Last Tuesday I put out the idea that it was in the Rockies best interests, having just secured win 63 and avoiding 100 loses in the weekend series vs. the Padres, that losing most of the remaining games was in the team’s long-term interests. I had no idea that I had such a direct line to the Rockies players, as they proceeded to lose whole series to the Pirates, including Thursday’s heartbreaker when Jairo Diaz on 1-2 count gave one for Pedro Alverez to hit, and he did, sending a 3 run homer into the Rox bullpen, spoiling a very good outing from Chad Bettis (7H and 2BB but 6K and just the 2 runs). This is why you want guys like Diaz up here right now. This season has been lost since summer began, but he learned a big lesson last night about not throwing a strike up in the count like he did yesterday. That ball was over the heart of the plate, and doesn’t matter how hard you throw it when its in a guys wheelhouse at this level the ball is going to travel. It also highlighted how quickly an innings can go south as two basic singles set-up the big homer.
So the Rox have now lost 5 straight and are only 1 behind (is that the right word?) the Braves with their 62 wins. The Reds remain tied with the Rox at 63 and the As, the only team in the AL with less than 71 wins, are sitting tight with the Brewers at 64 wins. Looks like it could be a thriller down the wire chase for that #2 pick overall. The Phils are already scouting college and high school players. But the Rox with the Dodgers this week and then the road next week have a pretty good chance to win that 2nd overall pick right now.
I also mentioned that the Rox are in essence playing for Walt Weiss’s job. I like Walt. And with this club, even with Tulo all season, the mid-70s was the best they could hope for in terms of victories. But this team has been far worse than that. And after playing hard all year long for Weiss, the past week the Rox seem like they may have quit. The team’s willingness to play hard has been one of the things in the assets column as the team looked at whether to retain him or not. He has mad a lot of miscues in the last 3 years, mistakes that an experienced manager shouldn’t make. Has he learned enough to lead this team into its prospect-laden future? Or is Weiss just not a quality big league manager? Do the Rox go out and grab a Bud Black or the like and prepare for the future of winning with a guy who has done a good job managing the Padres (or some other equal level of guy)? Right now, I think Weiss is probably going to be fired, since he was picked by the prior regime. Had they finished strong I could see one more year. But at this point, give Weiss some mercy and let him walk away from this monstrosity.
They also need to see how some of these players on the edge of the future of the team play out. I fully expect guys like Ynoa to be taken off the 40 so they can fit in all the Rule 5 guys they are worried about (Tinanco, the kid from Toronto who dominated in Low A, is one who has to be added, and after seeing how good his stuff was, you can’t take a risk of a team grabbing him and letting him learn in the pen as a long-guy and then the year after you send him to the minors if needed). Guys like Murphy and Adames figure to be on the 25 next year or playing in AAA just waiting for the call. But a guy like David Hale, who has been a bit of a disappointment, could also be DFAd if he doesn’t show improvement. He had two good partial season, granted not a heavy workload, with Atlanta pitching the occasional start and in relief. He has good stuff, but in Colorado he has had trouble staying healthy and keeping the ball in the park (14 in just 68.1 innings of pitching this year, vs. 5 in 87 in pitching-friendly Atlanta last year) . Hale figures to get 2 more starts this season, and the Rox want to see what they have in a guy whose no longer young (27) but is still learning. They do not want to make a Colin McGugh mistake, and miss a pitcher who is just about to put it all together. Hale, who attended Princeton, is a savy as well as intelligent young man, who after being drafted in the 3rd round in 2009, took until 2013 to get to the bigs. His minor league stats, especially in the low minor, didn’t wow anyone (4+ ERAs). It was in 2012 pitching in AA that he finally got results that gave him the chance to push his way onto the big league stage. That growth, so the scouting report goes, was due to finally getting secondary pitches that made him a more complete pitcher. Secondary pitches that have really been missing this year. In 2013 at AAA he got even better (pitching in the International League, not the offensive league the PCL is he had a 3.22 ERA). His curve and change still need work, at least in terms of control. He has a good fastball, but so far this year it has been too straight at times. But…he can improve.
It would be good to see some of that improvement in control as well as outcomes. The Rox didn’t give-up much to get him (2 minor league catchers including a former GMs son who was suspended for PEDs this year), but the Rox would real like to get at something in the way of a break and find in Hale either a solid #5 or maybe a back of the bullpen arm who can add to the power depth this team needs and is building (his fastball is more 94-95 when relieving, 90-94 starting).
Hey, I’m looking for reasons to be excited on September 25th when your team is fighting it out for 2nd worse record in baseball. We couldn’t even stink so bad we got the #1! So, lets get that #2, see some players learn their trade better (like Diaz), and hope that a few guys figure it out this last week of baseball.