Past & Present: A trip back to April

Scott Cunningham

The Rockies roster today looks quite different than the one that existed in April. How different? This different.

Let's take a trip in the way-back machine, all the way to April and the home openers for the Rockies and Sky Sox. The Rockies opened their season on April 4 with a 12-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, here was the Rockies' starting lineup for that game:

CF Charlie Blackmon
RF Michael Cuddyer
LF Carlos Gonzalez
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Morneau
C Wilin Rosario
3B Nolan Arenado
2B DJ LeMahieu
RHP Juan Nicasio

A week later, the Sky Sox kicked off their home schedule with an 11-10 win in 11 innings over the Round Rock Express at Security Service Field, this is what the Colorado Springs lineup looked like for that game:

LF Tim Wheeler
2B Drew Garcia
CF Corey Dickerson
3B Ryan Wheeler
DH Matt McBride
RF Kyle Parker
1B Ben Paulsen
C Michael McKenry
SS Paul Janish
LHP Tyler Matzek

That's right, there were five current Rockies in the lineup for the team's home opener and four current Rockies in the Sky Sox lineup for their home opener. That is a problem, especially when only one of the four Sky Sox (Dickerson) earned his call up on merit.

I know people don't like to use injuries as an excuse for poor performance, which I completely understand, but the way I see it, there is a difference between excuses and legitimate reasons for a problem.

If, for example, Giants fans were to claim their recent losing skid was down to the loss of Brandon Belt, that would be an excuse and a rather lame one at that. (Note to Giants fans: I'm not saying you actually did this, I just needed a hypothetical.) However, the Rockies saying their recent losing skid is because they are without Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler and Boone Logan is more of a legitimate reason  for poor play because that's basically a third of your roster right there and quite a few key players.

We can talk about training staffs and recovery methods until we're blue in the face, but some of these injuries have been just bizarre, random flukes. Gonzalez having "a fatty mass with tentacles" in his finger? Brett Anderson breaking a finger swinging a bat? I've been following baseball a long time and those are both new ones for me.

The fact is you can get mad at the players and front office when the team loses all you want, I know I have, but they're in a situation that no one could have foreseen. Does anyone think Dan O'Dowd and Bill Geivett were sitting in an office in January discussing, "So, what's our plan if Anderson, Chatwood, Lyles and Butler all get hurt and Juan Nicasio forgets how to get people out all at the same time?" Of course not, and I wouldn't have wanted them to, because it's an extremely unlikely scenario that would not have been worth their time to discuss.

It's also a little bit amazing that the two guys with the "injury prone" tag coming into the season, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau, are among the few Rockies who have been healthy all season. *knocks on wood*

It's a similar scenario to fantasy football owners who drafted Tom Brady with their first pick in 2008, only to see him tear an ACL in Week 1. Did anyone get on them for making a terrible pick, or did they just say "Oh man, that's terrible luck."? I know the what sentiment toward Brady's owner in my league was, and it wasn't the first one.

This is also why I see a big difference between this year's team and the 2012 Rockies. In 2012, the Rockies knew  they had put together a lousy roster and basically admitted it with all that "Year of the Fan" nonsense. This year, the Rockies thought they had a good roster and until the injury bug really hit they were five games over .500, on a 90-win pace and right in the division race.

Of course losing isn't any fun and it's perfectly fine to be upset about it, but we would all do well to keep in mind that these injuries were not and really could not have been in anyone's plans for 2014, and eventually these guys on the disabled list will come back and contribute again.

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