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Second half is about what direction the Colorado Rockies will take in 2016

David Martin Avatar
July 17, 2015

 

Break’s over, back to reality.

For fans of many baseball teams around the country, the four-day All-Star break is way too long. Their team is in the thick of a pennant race and they are dying to see their team keep the momentum going.

For fans of the Colorado Rockies, the break is a much-needed breath of fresh air from another season that will end fruitlessly.

The Rockies finished the first half of the season an embarrassing 39-49, 11 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the National League West. While no one suggested that the Rockies were going to contend for their first-ever division crown, the talk for three years has been about how good this team would be if both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez were healthy. Well, they’ve both been healthy and the Rockies are in a familiar position in the basement of the NL West.

With the All-Star break in the rearview mirror, and the hope of a playoff appearance all but a complete pipe dream, the Rockies are left to figure out the purpose for the final 74 games of the season.

For as bad as the record looks, there are actually some positives for this team to build on. Besides a terrible six-game road trip through Miami and Houston, the Rockies have been decent on the road. Their 18-25 record away from Coors Field might not look all that great, but considering that they won just 21 games on the road a year ago, the 18 wins at the break is a huge step forward.

The club has also seen some positive signs from the moves that new general manager Jeff Bridich has made. Completely under the radar, the Rockies signed catcher Nick Hundley to a 2-year agreement in the off-season. It happened over the holidays and barely registered a blip on the radar. However, Hundley has been a huge contributor for the Rockies. His .309 batting average and .815 OPS was far better than anyone from the Rockies could have anticipated when they signed him to essentially give them the depth to move Wilin Rosario out from behind the plate.

Another move that Bridich made was signing John Axford to a minor league deal. The formerly-washed up closer has been a huge pickup for the Rockies, blowing only one save in 14 chances.

What both Hundley and Axford do for the team is give them a player or two that could be a strong contributor to a contending team at the trade deadline. Both of those guys have value in and of themselves, however, when a team believes that one more piece might be what pushes them over the top, they are often willing to part with some key guys on the farm in order to win right away. If a team views Hundley, and more specifically Axford as that guy, the Rockies could re-stock the farm system in a hurry.

The second half of the season should also allow fans to see what they have in their top draft pick from two years ago, Jon Gray. The big righty out of Oklahoma has made a huge improvement in his Triple-A numbers since May and looks like he is as ready as he will ever be. Gray is the guy who Rockies fans feel could instantly make them a better team. With him on the mound every fifth day, the Rockies could stop plenty of the losing momentum that hasn’t been able to be stopped so far in 2015.

For Rockies fans, it certainly is tough. It’s another year that has a predictable ending. Just four short years ago, the Rockies looked poised to be one of the top teams in the National League for the foreseeable future. They had two rising super-stars and guys in the minor leagues that were nearly ready. Four years later, the Rockies look like they haven’t had a plan. They look like are not only far from contenders, but far from even being respectable. While there is talent in the minor league system, most of it is not quite to Double-A, meaning there is still some time reserved for the struggles.

It might not be easy for Rockies fans to hang in and watch the club play every night. The losing certainly gets old. However, for the fans who can hang on, it will make it taste so much better when this Rockies team finally is good enough to win on a consistent basis. Whether that is two years from now or 20 years from now, the fans who suffered through the misery will enjoy the success so much more than those who came back when the team started winning.

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