Reasoning With Frustration: Are the Rockies Getting Left Behind?


Are the Colorado Rockies getting left behind in the NL West?

Today, reports surfaced that the Rockies were interested in former Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick as a “back end guy.”

Earlier this week, the team signed utility infielder Daniel Descalso to a 2-year-deal to fill the hole Josh Rutledge left when he was traded to the Angels for young reliever Jairo Diaz, who may fill a hole in the bullpen but also may need seasoning in the minors before making an impact.

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So, while the Padres add impact outfielders, the Dodgers fill holes in an already very good rotation and bullpen, the Diamondbacks reload their farm while simultaneously making their big league club younger and better, and the Giants celebrate a dynasty, the Rockies attach unexciting depth players and hold off on making impact signings for yet another off-season.

It’s a story Rockies fans know all too well at this point. The Rockies talk big trades for a few weeks, then back out and end up signing a couple small names and hoping for a season of healthy stars and decent pitching. You can’t totally fault the Rockies for this plan; the team’s early years were one big free agent signing bust after another. But when the team is coming off a franchise worst season you’d at least expect more to change than “Kyle Kendrick instead of Brett Anderson” or “Daniel Descalso instead of Josh Rutledge.”

This isn’t an advocacy for the Rockies to blow up their roster. I’ve written before the Rockies may be a good bullpen away from actually competing in the division, but this is the exact same plan the team has executed for years.

When you have a position of depth (a very crowded outfield) and you have an extreme position of need (pitchers that aren’t bad) it seems likely that you’d try to trade assets from one end to fill a hole on the other. But apart from saying Gonzalez is available or that they’ve heard offers for Dickerson and Blackmon, the Rockies haven’t exactly been involved in anything deep or real that makes it seem like they actually intend to move any of these guys.

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The frustration doesn’t just lie in the Rockies inability to make a move, it’s that the division around them is making several. The Padres, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks seem to have a plan in place to improve their organizations. They see a division that is winnable in an unquestioned golden age of parity in baseball.

So what are the Rockies waiting for? Or is this the plan? Sign Descalso and Kendrick and pray to injury gods?

Kendrick also fits into the category that Dillon Gee fits into: home run prone. Kendrick’s home run rate is above Gee’s even at 1.18/9 for his career. People point to his 44% GB rate as a factor that maybe he is a ground ball pitcher but that doesn’t equal success, not when you allow home runs at an 11% HR/FB rate or when your WHIP has stayed around the “oh God here we go again” range (OGHWGA/9) since your call up.

It’s not like the Rockies expect a Cy Young year out of Kendrick or Dillon Gee or an all-star season out of Daniel Descalso. Nobody is expecting that, and that’s the point. The Rockies aren’t filling holes, they’e pretending they don’t have any.

Imagine you have a house, right? One day that house has a leak and your significant other asks you to fix that leak. But you don’t have the materials for that leak, so you tell Ken Rosenthal you are planning on going to the store to trade valuable items to acquire the means to fix this leak. He tells a bunch of other people and then you end up going to a meeting with a bunch of people with houses and leak-fixing equipment.

But then you come home from that meeting with some stuff that helps reinforce pipes that aren’t leaking.

Your significant other is obviously frustrated; they sent you to fix a leak! Now, the house is flooding and you’ve lost 99 games of a 162 game baseball season and people are mad. The next year comes around and the same leak pops up and you think to yourself: “OK, I’m not going to do that again, this time I’m going to trade these pipes for different pipes! I know these pipes are all-star pipes but I need new pipes.”

The Rockies aren’t filling holes, they’e pretending they don’t have any.

So you go to the meeting again and there’s a couple dozen people with pipes, people are nervous about you because your pants are wet, your eyes are frazzled, you look generally disheveled and they don’t want to deal with you because your pipes are obviously leaking. But they still know that the pipes you have are good if put with other good pipes, so they’re willing to listen to your offers.

Then you come home with the same things you brought home last year.

That’s sort of how I see this, Kyle Kendrick and Daniel Descalso are great until you have to rely on them to fix a leak. The Rockies already have a leak to fix.

Next: Rockies Set To Enter 2015 Without Making A Big Move