July in Major League Baseball means two things: the All-Star game and the non-waiver trade deadline. This is the time of year when the best of the best in baseball gather to play a game, while the GMs who mean to contend honker down and figure out what pieces they will need to carry their teams through the second half of the season and into the playoffs.
For the Colorado Rockies, who got off to a hot-start that lasted a whopping week, the non-waiver trade deadline is the last chance to make something out of a season that nosedived quickly. After three months of playing ball, the Rockies are 11 games behind the division-leading Dodgers and consistently losing more games than they're winning. Despite playing well at times, the Rockies have been inconsistent both on the mound and at the plate.
Fans of the Rockies quickly went from excited to despairing, hoping that our offense merely had yet to click, and would soon morph into the high-octane offense displayed in April 2014. We're still waiting, but no one is holding their breath.
The Rockies put a together a stellar draft this season that saw the organization come away having signed a handful of the top available athletes. This gives me room to hope that our new General Manager, Jeff Bridich, is trying to turn the organization around. His biggest obstacle? The owner.
My hope has been Bridich can slowly make owner Dick Monfort realize that making moves to change the team is a good thing. Make a good trade, and your team will improve. Show fans an interest in improving and you'll sell more tickets. Make the playoffs and you'll sell yet even more tickets. That's just good baseball business.
At this stage, the only hope to save the season is to make a move or two. Building a winning team can take a few years. Yet our organization has shown no discernible plan to this point on how to turn things around, and with the way things are currently going, all we are on the path to do as of now is to repeat last year's season.
Last year at this time, the Rockies were in a dire situation, yet no mid-season trades were made. Rumors floated about other teams showing interest in Drew Stubbs, a back-up outfielder who showed a rejuvenation in offense last season. They didn't move on him, and this season the Rockies are paying him almost $6 million, six times the amount of starters DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado (both of whom won Gold Gloves last year), put together. To make matters worse, Stubbs just rejoined the big league club after spending six weeks in Triple-A Albuquerque to regain his confidence after hitting well below .200 for the first month and a half of the season. Meanwhile, Arenado looks to be a lock for another Gold Glove and is leading the MLB in RBIs, while LeMahieu is having a breakout offensive year. But sure, let's pay the backup outfielder more money to go play in the minors.
6 starting pitchers hit the DL last year, exposing the lack of depth at the position and the lack of planning the Rockies had put into the future of the ballclub's pitching. Tyler Matzek, Christian Bergman, and Eddie Butler were all promoted from the minors to fill in. None are currently in the rotation; Bergman has become a reliever, and both Matzek and Butler were returned to the minors after struggling through major command issues to start this season.
Butler, who joined the Rockies from the Double-A team last year, was a lights out pitcher for the Double-A team and looked to have an exciting future, which may now be ruined by the fact that the Rockies called him up without him ever pitching a game for Triple-A and expecting him to be successful at the Major League level before he was ready. A trade or two last season could have avoided some of these pitfalls. Last year when the organization scrambled to address the problem, every solution they threw at the problem turned out to be short-term, and has created more long-term repercussions.
Equally as inconsistent as the pitching has been the offensive lineup; the team has returned to losing close games because the bats are quiet. They’ve had numerous games where they’ve only scrambled up four or five hits total, and none come in the same inning.
The Rockies need a plan; as things stand right now, the farm teams aren't it and likely won't be for at least a few more years. A good trade (or two) could bring in a good pitcher or a hot hitter. Right now, I think one of each (at least) is in order, before the season really is too far gone.