September 16, 2011
As the regular season winds down, 22 teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategery.
But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to detain their squads for the equivalent of a Saturday morning detention stay.
Up next in our series is our own Mark Townsend, the Colorado Rockies' expert around these parts. After another season of watching the best shortstop in baseball, he thinks it should be renamed the "Tullet."
Attention! I said attention Colorado Rockies!
No, don't you give me that look. You're not getting off the hook this time. No chance. I have been far too lenient with you these past two seasons. Why? Because I believed in you. Because you've shown me in the past you could learn from your mistakes and correct yourself in time for a strong finish.
But no more. My faith in you has not been rewarded. Instead, you have taken advantage of it and probably laughed about it behind my back. You're very clearly a changed baseball team, and I'm not falling for it again. Yes, you fooled me one season. Shame on you. You won't fool me again this season.
I've had it up to here with your cavalier attitude and your willing acceptance of mediocrity. My tolerance for the continued deterioration of your fundamentals will now cease. Your days of taking extended naps — innings at a time — are done. I demand better than that. We all demand better than that.
Every time myself, this loyal fanbase, and baseball experts across the country dare raise our expectations of you, you let us all down. You are 18 years old, and you have still never won the National League West. It's time to grow up and achieve something.
No, I'm far from done. You will sit here. You will listen to everything I have to say. You will think about everything I have to say. And you will come back here next spring a better baseball team.
The punishable offenses: Gentlemen, I have never seen worse base running at any level of baseball than what you've exhibited this season. I look around this room and I see Dexter Fowler(notes), maybe the best athlete to walk these halls, and he needs a GPS to get from one base to the next. Study! Spend an offseason with a tutor that has a proven track record as a base stealer.
But before you take that step, be sure you can grasp the very basics of base running. For example, never make the final out of an inning — or game — at third base.
Ian Stewart(notes), man, what happened to you? This was suppose to be your big leap year into superstardom, and instead you fell off the earth. ZERO home runs? A batting average well shy of the Mendoza Line? Very disappointing, but I guess we should have known you weren't the most alert guy in the classroom.
But it's not just the guys on the field making mistakes here. Yes, Dan O'Dowd, I see you back there. For the second straight offseason, you handicapped your manager by miscasting veterans as utility players. This year, your major gaffes were Jose Lopez(notes) and Ty Wigginton(notes). Lopez had absolutely nothing to offer coming off an abysmal 2010 in Seattle, and Wigginton getting starts in left field at Coors Field? How did you expect that to go?
And then you bring in Felipe Paulino(notes). That move I actually applauded initially because he felt like a perfect fit at the back of the rotation. Of course you immediately moved him to the bullpen, where he predictably fell apart and was released by May 22. Since then, he has been reborn with the Kansas City Royals, as a starter, where he belonged all along.
Partners in crime: Now, I will acknowledge you haven't been responsible for all of your deficiencies. None of us were expecting Jorge De La Rosa's(notes) ulnar collateral ligament to pop back in May. When we first saw the grimace on his face, and heard the news later that evening, we all went into a state of panic.
That was, until Juan Nicasio(notes) showed up to take his place and earned my respect quicker than any new Rockie I can remember in a long time. Kid, you really gave us a tremendous lift during that time and were a true bright spot. To then lose you in the manner we did was the lowest point of the season for reasons that go well beyond baseball. We remain hopeful you can resume your career and become an even better story and a bigger fan favorite in the coming years.
Something to build on: As you know, we've had to expel several players this season. Most of them we couldn't show the door fast enough, but we also had to part with the first and only ace we've known in these parts, Ubaldo Jimenez(notes). That wasn't easy, but unfortunately it was a necessary step in our attempts to rebuild for long-term success.
In return we've landed Drew Pomeranz(notes) and Alex White(notes) from the Cleveland Indians. If all goes according to plan, those two young men, along with Jhoulys Chacin(notes), will be cornerstones in our rotation for years to come. We've also seen glimpses into our future with the strong performance of Rex Brothers(notes) in the bullpen, and we hope that young catching prospect Wilin Rosario(notes) and jack-of-all-trades Jordan Pacheco(notes) can continue their growth and fill supporting roles in next season's lineup.
And hey, as long as we're penciling in Troy Tulowitzki(notes) and Carlos Gonzalez(notes) every day, this team has a legitimate chance to contend with anyone. We just need guys around them that share their drive and can feed of off or complement their talents.
I'm keeping the rest of you here because I don't honestly know what your future holds with the Rockies. I'm expecting a lot of turnover this offseason, and as we currently stand, you're all expendable. I'm just being honest, and I don't feel bad saying that because you've brought it on yourself.
Listen, somehow, someway, an impact bat needs to be added to this lineup. Whether we have to deal one or two of you to receive that, sign one, or better yet, one of you wants to step up into that role, we can't move forward without it. Let's face it, when one or both of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez catch fire, this lineup clicks. But the problem is both of them have gone cold at the same for extended periods the past two seasons.
That, and we have to protect against one of CarGo's inevitable collisions with an outfield fence that knocks him out for three days to three weeks at a time.
We're also in dire need of a veteran starter to serve as insurance in case one or both of De La Rosa or Nicasio can't return to form. To make that happen, we'll probably have to dump at least one of our well paid relievers, in addition to Aaron Cook(notes), As you saw walking here, Cook's locker is already cleaned out, so he knows his days are numbered.
Now I want you to sit there and ponder if your days are numbered. I want you to understand in two seasons, we've gone from contenders to completely irrelevant in a very winnable division. What was your role in that decline? Why were you unable to focus, stay hungry and perform well for six months in a season many people felt this division was yours for the taking?
Right here, right now, is the time to begin your self evaluation and the time to figure out how you're going to contribute positively in 2012. When you think you've found the answer, write it down and put it on my desk on your way out the door.
And yes, you each have to write your own.
Read more from Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here.