For a month that saw an eight-game losing streak, three-quarters of a series postponed due to snow, a manager out with exhaustion, and a rookie shortstop hit .400, April 2005 was first and foremost about the future of the Colorado Rockies. There have been questions about whether the Rockies can win with their current ownership, ballpark, and first baseman. Can young guys Clint Barmes, Cory Sullivan, and Brad Hawpe stay this good? Can old guys Preston Wilson, Todd Helton, and Jamey Wright stay this bad? How can anyone in good conscience continue calling this group of relief pitchers a bullpen? In the end, the numbers never lie: 6-15, 8 games back, #29, #29, #29.
It’d be silly to look at this year’s Rockies team game by game and say, "Well, they didn’t win because of x." We know they’re not going to win a lot of games. They’re not trying to, or at least they’re doing a more efficient job of losing than they have in the past several seasons. A smart Rockies observer will look for players who are a) within the team’s budget, looking forward and b) at least somewhat productive. If any players who fit this descriptions are pitchers, so much the better. While the big league team races towards 100 losses, it’s as good a time as any to learn about their farm system. Could Ubaldo Jimenez or Juan Morillo be the pitching holy grail this organization has sought since its birth?
One thing I’m sick of hearing about is the altitude thing. The Rockies can win at altitude. They do, every year. It’s winning on the road that gives them fits, and I’m operating under the assumption that the key to winning on the road is assembling superior talent and utilizing it correctly. That second part of the question is another thing to concentrate on this year, through the losing — is Clint Hurdle the right man to be the big league Rockies’ field manager? Is Dan O’Dowd the right GM? By observing which players they choose to play, which they choose to trade, and which they choose to acquire, we should get a clear idea. Clint and Dan, free tip — stay away from league-average veteran breaking-ball pitchers.