Colorado Rockies errors threaten to undo positive momentum

May 13, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black (10) before the game against the Kansas City Royals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of hours before the Colorado Rockies Friday night 14-10 loss to the Kansas City Royals, I asked manager Bud Black about the defensive miscues that have become prevalent parts of the team’s losses this season.

He said that he didn’t believe that there was necessarily any “commonality” between them all at this point, saying that each mistake needs to be evaluated on its own. Evaluated and addressed.

Black made it clear that he simply has not been happy with the club’s propensity to give up free bases and runs so far this season and it is easy to see why. In addition to it being inherently agonizing to watch, this is a team that needs to be solid in the fundamentals in order to achieve long-term success. And he knows it.

That’s why he admitted to being “frustrated” and “surprised” by their performance. They then proceeded to take the field and lose by four, surrendering six unearned runs. This is the point.

Pitchers are going to have bad nights. As Black would say, “That’s baseball.” Offenses will go cold. That, too, is just baseball. Six unearned runs cannot be “just baseball” for an MLB team without star talent or overwhelming depth.

This is a conversation I’ve had with the Rockies manager several times over the years and during them, he has often been reluctant to label too many things as “mental” errors. But not this time. “That’s what we can’t have,” he says.

Again, the physical mistakes are going to happen. The ball will get kicked around or bounce off the lip of the grass or take a funky hop off the heel of the glove. 

But take, for example, two plays from early in the contest with the Royals where decisions made by Yonathan Daza and Brendan Rodgers ended up hurting the team. Daza was slow to get a throw back in and the Royals took a base and a run and Rodgers, after booting one, made an ill-advised throw home that only compounded the issue.

These types of plays, and the botched Ryan McMahon double play that led to four runs in the seventh when zero might have scored, feel like a team trying to be too perfect all the time.

Black agrees with the assessment that on paper this team should be better than this, too.

Sure, when they ultimately moved on from players like Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, they knew they were going to take a step back defensively. Much has been made, especially by yours truly, about the lack of elite level defenders and the Rockies limited ability to make the extraordinary play to bail their pitcher out of a jam.

That said, at every position they have players with resumes to suggest they ought to at the very least be able to make the vast majority of the routine plays and that they certainly shouldn’t be making these kinds of blunders regularly.

On paper, Charlie Blackmon in right field is the worst defender they have and even he hasn’t been prone to this type of terrible play before this season.

It seems to be contagious. But it also has never been their normal.

It’s hard to say exactly what is causing it or how long it will last but the fact is that it simply can’t happen if this team wants to go anywhere.

No amount of getting Kris Bryant back or getting German Marquez right can overcome six unearned runs in a series let alone a game. 

If they can’t get it together on the fundamentals, they’re dream of shocking the league will remain a dream.

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