Patrick Saunders takes stock of the Rockies season thus far and asks some questions about the future. First, he acknowledges fan frustration while noting that the team is performing at roughly the level he and many others expected. Still, it's hard not to see a collection of talented young baseball players and not also see it translate into more wins. I agree here. The Rockies are winning about as many games as I anticipated, but the losses have been extra discouraging. Partially, that's due to losses always being discouraging, even with low expectations. But another part of it is circumstance, such as Saturday's loss against the Phillies.
Saunders also refers to "nagging trends that cast dark shadows over the direction of the team." This is where I disagree. He points to a couple different issues here, the first is the team's 0-42 record when trailing after seven innings. This is one of those figures that looks a lot worse at first glance than it really is. While it's true that the team can literally not be worse when trailing after seven innings, it's necessary to acknowledge that most teams lose when trailing after seven. They only have six outs to work with at that point.
Through Saturday, the league was 90-1086 when trailing after seven innings, which is a 0.077 winning percentage. The Giants, who have the best winning percentage in baseball, are 3-25 when trailing after seven innings, for a winning percentage of 0.107. The last place 37-51 Los Angeles Angels have an excellent 5-38 record (0.116) record when trailing after seven. They remain in last place. In response to a question about the Rockies 0-42 record, manager Walt Weiss told Saunders "that just means we're due." And this is another way of saying the record so far is not a predictor of what it will be going forward and that it should normalize. He's very likely correct.
For instance, if the Rockies manage to mount three come from behind wins in a week, which isn't at all inconceivable, they'll go from literally can't be worse to league average in the overly sliced "trailing after seven innings" split. The 0-42 record after seven innings is easy, but it tells us nothing about the team this year or the future. The exact same thing can be said about the team's 5-11 record in one run games. It doesn't mean the team's not clutch, it means they've lost games that, historically, are coin flips and tend to normalize toward .500 over time.
That's not to say that the future is without clouds. It's cloudy as hell, but the haze has less to do with current statistical anomalies and has everything to do with the very real possibility that prospects will, and do, bust.
Speaking of frustrating losses, you can now put a name to them and read about the degree of heartbreak they bring. If these were on a Bingo card, the 2016 Rockies would have won (lost?) by now.
Christopher Crawford notes a handful of great prospect performances from Rockies' farmhands over the weekend.
On Brendan Rodgers: "There are safer shortstop prospects, but in terms of just upside, I'm not sure there's a better one than Brendan Rodgers."
On Tom Murphy: "His above-average power and good-enough defense still give him a chance to start."
On German Marquez: He's evidence that "this farm system is really, really good."
On Ryan Castellani: "Castellani is one of the more pleasant surprises in the system, showing better secondary stuff while still throwing the plus fastball he had before."
Nick Stephens analyzes some of the current Rockies players who the Rockies could trade at the deadline, which is three weeks away. He mentions Mark Reynolds, Jorge De La Rosa, and Nick Hundley, among others, as possible trade pieces. The only players that would return a premium prospect are Carlos González and Charlie Blackmon, but Jeff Bridich and Co. have seemed to have done well in less notable trades, such as the acquisition of Yency Almonte for Tommy Kahnle and Wander Cabrera for Rex Brothers. Even the small returns for peripheral players can contribute to greater farm depth.
Walt Weiss added a bit more clarity about his decision to remove Jon Gray from Saturday's game in the seventh inning. After Saturday's loss, Weiss told reporters that he removed Gray in order to make a no decision the worst case scenario for Gray's ledger. He was rightly criticized for that rationale, as it suggested he was more concerned with the pitcher win statistic instead of the team win. With a chance to clarify, Weiss said that the effort in Gray's delivery, as well as the four pitch walk with which he began the inning.