Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Marlins 4, Rockies 3
2006-06-04 17:58
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The Rockies' collapse continues apace, as the very same team that Colorado swept on the road not very long ago to assert their authority as a non-pushover returns the favor at Coors. First place seems a distant memory, does it not? The Rockies are now seven games back in a division where seemingly ever other club is just hitting their stride. Two shaky calls that went against Colorado hardly serve as an excuse for Sunday's loss. Even Clint Hurdle getting ejected for only the second time all year failed to ignite the Rockies offense. Matt Holliday was probably safe at home on a relay play in the seventh, although the multiple camera angles on the telecast were unable to conclusively indicate it either way to my satisfaction. I'm more certain that Todd Helton tagged Matt Treanor out before he reached first after Clint Barmes' wild throw in the next inning, but the Rockies committed three errors and had ample opportunities to tie the game against the weak Marlins bullpen despite the questionable calls. I'm not even going to talk about Saturday's 13-0 debacle.

The Rockies are beginning to resemble last year's team very closely. The pitching is still pretty good -- much better than those who don't follow Colorado baseball would ever believe -- but the offense is pitiful, and the defense is beginning to demonstrate a certain peculiar knack for setting up pitchers to fail. What's to be done? Well, at this point, not much. The plan was never to contend this year, and the Rockies are certainly seeing progress from a number of young players around which their future hopes are built, most notably Holliday, Brad Hawpe, and Jeff Francis. I know we all get very excited about competitive baseball returning to Denver ahead of schedule, but the Rockies only have half of a lineup at the moment, and with Todd Helton underachieving and Clint Barmes and the catchers offering zero production, we simply don't have enough pitching to win every game 3-2. I would make a slight adjustment in my philosophy of playing time, were I Clint Hurdle. The younger guys in the bullpen, Scott Dohmann and Ramon Ramirez, should start seeing more pressure situations, since Jose Mesa and Ray King aren't going to be around forever. Likewise, it was hard to argue against playing Jamey Carroll every day when the team was winning, but now, Clint Barmes and Luis Gonzalez should just go ahead and play every day. They're not going to break out of slumps with the random usage pattern Hurdle is subscribing to now. It may be more difficult to find playing time for J.D. Closser, since Yorvit Torrealba just came off the disabled list, but there's no reason now not to give Closser a second crack at proving he deserves a featured role in the Rockies' future plans.

Wow, I can't believe I managed to write even this much about the Rockies today. I'm so mad at them for playing like sleepwalkers the last several weeks. It's most fortunate that I have the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals, plus the World Cup, to provide excuses for not watching Rockies games for the next month. There's only so much a man can take.

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