might put up a few runs, but then they would go quietly for a long stretch. It looked like the big inning had taken all of the energy that they could muster.

    The pitching was much the same as well. In 2011, a starting pitcher would give up a few runs and instead of limiting the damage, they would seem to always give up the long ball, or allow a bad inning to become a horrible inning.

    That wouldn’t be such a big surprise except for the fact that the major selling point for the Rockies offseason was that they were going to get rid of the passive attitudes in the clubhouse. These attitudes were blamed for the team’s lack of fight and lack of focus. The disappointment that was the 2011 season was blamed on the players that were shipped out before spring training arrived.

    So, if the bad apples that contributed to a poor season in which the pitchers couldn’t get the job done and the batters lacked focus and desire were removed from the roster, why is the club getting the same results? Is it because the person who is motivating them is still in that same position? Is it because the guy who has been anointed as the face of the franchise tries to be the entire franchise when the team is struggling?

    The hard questions must be asked. They have to be asked because the offseason was full of blaming players, guys who are trying to make a living in professional baseball, for the failures of a whole team. Maybe an apology from Dan O’Dowd is required to guys like Jason Hammel who seems to be doing just fine in his new home.

    The problem is, the Rockies wanted to blame their struggles on the guys who were role players. Guys like Hammel, Ty Wigginton, Ian Stewart, and even Chris Iannetta should never have had to be leaned upon for the team’s success. They were pieces to the puzzle. When a season goes bad, the non-leaders on the team are not the ones who fingers need to be pointed at. The fingers get pointed at the leaders on the team. It starts with management, then goes straight to the guy who has been ordained as the face of the franchise.

    As great of players as they are, Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton have to take a certain amount of responsibility for the failures that this team is facing. To their credit, neither one of those guys is suggesting that it isn’t their fault, but neither has done anything to pick the team up and get them back on track.

    As things go from bad to worse, the finger also has to point at both the manager and the general manager. Jim Tracy would love for fans to believe that this team simply isn’t talented enough to contend. After nearly every loss, Tracy is busy telling the media that they must tip their cap to the other starter. Sure, he is giving credit where credit is due, but he is also subtly letting everyone know that he believes the other side is more talented than the group that he is commander of.

    Tulowitzki, trying his hardest to be the leader of the club, perhaps feels the pressure of the losing streak. Despite a home run in the 1st inning, the shortstop hit into two double plays later in the game. He continues to roll over on pitches on the outer half of the plate, trying to pull the ball. When Tulo is at his best, he is driving the ball to both gaps. When he is at his worst he is pulling everything that he fires at.

    With frustration mounting, it is anyone’s guess as to when, or if, the front office will make a move. Some would argue that making a coaching change or managerial change right now wouldn’t make a difference. That isn’t the point. The point is to say that being the worst team in baseball is not acceptable. It is saying that when things don’t go the way they should, someone has to pay the price. It raises the bar in the clubhouse, in the manager’s office and in the front office itself.

    If nothing happens, it is the Rockies admitting that they never thought that this team had a chance to compete. It is them saying that this is what they expected.

    If that is the case, fans can expect to see similar types of performances all summer long as they saw on Monday, and for that matter, the entire month of May.

  • Where the Rockies sit is unacceptable

    Mon, May 21, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    No one called this Colorado Rockies team a World Series contender. No one said they would win 100 games.

    However, even the biggest critic couldn’t have thought that this team would be this bad, this soon.

    On Sunday, the Rockies were swept at home for the second straight three game series, losing 6-4. This time it came at the hands of the lowly Seattle Mariners. It may have been one thing if the Mariners had ace Felix Hernandez on the mound during the series, but the Rockies faced two mediocre pitchers and one good one.

    Remember when Jim Tracy hadn’t lost a homestand? That seems like a really long time ago. In fact, it is hard to remember the last time the Rockies won a homestand. This one finished 1-4 when it really needed to be closer to 4-1.

    Some might say that it is too early to write this team off. After all, it’s only May. There is plenty of baseball left to be played. They point to 2007 and 2009 when the Rockies went on historic runs to propel themselves into a playoff spot.

    The positive attitude is enviable. However, it simply isn’t realistic. This team doesn’t have the pitching that it will require to keep them in games enough nights in a row to go on one of those runs.

    It is becoming tiresome to debate who is at fault. Is it Tracy? Is it general manager Dan O’Dowd? Is it pitching coach Bob Apodaca? Is it the player’s faults? At this point, it really doesn’t matter whose fault it is. The reality is, it is probably a combination of all of their faults, plus a bunch more.

    Meanwhile, the front office continues to sit on their hands. Despite calls from loyal fans for a shakeup, or at least a small move that would suggest that being 10 games under .500 before Memorial Day isn’t all right.

    What else is left to be said? What else do fans have to do? Root Sports analyst and Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby took to Twitter on Sunday night to make fun of fans who were complaining about their team. As much respect as a guy of Ringolsby’s ilk deserves, it was uncalled for. There has to be room for anger. There must be some sort of outlet for fans. Obviously Ringolsby isn’t a fan. He is an un-biased analyst. However, he should be embarrassed that he is so disconnected from the fans that he feels that they shouldn’t be even slightly frustrated and speaking out of emotion rather than logic at this point in a terrible season.

    If the Rockies had told their fans that they expected another year or two before they would be able to compete, it would be one thing. However, the club signed Michael Cuddyer and traded for Marco Scutaro and Jeremy Guthrie, two guys who only had a year left on their contracts. That would suggest to fans that they are trying to win. That encourages fans to spend money on their team. Of course, certain criticism is out of line, but being upset that a team isn’t playing the way they should be is something that is allowed. Ringolsby’s mockery of fans is worse than the fans’ criticism.

    The Rockies head back on the road, a place where they have been even worse than at home. They go to Miami to check out the new park that the Marlins built. The weight of the season should be on their shoulders. The weight of Tracy’s job and Apodaca’s job should be on their shoulders. If the six-game road trip doesn’t result in at least a 3-3 record, one of those two guys should be making his final trip as a member of the Rockies.

    At this point, however, that isn’t a guarantee. Being 10 games under .500 and in a horrible place this early in the season would be unacceptable for all but a few teams in the league. Apparently the Rockies are one of those teams.

  • Rockies Year of the Fan? Not hardly

    Sat, May 19, 2012 by admin with no comments

    BY DAVID MARTIN

    Year of the Fan? What a joke.

    Maybe the Colorado Rockies meant for that to be singular, because after the 2012 campaign there might only be one fan left.

    One complaint many observant writers and radio hosts around town have about Rockies fans is that they continue to show up in droves to Coors Field, regardless of the product put on the field. They don’t demand success and they continue to land at 20th & Blake for the party atmosphere, completely disregarding the poor product on the field.

    That is going to change. This town has tasted success. It may have been fleeting, but the runs of 2007 and 2009 were enough to make fans desire more than a fourth place team. For years that was acceptable, but Denver has grown beyond that.

    Denver is a great sports town. Of course, the Broncos will always be the heart and soul of the town, but fans believe in their teams. They root passionately for them. One quality the sets Denver fans apart from those in other cities is that success isn’t the only goal. Fans in Denver love the players on the team. They cling to them. They root for them. Fans in Denver don’t want to see their team succeed, they want to see the players on their team succeed. For proof, look no further than fans who were angry that Tim Tebow was traded by the Broncos, despite signing one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

    It might be frustrating to some, but it really does make Denver a great town. Fans dive into the personalities of the players on the team and cling on to that, rather than just rooting for whoever happens to be wearing the team’s colors that season.

    The problem for the Monforts and the rest of the front office comes in at the next point. Fans in Denver demand effort. The team doesn’t have to hoist a trophy at the end of the year, but the players on the team have to play with a passion that suggests that they want to be the team hoisting the trophy.

    Rockies fans are notoriously loyal. They are loyal to a fault. They want to believe in their team. The reason that they kept buying tickets and spending money at Coors Field in the dark days of the early 2000s was because the team had promised that they were going to build from within. They promised that the new model–growing from within and not spending on big name free agents–would give the Rockies their best chance to succeed.

    Fans hung in there. Times were tough, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Fans followed as names like Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis, Garrett Atkins and Clint Barmes were bantered about in Single-A. The light at the end of the tunnel was bright, and it was worth the struggle of watching Royce Clayton and Desi Relaford play in the infield.

    Fans bought in to the process. Many in the media didn’t, but the true fans understood.

    When the magic of 2007 happened, fans were vindicated. Their suffering was all worthwhile. They had a winner. The next season was a disappointment, but they would rebound. Quickly in 2009 the Rockies made the playoffs again and were becoming a respected team around the league.

    Since that playoff run, however, the Rockies have been abysmal. Their farm system hasn’t produced. Players who were supposed to be All-Stars proved to be overrated. Players who could have been traded when they had value were hung on to until their value was little-to-nothing.

    Make no mistake, the Rockies have more youth on the way. There is plenty of talent in the lower levels of the minor leagues. There should be plenty to be excited about. However, the 2012 team was sold to fans as a team that was going to compete. They were sold to them as a team full of veterans who knew how to win. They might not be the most talented team, but they would be scrappy and fun to watch.

    This team would bridge the gap until the Rockies new set of prospects made their way to the big leagues. Again, fans bought into the team. Again, fans were let down. Fans were let down, and right now they are demanding a response. They are dying to see that the front office is as heartbroken as they are about the path this team is headed down. Changing coaches or managers might not change the course of this broken season, but what it will do is send a message to the loyal fans that mediocrity isn’t going to be accepted. It will tell fans that there is accountability and that poor management and poor coaching is not going to be allowed.

    Are Rockies fans going to buy into another promise that the next wave of prospects will be better than the group that the team has fielded in the last two seasons? At some point, the loyalty is going to go away. Fans were willing to buy in before, but the patience is wearing.

    The team can be bad on the field. If they play hard and don’t make excuses fans will be fine with it. When the team is sold to the fans as a contender, then when they struggle mightily nothing is done to say that it isn’t acceptable, fans will feel blindsided.

    The Rockies are desperately hoping that Year of the Fan doesn’t turn out to be the Last Year of the Fan.