Last night was one of those games where you felt bad for anyone who spent their hard earned money to see the Rockies play at Coors. First there was a two hour rain delay, and then the game itself brought little to cheer about.
The loss puts the Rockies at 3-2 since the All-Star break and 5-4 in a stretch of games that began against the Phillies nearly two weeks ago. I bring this up because the Rockies are in the middle of a 14 game stretch where they play four games against the Phillies, seven against the Braves, and three against the Rays (three teams who are a combined 56 games under .500). Not only that, but 11 of these 14 games are at home.
In other words, if the Rockies were going to pull off some miracle and get back into contention this season, this was the stretch where they needed to make up some serious ground, and it's not happening. There's nothing wrong with a 5-4 record against these teams, but when you go into a stretch of games against them eight games under .500, a 5-4 record all but ensures that you won't be playing meaningful baseball in August and September (again).
The Rockies still have five games left against this "easy" stretch in the schedule before things turn downright nasty for 35 games. Here's a look at what lies ahead after this home stand:
3 games @ Orioles
4 games @ Mets
3 games vs. Dodgers
3 games vs. Marlins
4 games vs. Rangers (two at home and two in Texas)
3 games @ Phillies
3 games vs. Nationals
3 games vs. Cubs
3 games @ Brewers
3 games @ Nationals
3 games vs. Dodgers
So that's 29 out of 35 games against teams at least seven games over .500, many of which are probably only going to get better before the Rockies play them with the trade deadline approaching.
This article was posted just before the series with the Rays got underway, but I wanted to link it because I think it highlights a disconnect from reality we see inside the walls of Coors Field. Nowhere is this more evident than in the following quote from Nolan Arenado:
"It's way better than it was last year," Nolan Arenado said. "At this point last year we were nowhere to be found, we're definitely in the hunt right now."
Sorry Nolan, but it's not way better than last year. Not even close. Through 91 games last season (the number of games completed this year when Arenado made that statement), the Rockies were 40-51, nine games out of a playoff spot. Through 91 games this season, the Rockies were 42-49 (only two measly games better than last year), seven games out of a playoff spot (they've since split their last two games to fall eight games out of a playoff spot).
The Rockies can try to sell you sunshine, lollipops and rainbows all they want, but the cold, hard facts in the National League standings say this team is only in an ever so slightly better position than the one they fielded last season. We talked about this last off season, but I still believe the Rockies need to make some more painful trades to truly set themselves up for a fruitful contention window in a couple of years.
If the Rockies do start trading off big pieces (and I'm talking about names beyond the Boone Logan and Nick Hundley type players who should be moved anyway since their contracts are about to expire), the most obvious place to look is the outfield.
With David Dahl utterly obliterating Triple-A and Raimel Tapia not far behind him, the Rockies are less than a year away from having a surplus of outfielders with Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra already under contract. I don't see the Rockies moving Dahl or Tapia, and I don't think you can get much of anything for Parra (the worst singing the Rockies have made in a long time). This leaves Blackmon and Gonzalez as the two obvious choices in terms of good players who shouldn't be on this team by opening day of next season.
The better Dahl and Tapia perform and the further the Rockies fall out of contention, the more it makes sense to move at least one (if not both) of these players.
The next times somebody tries to tell you baseball is dying, share this link with them. Some sports fans like to point to National TV ratings when talking about baseball's relevance, but the real strength of MLB lies in the regional ratings it can put up night after night after night from coast to coast. This is why baseball is pulling down more than $10 billion a year, a figure that doubles what the NBA is doing.
For those curious, the Rockies rank 16th on the list of 29 teams (the Blue Jays were not included) averaging a rating of 3.17 a night. Not bad for a team falling out of contention for a sixth straight summer.