Well, I was fogged in at work for three days and it changed my trip back to CO for the week. During that time I spent a lot of time thinking about the Rockies and their season. I was mostly trying to decide if we still have a chance to make it past October 3. Because of my change in travel plans, I can see the Rockies play a few more times at home and maybe on the road for a series or two. Before I do that, though, I want to make sure the Rockies will most likely still be in the hunt come the end of the season.
The current road trip has brought out some negatives of our team, but many positives still remain. I will go over the major ones that have come to mind in my pondering over the past week.
First, the negatives.
- Injuries: Is it me, or does it seem like our main stars have been dinged up a bit more than usual? Some people mentioned early in the year that the fact we didn't face too much adversity in this department in years past will catch up with us this season. It looks like it has.
- Position Consistency: Besides SS, just about every position doesn't have a solid everyday designated player. The 6th position in your score books has been filled by Barmes of late due to necessity, but we all know who is supposed to be there on a regular basis starting again on July 27th. Third base was supposed to be Stewart's, but Mora has been decent of late. Herrera is making a very solid case at second. CarGo has been going between LF and CF all season, and will likely continue to do so. There is no consistency at catcher, but that might be by design.
- Road Performace: Looking back at successful Rockies teams in the past (1995, 2007, 2009), we've been above or close to .500 on the road. 2007 was the only one of those years we were below, and it was by 3 games. This year, we're 10 games under (20-30).
- Stike Outs: More specifically, strike out rate and contact in general with RISP. How many times have we had the bases loaded with none or 1 out and couldn't deliver? A lot. Even lead-off doubles and triples stranded on the paths. Swinging at bad pitches and watching third strikes with runners on base frustrates me to no end.
- Division: Padres still haven't fallen off yet, and are probably for real at this point. Giants are getting stronger, Dodgers still loom in the wings, and D-Backs will always put up a good fight, no matter what place they're in. There are still a lot of games against the NL West.
That being said, there are still a few positives:
- Record: We're mired in a pretty bad slump at the moment, and we're 5 games over .500. Lot's of games remain at home, and we have the third best home record. More on the current skid: It's the longest road trip of the season, in the hottest month, in three of the most humid cities (CIN, MIA, and PHI). Also, the Reds are among the best this year. The Marlins got an ultimatum from the owner before playing the Rockies that if they didn't have a good week, the whole team was on the trading block. Lastly, the Phillies know they need to make a move if they ever want to catch the Braves and are rebounding after being swept in St. Louis.
- Depth: One of the reasons there isn't much position consistency is that Tracy has such a deep roster he can use multitudes of line-ups based on match-ups and playing the hot hands. It always help to have that as the season goes on, and most of our depth are veterans that know what it takes to make a successful run at October.
- Pitching: It has been actually very decent this year, sans a couple give aways here and there. Street is healthy and comfortable at the end, and there are plenty of set-up men to build a bridge to him. The rest of the starters are starting to pick up Ubaldo after he got them through the beginning of the year. Ubaldo will find himself again before the end of the year. Francis is beginning to find his 2007 stuff in the back of his closet, and Hammel is breaking out. De la Rosa is next, and only needs one solid win to boost his confidence (see 2009 2nd half).
- Luck: What goes around, comes around in baseball. The Rockies have had a rough run of luck recently, and the middle of the season is the best time for it. When the tides turn, it's good to still be in a position to make something of it. In not so many words, they're due.
- Experience: It goes without saying that most of this team has been there before and knows what's needed to get back to the playoffs.
Those are my thoughts on where this team stands. We're sort of on the cusp of something really big, or really disastrous. It will be an exciting 3 weeks to follow these boys of summer and see what sort of position they set themselves up for in the fall, whether it's the 2010 playoffs or the 2011 season. I hope I get the chance to see them finish the season on the road in St. Louis in the driver's seat, ready to set the bar even higher than year's past.