54 Game Assessment

Monday night’s game was the Rockies 54th of the season, marking the mathematical 1/3 point of the season and end of the Spring portion of it, if Memorial Day hadn’t earlier.  By any measure Colorado was a disappointment over that first 54 games, although all of us have to confess to smoking some of that “Spring Training Green Skunk” you can get over off of 12th and Federal.  Projected over 162 games Colorado is looking at a 72-90 finish, a win short of the clubhouse-culture tainted 2011 squad.  Here’s a fan’s naive, ill-informed appraisal of the work-product to-date.

Starting Pitching.  Well we all knew this was the faulty linch-pin that was bound to undermine the system and there’ve been few pleasant surprises.  The starting’s been horrible, flaming-out consistently by the fifth inning under the weight of rush-hour style base-path traffic, dumping a burden on the bull-pen it hasn’t always been able to bear.  All of the traffic has left the defense on its feet for 25 and 30 minute half-innings, less than alert when something other than a base-on-balls demands their participation.  Everybody knew (or should have known) the five that headed north was a cobbled-together group supposed to hold-down the fort until it morphed into what we are looking at now, which is essentially four rookies and Jeremy Guthrie.  The team clearly needs to look beyond the starting pitchers for leadership.

Relief Pitching.  Considering the starting, the pen has held its own, albeit under tremendous pressure. The long guys seem to be constantly up on the hill, stretching the seventh and eighth inning people out and typically leaving closer Raphael Betancourt cooling it on the bench.

Defense.  The 39 errors the Rockies have committed thus far project out to 117 for the season.  The record-setting 2007 defense committed 68.  OK.

Hitting.  We heard about how we knew they were going to hit for about 46 games and suddenly everybody’s gotten hot at once, and boy it looks the way it did on-paper now.  If they can keep it-up on the road.  It’s a scary offense and should give us big reason to be optimistic going forward.  If they can do it on the road.  The hitting’s been ‘spotty’ during the first 54, shut-out by Barry Zito in the home opener, then blasting Tim Lincecum and the boys for 17 two nights later.  And there was the phase where we’d score big when the pitching stunk, then struggle to get 2 when the pitching was good (OK well so that only actually happened once).

Management.  Considering the flack he’s had to duck, MFL Tracy has handled himself reasonably well. There’s been a load of adversity to negotiate, and just doing the field managing has been enough trouble, not to mention that screeching sound coming from folks like us.  And BIB Dan O’Dude hasn’t provided much cover, having to do a lot of ducking himself.  But Dick Monfort needs to take a hard look over at Dove Valley where John Elway is conducting a clinic on how to lead a team and represent it before its fan-base.  “There is no Plan B.”

Monfort, on the other hand brings in spin-meisters Saunders and Ringolsby (lucky them) and basically goes “well golly I certainly don’t know what else I can do I’ve got the best people I know in-place and I’ve got to trust them to do the right thing” (like go 72-90).  And to be clueless enough to gift wrap gems like “Best-in-Baseball” (“although I don’t know them all”) to the media and people like me is… I don’t know what.

“John is there a chance Tim Tebow will be traded?”  “Yes, in fact we’re looking into that right now.”  Get a clue Dick.

The Rockies need to take a hard look at their publicity people as well.  Rolling-out a clueless Monfort (he reminds me of this character “Woody” in Elmore Leonard’s “Freaky Deaky:”  ‘Shit I remember him,” Skip said.  ‘Mark’s big brother.  Was always in the bag or stoned.’) is just the latest in a series of gaffes that include the “Year of the Fan” and the ill-fated impulse to market Tulo as the clubhouse leader.  They don’t seem to recognize they portray this aloof “hey we’ve got everything covered, we’re the professionals” attitude to the fan-base, from Monfort down to Chief Publicity Spokesman Drew Goodman, and the fan-base isn’t buying it.  (Well, no, just the tickets.  And hot dogs.  And peanuts. And jerseys.  And beer.)

Guthrie.  Presumably Guts in on his way out-of here.  Huge disappointment.  Seems like a right-thinking guy and all but he hasn’t come close to doing what he was brought here to do, provide veteran stability and eat innings.  And I know it wasn’t his fault and lucky it wasn’t worse, but dumb sports injuries are just, well, stupid.  Deer meat.  9 is the new 3.

Moyer.  I have a feeling the Rockies now regret participating in the Moyer saga.  There was a certain lesson about perseverance that was gratifying to see, but in the end the old guy couldn’t fool people more than twice.  And I have a feeling he made the coaching staff nervous.

Chacin.  I haven’t seen anyone mention this, but let’s see:  Jhoulys, after being lights-out the first half of 2011, scuffles through the second half.  Not said:  arm’s aching.  Take’s it easy back in the DR during the winter:  let that bad-boy heal.  Gets called-out by the BIB.  Comes to ST all ready to prove something.  Proves nothing, gets shelled.  And now on the DL.  Very curious.

Nicasio.  Any news on the MRI?  I don’t think Juan’s quite ready for the Show.  I’d like to see him take a couple months down in the Springs and come back in September ready to dominate.  He’s not there right now.

Pomeranz.  See “Moyer,” above.

Belisle.  Team MVP.  There can’t be a grittier guy in the game.  Cleans-up after the weaklings and is always there to bridge it over to Betancourt.  Hell of a guy.

Friedrich.  Important dude in the resurgence.  I think he came on and showed White and Juan it’s not impossible to throw a relatively clean game in a Colorado uniform.  His early outings seemed to comprise the first step in harnessing the pitching insanity.

Ottavino.  Fingers crossed, this guy looks for-real.  Chalk another one-up for the BIB.

Roenicke.  Dude’s hung pretty tough.  Handled a lot of unexpected innings relatively competently.

The Amazing Esmil.  Most schizophrenic man in baseball.  Astonishing one night, then, well, astonishing the next.

Rosario.  The Baby Bull is the new Kung-fu Panda.  Wish he could catch the ball.

Helton.  Just keeps on going.  I was ready to cremate this guy two years ago, but bottom line:  HOF.

Scutaro.  Dude is oddly disappointing.  Doesn’t seem to add much of the leadership you’d expect from a veteran and had ALL of those bone-head plays early.  And also odd, now that he’s filling in for Tulo and hitting second, he seems all right.  Maybe it’s me.

Le Mahieu.  So far so good, hey?  But better than Nelson?  Or Jonny Sparkplug?

Tulo.  See comment regarding publicity above.  The PR guys dropped this leadership tag on the boy and it’s proved to be more of an anvil.  I don’t think Tulo’s a good leadership type.  He’s too good.  He’s too good to be able to empathize with others who aren’t.  And he’s too intense.  Then the team struggles, Tulo’s not hitting, and he starts making errors, and suddenly all the you-know in the world starts raining down on him.  We should just let Tulo be like the BIB.  Leadership happens, it isn’t designated.  Michael Cuddyer’s the leader of this team, IMO.

Pacheco.  Runner-up for MVP, in fact you could divide it up, Belisle MVP early, for keeping us out of the swamp, and Pacheco late for leading us away from it.  Jordan struggled early at third and was in-fact painful to watch, but Holy Toledo did he come to play when he returned from the Springs!  And I think getting big production out of an unexpected position, and one that had earlier been a problem, let everybody else on offense relax a bit, and suddenly, look out!  Dex is hot, Cargo’s hot, Cuddyer’s hot, Todd’s hot, Wilin’s hot, Le Mahieu’s hot.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.

Gonzalez.  Cargo is just too cool.  What else can you say?

Fowler.  Speaking of bi-polar.  Dex are you kidding me where did this come from?  Anybody remember Ty Colvin?

Cuddyer.  Mike’s the man.  Worth every dime.  So cram it.

Colvin.  Rack up another one for the BIB.  Great pick-up so far, but I’m not sitting Dex just now.

Young.  Seems to be a great “team” guy to have around.  Great worker with skills no one else can match, and have made him a game changer more than once.  There will be a longer, more comprehensive evaluation of EYJ to follow by the East Nebraska bureau of RWO.

Yet, all-in-all we’re right back where we were April 6.  There’s a lot to like about the Colorado offense and we’ve seen it in action the past week.  But we can’t compete without better starting pitching. And I think we’re unfortunately looking at a lot of patch-work for the next month with Nicasio down. Maybe we pick someone like Francis up and hope he’s effective, or maybe Moscoso had a brain transplant down in C Springs and can actually offer something.  And what about Outman?  Damn.

So yeah, that’s where it’s at.  Starting pitching.  The bull-pen’s certainly adequate, could also be good with less of a load.  The defense needs to tune it up, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be good. Whew.  On-pace for 117.  Harsh.  But no way around it, outrageous as it may seem the starters need to cut another run off their ERAs, cut-down on the traffic, and when they’ve got two outs, or two strikes, put the man down.

On to the next 54.  One at a time.

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SteveinAurora
SteveinAurora
8 years ago

Jeem, you obviously spent a lot of time analyzing and composing this piece. Nice compilation, and I’m looking forward to the comments that will follow.

I’ve gotta say…I got a good laugh out of “East Nebraska bureau of RWO”. I can almost visualize Pooter sitting in front of his computer pulling together EYJ stats.

trip
trip
8 years ago

Jeem, pretty funny. Thanks. You left out one player to comment on, our DH, Mr. Gold Thong himself, Jason Giambi.

SteveinAurora
SteveinAurora
8 years ago
Reply to  Jeem

I’ve said it before, but “Mr. Gold Thong” should be the leader of this team. He’s the elder-statesman, he’s the “go-to” quote for the paper. In my opinion, he’s the policeman in the clubhouse. He takes the pressure off of Tulo in the interim, let’s him just play ball, and Tulo gradually evolves into the role.

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago
Reply to  SteveinAurora

He needs to play to be a leader.

SteveinAurora
SteveinAurora
8 years ago
Reply to  ProgMatinee

Given the fact that he is somewhat challenged in the field, I don’t necessarily agree with that. I can’t see where the Rox gave him $1M (or, whatever the number) for the season, expecting him to be in the lineup for…what…60-80 games?? Given the known limitations, they gave him that money to be a mentor, as well as a solid bat off of the bench. Throw in the odd start at first and a somewhat acceptable fill-in in case Todd… Read more »

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
8 years ago
Reply to  ProgMatinee

I don’t necessarily mean he has to play 900 innings or whatever. But it would be nice to see him take an AB in at least 3 out of 4 games regardless of the scenario. Thus far just 26 games out of 55. Not enough.

konaman
konaman
8 years ago

Nice write up Jeem, IMO the core management team will not change for some time (at least 2 years). Why would it, the owners continue to draw 30+k/game and make millions for putting on a wonderful outdoor party at 20th & Blake. The 20-30 somethings come in droves to chant Tulo every once in awhile and enjoy the environment. So as far as game attendance is that is a wonderful cocktail. But for us baseball lovers it is tough to… Read more »

OrangeRocks
OrangeRocks
8 years ago

Nice write up Jeem, but I totally disgree with the Pomeranz assessment. He is already the Rockies best starting pitcher, so the brass decided it would be great that he spent the year apparently in AAA. That’s just stupid as he needs MLB experience!

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