This is how competitiveness ends. Not with a bang. But with a whimper.
On an “excuse me” check swing “oops” contact off the bat of Kris Bryant in the ninth inning in Milwaukee on Sunday, the Colorado Rockies hopes of getting back to competitiveness before the trade deadline were likely dashed.
It is debatable how achievable the goal was in the first place with the team hover around 10 games under .500 for most of July but a nice run of baseball put them a little closer going into the All-Star break and a nice run after it could have kept the hopes alive a bit longer.
But three straight painful losses to the Brewers have them right back at the 10 games under mark with another remaining against these same division leaders before returning home to finish the month against the White Sox and Dodgers.
Winning out for the month would still have them three games under and not in much of a position to switch from seller to buyer.
And, as anyone who is familiar with this team knows, they are not likely to be big sellers in the traditional sense. Unless another team out there goes out of their way to pay what they are worth C.J. Cron and Daniel Bard aren’t going anywhere.
This will perplex many and frustrate quite a few but the Rockies see these players as a part of their future and with good reason. The team will try to compete again next year, for better or for worse, and they are better equipped to do so with these two players than they are without them.
There is another crop of veterans, though, that Colorado should be aggressively shopping in hopes to pad the higher levels of their minor league system.
Jose Iglesias, Randal Grichuk, Alex Colome, and potentially Chad Kuhl are all intriguing candidates and we have covered the cases for and against trading each of them here previously.
Once that all begins to take hold, though, the Rockies need to take stock of their future in an honest way. It can be difficult through all the noise. It is remarkable how often a team that has been very clear about its intentions is accused of having no plan.
The issue is not that the Rockies don’t have an identity or a plan, the issue is that there is a disconnect between those ideologies and the reality playing out on the field.
While it was always a long shot that this version of the team was going to be able to compete for a postseason spot, there are plenty of elements that have not come together as intended.
Based on the pre-season data, this team should be hitting far more home runs and should have much better starting pitching.
No amount of movement at the trade deadline solves either of these issues.
Who the Rockies do and don’t move at this deadline won’t matter if they can’t put together a coaching staff and analytics team moving forward that can get the most out of each of their players.
“Have good pitchers. Hit home runs.” It’s a fine mantra to start. But it’s limited to your ability to…y’know…do those things.
Whether it was the time they couldn’t seem to field the baseball to save their lives or the myriad of constant random mistakes in now more than two dozen otherwise winnable games, this team has been playing under its ability all season. That isn’t a personnel problem, it a philosophical one.
The basic premise is still correct. You can pitch at Coors Field. In fact, you have to. You cannot try to outslug the opposition, as tempting as it may be.
But if you’re going to pull off that trick, everything needs to be working in the same direction.
And the single more important thing they can do for this franchise is finally make a full and real commitment to analytics and give that department the tools they need to help tackle their unique challenges.
Sure, the Rockies can do some reshuffling of the roster here in the next two weeks but the more important behind the scenes changes will need to come after that.