BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
There have been roster changes with the Rockies this year.
It’s a refreshing change of pace for an organization that has been complacent.
If a player doesn’t produce, he loses his gig to another player.
That was evident again yesterday when the Rockies designated Eric Young Jr. for assignment after not producing offensively. He became expendable after Tyler Colvin homered twice and drove in six RBIs since his callup on Saturday.
It was a move the Rockies had to make.
There is no question Young Jr. is a great guy as Rockies TV play-by-play announcer Drew Goodman gushed many times on the telecast last night, but he becomes useless if he is known to bunt to get hits. He hasn’t given the Rockies anything on offense, so it was easy for him to lose his job for a player that is better offensively in Colvin.
It was amazing how Colvin did not make the team based on what he can do offensively.
This isn’t the first move they made with a player that is not producing.
They released Jon Garland on Saturday after being 4-6 in 12 starts with a 6.81 ERA over his last seven starts. He was giving them nothing after he displayed lack of command when he was on the mound.
The Rockies knew it wasn’t getting better, so rather than let him work out his problems, they gave up on him.
If this was last year, he would be pitching with no consequences no matter how bad he was pitching.
Jeff Francis is the next starter to lose his spot in the rotation as soon as Roy Oswalt is called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Francis has been awful this season. He has a 6.30 ERA in 9 games, and he has not had the command that made him successful. He hasn’t gone deep in games, either. He can’t get by throwing 30 pitches to get by early in the game.
It’s hard for him to justify being in the rotation.
Jhoulys Chacin could be another guy losing his role if Drew Pomeranz is ready to pitch in the majors.
Chacin hasn’t deserved to stay in the rotation with the way he has pitched this season. Before Tuesday night’s start, he hasn’t won since April.
It’s hard to believe the Rockies are going to be patient with him if he continues to struggle and loses focus every fifth day.
No one figured Nolan Arenado would be called up in April, but that’s exactly what happened.
The Rockies had enough of Chris Nelson’s poor performance at the plate, so he was designated for assignment. They figured Arenado could learn on the job by being an everyday player in April rather than wait for the summer.
It’s been great to see the Rockies behave like a professional franchise by showing accountability for guys that are not producing.
That’s the way it should be.
Professional sports are about results. It’s about guys that are supposed to be their best players on the 25-man roster.
Now, there are exceptions. There is no way Todd Helton is losing his starting job to Jordan Pacheco, especially with him retiring at the end of the season. Besides, he does add value by playing good defensively at first, and he can still get hits.
Outside of Helton, no one can complain about the Rockies running a country club anymore.
Last year was tough to take. They had the most losses in franchise history last year by losing 98 games. Guys did not suffer the consequences of playing bad baseball and not hustling in games. There were guys who did not seem to get worked up.
It was hard to get interested.
Rockies owner Dick Monfort promised this year would be different when the season started. He was embarrassed about what took place on the field last year.
He certainly backed up his words with the team making so many transactions with their own players.
It’s about time the Rockies change the way they do business at 20th and Blake Street.
Whether the moves work or not is not the point.
It’s about marginal guys knowing they shouldn’t be comfortable just being on the roster.
They have to know they have to do what it takes to stay in the majors.
Accountability is the first step for a team to be a winning franchise.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
The Rockies’ starting rotation was off to a great start to the season.
The starters gave the Rockies a chance to win by performing quality starts. That was why the Rockies were off to a 13-4 start in April.
Since then, they have been mediocre at best with the exception of Jorge De La Rosa, who is 7-3 with a 3.38 ERA.
That is not going to cut it if the Rockies want to be a playoff team.
That’s why there is going to be several changes in the starting rotation.
It’s a move the Rockies have to make if they are going to win ballgames.
The first move was done last night when the Rockies designated Jon Garland for assignment. That move came to make room for Jeff Francis after he was activated from the disabled list.
Garland struggled since May by losing five straight games. His ERA ballooned to 5.82, and he had a 6.81 ERA over his last seven starts. He was 4-6 after 12 starts.
He struggled to find his location, and he was constantly behind the count often. He couldn’t get groundouts. He was a good bet to give up 7 hits at least when he was starting. He had a hard time retiring guys in order.
The Rockies hoped he would straighten himself out, but it never happened. They couldn’t justify keeping him in the rotation anymore.
The Rockies are disappointed it did not work out. They were hoping Garland would give them innings, quality starts and victories. They thought he would be a veteran that would create stability in the rotation.
They tried hard to get a starter in the offseason, but that did not materialize.
They signed Garland as a free agent after the Mariners released him in spring training. They liked what they saw from him when he went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts. He held the opposition to three runs on 10 hits with five walks and four strikeouts over 12 innings.
It was a good signing at the time, and he was off to a good start in April. Everything fell apart unfortunately, so the Rockies will move on.
With the way Tyler Chatwood pitched since his callup by going 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA in six starts, the Rockies found their replacement for Garland.
There are going to be more changes to come.
Francis is on the verge of losing his role in the rotation.
He had the pressure of holding on to his job after being activated from the disabled list. That’s a tough position to be, but that’s the way it goes in professional sports. He knows it.
Francis struggled last night.
He gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, and he walked three. He finished the game by throwing 93 pitches in four innings.
To be fair to Francis, it was going to take time for him to get back on track after missing time with a left groin strain.
With Roy Oswalt pitching well at Double-A Tulsa, it is going to be a matter of time until he gets called up.
This leaves no room for error for Francis, who has not pitched well before he was designated on the disabled list.
The Rockies can’t keep Francis in the rotation when he has a 6.30 ERA in 9 games. He can’t be on the rotation when he can only pitch for four or five innings at best. He is useless if he is struggling to face batters second time around.
Drew Pomeranz will be called up soon. With him pitching well at 7-1 in the 12 games he pitched at Colorado Springs, the organization feels he is ready to step up in the starting rotation.
Considering how awful Jhoulys Chacin has pitched, Pomeranz is the right guy to replace him.
They can’t justify keeping Chacin in the rotation if he continues to struggle.
Chacin can’t protect leads, and he struggles to get hitters out once he faces them for the second time in the game.
Chacin is 3-3 in 11 games with a 4.59 ERA, and he has given up a combined 10 runs and 16 hits in his last two starts. He hasn’t gotten guys out on strikeouts much this year, either.
The Rockies thought he could be their ace, but results say differently.
Chacin could be another guy losing his gig.
Juan Nicasio hasn’t been great shakes, but at least, he finds a way to win and get out of jams. He gives the Rockies a better chance to win than Chacin.
Who knows what Chatwood, Oswalt and Pomeranz can do?
As good as Chatwood has been, it remains to be seen is he can sustain his good performance for months.
He is the Rockies’ second best pitcher, but that’s not saying much. He still has something to prove.
Oswalt has not pitched well in recent years, so the Rockies are going on a limb with him. It’s hard to believe he can do much.
Pomeranz has the potential to be a good pitcher, but he has to show he has the mindset to pitch in the altitude.
Despite doubts about those guys, the Rockies should give them a chance to show what they can do.
They saw what Garland, Francis and Chacin can do. The results have not been pretty.
It’s time to try something new.
Everyone knew the Rockies’ starting rotation was a question mark to start the season.
The organization knew they were going to make changes with their rotation as the season went on.
That time has come.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
In the offseason, the Rockies searched for a veteran starter that would provide stability in the starting rotation by winning and doling out quality starts every fifth day.
They explored all avenues until they settled on Jon Garland to be that guy by signing him in the middle of spring training after the Mariners released him. They thought he would be the guy.
So much for that.
With Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz waiting to be called up from the minors, Garland could be losing his spot in the starting rotation after he struggled again in the Rockies’ 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks last night at Coors Field.
Garland gave up five runs on 11 hits in six innings as he took the loss. He had a hard time finding the location of the strike zone. He was giving up hits in every inning with the exception of the first inning.
This has been typical of him lately. He has struggled in his last four starts, and his ERA is 5.19 after last night’s horrible outing.
This is not what the Rockies envisioned when they signed him.
It is surprising Garland has struggled lately. He always had a good command when he is out on the mound. He is a wily veteran that knows how to pitch out of jams.
It was why the Rockies thought he was a good fit.
They also thought Garland’s sinker would be effective at Coors Field.
That hasn’t been the case lately. He is not getting the groundouts that would help him be effective.
Garland came up with an excuse in his start against the Cubs last week. He cited that it’s hard to be effective when he is on an innings limit. The Rockies take their starters out once they hit 100 pitches.
Garland feels that he has to think about throwing eight to 10 pitches rather than go out and be aggressive. He worries about pitch count rather than pitching on the mound.
That’s what pitchers say when they are frustrated. They come up with excuses for their struggles.
Garland’s job is to find the right spots to throw strikes. He is not getting it done. It’s surprising he did not blame Wilin Rosario for his control problems after throwing several wild pitches last night.
Garland can’t be making excuses in this situation. He has to pitch better, and he has to find his location.
Maybe it’s a mechanics issue with him. Something is not right.
The Rockies and Garland have to hope this is a bad stretch and nothing more.
They are going to give him a chance to figure it out. He has done enough to earn an opportunity to straighten the kinks.
Still, this is a result-oriented business.
If the Rockies can find someone else that can do better, that’s what they are going to do.
The problem is Pomeranz and Oswalt are no better.
Pomeranz has the potential to be an effective starter, but it remains to be seen if he has it in him to be a good pitcher at Coors Field.
Oswalt is washed up. He struggled in the last two years. For the Rockies to think he will be effective now, that’s laughable.
Tyler Chatwood could be a mainstay in the rotation if he pitches well, but he is a question mark. He has struggled to find his niche as a starter in the majors. He has a hard time finding the right location to pitch.
The Rockies have to hope Garland can get it together if they are going to win ballgames.
He is capable of pitching better. He showed that in April. There’s no reason to think he will fall apart altogether.
Keep in mind Garland hasn’t pitch last year, so he was going to have his down period this year.
The Rockies don’t have time to wait. They feel they have the right personnel to be a playoff team. They are going to do what it takes to win ballgames.
It’s hard to argue about their decision.
Garland is pitching for his job, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his next start is his last.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
Being realistic is a good thing.
It means no one can be disappointed at the outcome. It makes life easy that way.
While most folks around the country are optimistic about their baseball teams, the Rockies fans are not.
In fact, the Rockies are not, either.
The Rockies and their fans know this season will be another long season.
The Rockies are the favorites to be in last place in 2013. Talk about a buzzkill. This happens every year, too.
Give the organization credit for being honest about themselves rather than selling false hope. They know they are not better than the Giants, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres. They are not fooling anyone when they don’t have starting pitching.
Yes, the Rockies have a great lineup. That’s good enough to win their fair share of games, but they are going to need quality starting pitching on a consistent basis for them to have a winning season. That’s not happening.
With the Rockies, it’s Jeff Francis, Jon Garland and pray for rain. It’s hard to have a winning season that way.
Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio are question marks to round out the rotation.
The Rockies like to think Chacin is an ace after winning 11 games two years ago. They cite his ability to throw strikeouts after throwing 150 strikeouts two years ago.
With that said, he struggled in spring training after he was hit hard with an 8.44 ERA to show for it. His changeup was ineffective. In his final spring training start, he was rocked for 10 hits and six earned runs in five innings. That was against the Athletics’ B team.
It makes one wonder why Chacin is making an Opening Day start against the Brewers. He hasn’t earned it. This was about the organization demonstrating faith that he has what it takes to be an ace, and they hope Chacin can gain confidence from that.
Maybe this works tomorrow afternoon. We’ll see.
Francis should have started Opening Day for the Rockies. He is their best pitcher. He gives them a chance to win by giving out a quality start. He knows how to win games based on his experience for many years.
It’s not only Chacin that is a question mark. The Rockies like to think De La Rosa is their second best starter. Maybe he is, but he is always hurt. Who knows if he can be healthy? He also can let his struggles get the best of him during the course of the game.
Nicasio is not a starting material. Outside of his fastball, he does not have secondary pitches to get hitters out when they face him for the second time in the game. That’s why he does not go deep in games.
He is a reliever at best. It’s remarkable why he is in the rotation. As bad as Drew Pomeranz is, he is better than Nicasio.
It shows how the Rockies feel about Pomeranz’s lack of development for him to not be in the starting rotation over Nicasio.
When looking at the question marks in the starting rotation, it’s easy to ask why the Rockies did not do enough to get a starting pitcher. It shouldn’t take until last week to find a starter, and they found one in Garland after he was released by the Mariners.
The bullpen should be good. Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle, Wilton Lopez and Rafael Betancourt can be relied upon to protect leads late in the game.
The Rockies have a great lineup with Dexter Fowler, Josh Rutledge, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco leading the way. That’s something they don’t have to worry about.
That lineup is so good that Walt Weiss is hoping his team can outscore the other team to win games. That’s a depressing outlook for the first-year Rockies manager. He knows his starting pitching is not good enough for him to say his team will rely on his hitting to win games. He is smart enough to know a baseball team wins games through good starting pitching.
As for Weiss, he will do a fine job as a manager. He will get his team to play for him. His teams will execute well on defense.
That wasn’t the case when Jim Tracy was the Rockies manager in the last few years. Talk about how he got them to the playoffs in 2009, but the players were so fed up with Clint Hurdle that they wanted to prove he was why the team underachieved.
Once Tracy was the full-time manager in 2010, the team quit on him for the last three years. They never executed the fundamentals, and they often approached the game with no sense of urgency.
They hope Weiss can make the team fundamentally sound. They hope he can develop players.
He will do that, but he can’t make miracles out of that awful starting rotation. No manager can. If a pitcher can’t pitch, there’s nothing a manager can do.
It’s remarkable why Weiss wants to manage the Rockies. That said, they are giving him a shot to learn on the job. He’s not going to turn that down. He would love to see what he can do with this team.
The Rockies are good enough to win 74 games at best. If Weiss can get them to do that, he did a good job considering that’s the best he could with a flawed starting rotation.
That’s not good enough for the fans. That’s not good enough for the organization.
It’s about having winning seasons. It’s about playing in the playoffs. It’s about hope.
The Rockies don’t have any of that going for them.
No wonder why the organization and the fans are not excited about what should be another long season.
Maybe one day there will be a reason to be.
After all this talk about the Rockies being committed to upgrading their starting rotation this offseason, they finally did it.
They signed Jon Garland to a major-league contract on Sunday. He was available after the Mariners released him on Saturday.
It’s easy for anyone to ask why Garland is available if he is so good.
He was available after the Mariners had no room for him in the rotation. They want couple of young starters such as Brandon Maurer and Blake Beaven in their back end of the rotation, so they can develop them this season.
Garland did well in spring training by going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts. He held the opposition to three runs on 10 hits with five walks and four strikeouts over 12 innings this spring.
After missing last year with shoulder surgery, he has recovered well based on his strong command this month. That’s good enough for the Rockies.
At this point, Garland and Jeff Francis are guys that the Rockies could depend on to get quality starts. The rest are questions marks when one looks at the fact Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Drew Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio have been inconsistent on the mound this spring training.
Garland will be starting next week for the Rockies after Pomeranz was sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the season.
It was a move the Rockies had to make. Pomeranz has not earned the right to be in the rotation based on his spotty performances this season, and the Rockies had to find someone who can get the job done on the mound.
The Rockies will talk about Pomeranz being sent down to work on his changeup, but that’s all spin.
If Pomeranz was not having control problems, he would be in the starting rotation, not pitching at Colorado Springs.
Pomeranz and the Rockies should be disappointed that this has not worked out.
The Rockies wanted him to develop this year, but it’s clear he is not qualified to pitch in the majors when he continues to display control problems.
As for Pomeranz, he has to wonder if he has to go elsewhere to fulfill his potential. It hasn’t happened for him with the Rockies.
Good for the Rockies for wanting better from their starting rotation. This shouldn’t be about developing starters while the team continues to lose games.
Guys have to be on the rotation based on merit, not because they are learning on the job.
The Rockies can’t afford to have another season like last year with guys struggling on the mound. It makes the team unwatchable. It’s refreshing they decided to change course by going with a proven pitcher in Garland.
Here’s why there is so much to like about this signing:
Garland pitched in the NL West in recent years as a member of the Dodgers and Padres.
He averages 12 wins a year.
He gives the Rockies innings by pitching 200 or more innings a year.
He is a sinkerball pitcher with a career 1.31 groundball-to-flyball rate, which will be useful when he pitches at Coors Field.
There are questions if Garland can be the same pitcher after shoulder surgery. Like most pitchers, there will be doubts whether or not he can pitch well at Coors Field.
That’s fair, but if a guy of Garland’s caliber is available, the Rockies would be fools to say no.
They need someone who can help them win games, and that’s the bottom line when it comes to this signing.
Credit Garland for wanting the challenge of pitching at Coors Field. Most guys shy away from it with the idea they can never succeed there. It’s surprising he wanted to pitch there.
It’s been an exhausting search for the Rockies front office to find a competent starter. There hasn’t been any starter that was a fit to their liking.
They were fortunate to find out Garland was available, and they were quick to sign him before other teams did.
Now, they have to hope he does not flame out for them like other starters did as Rockies.
God knows the Rockies need to form a rotation that provides stability. There have been too many changes in the rotation during the course of the season. That has to end sooner or later.
That’s one reason the Rockies signed Garland.
Whether it works or not, the Rockies should be commended for being proactive in fixing their rotation. It beats watching an unproven pitcher trying to figure it out. That gets old after awhile.
Pomeranz’s struggles were something the organization couldn’t handle anymore.
Maybe he figures it out eventually, but the Rockies don’t have time to wait.
They are in the business of winning games, and that’s what Garland’s signing was about.