As I watched the Colorado Rockies lose their fifth straight game on Tuesday night, something dawned on me and it’s a very discouraging thought for their fans. A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on how the Rockies should be built and firmly believed it was the only way they could win playing 81 games at Coors Field.
The premises of the plan was build the team around Coors Field, win 55-60 games at home and win just enough on the road to get to 90-93 wins total. That was the idea.
The thought that dawned on me in the ninth inning of the Rockies loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks was sobering. The Rockies are executing the plan that I laid out a few years ago and it’s not working.
The first part of my plan was to have good to great hitters at almost every position in an effort to take advantage of Coors Field. The Rockies have done just that; with the exception of DJ Lemahieu at second base, they have above average hitters at every position. Granted Carlos Gonzalez is hurt and slumping, and Nolan Arenado is out with a broken finger but the hitters are there.
The offense of the Rockies got off to a hot start but has come crashing back to earth, and it’s now apparent that it’s impossible to win in baseball with an offensive first approach. The old adage that good pitching beats good hitting is true and going against that grain just is not going to work.
The Rockies simply have too many homerun hitters; sounds absurd, right? A good offensive lineup needs a mixture of guys who can hit it out, guys who can run and guys who can do the little things. The Rockies have no one who consistently hits behind runners and they must be the worst bunting team in baseball. The lineup is impressive on paper but on the field, it is fundamentally flawed.
The second part of my plan that the Rockies are following almost perfectly involves the starting rotation. It basically says that no top pitcher is ever going to want to pitch in Colorado for obvious reasons, so quit trying. My thought was to fill the rotation with fourth and fifth starter types; guys who would consistently give up only three to five runs per start and keep the Rockies in the game.
The thinking was that the offense would be so good, especially at home, that giving up even five runs would be good enough to win on most nights. As outlined above, that offensive approach is flawed and therefore having average starting pitching throughout the rotation isn’t going to work either.
The final part of my plan was to spend most of my pitching money on the bullpen in an effort to protect 5-4 leads from the seventh inning on. Again the Rockies have attempted to do this; we can argue with the players they picked for the bullpen but the plan was sound, or so I thought. Early in the season, it worked. The bullpen was terrific and they were protecting leads that the offense had built up.
The problem is the bullpen is on fumes and it’s only early June. They are going to be done by the All-Star Break. The other issue here is that a bullpen can be great one season and terrible the next, and be made up of the same players.
So I admit it, I was wrong but the real question is what’s next? What plan will work? In all honestly, I don’t know if there is a plan that will work consistently at Coors Field. Number one type pitchers want no part of Colorado, the bullpen is always going to be overworked in altitude and an offensive first approach just won’t work.
There’s been no one more critical of the Rockies’ management than me but I can’t be in this case. They attempted my plan and it is going to fail miserably. Anyone else have any ideas? If so, contact the management at 20th and Blake because I’m guessing they are as baffled as I am.