With all of the losing of late, most discussions about the Colorado Rockies have turned to what needs to be fixed. This invariably turns to who can be to blame as well. While most blame is laid at the feet of ownership and the front office, the manager has also come under fire.
I, myself, have complained about Walt's lack of passion of late when discussion mental lapses and games that have gotten away from the team. It is easy for all of us to deflect blame from our favorite players who are not performing on the field, but are there areas under the manager's control going wrong or are we all just deflecting from a lack of talent on the team?
With pitching being a glaring problem that has a lot to do with injuries, I first decided to look at the offensive side of the ball. I thought it odd that while the Rockies lead the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS, they are only third in runs. Trying to find a link between hits and runs, I found that the Rockies offense is even more average when trying to turn hits into runs, ranking tenth in baseball with only .484 runs per hit. So how is this possible and what does this have to do with coaching?
With all other things being equal, the Rockies should be much higher in runs per hit. After all, they are tops in baseball in slugging, meaning more base runners are in scoring position or have time to round the bases. However, those other things are not equal. The Rockies are 27th in number of walks, 27th in stolen base percentage, and are only 8th in sacrifice flies. They also fair badly in grounding into double plays, ranked as the 13th worst with 91 this year.
If the Rockies were just average in taking walks, they would have had 51 more base runners this year. If they could steal at the average rate, they would have 8 more players on base. Even without extra base runners, the Rockies should have at least 10 more sacrifice flies with their superior number of base runners as compared to the rest of the league. I can't find a statistic on players who have been thrown out trying for an extra base, but my gut tells me the Rockies have been below average on this as well.
But would 59 more base runners and 10 more runs via sacrfice flies really have an impact on this team and are these things something the coaches can control? It seems to have worked for the teams that are able to score their runners at a better pace. If the Rockies were able to score runs per hit at the average of the top five teams in the league, they would be scoring 5.0 runs per game (instead of 4.6) which would essentially match the team ERA of 5.03. This is not a recipe for a division champion but would at least have them closer to a .500 record.
Inability to steal bases, hit sacrifice flies with a runner on third, lack of patience to take walks, and grounding into double plays are all things that can be adjusted by coaching. For a team that struggles so mightily with keeping the other team from scoring, not wasting outs should be a priority. This is where Walt and his coaching staff have not done their job so far this season, in my opinion.
Since almost everything this team has accomplished this week is ugly, this version of G, B, and U look at this season's acquisitions :
The best acquisitions from this off-season all come with an asterisk due to injuries. Justin Morneau would be considered one of the best free agent pickups of the off-season if he did not spend time on the disabled list. He is 14th amongst baseball's first basemen with 1.7 fWAR and would have a chance of cracking the top 10 if he had a few more plate appearances. Jordan Lyles is another good acquisition that has been hampered by time on the disabled list. It also doesn't help that even with Brandon Barnes' decent role of the bench, most fans do not feel that the Barnes and Lyles was worth losing Dexter Fowler. Perhaps the best aquisition for the team was Tommy Kahnle, who has the second best ERA in the bullpen and cost the team next to nothing.
Giving millions of dollars to Boone Logan when he was coming off arm issues and could not be ready for the beginning of the season was questionable at best. Even if he could not be expected to live up to the expectations of that contract, he has underwhelmed with his 5.48 ERA and missed time throughout the season.
No matter how smart the Rockies' front office thinks they are, they should not think they are going to win when they make a trade with Oakland A's. While both pitchers have been injured, the A's have gotten much better production out of Drew Pomeranz than the the Rockies have out of Brett Anderson at a much smaller price. Both players had 2.91 ERAs and started eight games for their respective teams, but Pomeranz also pitched nine games in relief and is a healthy backup at the A's triple A team right now while Brett Anderson is likely out for the season with a bulging disc. Not to mention that the Rockies will have to pay $12 million if they want to have Brett play for them next year while Drew will not be eligible for arbitration for two more years.