Denver, CO – There are exactly 101 games left on the Colorado Rockies schedule for the 2012 season. They are currently in 4th place in the National League West, 14.5 games behind the first place Dodgers. No need to worry, right? This team specializes in making late season runs after they sleepwalk through most of the spring and summer. That’s what they do. No need to panic, as it’s only mid-June and we haven’t even reached the All-Star break. Tulo will come back from being on the D.L., Helton will become himself again and hit close to .300, and the pitching is just in a slump. Wrong. This season is over, people. You can and will keep going to one of the best ballparks in all of baseball, but just don’t expect this team to be any good at any point this season.
We all know the facts. The pitching has been horrifyingly atrocious, and they consistently get the lions share of the blame, and rightly so. The Rockies have lost 8 games this year when they have led by 3 runs or more, most in the Majors. If they simply would have held on and won 6 of those, they would be at 30-31, and still in the mix. The rotation is full of inexperienced, young pitchers who all seem to be inconsistent at best. When GM Dan O’Dowd made a slew of trades during the offseason, he acquired a bunch of young hurlers for the future. I am sure he was also thinking that if he threw enough spaghetti at the wall, some would have to stick and emerge in 2012. That hasn’t happened, and the starters have been the worst in the National League. As a result, the bullpen is getting destroyed and used more and more as the season progresses. This is a recipe for a total team collapse later in the summer, and our Rockies could end up finishing behind the awful San Diego Padres at the end of the year. So who is to blame for this 24-37 start? I have some answers, and a few solutions.
Dan O’Dowd has been here for more than a decade, and has seen more losing years than winning ones. I can’t say he has been awful, but I can’t say he has been good either. The job is not getting done, and I think he has to go. Just too many moves that have not panned out, and too many failed draft picks in the last ten years. What about Jim Tracy? The manager and leader in the clubhouse has done all he can, given his roster. I truly think he is one of the best in baseball, and should stay. His one flaw, in my opinion, is that he is a little too lenient and doesn’t get fired up nearly enough. If a guy is struggling, he tends to seem to be his buddy, instead of occasionally lighting him up to stoke a fire under him. All in all though, he has done a good job. Pitching coach Bob Apodaca has done nothing in my mind to make this staff better. They are brutal, and he has to be accountable for this. He has also been here for a long time, and why? I don’t get it. Pitching at Coors Field has been a crutch long enough, and I think that is part of the reason he is still here. Apodaca needs to go. The most troubling part may be the ownership, however. The Monforts, in fairly recent interviews, seem to be dumbfounded as to why we aren’t consistently winning. And ask them what the solution is, they don’t really know. They do say that the current staff is doing their jobs and working tirelessly to become a winner. Yay. At least we have that going for us.
On to the players. Carlos Gonzalez is having a really great year, and deserves to be the lone All-Star from this team. Michael Cuddyer has been very good too, and has proven to be a good free agent pickup. Todd Helton has shown many signs of aging, but has had some memorable moments this year and some surprising power from time to time. His glove is still fantastic too. Dexter Fowler has shown some offensive pop, and is as streaky as they come. Young catcher Wilin Rosario has been fantastic, and looks to be an All-Star caliber player in the future. Tyler Colvin has been a really nice surprise, and provides a lot of versatility for the team. Marco Scutaro started off slowly, but has been very steady as of late at second base and shortstop. Now the bad. Troy Tulowitzki getting hurt is not his fault, and he should be back soon from his groin pull. But when he is healthy, it’s just not good enough. Not for his overall skill level and what his potential is. Prior to this season, he was voted as the 4th best player in all of baseball by his peers. The 4th best player in baseball should be hitting better than .287 with 8 HR’s and 27 RBI in 47 games. He has been very disappointing in my opinion. As good as Dexter Fowler can look at times, he can go in the tank for extended periods of time as well. He is tall, and can run like a deer, but he doesn’t make enough contact at the plate for my liking. Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson have been ok I guess, but don’t have enough power and aren’t reliable enough in key situations. And now the pitching…..Jeremy Guthrie has been terrible. He is our “ace” and shouldn’t be. Why he was traded for and given a boatload of money, I have no idea. He pitched a ton of innings in Baltimore, so Dan O’Dowd signed him to a big deal. Yeah he pitched a lot there and was durable, but his stats were not great by any means, and are worse here. Guys like Christian Friedrich, Alex White, and Josh Outman have shown some promise, but too often look too inexperienced right now. I could name a bunch of other pitchers and talk about them, but why bother? The bullpen has been mediocre at best, but they have somewhat of a pass because they are getting taxed with too many innings already. This will go down as easily one of the worst pitching staffs in Colorado’s 20 year history.
So what do we do now? Aside from firing Dan O’Dowd and Bob Apodaca, I would look to move a few players. With the emergence of Tyler Colvin, I would try to trade Dexter Fowler. He has outstanding talent and can play center field well, but tends to disappoint too often. Try to get a veteran pitcher or two for him. I would also try to deal Pacheco and Nelson for whatever, maybe getting a reliever in return. Call up Nolan Arenado from Double A and let him get his feet wet at third base this year. He is the future there, so why not throw him in the fire in 2012. Although Tulo has been disappointing, you have to keep him. He is too valuable at shortstop and is the fans favorite player. Keep Gonzalez, Cuddyer, Scutaro, Rosario, and Helton. Nobody would want Todd anyway, as he is almost 39 and a Rockie for life. Aside from that, all we can do is hope the pitching develops, so in a few years we have 3-5 reliable starters. Do not sign any high priced free agent pitchers, as that has proven not to work out. 2012 has already been entirely too frustrating for this Rockies fan…..and the reality is, it may be at least a few years before a consistent winner can be expected.
Denver Sports by J Simp