Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Rocktober is a Distant Memory

Posted by mizzou1028 on July 1, 2008

This year’s Rockies beg the following question: has a team ever hit this rock bottom the season after making a World Series?  I’m not counting the 1998 Marlins because ownership blew up the roster in the interest of saving money after they won the World Series in 1997.  The Rockies are back in last place after last night’s collapse against San Diego.  They somehow managed to turn an 8-3 sixth inning lead into a 15-8 loss that had my head spinning by the bottom of the 9th.  At 32-51 the Rockies have the worst record in not just the NL West but all of Major League Baseball, behind doormats such as Washington, Seattle and Kansas City.  A casual look at the standings shows the Rockies 10 games back of Arizona in the NL West, which team officials claim still puts them in striking distance if they can make a run.  A closer look at the picture reveals that the Rockies would be 19 games back of Tampa Bay if they were playing in the AL East, and would face similar deficits if they were in any other division but their own.  This season for all intents and purposes is over.  The Rockies were a team that caught lightning in a bottle last year and had everything go right.  This year they’ve become the official team of Murphy’s Law, where everything that can possibly go wrong has gone wrong.

It’s hard to fathom that the Rockies are 1-9 since the return of Troy Tulowitzki.  This is not to say the skid is his fault, in fact he has actually been swinging the bat better the past few games, hitting a home run in Detroit Sunday and getting a big RBI last night that gave a Rockies what turned out to be a short lived lead.  It’s very ironic the team has hit the skids since his return because they were actually picking it up prior to his arrival.  The Rockies had actually won five consecutive series without him, including two on the road.  There is no question that Tulo was in many ways the heart and soul of the team last year.  For whatever reason, it hasn’t been the case this year when he’s been in the lineup.  His numbers don’t seem correct (.161 BA, 2 HR, just 14 RBI) especially compared to last season (.291-24-99).  Again Tulo is not solely responsible for the team’s funk by any means, this is just a reflection of how different things have been for the Rockies this year.  I love Tulowitzki’s game, and I am still convinced he’ll turn it around before the end of the year. 

The pitching especially has not been the same.  While Aaron Cook has actually had a much better year than last year, and should get a nod to the All-Star Game next week, the rest of the staff has been, well less than terrific.  Jeff Francis won 17 games last year and was clearly the staff ace.  This year Francis is 3-7 with an ERA of 5.67, compared to 4.16 last year.  Manny Corpas was terrific as the closer last year, posting 19 saves after taking over the role midway through the season.  The Rockies rewarded him with a new contract over the winter, and saw him save just four games before losing the closer’s job with four straight blown saves in late April.  Corpas’ ERA has ballooned to 5.77 after it was just 2.08 last year.  Don’t even get me started on Brian Fuentes, who actually lost the closer job last year with a similar meltdown in June before settling in and doing a great job in the setup role toward the end of last year.  Fuentes reclaimed the closer job in April after Corpas lost it, and did ok for awhile, but he still lacks the resolve to consistently get the job done.  Fuentes actually has 13 saves this season, but also has an ungodly five blown saves already.  His overall numbers actually aren’t bad, but he has spectacularly blown up in his last two appearances, blowing a ninth inning lead Saturday in Detroit after the offense came back to take the lead, and giving up 5 runs in just a third of an inning in what had been a tie game last night against San Diego. 

The expectations that were placed on the Rockies prior to the season were interesting considering many just assumed they would be able to get back to the playoffs and the World Series.  It seemed as though no one noticed that other teams made an effort to get better during the offseason, while also forgetting to take into account the extraordinary circumstances that allowed the Rockies to make their run last year.  Sure they got hot, but their making the playoffs also required big time collapses by the Mets and the Padres to allow them to have a shot at the wild card.  It goes to show that every season is different.  I still think there is a lot of potential on this Rockies roster, but I’m still not convinced ownership and management are committed to consistently putting forth the effort, especially financially, to maintain a good product.  With Matt Holliday due big money, I will be curious to see if ownership steps up to the plate to retain him, rather than allowing him to cash in with a big market club.  There are rumors he could even be dealt before the trading deadline because ownership doesn’t want to lose him for nothing.  If they don’t keep Holliday, there isn’t much hope for ownership ever making the commitment to keep up with the rest of the league.

Regardless of all this, I love baseball and will continue to follow the Rockies and root for them until the day I die.  I remember what it was like to grow up in this town without Major League Baseball.  The Rockies didn’t come into extistence until I was a seventh grader, so I will always appreciate the opportunity to go see games here and to have a team to root for.  In that sense, it is important to keep that perspective.  That being said, I do expect the team to make an effort to put a good product on the field.  For them to sport MLB’s worst record the year after making the World Series is not acceptable.  There really isn’t a magic answer for this year as far back as they are, but I hope they take steps to make sure this isn’t repeated in 2009. 


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