2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • No excuse for having a short bench at end of season

    Sun, September 30, 2012 by admin with no comments


    Jim Tracy is a terrible manager. He changes the lineup almost daily, he makes excuses, and he handles a bullpen about as bad as anyone in the game. However, the Colorado Rockies front office is currently hanging him out to dry.

    In a season full of new phrases made up by the Rockies, terms such as “piggy-back reliever,” and others that defy conventional baseball wisdom, the Rockies have once again gone outside the realm of logic. Something that should never be heard in the month of September is a phrase about being short on the bench.

    Several times in the past few weeks, Tracy has found himself in a situation where he has to have a relief pitcher hit for himself in the 5th or 6th inning because the bench is full of players who are hurting. Carlos Gonzalez is out, Jason Giambi is out, Dexter Fowler is out, and as of Saturday, Tyler Colvin is hurt as well.

    The Rockies went into Saturday night’s game with the Dodgers only having one available position player on the bench. That is simply unacceptable. It is unacceptable in April through August, and it is downright embarrassing in September.

    On September 1st, the rosters expand to 40 players, meaning all of the younger players who are in the minor leagues all season, but are on the 40-man roster are eligible to get a taste of the big leagues in the final month of the season. Most teams don’t call up every player on that roster, but they will specifically allow certain players who have a shot to make the 25-man roster the next season, or a veteran who worked hard in the minors to get some big league time and prove that he belongs.

    The Rockies made a few call-ups. Andrew Brown and Matt McBride returned to the roster, and Rob Scahill made his big league debut on the mound. A few moves are typical. The issue is that with the injuries that the Rockies have been dealing with this late in the season, why on earth would the front office not equip the team with a few extra players, if for no other reason than to simply get through the season.

    Of course, the issue for the Rockies is that if they bring up some of their prospects, they are starting their arbitration clock, making them have more service time and potentially taking a year away from what the club can control. That makes sense. However, with the team nearing 100 losses, it isn’t as if the team needs to showcase guys like Nolan Arenado. This team needs to bring up guys like Tommy Field, who has been in the big leagues before and, with all due respect to Field, isn’t considered a guy who is going to have a huge impact in his future. Field ended the season hurt, so he can’t make that jump, but someone in a similar position.

    The issue might be that the team’s 40-man roster is full and they would have to add someone in order to make it happen. However, that logic quickly gets shot down when the realization that there are three members of the 40-man roster that are on the 60-day disabled list, meaning they can be replaced on that roster until the end of the season.

    Would it be that difficult to bring up a player like Brandon Wood, who didn’t have a great year in Colorado Springs, but has Major League experience and can play nearly any position? How about Charlie Culberson, who the Rockies got from the Giants in the Marco Scutaro trade?

    The reality is, the Rockies are asleep at the wheel. This season is lost, so they simply quit. That is something that should never been said of a professional franchise. However, there is simply no other way to say it. There is no solid explanation for why this team could have several more players on their bench, even if they are mediocre players. This isn’t about winning baseball games, it’s about not looking foolish in a month where there could be so many players that they don’t all fit in the dugout.

    As much criticism as Jim Tracy has received for his unconventional management, the Rockies are doing him a disservice at this point by not giving him anything to work with. It is simply unacceptable.

  • Rockies under-achieve their way to tying club record for most losses

    Fri, September 28, 2012 by admin with no comments


    The Colorado Rockies have now lost as many games as they did in 1993 and 2005.

    With Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Rockies now have 95 losses with five games left to play. What that means for the team is that they still have a chance to record their first-ever 100 loss season. Regardless, this team, even with a five-game winning streak to end the season, would still be tied for the worst record in club history.

    With the worst record at the doorstep, the question for the club to answer is whether or not this team is worse than the other two teams that landed on 95 losses.

    The Rockies would like to believe that talent-wise, this team is as bad as those teams were. The organization wants to pawn the disappointment onto the talent on the field. They want fans to believe that there were no management issues, that the team was devastated by injuries and that they were forced to field a Triple-A team for the great majority of the season.

    There is no reason to believe that the 2012 version of Colorado Rockies is worse than either one of the other teams that lost 95 games. In 1993, the Rockies had guys like Alex Cole, Freddie Benavides and Jerald Clark in the everyday starting lineup. They also boasted Bryn Smith, Butch Henry, Kent Bottenfield and a young David Nied in their starting rotation.

    The vast majority of these players were picked up in the expansion draft. They were essentially cast-offs and guys who bounced between the minor leagues and the big leagues. They were the typical expansion team.

    The 2005 squad was viewed, at the time, as rock bottom for the franchise. The critics were blasting the Rockies for moving forward with their build-from-within mindset. These young players were getting their feet wet in the big leagues and their flaws were evident.

    However, as bad as that season was, the talent was certainly there. That was the season in which Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes and Jeff Francis joined their fellow prospect Matt Holliday with the big league club. They struggled, but they also represented the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Where those teams as good as this team? The answer is no. No, the Rockies were not loaded with talent in 2012. But they did hit a National League-leading .306 at Coors Field. They also had young talent that proved to be good enough to score enough runs to win games.

    Their starting pitchers were bad, but how much better could they have been if the Rockies weren’t busy making excuses and saying that Coors Field was playing differently than any previous season?

    If the Rockies want people to think that the reason that they have been so bad is because they have dealt with injuries, they better hope that the fans forget that when Troy Tulowitzki went out on May 30th, when the team was well buried and about two weeks away from being completely out of the race.

    Even if the team wants to blame injuries, or at least hope that fans remember those injuries when thinking about failure, they are leaving out one very important aspect of team sports. Injuries happen. Every team deals with them. The job of a general manager is to provide the depth to overcome injuries and have another guy ready when someone goes down.

    Of course, finding someone to replace Tulowitzki isn’t going to happen, there is going to be a downgrade in talent. However, using injuries as an excuse is also an indictment that the general manager and his team didn’t do their job well enough to have people to replace injured players.

    The reality is, this team is an underachieving team. The 1993 team played to their talent level. The 2005 team played to the level that they should have been playing at their level of development. They were talented, but not ready to play to their potential until they had more experience.

    If the Rockies want to make excuses and continue to believe that they have done everything to put their team in a position to win, they are in for many more bad years. Excuses aren’t going to get them anywhere. They need to make changes, even if those changes simply bring in a new mindset that believes in accountability.

  • Leadership must embrace Coors Field, not blame it

    Thu, September 27, 2012 by admin with no comments


    If someone would have said before the Colorado Rockies season began that Drew Pomeranz would have notched only two wins in late September, no one would have believed it.

    The lefty went five strong innings on Wednesday night in another rain-delayed Rockies game. He walked three batters, one semi-intentionally, but gave up only three hits and held the Cubs scoreless in a series that has amounted to battling it out for rights to the second overall draft pick in June of 2013.

    The season that Pomeranz, the prize piece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, has had has been nothing short of a major disappointment. His ERA sits just above 5.00, and his spent an extended part of the season in Colorado Springs, where frankly, he struggled to find his groove.

    Pomeranz’s biggest issue has been his command. His stuff is good enough to compete at the big league level, but he hasn’t been able to consistently throw strikes.

    What is confusing about the prized lefty is that he was nearly unhittable at the minor league level. He made his big league debut just over a month after signing his first professional contract. In his Rockies organizational debut in Tulsa in August of 2011, he was nearly perfect. After getting called to the big leagues, he made a great impression, pitching with confidence, looking nothing like a kid who was pitching in college 18 months before.

    Suddenly, the Rockies decided after his impressive debut, that they didn’t like his arm slot. They thought that it was time to tinker with his mechanics and work on his delivery. Those experiments led to horrible numbers in Triple-A and questions over whether the former No.1 draft pick was going to reach his potential.

    Finally, after many questionable starts, Pomeranz finally looked like the guy the Rockies had wanted so desperately. After the game, the remarks he made indicted the Rockies plan for him. He basically said that instead of thinking of all the things the Rockies were working on with him, he just picked up his leg and threw the ball to the plate.

    The reality is, the Rockies have a great opportunity to turn things around in a hurry. Despite the disappointing season from both Pomeranz and the other member of the Jimenez trade, Alex White, the team is full of young talent that possesses talent that could put them in a strong position to succeed a year from now.

    Those two pitchers, combined with Christian Friedrich, who at times showed a focus that was years beyond a typical rookie, coupled with the return of Jorge De La Rosa, a healthy Jhoulys Chacin, a year older Tyler Chatwood, another go from Juan Nicasio and a veteran presence of Jeff Francis and the Rockies actually have a significant number of starting pitchers to choose from.

    If the Rockies move forward to ditch their 75-pitch limit debacle that they rolled out in June and go back to a 5-man rotation they have a chance to succeed. However, they also must take another huge step that goes beyond the mechanics of how the team plays on the field.

    The Rockies absolutely must stop making Coors Field an excuse. They cannot continue down the path of believing that it is impossible to pitch at their home park. Everyone knows that it is a hitters park. However, the idea that something magical came in and made it play like it was suddenly on the moon has to be removed. In fact, the best thing that the Rockies have going for them is that they play in a different environment than anywhere else in the game.

    Of course playing at a mile above sea level is going to take its toll on a team. Recovery time is different, adjusting back to sea level pitches isn’t easy. However, the toll that coming into Denver has on an opposition is far greater than the toll the Rockies have when they leave Coors Field. The club needs to embrace what they have, not continue to run away from it. Playing at Coors Field should be every opponent in the National League West’s nightmare. They should hate to play at Coors because they know that the Rockies are built for it, and will exploit it on a nightly basis.

    That fact alone will give the Rockies a swagger that will be tough to compete against. From there they can figure out how to bring that on the road with them, but that confidence has to start at the top.

  • O’Dowd should be removed so he won’t have to make more excuses

    Tue, September 25, 2012 by admin with no comments


    Wilin Rosario did it again on Tuesday night at Coors Field. The catcher went 2-for-4 in the Colorado Rockies rain-shortened win. One of the hits was a long home run to center field. The blast gave Rosario 27 on the season, giving him a realistic shot at 30 before the season is done.

    As the Rockies got one win closer to avoiding the 100-loss mark, the club continued to raise eyebrows off of the field.

    Two weeks ago, the Rockies angered many of their fans by ignoring what their young rookie catcher has done at the plate and chose to point out his defensive struggles. On September 10th, Rockies manager Jim Tracy told the Denver Post when asked about Rosario “It’s got to get better. It’s got to get a hell of a lot better.” Tracy said. “The message has to be very clear that you can’t catch like that. You can’t. It put us in a bad spot in two games (in Philadelphia) that we had a chance to win. We have to be better than this moving forward.”

    The message was a scathing one, especially considering the fact that Rosario was brought to the big leagues without playing a day at Triple-A. The Rockies were also well aware that the Dominican had defensive questions coming into the season. The passed balls and wild pitches that Rosario has allowed are certainly an issue, but considering the way he has swung the bat, most figured it was something that could be improved upon in the offseason.

    As Rosario has heated up at the plate, improving his batting average to .276, the catcher has started to garner a small amount of national attention. His offensive numbers, not even Coors Field aided, suddenly puts him in the discussion for National League Rookie of the Year. He almost certainly will not win the award, but his stats suggest that he is certainly deserving of some top-three votes.

    With the national attention came some interesting comments from the most controversial general manager in baseball, Dan O’Dowd. The Rockies decision-maker told Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com “It blows me away that he gets criticized locally, and nationally he never gets mentioned. He caught one of the worst pitching staffs in the history of the game.”

    First off, this is not a joke. O’Dowd actually said this. It is the latest example of a general manager who is so out of touch with reality that he can’t help but make himself look bad.

    The first part of the statement is incorrect for two different reasons, the main reason is because of the comments that Tracy made about Rosario less than two weeks ago to the Denver Post. If he is getting criticized, it certainly isn’t coming from the local media, which has its eyes squarely focused on the Peyton Manning-led Broncos. The Rockies haven’t even been in the discussion on local radio shows since early July.

    That means that the criticism that O’Dowd is talking about isn’t coming from the fans or the media, but from the very man who he wants to see manage the Rockies to a losing record for the rest of his natural life. So when O’Dowd comes down on the people who he thinks are being too critical of the young catcher, the conversation needs to start in the manager’s office.

    Another issue with O’Dowd’s comments come when he talks about the pitching staff. There seems to be no embarrassment when he talks about the pitching staff, which has been the Rockies’ downfall in 2012. In fact, O’Dowd is quick to remind everyone that the staff that he constructed through the draft, development, trades and free agency is one of the worst of all time. O’Dowd brings up that fact as if it shouldn’t be his greatest embarrassment. The statement comes across with an arrogance that suggests that the lack of performance on the mound was the pitchers’ fault for not pulling through, rather than the general manager’s fault, who had no additional options in case some of the young starters faltered.

    The simple answer is that O’Dowd doesn’t get it. Where is he hearing criticism locally? Is O’Dowd so disconnected that he doesn’t realize that his team has been so bad that even the critics have quit talking about them? The worst thing that can happen to a fan base is apathy. When people are being critical, it means they care. When no one is talking about the team one way or the other, the team is in trouble. The Rockies got to that point over two months ago.

    The good news from O’Dowd is that he is backing up a player, one who others have been critical of. However, the statement continues O’Dowd’s streak of being a complainer and an excuse-maker. Instead of promoting his star rookie, the general manager simply couldn’t avoid taking a shot at the critics. He had to go out of his way to make sure everyone knew that he believes the critics of Rosario are not as smart as he is.

    The reality is, O’Dowd has failed so badly that he is running out of people to blame it on. In this case, he blames people locally who have complained about Rosario, even though that conversation hasn’t happened, expect when initiated by his own manager.

    O’Dowd is a failure. He had some great ideas and he made some great trades along the way, but his propensity to make excuses for everything that he fails at, blaming anyone that he can blame, including the players, the fans, the altitude, injuries, the local media and anyone else who could possibly take blame besides the guy who puts the team together, who happens to stare at him in the mirror.

    The time is now for O’Dowd to be removed from his post. He has had long enough to figure out how to win at Coors Field and all he has done is make excuses and blame others.

  • Any recent good vibes with young players doing well quickly fading

    Mon, September 24, 2012 by admin with no comments


    Waiting for the end of the 2012 baseball season is similar to a kid waiting for Christmas. The fact is, it will eventually come, however, it just can’t come soon enough.

    The Rockies did it again on Sunday, losing to the Diamondbacks 10-7 in a slugfest that got ugly late, when the Rockies decided it was a good idea to continue to let Matt Belisle pitch seemingly every single day.

    The right-hander has been nothing short of a godsend for the Rockies. His performance from any role in the bullpen that the club has asked of him has been great. He is as solid as they get. However, in a season that has been as bad as this Rockies season, plus the club throwing out a bullpen-killing 75-pitch limit on their starting pitchers, Belisle has been asked to throw far too many innings.

    Belisle gave up three runs in his one inning of work, all of which scored on a blast off the bat of Aaron Hill, who launched a hanging curveball into the left field seats.

    After the game, the nonsense continued, as Jim Tracy told the media that he was very happy with the effort from the club and that he thought they played pretty well overall. Those words are worse than salt in a wound for a Rockies fan at this point. Since when has giving up six runs in the final two innings constituted good effort? Of course Belisle shouldn’t be blamed for the workload that he has been forced to take on, but the words out of Tracy’s mouth make it sound like he is quite content with a team that is one loss away from setting a franchise record for losses, and six losses away from losing 100 games for the first time in franchise history.

    With nine consecutive losses under their belt, and playing baseball as if they would rather be anywhere else, doing anything else, the Rockies could easily eclipse the 100-loss mark. They almost certainly will if the Dodgers are still in the Wild Card hunt next weekend in Los Angeles. The way this club is playing, no one would probably be all that surprised if they didn’t win another game. Seriously.

    If it wasn’t bad enough for these Rockies, they have lost their one bit of silver lining heading into the end of a miserable season. Two weeks ago, the team could have sold its fans on the idea that their youth was coming around and that they could possibly bounce right back into respectability in 2013. They were playing hard, they were playing well, but the experience just wasn’t there.

    Over the course of the last week and a half, the misery that is the Rockies 2012 season has only been highlighted. Constant excuses from the manager, poor play in nearly every aspect of the game, and all-around bad baseball has been the overriding theme for Colorado in 2012.

    There is no way that this management team should get a free pass. There is no way that anyone who is in any kind of decision-making role should retain their job after this debacle. If it is this impossible to motivate a team that frankly, isn’t this bad, then it is time to mix the whole thing up. It might be too hard to pinpoint exactly where the disconnect is, so may as well start over completely.

    This season has been brutal for the Rockies, a complete embarrassment. The only thing that could be more embarrassing is if they do nothing about it.

  • Bad ending to bad season shaping up, changes needed

    Sat, September 22, 2012 by admin with no comments


    The Colorado Rockies seem to have their minds in a different place. The way they have been playing, they certainly can’t be thinking about playing baseball.

    On Friday night, in front of fans more eager to watch the postgame fireworks show than the terrible product on the field, the Rockies looked as bad as ever. Before the fireworks started, the Diamondbacks had rubbed salt in the wound of a terrible season, winning 15-5.

    The Diamondbacks scored in eight of the nine innings, only leaving the second inning without notching a run. Drew Pomeranz and Alex White combined to pitch 4-1/3 innings, giving up nine earned runs on nine hits. They combined to walk nine batters.

    The Rockies seemed like they had overcome the hurdle of losing 100 games a few weeks back. However, they currently are looking at needing to win five games out of the final 12 in order to avoid that dubious mark for the first time in franchise history. Five wins may not seem like too much to ask for, but the way this team is playing, they might not win another game.

    With Pomeranz struggling, and White not doing much to help eat some innings, the overworked and tired bullpen was exposed again. Josh Roenicke, one of the few reasons this team hasn’t already recorded their 100th loss, gave up a two-run home run to Kelly Johnson. Josh Outman also gave up a homer and every pitcher who took the mound for the Rockies gave up at least a run. The strength of this team had been the bullpen, but the lack of effectiveness, coupled with the Rockies’ harebrained pitching theory, has worn the bullpen down to sawdust.

    September is getting close to its end. The finale of the Rockies regular season cannot come soon enough. Playing out the string of the schedule seems like a huge burden for this team, and unfortunately for the fans, it has become a trend in September in the past three seasons. Instead of finishing strong, the Rockies pack it in.

    Playing when the game doesn’t matter is tough on anyone. However, it speaks to the team’s character when they can’t even go out and compete when the end of the season is approaching. Sure, it has been a terribly tough season, and no one is happy with the results, but the options are to pretend it never happened and play hard, or simply sulk and pack it in, showing up but not much more until the season ends.

    The lack of effort also speaks to the front office and management. It suggests that no one is capable of motivating this team and that no one is the captain of the ship. The players aren’t getting the message. This is the time for a manager to re-emphasize how important it is to get better and improve. Some guys are playing for a position in 2013, and the rest are in dire need of improvement in order to show that they belong at the big league level. This is their chance to do that. With that in mind, no one has been able to tell that to the Rockies and they continue to get massacred in lackluster fashion.

    With a terrible season looking like it is going to end on a terrible note, the worst thing that ownership can do is leave things as they are in the front office. If nothing happens it is a clear sign that the Rockies have no accountability. It is a signal to the front office that winning isn’t very important and having bad years is acceptable. That is not the message that needs to be sent.

  • It was nice to have De La Rosa back, but Rockies in another September slide

    Thu, September 20, 2012 by admin with no comments


    The Colorado Rockies got perhaps their best news of the entire 2012 season. Jorge De La Rosa, out since the end of May 2011, made his return to the mound.

    As good as it was for the Rockies to get De La Rosa back, it didn’t end up as good as what the club was hoping. The lefty was removed from the game after giving up six runs, five earned, on seven hits. He struck out one and walked one.

    Despite the loss, the final score was 9-2 Giants, the return is encouraging. It is important for De La Rosa to get in a few starts at the big league level when the games don’t really matter all that much. De La Rosa has struggled with controlling his emotions and remaining confident on the mound. The two or three starts that he gets before the end of the season should go a long way to relieve some of the issues that might creep up in the confidence department.

    Wins and losses haven’t really mattered for several months. However, the club is starting to develop a disturbing trend. Since September 19th of 2010, the Rockies are a dismal 15-42 record in September.

    The Rockies in both 2011 and 2012 have been long out of the race. However, the trend is a sign of deeper issues. The trend suggests the heart and the character that the Rockies play with. It suggests that there isn’t any discipline within the clubhouse, as players start to lose focus and start to think about their October vacation plans or anything other than baseball.

    The past two seasons, the Rockies have blamed their players. They have said that it was their fault for quitting and not finishing what they started. However, as this starts to happen once again, the question has to be asked, who is responsible for the lack of discipline. The clubhouse has been turned over. The players are almost completely different. At some point, the guys who both put the players on the roster, or the guy who sits in the office next to the clubhouse.

    The reality is, it is simply time for the Rockies front office to take responsibility. It might be the players fault for the horrid season that has become the 2012 Colorado Rockies. However, those guys are the ones who put the uniform on those players backs. It is their fault that these group of players are Rockies. Yet, the front office still wants to blame the talent.

    Those making decisions at 20th & Blake are so insecure about criticism that they must deflect anything that is negatively said about them. If they believe that their moves are what is best for this team long term, they should be willing to talk about their decisions. They should be willing to let the criticism roll off of their backs. Instead, they confirm that they aren’t exactly sure which direction they are headed when they get offended by local radio hosts who criticize them, when columnists write disparaging things in the newspaper about them they get defensive. People who are confident in what they are doing don’t need to respond to the critics or get upset by them.

    In fact, when the Rockies were in the midst of their GenR campaign that eventually led them to the 2007 World Series, when the critics were at their loudest, the Rockies were confident that their plan would work. They didn’t get defensive, they simply confidently went about their business, knowing that eventually, they would be proved correct.

    As the season winds down, as the Rockies slump back towards the 100-loss mark, there must be thoughts from ownership that it is time to relieve their friends from the duty that they have been failing at for the past three years. At some point, there must be accountability. Fans are starting to grumble. They aren’t happy. The minority is no longer those wanting changes. The majority of fans is looking for some sort of change, if not a clean sweep. If the Rockies don’t make changes, the morale of fans will be at an all time low. Right now they are a joke to fans and residents of Colorado. If they continue down this path, they will go from being a joke, to simply being insignificant.

  • After another snoozer, should be interest in De La Rosa’s Thursday start

    Wed, September 19, 2012 by admin with no comments



    As the state of Colorado fell asleep late in the night, the Colorado Rockies were busy losing another game in San Francisco. The Rockies dropped Wednesday night’s game 7-1, forcing them to win on Thursday afternoon to avoid the four-game sweep.

    With the season long over, it was an easy decision for most fans to flip the TV off on Wednesday night. Tyler Chatwood got in trouble in the 1st inning, allowing the first two batters to reach base. With Pablo Sandoval at the plate, Chatwood made a great pitch three inches off the plate and four inches off of the ground. With a half swing, Sandoval somehow made contact, sending the ball down the right field line. Amazingly, the ball hit the foul pole, giving the Giants a 3-0 lead before the Rockies had recorded an out.

    With Matt Cain on the hill for the Rockies, the game was essentially over. Cain rarely gives up runs, and hasn’t lost a game in which his team gave him more than two runs of support. With those statistics staring the Rockies in the face, the Rockies had a tall order to get back in the game.

    They did, however, get their chance. In the 5th inning, the Rockies loaded the bases and Carlos Gonzalez came to the plate. After a good at-bat, Gonzalez rolled over a pitch and hit a ground ball to second base, ending the threat. In San Francisco, where the visiting team usually only gets one chance to win, if they don’t take it, it usually means a loss. That was exactly what happened to the Rockies on Wednesday night.

    Just as the Rockies give one final reason not to watch and let them peacefully fade into the offseason, the club gives another intriguing reason to keep paying attention.

    On Thursday afternoon, Jorge De La Rosa will make his 2012 debut. After a year-and-a-half on the disabled list, the Rockies former ace will make his return to the mound. The biggest question will be how well he mentally holds up. De La Rosa bounced through four organizations because he could never corral his emotions and became his own worst enemy, despite having top-of-the-rotation stuff.

    The Rockies were able to consistently send him to their mental strength coach, who worked with De La Rosa on turning the page and moving to the next batter. Suddenly he became elite.

    The question has to be not how De La Rosa’s surgically repaired elbow will hold up, but rather if the lefty will be able to pitch with the confidence that made him a very good pitcher just a few years ago.

    It is very good for De La Rosa to get a few starts in the big leagues before the offseason. The low-pressure starts should ease the lefty back into the big leagues and give him confidence so that when he makes his first few appearances, they aren’t coming in early 2013 games that actually count.

    The Rockies try to avoid the sweep on Thursday afternoon. Luckily for the Rockies, they won’t have to make another trip to San Francisco until 2013. The flight out of town should be one that they are very eager to take.

  • Rockies should abandon pitching guidelines now not just in 2013

    Tue, September 18, 2012 by admin with no comments


    How many times can the point be driven home? How many examples do the Colorado Rockies need before they realize that it what they are doing is not working?

    On Monday night in San Francisco, the Rockies did it to themselves once again. With Jhoulys Chacin on the mound, pitching great through five innings, the Rockies were clinging to a 1-1 tie. Chacin had given up just one run on five hits. He struck out two and walked only one Giant.

    However, after 80 pitches, the Rockies decided that Chacin’s night was done.

    Jim Tracy and the Rockies decided that it would be better for Guillermo Moscoso, the proud owner of a 6.59 ERA through 42-1/3 innings, would be a better option than the guy they had on the mound who was pitching well and keeping the Giants in check.

    Moscoso promptly allowed two runners on base before recording an out. He was able to escape a first and third no out jam, only giving up one run, but that run was the difference in the game.

    The Rockies should know, as any fan who has watched them in AT&T Park over the years does, that when they are in San Francisco, each and every at-bat matters. Every single pitch is important because putting up runs in that ballpark isn’t just difficult, it is nearly impossible. That means there isn’t any room to mess around, the team must put their best foot forward in every situation.

    Part of the Rockies theory is that the starting pitcher tends to get hit harder the third time through the lineup. This stat is undeniable. However, simply because that is a typical trend doesn’t mean that the starting pitcher isn’t a better option than some random below-average pitcher in the bullpen.

    Why on Monday night would Moscoso be a better option in the 6th inning than Chacin? Simply because Chacin had already delivered 80 pitches and the Giants were about to see him once again? It defies logic. Very few people would suggest that they would rather have a guy on the mound as the game goes into the late innings that has struggled for the vast majority of his time in the big leagues and has bounced between Triple-A and the Majors all season long over a guy who is set to be the ace of the rotation in 2013.

    Despite the lack of logic, those types of moves are exactly what the Rockies continue to make, explaining it away as something that has to be done in concession to the altitude in which the team plays half of their games in.

    The Rockies are going back to a 5-man rotation. In fact, they already have been back to a 5-man rotation for the better part of two weeks. However, they continue down the path of allowing the starter to throw just 75 pitches before the hook comes out.

    The move was done clearly in an effort to force the young starters to learn how to throw strikes. While it has been successful to a certain degree in that regard, it has also backfired in so many ways. The young pitchers now fret when a batter fouls off five or six pitches, driving their pitch count up, even though they are throwing strikes and making their pitch.

    The reality is, it has been said hundreds of times, this theory doesn’t work. The Rockies have admitted that they are all but abandoning it heading into spring training, so the question must be asked now, why wouldn’t they just ditch the whole idea right away and start using conventional logic to determine when a pitcher comes out?

    If a pitcher is pitching well and getting outs, wait until he starts to tire, or the opposing team gets to him. If a pitcher is struggling, go to the bullpen. It doesn’t matter the altitude, the Rockies need to start thinking with logic, rather than grasping at straws.

  • Hopefully Rockies realize their pitching theory doesn’t work

    Mon, September 17, 2012 by admin with no comments


    If it’s been said once, it’s been said 1,000 times. The Colorado Rockies pitching theory simply doesn’t work.

    It might work in one particular game. It might work over the course of a week, but the reality is, it simply doesn’t work over the course of a season.

    Maybe the Rockies deserve credit for thinking outside of tradition, one of the great things about baseball that often becomes its biggest handicap. While the Rockies are trying something outside the box, they have to admit that the long-term effects are more damaging than they anticipated.

    On Sunday, the Rockies reaped the consequences of what happens when the theory is played out for the better part of a season without a fall back plan. Adam Ottavino, one of the bright spots in a bad season for the Rockies, saw his ERA jump from 3.56 entering the game to 4.38 when the day was done.

    After another four-inning performance from Alex White, the Rockies went to piggyback man Ottavino. With a 5-3 lead, Ottavino proceeded to give up seven runs, all earned, on six hits and a walk. After 2/3 of an inning, Jim Tracy finally pulled the trigger, going to the mound to remove his piggyback man from the mound without a backup plan.

    The issue is that Ottavino has logged 74 innings despite not making his Rockies debut until nearly a month into the season. The theory demands that the piggyback pitchers eat far more innings than a traditional reliever. When a starter only gets through three or four innings, the piggyback man is lean upon heavily to get the game into the 6th or 7th inning because the corps behind him is limited. With two other piggyback men, the bullpen is short and bridging the gap to the end of the game is very difficult.

    As has been discussed in the past at length, the theory disregards the marathon that is a Major League Baseball season. The sheer number of games means that arms are going to get worn down, especially those arms that are in the piggyback role. Pitching 50 to 60 pitches every third day is eventually going to take its toll. That seemed to be the case for Ottavino on Sunday, when he didn’t look sharp and was very hittable.

    The entire theory hinges on the success of those piggyback pitchers. If they can’t get the job done, games will simply blow up, requiring huge, unlikely comebacks just to be in the game.

    As the season progresses, the wear and tear on the bullpen is going to create outings like Ottavino had. When he has to be removed after just 2/3 of an inning, the domino effect begins and the rest of the bullpen is forced to go further than they are used to just to get through the game.

    The Rockies have been very fortunate that their long men have been so good. The work of Ottavino and Josh Roenicke, specifically, has been phenomenal. Those two guys have been unsung heroes for a team whose starting pitching should have made the Rockies have an even worse record than what they are going to finish with.

    On Sunday the Rockies showed their heart, coming back from the backbreaking 5th inning, only to get heartbroken in the 9th inning when Matt Belisle balked the winning run into scoring position and then gave up a hit to left that was just enough to give the Padres the walk-off win.

    In spite of the loss, and the disappointment that is proving to be the Rockies theory, this team continues to show heart. Josh Rutledge, mired in his first big league slump, broke out in a huge way, belting his first career grand slam to tie the game in the 8th inning. Matt McBride launched his first big league home run and simply put, the Rockies never quit.

    The fact that they came back was a huge sign of encouragement. However, the overarching issue is that the Rockies are getting burned by their theory. Hopefully they are taking notes and learning lessons.