The meteorological rain let up enough for the Colorado Rockies to play a doubleheader, but the metaphorical rain continues to fall, and is getting more intense daily. With the team already on a losing streak, the Arizona Diamondbacks swept today’s twin-bill – sending the Rockies straight to the bottom of the NL West where they will very likely stay during 2015.
A brief game recap is in order before commentary.
All you need to know about game 1, a 13-7 loss, is four things.
1) Tyler Matzek gave up 6 walks in 2+ innings, and literally could not hit the broadside of a barn. He released one pitch that unintentionally sailed behind Paul Goldschmidt by three feet.
2) Over the next seven innings, the Rox used six, count’ em six, pitchers on a game that was far out of control.
3) In seven innings, the Rox did very little with Josh Collmenter, again unable to put together hits. Three HRs by Morneau, Hundley (both solo), and Stubbs were spread far enough apart to not amount to a serious threat.
4) They scored 13 runs on 19 hits, but more astoundingly the Dbacks were 10-for-22 with RISP – yes, that is an incredible number of scoring opportunities, 22. It could have been worse, Goldschmidt took the golden sombrero, and the Rox turned 4 double plays.
Game 2 was at least competitive, but still a 5-1 Rockies loss. Jordan Lyles came out tossing, really only running into trouble in a 3 run fifth where David Peralta drove in Tuffy Gosewisch and Cliff Pennington who had each singled. Overall, he gave up only 1 walk and a sole HR to Goldschmidt. Not horrible, and a badly needed seven innings. If DLR is our #1, Lyles is our #2.
The letdown was on offense. After a wobbly start where it looked like his pitch count might explode, newcomer Robbie Ray settled down and got more efficient with his pitches. He seemed to gain confidence in the 2nd when Walt Weiss got into a friendly discussion with home plate ump Bill Miller about his strike zone, prompting Miller to bark “don’t tell me what the pitch was”. Walt did, and more, and was tossed. The Rox put only 5 hits on Ray, and none on 3 innings of Chafin and Reed in relief. The only guy to draw a walk was Drew Stubbs.
Granted, the Rox were out of sorts. Two days of rain. A weird start time, trying to get both games in before more rain. I have to wonder what Matzek’s pre-game routine looked like, his effort resembled more of a spring training outing than a competitive game in early May. Tulo looks like he’s still trying, I’m not as sure about CarGo who is doing nothing at the plate. The defense clearly fell asleep behind Matzek and all those walks, they were much sharper behind Lyles.
But, I think there is something else going on. It looks like AAA, and I don’t mean the level of play. I mean how games are being managed – this looks like a full-scale player evaluation, and game outcomes are almost irrelevant. Weiss is presiding over a mess, with only 2 decent starters (DLR and Lyles), a pile of tired and breaking arms in the pen, two underperforming superstars, no bench, a rising 3B star who can’t carry a team, and a descent but offensively unremarkable supporting cast. (Dickerson <> Helton.)
The damage from the O’Dowd Years, and the lack of a strategy from Bridich, is now evident. There is nothing in the farm system. The offseason of Kendrick, Hundley, and Descalso is proving to be regression – Hundley is at least holding his own and not costing games with passed balls, but not adding wins like Rosario occasionally did. This supposed wave of starting pitching that is going to magically show up from the system is still very, very far offshore.
Bridich could not possibly fix this in one offseason, or even in one full season. The Angels underwent a similar farm disaster, and it has taken 5 years to recover where there is now help at AAA. Milwaukee has declared a bust, fired Roenicke (who wasn’t the problem), and hung out a for sale sign. Many say the Rox should do the same.
The Rox only have Tulo and DLR to trade for pieces. Nobody is taking CarGo, or Kendrick. Axford, Blackmon, and Hundley might have some value at the deadline. Arenado, LeMahieu, Dickerson, and Lyles likely aren’t going anywhere soon. It’s going to make a short rebuild very difficult. More likely, it will take minor league scouting, better drafts, and a Tulo-for-many-prospects deal, and then a wait for development.
There are very few Troy Tulowitzkis, or Mike Trouts, or Bryce Harpers out there. They don’t come along often, and they don’t solve all your problems. It’s a team sport, where a collection of 25 guys gets it done. See Astros, Cardinals, Orioles, and Royals. Since the original Bob Gebhardt wave of players, and a brief two months in 2007, the Rockies haven’t put pieces together into a competitive team. It’s too early to say what Bridich will do, long term. He has to do something.
And I wonder, still I wonder, …