Monday Rockpile: Stick a fork in it

I hate being the wet blanket. I do. I've stuck up for them all season, from poor player performances to pathetic losing streaks. A lot of us have.

We've had some performances this season we've used as a shield, as a security blanket this season to try and cover up a lot of the less-than-stellar performances, to cover the injuries, to give ourselves some kind of hope.

"As soon as we get healthy, imagine where we'll be!"

"Once Street is back, we're gonna be amazing, especially with Matt Belisle pitching like he is"

"Without Troy Tulowitzki, we've kept ourselves afloat, so once he's back, we're going to be absolutely awesome"

"I know the back end of the rotation is in shambles, but as long as Ubaldo Jimenez can keep going like he is, we'll have 3 solid starters and only a couple question marks"

We saw a pretty incredible season from Ubaldo Jimenez (which isn't over yet), an amazing September from Troy Tulowitzki (again, not over, so watch out Bambino), a complete breakout from Carlos Gonzalez (Matt WHO?), and a completely stellar season in the pen from Matt Belisle (despite his recent collapse - oh wait his September xFIP is 2.87 - lousy homer friendly parks!): these are just a few of the shields that we pulled over ourselves as Rockies fans to defend our "poor record" - which was never really that bad. Take a look at this:

Split

W

L

April

11

12

May

16

12

June

14

13

July

13

13

August

15

12

September

14

9

 

More past the jump.

This amazed me. For some reason, I was under the impression that they'd have like 4 out of 6 months posting an sub-.500 record. Funny how perceptions of play over a certain timespan can alter your memory of record, or what the record over that span should've been. Honestly, the way we've seen the team play at points in this season, you'd think they went 2-160 over the season. Then again, at other points, we were hotter than the surface of the sun, unbeatable, unbreakable, and even when the opposition somehow had them almost beaten and broken, someone would crush a 3-run homer.

Amusingly enough, Colorado is performing right up to snuff with their play. Pythagoras says the Rockies are playing 84-70 ball, reality says we're playing 83-71 ball. So there's no major discrepancy to blame on 1-run games or something (28-28 in tight matches). We haven't been blown out an exorbitant amount either, in fact, we're a much better team at blowing others out than we are at getting blown out (18-13 in games decided by 5 or more runs).

No, the depressing fact is that this team was just not good enough. The players the Rockies trotted on the field were just not good enough to beat the other guys consistently enough to make the postseason.

Yes, I'm being the pragmatist. While Colorado still has 7 games to play, it's at the point where 2 teams need to lose out and we need to win out to have the division lead. Stranger things have certainly happened, but this just isn't realistic.

Where do we point the finger? There has to be someone to blame, right? I can see where the comments are going to go with this already, but I'm not entirely sure that we really CAN point a finger at anyone.

"Jim Tracy should've played XX over YY!"

"Dan O'Dowd should've traded for ZZ!"

"Damn Cheapforts!"

It's not that simple. We know it isn't that simple. Even the people making these overly excited claims know it isn't that simple, myself included. This team is a team that is striving to create sustainable success while limiting the downtime spent in rebuild modes.This involves knowing when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away, and knowing when to run. You never count Rocktober when it's sitting on the table, there'll be time enough for counting when the playoffs are done. That was awful. I'm sorry.

Seriously though, the recipient of all the finger-pointing blame in my book is simply miserable luck. I don't mean "Whoah our BABIP was super low!", I mean that we lost an awful lot of playing time this season due to injury.

Troy Tulowitzki was out with a broken wrist. Huston Street missed the first 2 months of the season and yet has still been a very effective closer. Carlos Gonzalez lost playing time due to a handful of random injuries. Jorge De La Rosa missed quite a few games due to his hurt finger.

Look at the names up there. This isn't the bench players getting hurt, these are the meat of the team spending significant time on the DL (well, maybe not Gonzalez as much, but you see the point). The healthy members of the team did their best, and I maintain that they did just fine (well, maybe except for Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler...let's go with "adequate" or something that doesn't really carry any weight). Even if the backups really DIDN'T carry their weight, that's the thing, they're backups. You can't expect a season to light every lamp when your starters are missing time.

Last thought before I call it a day. Baseball Prospectus has our final record projected at 89-73. 89 wins. Certainly not good enough to finish the season in mid-October, but teams that can finish with 89 wins aren't bad teams. Especially when we know that there's more to this team than what 2010 presented. Check back Wednesday, I'm going to try and have something brief up that'll speak to this, the idea of production lost to playing time.

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