Friday Rockpile: O Defense, Where Art Thou?

DENVER, CO - APRIL 12: Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies comes up short on a diving effort on an RBI single off the bat of Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning at Coors Field on April 12, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Giants defeated the Rockies 4-2. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

When we walked into this season, we were sure of exactly 2 things: that the Rockies would hustle and play sound defense. Well, I was sure of it. Pitching was going to be suspect, the bats were going to hinge on the health of like 75% of the lineup, but the defense would be solid and the team would work very hard to win baseball games.

As of Thursday Night, I'm no longer sure of anything. These 6 games have turned my world upside down. Black is White, Left is Right. Cats and Dogs, sleeping together, TOTAL CHAOS.

Sounds silly, doesn't it? But seriously, we're 6 games in, and the Rockies are averaging over an error a game. Chris Nelson and Marco Scutaro have 2 apiece, and Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Jordan Pacheco have all blundered as well. When your pitching IS suspect, the defense cannot afford to allow even one slipup. It's making the pitching look even poorer than it already is. 4 of the 11 pitchers we've seen this season are already posting a R/ER differential of... well, they've allowed more runs than they've earned. Those 8 errors tie the Rockies with the Astros for 3rd most defensively incompetent in the majors, behind the Padres (9) and the Giants (10).

What's even stranger is the fact that a lot of us watching have made the observation that the team already looks dead out there. That would help explain the questionable defense, that players aren't going as balls-out as they might in a tenser situation.

Obviously, nobody is going to just chime in and say "yeah, we're kind of half-assing it out there," as these guys are all consummate professionals and have had their Crash Davis Media Interview training. What might be the cause? One might point to the coaching staff, but I'm not ready to start any crusades just yet. Is it the organizational phase, that the team is clearly bridging to 2013? Maybe they all just ate bad shrimp at the same time and it's sapped them all of their strength and go-get-itness.

I will say this though: for all my offseason trepidation, I'm pretty darn impressed with Michael Cuddyer thus far. I am absolving him from pretty much all of these complaints; he's even impressed me on defense!

It's a short term thing right now. The season has started in disappointing fashion, as Rockies fans have gotten far too used to pitiful Aprils. Batters trying to hit the 5 run homer every AB gets old after awhile. Sure, it's early, but these are disturbing sights to see when you (meaning I) was banking on the team being a hustling, leave-it-all-on-the-field machine of hard work.

But we're only 6 games into the 2012 season. Let's check back next week and see where things are. Then I'll probably get more frustrated and write something stupider.

Off Topic

Fowler focused on extra-base hits | ColoradoRockies.com: News

This is what I'm talking about. Dexter Fowler has the skills to get on base at an above-average clip, but we need to realize that when we saw him coming up, we were looking at a guy with the speed and power to hit 50 XBH a season with 20-30 SB. Instead, because of his speed and on-base skills and a lack of a more suitable candidate, he ended up batting leadoff. That's fine, but because he was in that leadoff spot as a non-traditional leadoff hitter, a lot of criticism came his way for not being a bunting, basestealing machine. It's just not the hitter he is.

Fowler's speed is best used testing outfield arms as he stretches deep singles into doubles, splits gaps and ends up on 3B, and being practically guaranteed to take 2 bases on any single behind him. That's what Fowler does. Trying to shoehorn him into a Michael Bourn mold is really putting a lot of his skillset to waste.

That said, his questionable performances in the past aren't something to just dismiss because he wasn't being properly utilized. A .355 OBP is definitely nothing to sneeze at, but a lot of the frustration in Fowler is that he could just be flat out better than what we've seen. Again, we're 1 week of games in, so let's see how Fowler builds on his huge night on Wednesday. Oh, and if you weren't watching, Fowler's up to .278/.381/.389 already. Small sample and all.

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