Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Rockies Bottom
2008-06-01 16:28
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The best team in baseball beat the worst team in baseball today, again, as the Cubs finished a perfect seven-game homestand. The Rockies have lost seven in a row on this particular trip. Colorado has lost twelve in a row on the road; their overall record away from Coors Field this season is 8-23. At 20-37 overall, the Rockies are on pace for a 57-105 finish. As bad as the Colorado franchise has regularly been over the past 15 years, they've never suffered through a 100-loss season.

Has any team ever been in the World Series one year, and lost a hundred games the next? The 1915 A's did, but that was something of a special circumstance. The hard-bitten, old school Connie Mack refused to participate in the bidding wars for players' services spurred by the upstart Federal League. Like Charlie Finley or Jeffrey Loria in their own times, Mack traded players or gave them away so he wouldn't have to pay the salaries they were demanding. That 1915 team lost 109 games a year after winning 99. The Rockies, who only won 90 last year, would be hard-pressed to match that differential. It also will be tricky to finish 58.5 games out like the A's did.

More recently, the 1998 Marlins lost 100 a year after winning the World Series. (The '14 A's, like the '07 Rockies, were swept.) That was the same situation -- Wayne Huizenga decided he could make more money by selling the team to someone else and just holding on to the stadium. He forced a fire sale just like Mack's, only Mack at least was being honest when he claimed his team was losing money. The Rockies, if they sink that low, won't have the excuse of a sell-off. They could become the first team to be in the World Series one year, then lose 100 games -- with almost exactly the same roster.

I'm not enjoying this display of utter futility any more than you are, but it is making me reconsider my loyalties. I used to be a huge Cubs fan, and I have been accused of still carrying a torch for them before. When I caught my home run ball at Coors Field in 2005 I was wearing a Ron Santo jersey. I should be ecstatic that the Cubbies are the best team in the majors, but I'm totally indifferent. I'm too preoccupied mourning the Rockies' decline and wondering when I'll get to see Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, and the real Jeff Francis again. I'm a Rockies fan! I'm stuck now. This season is going to test my faith, but at least I know what I believe in. The purple and black shall rise again.

The first thing they're going to have to do is bring in some more pitchers.

2008-06-01 17:47:11
1.   Woden325
I'm with you, Mark. I hope this disaster will strengthen my faith, too. If only there were some little sign that there was a turnaround in the offing.
It used to be that the Rockies would go through tough patches in hitting, defense or pitching; but not all three at the same time. While pitching is definitely the worst problem at the moment, the other two aren't much better.
2008-06-02 08:54:09
2.   Kels
I feel like I owe the team this year since they provided the best couple months of my life last year. And at least the idiot conversations with the bandwagon fans at work have stopped.
2008-06-02 10:43:22
3.   moomacher

where do you stand on the fire Hurdle/Apodaca/O'Dowd, trade Holliday/Atkins debate?

2008-06-02 13:14:39
4.   Mark T.R. Donohue
3 Hurdle should be fired. His moves with the lineup and pitching rotation have been random and whimsical the whole time he's been managing, he was given too many chances to keep doing it, he finally hit the jackpot last year, and now he's right back to picking his relief pitchers and #2 hitters out of a hat. Enough of him.

I think O'Dowd has shown an intelligent ability to do what he can given the team's ridiculous, stifling budget requirements. But a lot of his moves haven't worked out and since the owners can't be fired, the Rockies are going to need someone even more clever. Wayne Krivsky, just fired by the Reds, is one interesting name. Paul De Podesta would be another guy I would hope the Rockies would take a look at.

They have to keep Holliday. Superstar, potential-MVP hitters do not grow on trees. Even though he is a leftfielder, with their issues elsewhere the Rockies can't afford to let that much production walk out the door.

Atkins needs to go. Colorado has had too many third basemen at AAA for three years now and it's silly that they haven't dealt him before now. All they've done is give him time to decrease his trade value. It's also clear that to win the Rockies need stellar infield defense and Atkins is anything but stellar at third. Ian Stewart is, though, although you fear a repeat of the Kaz Matsui/Jayson Nix story. Stewart can defend, like Nix, but what if he never hits? Then they look bad. But of course the Rockies have Jeff Baker too.

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