Tuesday Rockpile: Maturity and the Rockies

On August 21, 1990, the Dodgers suffered an excruciating loss at home to the Phillies, allowing nine 9th inning runs to a below .500 team in a 12-11 loss, highlighted by a big home run from John Kruk. The script was in danger of repeating itself last night at Dodger Stadium, with four runs in, the Rockies down three, the bases juiced with one out and the Rockies best hitter - Troy Tulowitzki - at the plate.

The pressure was all on rookie Javy Guerra, in relief of Mike McDougal, who just walked in a run on a 9-pitch at-bat to force in a run. It was walk number nine on the night by the Dodgers, and three of them went to Tulowitzki, but in this at-bat, Tulo was eager to do some damage. So instead of leveraging the situation into getting the perfect pitch, Tulo misfired on a first pitch fastball up and out of the zone and popped out.  Tulo doesn't think he did anything wrong:

"I have hit that pitch out before. I took a whack at it and just missed," Tulowitzki said.

Tulo has indeed hit some ridiculously high fastballs for home runs - that doesn't mean it is the best pitch to swing at. While baseball is often a disconnect between process and result, Tulo absolutely cannot afford to be at the mercy of baseball's whims in that situation. Hindsight rules - you simply cannot be wrong if you get the green light. Jim Tracy wasn't happy with the swing.

"It was out of the zone. If the count goes to 1-0 there, you know what's coming," Tracy said.

The disconnect between star player and manager isn't encouraging, and the play really is symbolic of the 2011 Rockies in many ways. The opportunity is there, the talent lined up perfectly, but an immature approach led to disappointment. 

Having a young core is great in many ways, but a young core is also not fully mature, and the Rockies have been bitten by that this year. There's Tulo's overanxious ways in late situations. CarGo had a spat of that as well, predictably expanding his zone to include completely unhittable pitches. Ubaldo Jimenez struggled with how to deal with a relatively minor injury, and his ensuing struggles might have been avoided by a veteran hurler. Ian Stewart completely fell apart when put outside the most comfortable path in April, and Dexter Fowler has shown an inability to keep hold of the positive adjustments he has made.

This adversity has given the Rockies' core a chance to grow, learn, and mature. If they do so, next season will indeed be better, even without a roster overhaul. Dan O'Dowd will be banking on it - building around youth forces him to.

Links

Manager Tracy thinks Smith's problems stem from injury - The Denver Post When a player struggles in one aspect of their game as Seth Smith has defensively of late, it can almost be a relief to find out an injury is to blame. I don't think that necessarily applies when the injury happened, oh...four years ago, before he even made one defensive play in the major leagues in his career.

Rockies 50/50 on trading Jimenez - Scoop Du Jour - MLB Blog - Yahoo! Sports This headline is thanks to Fox Sports Jon Paul Morosi. While his BS detector failed (or he ignored it to get the page views), yours should not. Trades are rarely as high as 50% odds of occurring, and all the buzz and common sense about the situation all along has indicated Dan O'Dowd's high asking price will not change. It is not likely the Reds or Yankees become desperate enough to offer such a deal. Certainly not as likely as 50/50. That terminology more likely stems from someone giving a non-committal "I don't know - it might happen or it might not, could go either way" type response. Ladies and gentlemen - welcome to the trade deadline rumor mill.

Colorado Rockies trade talk: Jimenez deal unlikely; Giambi might be moved - The Denver Post See this makes more sense. Apparently, the Rockies have asked for Devin Mesoraco, Aroldis Chapman and Chris Heisey from Cincinnati, which is intriguing, but not enough for me. Don't count on it happening.

Baseball Prospectus | Fantasy Beat: The Two Sides of Jhoulys Chacin This is a couple days old, but Jason Collette has a fantastic piece on tonight's starter, as he tries to diagnose the Walkapotamus. As it turns out, all of his pitches have gained velocity since June 1, an indication that he might be throwing too hard and losing control. Collette's hypothesis is that Chacin will find more success if he dials down his velocity a bit.

Ian Stewart is now "an afterthought" in the Rockies’ plans | HardballTalk What an ugly headline. I'll leave it at that.

CarGo giving wrist more time before swinging | ColoradoRockies.com: News It will be 4-5 days before Carlos Gonzalez even swings a bat, which is good news. There is no reason to rush, with him already on the disabled list anyway.

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