Game Day Six-Pack: “If all your arm ligaments are stable, the Rockies want your number.”
By Justin Klugh
**Sound of snoring, then papers rustling as someone rolls over on them.**
No, I… I don’t want that. I don’t–
**Papers rustling, then something crashes**
HELLO! Hello. Ahem, yes. Hi there. This week the Phillies are taking on the, uh… the…
**Consults nearby paper**
Uh, the Rockies. Yeah. They’re also very bad. Maybe a little worse? Nah, they’ll take two out of three from us. Mark Townsend, Big League Stew contributor and auteur of Heaven and Helton, can let us know how awful this whole three-game thing is gonna… is gonna look.
Troy Tulowitzki is flying to Philadelphia to have the mysterious pain in his left groin area looked at by a specialist. Do the Rockies really think there is a single professional in Philadelphia that isn’t on the Phillies’ payroll?
About three weeks ago one of our owners, Dick Monfort, stated that he firmly believed general manager Dan O’Dowd was the best at his job in baseball. In the same interview, he later admitted he didn’t actually know how many of the other GMs around baseball were, but couldn’t imagine any of them being better at it than Dan.
Point is, I’m not even sure the Rockies decision makers know what state Philadelphia is in, let alone knows a professional baseball team plays there.
The Phillies and Rockies aren’t so different, you know. They can both score. They both have names that end in “ies.” They’re both riddled almost unrecognizable with injuries. And both have explosively ineffective starting pitching. How many games in this series will go into extra innings with the score tied at 12?
The Rockies just wrapped up a three-game series with Oakland where that offensive juggernaut averaged nine runs a game. So you might be setting the bar too low for Philadelphia. As of Monday night the Rockies haven‘t officially announced who will be starting any of these three upcoming games. But when the only viable options include Josh Outman, a reliever with starting experience that they’re slowly transitioning back into the rotation; along with struggling young guys like Alex White and Christian Friedrich, it probably doesn’t matter which order they go.
But like you said, the Rockies can score on you and score on you quickly, so we might be settling in for a couple four hour offensive extravaganzas. Then again, knowing baseball (Rockies baseball specifically) three runs will probably be enough to win a couple games in this series.
FOX Sports recently wrote that “The Rockies want to trade right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. The Blue Jays want to boost their injury-depleted rotation.” What sort of boost could Guthrie provide anyone? Or were these two separate thoughts that happened to be written next to each other?
That may actually be a logical fit given Jeremy Guthrie’s success in the American League East. But there are two major questions surrounding Guthrie right now that only he truly knows the answers to.
The first is whether or not Coors Field has defeated him mentally. Just listening to some of his recent postgame comments, I would say it has or is in the process of doing so. He wouldn’t be the first above average to decent pitcher to have that happen to him, and there’s always a good chance for a bounce back after those pitchers leave Denver. Just look at the success Jason Hammel is having in Baltimore.
The second question is whether or not he’s even healthy. There has been a lot of speculation lately that he wasn’t even healthy when the Rockies acquired him. That the high number of innings he’s pitched in recent years — which is the main reason Colorado went after him — finally caught up to him. But I think any injury or weakening of Guthrie’s arm is more likely related to the bike accident he had at the end of April where he tumbled off jammed his throwing shoulder.
He actually pitched pretty well leading to that point, especially on the road. But since returning from the DL… pretty much worthless. So there’s definitely some risk in going after Guthrie right now, but if he can pass a physical, he could end being a sneaky, difference making acquisition.
Eventually, after a truly ludicrous number of injuries to key players, baseball just start to feels stupid. Do Rockies fans maintain the belief that the team is playing “for” something, or does the strained knee to Carlos Gonzalez eliminate all hope? Some in Philly believe the team isn’t fully out yet, despite all of our best players out for ambiguous amounts of time. As a similarly banged up club, at what point does hope evaporate?
Even before the latest injury to Carlos Gonzalez, I think Rockies fans had accepted this as a lost season, mainly because we’ve been down this very same road each of the past two seasons with the injuries, and really beyond that, a general lack of attention to detail and fundamentally sound play. We know every now and then they will inexplicably win four or five in a row, and we‘ll just kind of shrug and continue searching for the real positives, for which there are currently few.
In the Phillies case, I can’t blame fans for wanting to hold on. The run of success the team has had in recent years changes your perspective immensely, so it’s only natural to expect an against all odds turn around. But I think it’s just up to the individual fan to watch the games closely and evaluate the team and the situation honestly. If you can do that, you’ll know when it’s time to pull the plug. If you can’t, then taking two out of three from Colorado this week will send the “false hope” meter soaring.
And believe me, there were times in 2008 and 2010 when I struggled with evaluating the Rockies honestly. But there always comes a time when you just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it‘s not worth the investment of your energy and emotions. And then as the losing seasons begin to pile up, you know what to look for and pull the plug accordingly.
What sort of effect does re-signing Jeff Francis have on the Rockies rotation, and what sort of statement is it to the fans to make such a move? Are the Rockies making moves or filling holes?
If all of your arm ligaments are stable and you have a pulse, the Rockies want your number. That’s pretty much what led to the Francis signing. It’s adding another band-aid on top of four other band-aids, but at least in Francis’ case you get a guy that‘s pitched in Coors Field before, and a guy that‘s still hungry to prove he belongs in the big leagues.
And as I wrote in my game recap after Francis beat the Tigers Friday night, the Rockies know he’s not going to step in and clamp down a spot atop the rotation (or even a spot at the bottom if the Rockies were to even get healthy) but if he can consistently represent himself as an upgrade over the Jamie Moyer experiment, he’s a plus signing.
This really goes back to your question before this. When you start writing paragraphs like the two I just did, hope has long since evaporated.
Has the Rockies front office been too receptive to mediocrity for the team to remain competitive? And why doesn’t the GM start signing old players to multi-year contracts for millions of dollars like a real GM would do.
I would love to hear Dick Monfort or his brother Charlie answer this question, because their main defense for keeping the status quo and rationalizing their acceptance of mediocrity is the word stability. That’s why O‘Dowd, manager Jim Tracy and pitching coach Bob Apodaca, who I‘m not sure could get himself fired even if he started betting against the Rockies, remain gainfully employed as the organization slowly crumbles around them.
Hey, I’m all for stability myself, but I’m much more interested in quality, and I think the franchise is in desperate need of new ideas, new philosophies and a new direction. That could involve being more open to signing more multi-year contracts for veterans as you suggest, but I think their needs to be a top-to-bottom overhaul in terms of developing their own players and especially their own pitchers
That’s not to say all of O’Dowd’s ideas have fallen short or his 13 year tenure has been a failure. It hasn’t. He’s actually done very well all things considered, but the game is constantly evolving, and it just feels like the Rockies process has grown stale. The longer the Monforts refuse to acknowledge that, the deeper the hole will get, and the longer this stretch of misery will continue at 20th and Blake in downtown Denver.