So here’s a fun exercise. Read this article from Nick Groke. Then do a “ctrl-f” to search the page and see if the words “Ian” or “Desmond” appear in the article. Then, if this is applicable to you, think back to the times that readers, fans, or even fellow writers passive aggressively took digs at you because, in their eyes, you hadn’t given Desmond his due as a great clubhouse guy because you pointed out that his results on the field were objectively bad.
Why wouldn’t Desmond be the authority on this topic, then, as Nick Groke takes a look at the role of clubhouse culture in wins and losses? I presume it’s because his leadership comes in different forms than being the funny guy, but it is still surprising.
I don’t think anybody can dispute that a good culture is important. But I mention Desmond to show the fluidity when we try to explain how a good clubhouse helps or when it becomes a good clubhouse.
It’s a kind of chicken and egg thing, which Groke mentions in this piece. Do teams win because they have fun and play loose, or do they have fun and play loose because they’re winning? I don’t know, you probably don’t know, and I honestly don’t think the players know. But I am very weary of a “lack of fun” becoming an acceptable explanation for any part of this team’s bad 2019 season.
Would the young starting pitchers have stayed healthier if Gerardo Parra was still around wearing funny sunglasses and cracking jokes? Does Bryan Shaw stop throwing cutters that don’t cut in high-leverage situations if the bullpen has more funny t-shirts?
Again, I know that a fun, loose clubhouse culture is important. I’m just afraid that prioritizing something that ambiguous over fixing a flawed roster is what gets you multi-year contracts for Gerardo Parra and Ian Desmond, blocking the development of prospects and leading to a 2019 roster that was exposed as having a real lack of depth.
What I have enjoyed is another thing Groke mentions here: the Rockies are letting some of their younger players, guys like Yonathan Daza and Raimel Tapia, lead the way as they have tried to loosen up recently. That feels more natural, and if it will help lead to winning, hopefully it’s laying the foundation for next season.
I think one of the biggest takeaways from this season will be just how big the gap was between the Rockies and the actual World Series contenders. That gap has been glaringly obvious when they have gotten beaten up by the likes of the Houston Astros and their division foe in the Dodgers. Nolan Arenado acknowledges that gap here as he discusses just how great the 2019 Dodgers team looks.
Jack Etkin wrote this piece before Hoffman’s start against the Padres on Saturday, and I would say the results in that start were a net positive. There’s also an interesting story in here about how bullpen coach Darren Holmes talked to Hoffman about an issue with his delivery that was causing him to leave too many pitches up.
Hoffman got nipped by the long ball on Saturday, but not in the disastrous way that some of his other starts have unfolded. And if he can make some adjustments stick so that he is more consistent with his command, it could give the Rockies a huge boost next season.
On the farm
It was another solid game for a couple noteworthy prospects, as Bladimir Restituyo (PuRP no. 27) hit a home run and Brenton Doyle (PuRP no. 30) had two hits and two RBI.