A Colorado Rockies 40% Review – This is Simple
While I am taking a break from roxwalkoff posting, I did promise to keep the stats up-to-date and do my 10% season reviews. This one wasn’t much fun.
Let me do the main things easy:
Starting Pitching – D+ – The last 10% of the season has seen the bottom fall out on the starting pitching. The pitching was great the first 10%, good the next 10%, okay the next 10%, and has fallen apart (aside from Jorge De La Rosa) the last 10%.
Relief Pitching – D- The last 10% of the season has seen the bottom fall out of the relief pitching. The relievers were solid the first 10%, acceptable the next 10%, a huge problem the next 10%, and has pitched like it was 2012 (the worst possible pitching season since the humidor) the last 10%. To be fair, the last 10 games have been really bad, but this is to some extent the impact of all the innings logged. The bigger issue is that the first 30% of the season they found a way to have the one bad inning in games that cost the Rockies by some count 14 or 15 games this year.
Hitting – C+ – The last 10% of the season has been pretty good at home, and really bad on the road. The first 10% of the season was solid, the next 10% was outstanding, the next 10% was okay, the last 10%, especially on the road, has been really troubling.
Bench – D+ – The last 10% of the season has been okay, with the caveat that most of the bench is now starting. The first 10% the bench was good, the next 10% was above average, the next 10% was okayish, and the bench is now in constant flux. The bench really is hard to rate because this team is playing its bench as starters and the new bench is made up of guys who should be playing in AAA. That is not good.
[June 12th Correction: Pooter in the comments said the bench deserved a higher grade and he is right. The bench of Barnes, Stubbs, Dickerson, and Rutledge – even with Pacheco and Culberson – deserved a B+. I was thinking of the bench of Barnes, Pacheco, Culberson and Wheeler – the new bench after latest round of injuries and DL transactions. Since this is over the first 40%, the grade deserves a B+, but wow…the current bench after this slate of DL moves, is really scary and we are stuck with them for at least 4 more week until Nolan and potentially CarGo come back)
Coaching – C+ – The last 10% hasn’t been bad. I say that because all Weiss can do is put in guys who should do the job…and expect them to do the job. The first 10% was like last season, as Weiss was trying to figure out anew. The second 10% showed little growth, the third 10% was a little better, as he tried to get out of managing by manual. How you manage a team falling apart at the seams? Don’t know. As for hitting coach, the team has really struggled hitting on the road (and occasionally at home), but the last 10% that has been against good pitching, not just soft-tossing lefties. Jim Wright is a good pitching coach, especially at altitude, but guys who throw sinkers and strikes in the pen and don’t in the real game…that is not the pitching coaches fault. But Weiss is learning…if only the relievers he calls on could you know, get someone out when they are supposed to.
Team Dynamics – B – This team is spiraling out of control – 4 games back in the Wild Card now – but as we saw against the DBacks, they kept coming back. Problem was the bullpen chose to blow-up entirely. They seem to still be fighting, especially when you see them continue to chip away in games when the team falls behind early. I don’t know if I could do it (as a matter of fact, as a fan I can’t).
But in truth, these grades are meaningless. What matters is this:
Planned Starting Rotation
1) Chacin 2) DLR 3) Brett Anderson 4) Tyler Chatwood 5) Either Nicasio/Lyles/Morales/Other
Pitchers who are on the DL or have been: Chacin, Anderson, Chatwood (2X), Lyles, Butler (and Daniel Winkler may have joined the Tommy John brigade). Chacin still isn’t right (though the start on Saturday was promising). Anderson and Chatwood are still at least 6 weeks away. Lyles, who I really do believe in, needed time in AAA to work on fastball control so his sinker can move all it wants, and Butler who made one unimpressive start (was he rushed?) and now is on the DL. Losing Winkler, easily the most impressive of the Rox minors brigade. Only DLR, after a bad first 3 weeks, has done what you expect. Nicasio is not a major league starter (okay, maybe a #5), and again after a decent first 5-6 weeks, is showing he doesn’t belong starting in the MLB.
Dan O’Dowd did a good job of getting extra starters this off-season: Anderson, Lyles, and Morales. 2 are on the DL and the other did a good job in April, but isn’t a consistent big league starter (he has been a nice addition to the bullpen since his demotion). If this was 2 years from now, they would have enough solid big league depth to survive a few injuries. But no team, not even the Braves and As who lost 2 starters to TJ before the season started, can survive 5 starters going on the DL.
And that wears on the bullpen. When you are throwing guys who either are not ready (Lyles and Butler) or who aren’t real starters (Morales and Nicasio), you get 5 or maybe 6 innings, which is why the team’s bullpen has pitched the most innings. It didn’t help that Chad Bettis (who pitched well in COS but based on his first performance against the Braves, still isn’t a big league reliever) and Wilton Lopez (DFAd this week) were supposed to be big parts of the pen. They were huge failures. Boone Logan, one of their key off-season acquisitions (and again, this was viewed as a great sign by every analyst I read) started off the season hurt, had a good month, and has been imminently hittable, especially by left-handers for a month. It may have been his elbow was bad this whole time – let’s hope it’s not really bad damage. Rex Brother lost the strike zone to start the season along with lots of velocity, and still hasn’t found the plate. Matt Belisle was bad the first 2 weeks, great the next 6 weeks, but is showing signs of overuse. Hawkins was a solid sign, not a long-term fix at closer, but has been okay. Adam Ottovino has been unhittable at times, but very hittable at others – again it might be a sign of overuse. Nick Masset has been pretty good so far, but again, has thrown too much too soon since being away for 2 years. Tommy Kahnle has been a revelation – he is young and can throw a lot – but while he has closer stuff he has been a great longman. Chris Martin has been good pitching on the road, but has gotten hammered at home. But the big issue – they cannot be expected to throw 4+ innings of shut-out ball every night. It showed up first in losing tie games or games with 1 run leads. Now it shows up as big outputs in the late innings for the opponents.
As for the offense? Here are a few names to think about: CarGo, Cuddy, Nolan, Rosario, and Rutledge. They have all been on the DL (CarGo should have been there weeks ahead of his actual arrival). Rosario aside from a big homer on the last road trip, hasn’t looked at all like the guy we saw the last 2 years. But that is half of your starting line-up – on the DL, including 3 right now. Folks, even given Charlie Blackmon’s great start and the potential arrival of Corey Dickerson, is a lineup featuring Drew Stubbs, Dickerson, Blackmon, Culberson, DJ, Morneau, McKenry and then Tulo one you fear? Would you throw a strike to Tulo (no one has for weeks)? Folks, that is not a major league line-up. I am not sure I would go see that line-up save for Tulo here in Colorado Springs. 2/3 of the starting outfield is gone, including a guy who can carry this team in CarGo and last year’s batting champ and the best bat on the last road trip. But the real issue – Nolan Arenado was the injury that hurt – first, it put Charlie Culberson, who should be in AAA, in the starting line-up. It killed the defense (I have a feeling it has impacted the way pitchers are throwing, knowing Nolan’s range and glove got them outs that are hits now). It killed the lineup as Nolan was the 2nd best after Tulo 2 strike and 2 out hitter, and he made the lower part of the lineup dangerous. But he, more than anyone else, brought energy to this team. He was, to quote several of the folks close to the team, like a puppy, always excited about everything and a never give-up spirit. Yes, he has travelled with the team, but when you are not playing…it is just a different thing. But now the team that started with 6 outfielders is down to Dickerson, Blackmon, Stubbs and Barnes. Really? That is what you want to go out every-day with to beat big-league teams?
And with Cuddy hurt again means Morneau hits against lefties – yes, Ryan Wheeler, who stunk this year here in COS, can play 1st but is that really a good idea? Rutledge is a good hitter but that error in Phili that cost them the game and the series on the road trip, shows he can’t be an everyday 2nd bagger. But that leaves DJ, a great glove/good base runner, playing every day. Nice player, good bench player, but having him in the lineup, this lineup, isn’t a good thing.
So…why has this team dropped 10+ games over the past month, and why I cannot watch these games anymore. Too many players who do not belong in the majors are playing. We will get to see players like Christian Bergman (nice first start), Tyler Matzek (see him soon), and Eddie Butler (after his shoulder is better), and maybe some of the other players in AA and AAA. I do not blame Weiss for this, I do not blame Dan O’Dowd for this. You have this many injuries and unless you are the Dodgers (it knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs) who can just buy and buy, your season is done. When the Giants lost Posey a couple of years ago and they finished below .500 – and that is just one player, granted one of the best.
Now, it is possible they play amazingly the 2nd half after the team gets healthy….but even only being 4.5 out of the WC right now, I just don’t see how they stay within 10 games of the WC until then. The next month they play only teams over .500! And they are playing with a team filled with AAA players, guys over 30, guys who are trying to prove they belong (Blackmon, DJ, and Dickerson) and Tulo and Rosario (who has been awful on both O and D). It happens.
Had this team stayed healthy, even moderately healthy – they could have won in the high 80s (the Giants are going to run away it looks like with the division) and played for the WC. But with this list of players on the DL? If they manage to win 72 games, it will be amazing. But the experience for guys we are seeing should…should…pay dividends next year. But I have to admit, I am getting tired of waiting for next year. And no, I don’t think this team should trade Tulo or CarGo after this season – injuries not lack of talent have beaten this team. Trade DLR? Yes, if you think you can re-sign him this off-season, because he is likely to be the best pitcher available unless Smarjzajajaja is truly available from the Cubs (certainly the best lefty), and he might bring back some interesting talent. He is the best pitcher this team has had – yes, better than Ubaldo – and he knows how to win at Coors. But don’t deal him unless you think you can get him back…or if you are certain he isn’t going to come back. I would have said trade Cuddy, but of course he is part of the non-walking wounded. Can Blackmon play all-season and give good production on the road and against lefties? If so, you are set in the outfield next year with CarGo, Blackmon, and Dickerson in right (and I can see Stubbs coming back at the platoon option since he brings power, speed and defense). Will Kyle Parker break in? Hasn’t done it yet here in COS. At this point I think they should be playing Rutledge at 2B to see if he can learn to play every day, and put DJ at 3B, because a line-up next year of Nolan, Tulo, Rut, and Morneau is a good lineup offense wise. As for Rosario…I have to think the patience for the team is running out, so keep an eye on Murphy (hurt for last 3 weeks…of course) and Casteel (.286 with 2 HR in May and .297 and 3HR in June) in Tulsa, because those are the two potential “future of catchers” and Rosario might bring back some good pieces at the deadline.
So…the overall grade for this team? Incomplete…you can’t grade a team that is no longer playing. But really, their actual performance? Is anything other than an F really possible?