The Rockies will need to find a starter to replace Todd Helton, either at first base or right field so Michael Cuddyer can move to first. They also need pitching - whether it be a fourth/fifth starter or bullpen help depends on your perspective. However, a smaller, but no less important place where the team must get better is the bench.
This week in the three blow out losses bench players went 2 for 10 in pinch hit opportunities. While on the year the team has been better than .200 in pinch hit opportunities (a respectable .282/.327/.403), the overall production when filling in for regulars on days off or during injury has been much worse than in the past.
While not the key ingredient, the bench (like a bullpen) takes a team from good to playoff good. A bad team with a good bench (last year) isn't likely to go anywhere, but a good team with a bad bench is an injury or two from falling out of contention (see this year as an example). Listed below are the previous seven years with offensive WAR by the top four bench players and backup catcher.
Now, 2012 is a little skewed because there were injuries and 'bench' players played regularly and had breakout seasons (Josh Rutledge, Tyler Covin). Two of the last three years the lack of a bench has been detrimental to the team contending. The one year that the Rockies had a winning record without more than 2 OWAR coming from the bench was 2007. This happened to be the last year that the team had five players play more than 150 games and with the starters able to play that much, the bench was not as necessary.
This year started with a weirdly infield heavy bench and transformed quite drastically through the first few months. The dissapointment of Tyler Colvin and Josh Rutledge regressing did not help the team build a good bench. I hope that the team will look to add a veteran presence or two on the bench next year because relying on youth, as we did this year, can be deterimental and that youth needs to be playing regularly in AAA while waiting for a call-up due to injury.
On to thoughts about this week:
The Good-Todd Helton's farewell
It will be a long time before I forget the spectacle at Coors Field Wednesday night and even longer before I forget Todd's first at bat home run in that game. We will miss you Todd and I hope he is working for the organization next year.
The Bad-The Todd Helton farewell game
With the stands full of fans, the team laid an egg. While it wouldn't have meant much to the season, it would have been great to have a win in Todd's last home game and it would have been even better to show competitive baseball to the group of fans that will decided whether or not to spend money to watch this team in the future without Todd.
The Ugly-Pitching this week
While it was bound to happen sometime this year, its frustrating to see the pitching average nearly a 10 ERA this week.