As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
Meanwhile, the fans of those squads are looking at the prospect of spending the winter without the warmth of a postseason appearance. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're asking a blogger from each team to write a cathartic missive to their disappointing 2010 lineups.
Dear Colorado Rockies,
I had such high hopes for us.
I say that knowing we have had our ups and downs, further downs, and rock bottoms over the years, but I really thought we had turned a corner. I thought we were heading towards something special.
You proved me wrong.
You made me feel so stupid for thinking you had changed. I thought you were ready to give it your all this time. Not just for a few unbelievable weeks or months, but for an entire season. No letdowns or moments of weakness, just six months of rock solid baseball.
But you couldn't do it. For another season, you didn't have it in you. That disappoints me so much, because I really believed the hype. I bought all the way in. Now I have to be honest with you, it's going to be a long time — at least five months — before I can trust you again.
I'm going to need some time to myself.
I have a fantasy football team that needs managing. I have a treadmill I need to get reacquainted with. I haven't updated my Facebook status in six months. I have sacrificed all of those things for you, and you couldn't even give me a season series victory over Pittsburgh.
The Good Times: Alright, so there was that one special night in April when we visited Atlanta. They say you never forget your first time. They're right — I will never forget Ubaldo Jimenez throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history on that night. It was amazing. Better than I ever imagined it would be.
Ubaldo followed that up with a series of performances that were almost as incredible. Because of that, he became the first Rockie pitcher to start an All-Star Game.
The times we spent at home were all very positive. In particular, sweeping St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta and San Diego all while they were in first place. The magical month of August for Carlos Gonzalez(notes) (featuring a walk-off cycle completing HR). The other-worldly power numbers from Troy Tulowitzki(notes) in September and the 10-game winning streak that accompanied it. I'll never forget those times.
Nor will I forget the day Chris Nelson stole our hearts, the unexpected emergence of Jonathan Herrera, or the outstanding work of our most consistent performer the first five months of the season: Matt Belisle.
The Bad Times: Spring training wasn't even a week old when Huston Street(notes) knocked on the trainer's door with a sore pitching shoulder. He would spend the next few weeks going back and forth between that training room and an MRI machine.
Unfortunately, no treatment, or four completely clean MRIs, could convince him that his shoulder was fine. Your season began unraveling right then. That's because the closer's job was left in the hands of a young, often erratic hard-throwing lefty by the name of Franklin Morales(notes). It didn't work.
Not long (though not soon enough) after being handed that closer's job, you demoted Morales to a setup role, then a long reliever role, then the mopup role, and then optioned him to Triple-A.
There were so many awful road trips. Going 3-4 through Chicago, Houston and Kansas City seemed like a disaster at the time, but that one actually looked pretty freaking fantastic when compared to the 10 games immediately following the all-star break — a 2-8 jaunt through Cincinnati, Florida and Philadelphia.
That trip will always be summed up in two words: Donnie Who?
The August trip through Pittsburgh and New York. So much heartbreak. Pedro Alvarez's walk-off on that Saturday night still stings to this day. 'Duk and Dave know what I'm talking about ... they were there. So was this guy.
That was the day I knew you didn't have it. I promised myself I wouldn't get suckered in again, but you know I did. I was all in during the 10-game September winning streak. And then you went into Arizona and got swept. Season over.
Seriously, Rockies. If you could have played like anything better than total garbage on the road. If you wouldn't have consistently made guys like James McDonald(notes), Carlos Silva(notes), Brian Bannister(notes), Felipe Paulino(notes), and Brian Moehler(notes) look like Roy Halladay(notes), I wouldn't be writing this letter!
It Wasn't All You: But it was definitely more you than it was anything or anyone else.
I do acknowledge some of the bad luck you encountered throughout the process ... like 80 percent of the planned starting rotation spending time on the DL. Only Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) made every start he was scheduled to.
All three starting outfielders missed time after running into a wall. I never find fault in giving it your all. That said, try to at least limit these collisions going forward. The warning track serves a purpose. Use it to your advantage.
Shape Up Or Ship Out: This isn't the NBA, where three superstars all but guarantees a trip to the finals. In baseball, it gives you a great chance to win on a given day, but continued reliance on three men over 162 games is unsustainable and unrealistic.
Please get Ubaldo, Troy and CarGo some help.
A lot of that help will have to come naturally and from within, which is why I encourage you to make a complete and honest assessment of the entire coaching staff, with an eye towards their developmental skills.
Start at the top. Jim Tracy may not be completely at fault for your shortcomings, but there's no denying he's failed everywhere he has gone. We're seeing firsthand that he hasn't learned from his past mistakes.
Don Baylor (hitting coach) was the first piece of furniture we owned. We moved him to the basement for a few years before bringing him back to the living room. Now I think it's time we put him to the curb.
It's time to be completely honest about Todd Helton(notes). He needs more than a caddie (like Jason Giambi(notes)) if we plan on contending in 2011, he needs a full-time tag team partner that he can tag in and out with 3-4 times a week. Preferably this man will be right-handed and I wouldn't be offended if this man took 60 percent of the starts.
Some more pitching wouldn't hurt either. We came into 2010 feeling like we had our deepest, most talented staff to date. That proved to be true, but guess what? We still ran out of pitchers in September. Now Jorge De La Rosa(notes) is unlikely to return, Jeff Francis(notes) is questionable at best (just in general), Jason Hammel's(notes) arm died, and Aaron Cook(notes) is sink or stink with no in between.
With young arms like Tyler Matzek and Christian Friedrich(notes) still at least a year away, you may have to pull a starting pitching version of Matt Belisle(notes) out of your hat. If you pull out two that would be even better.
Listen — I know it sounds like I'm asking for a lot from you this winter, but that's only because I really care about you. Our window to get this right isn't guaranteed to stay open forever (or past next year). You have to act fast, act effectively, and get this thing right.
The decisions you make over the next five months could be the most important decisions of your life. No pressure, though.
See you next April,
* * *
Follow Mark on Twitter — @Townie813
Read Big League Stew's previous Dear John letters here.