“It’s got to get better. It’s got to get a hell of a lot better.”
Jim Tracy delivered that quote in reference to Wilin Rosario’s past ball issues this past weekend. He followed it by benching Rosario on Monday. He was “sending a message,” as they call it in the ‘biz.
Then Ramon Hernandez injured his left hamstring and Rosario was inserted back behind the plate. While Hernandez awaits the results of an MRI, Tracy announced that utility man Jordan Pacheco, who has mostly played third and first base this season, will serve as backup catcher while Rosario resumes everyday duties.
To recap: the Rockies benched Rosario to let him know that his struggles receiving the ball were unacceptable. Two days later, Tracy is talking about having a “three headed monster” at catcher and he insists that they were planning on inserting Pacheco, not in any of the organization’s plans at the position, at catcher anyway.
Besides basic frustration, the Rockies are concerned that Rosario’s struggles are a hindrance to the development of the young pitchers because they do not feel like they can execute pitches in the dirt. This is the best reason they can provide.
Otherwise there are only problems with how this situation has taken shape. The first is the idea that benching Rosario as a punishment will ultimately be a good thing for his development. This might work if Rosario did not understand how big a problem this is or if he had given indications that he doesn’t plan on trying to improve. But I do not think that is an issue here, despite the fact Rosario does come off as cocksure from time to time. For one thing, there cannot be a single professional catcher who has 4 past balls and thinks everything is peachy. He obviously knows that is a sign that he needs to improve. For another thing, there is this quote from his position coach Jerry Weinstein about his struggles over the weekend: “He was crushed. He’s a good kid. He wants to do better. But he has to understand that that is not acceptable. He knows that and he’s accepting responsibility for that.” That doesn’t sound like a kid who needs tough love. It sounds like somebody who needs more experience on the field to polish his fundamentals.
Which brings us to the second problem. Are the Rockies actually punishing him because this is costing them games in the win column? Because they cannot afford a few more losses this season while things on the field are in flux? How many games did the Rockies lose because they were inserting and then tinkering with an
innovative absurd paired pitching four man rotation? Of course this team is going to lose games on the field while they gather information and work out problems to develop for the future. Why is that OK for everybody else but not for Rosario? When are Pacheco and Chris Nelson getting benched?
Finally, there is the fact that it is Pacheco who will now see time behind the plate, who they “always” planned to use back there. Because any time you can insert a utility man who has changed positions more than once in his career (including being moved out of catcher) because he is so bad defensively in the same week that you punish your catcher of the future for being bad defensively, you gotta do it.
I understand how awful Rosario has been. I understand how bad it is that he has more past balls than Josh Thole, who has been catching RA Dickey all season. But what I do not understand is how this organization can continue to contradict itself and have these huge gaps in logic that baffle even the most forgiving fan (me).
The woefully long list of horrors that have made this season distinct mean there is no real reason to punish Rosario by benching him, while there are a number of reasons to let him develop on the field as a way of gathering information about one of the franchise’s most important players.