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|The Rockies can’t help themselves.
It wasn’t a sweet sixteen for the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
A six-game road trip against a bad New York Mets team and a very good St. Louis Cardinals team completed on Sunday with the Rockies returning to Denver without a single win. That team plane will land back in Denver without a single addition to the win column.
As another brutal September comes to an end, a few things shouldn’t be forgotten. The first, and perhaps the biggest issue with the road Rockies, has been their approach. Everyone wants to talk in depth about how to figure out the club’s hitting woes on the road, but no one mentions their approach.
On Sunday, the Rockies combined to strike out 16 times against Cardinals pitching. With all due respect to Colorado native and Cardinals starter Marco Gonzales, the Rockies weren’t facing Adam Wainwright on Sunday. The rookie made the Rockies look silly. But frankly, who hasn’t when the Rockies are wearing their gray pants?
Much of the discussion about the Rockies struggles comes from people debating the effects of playing in altitude, then going back to sea level where the ball seems to break more. That very much may be the case, but the reality is, this Rockies team doesn’t do the little things right at the plate to make the debate even reasonable to discuss the altitude effects.
Strikeouts have become a topic of many national baseball television shows. The number of K’s has gone through the roof in recent years. The Rockies are a part of that trend, but they have taken more than their fair share of strike three’s, especially in 2014.
When 16 of a team’s 27 outs in a single game come by strikeout, it suggests that the Rockies plate approach isn’t just poor, it is hideous. Too many Rockies are walking to the plate without the idea of getting the ball into play. They are swinging to pull the ball and hit it into the seats. This team isn’t working on hitting the ball the other way, moving a runner over and playing the game the way that it is meant to be played, they are too busy trying to pad their own stats.
To a certain degree, it becomes expected for a team that has no hope and has been playing for next year since June for players to start playing for themselves. In a league where average players make $8 million per year, the team goes out the window. Players start to think about themselves when their team is long out of the race and they are getting closer and closer to a date with free agency or arbitration. Winning at the big league level can happen a different year. Why would a player sacrifice his power numbers in order to advance a runner and make an out? With the finances of baseball, it just doesn’t make sense.
However, the Rockies need to evaluate both their control of the players and the character of who they are putting into the lineup. At some point, character shines through the most in the difficult situations. When a team is playing out the string, the guy who is still playing the game the right way is probably the guy who a team wants around when things are going well. When a player buys into the team’s culture and plays the game the right way, it says something about that guy.
The reality is, this season can’t end soon enough. What the Rockies do in the offseason will speak volumes for the direction of this franchise. This team is at a crossroads. Whether or not they continue down the same path or whether they reverse course and make the significant changes that are extremely necessary will tell fans how serious Dick Monfort and Rockies ownership are about being a contender.
The Rockies lost on Sunday. It was one of so many losses that they don’t seem to matter anymore. However, if the Rockies want to change that. If they want to become part of the conversation again in 2015, they need to play disciplined baseball. They haven’t done that for a while.