What's going on with the Rockies?
The Rockies are in a bit of a rut after losing six of seven games on a road trip through Atlanta and Pittsburgh. In fact, the Rockies have been in a rut from the macro standpoint as well, much like our beloved Metsies. They haven't made the playoffs since 2009, and they haven't had a winning season since 2010 despite having two of the best players in the National League in their lineup.
Does that mean that general manager Dan O'Dowd is to blame? While many Rockies fans would say "yes," Purple Row sees things differently.
I have heard (or read I suppose) that the problem with the front office actually hasn't been trades but an inability to have quality drafts. This seems the most accurate and problematic critique as a team like the Rockies will never be able to build a contender in the same way as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. I am no scout, but it seems like the last couple of drafts has been much better and the deep core of prospects (Gray, Butler, Dahl) could be a strong turn in the right direction.
The difference between armchair coaching and armchair general managing is that we are much closer to having all the same information as the coach. This isn't the case with the GM, and it is incredibly popular for people to say things like, "we should have traded Cuddyer!" without actually having to say for what and without really knowing what was available.
Jonathan Gray, David Dahl, and Eddie Butler are three of Colorado's highest-rated prospects. Gray was selected with the third overall pick this summer, and while he's not supposed to make his major league debut for a couple of years, his ace-of-the-staff potential offers hope for the future.
Meanwhile, Colorado's failure to move Michael Cuddyer probably had a lot to do with the Mets' failure to move Marlon Byrd. Both Sandy Alderson and Dan O'Dowd have shown in the past they are not afraid to move a productive veteran outfielder when the price is right. Alderson was able to "steal" Zack Wheeler from the Giants, while O'Dowd snagged Carlos Gonzalez in the Matt Holliday deal. It's hard to imagine either GM not making a deal around this year's trade deadline had there been something useful on offer.
Who are these guys?
Nolan Arenado is a right-handed third baseman whose bat has yet to show up in the majors. He hit a modest .285/.337/.428 in the Double-A Texas League last season, and he was quickly promoted this season after a torrid start at Triple-A hitter's haven Colorado Springs. The Rockies even dealt incumbent third baseman Chris Nelson away to make room for him. While Arenado is only hitting .251/.291/.399 so far in the majors, he's still only 22 years old and he's already showing his defensive prowess. Mets fans were right to complain when David Wright didn't win the Gold Glove last season, because if Arenado sticks around, Captain America might not get another shot at one.
Corey Dickerson is a left-handed outfielder who plays a little bit of center field and has been getting some starts against right-handed pitching since he was called up in late June. He's 24 years old and not as highly touted as Arenado, but Dickerson has moved through the minors relatively quickly and is already making an impact with the Rockies. He's hitting .296/.355/.426 in 54 big league at-bats, but in the minors he slugged .601 in his career. We may not get to see that power manifest itself this season, though, because the Rockies are dealing with a crowded outfield when all their veterans are healthy.
Who's on the mound?
Tuesday: Tyler Chatwood vs. Jenrry Mejia
Chatwood was traded for Chris Iannetta after the 2011 season, and the move is looking better and better for the Rockies as time goes by. Sure, current Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario's defense could use some work, but he can hit just fine. Most important, though, is how much Chatwood has improved as a pitcher since his first season with the Rockies last year. Per FanGraphs, Chatwood isn't throwing his two-seam fastball as much as he was in 2012, but his ground ball rate has remained outstanding at over 57 percent. Even better is the way that the 23-year-old righty has reduced his walk rate (2.94 per nine) while boosting his strikeout rate (6.30 per nine).
Wednesday: Chad Bettis vs. Matt Harvey
Bettis was just called up last week and made his major league debut in Atlanta. In five innings, Bettis walked five batters, only struck out one, and allowed two home runs. Not the most auspicious start, but Bettis is still considered one of Colorado's top pitching prospects and, unlike Gray and Butler, he's ready to go right now. At Double-A Tulsa this season, Bettis had 68 strikeouts and 13 walks in 63 innings, and while he throws a pretty good fastball, the real star in his arsenal is his changeup. The way the pitch falls down and away from left-handed batters could give Bettis an advantage over hitters that would normally pose problems for a young righty.
Thursday: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Dillon Gee
Chacin began pitching in the majors in 2009, but he's still only 25 years old and a key part of Colorado's rotation. It is curious, though, that Chacin's strikeout rate has declined steadily over the years. In 2010, Chacin struck out about one batter per inning in 137 innings, but that figure fell to 6.96 per nine in 194 innings in 2011. The next season saw Chacin make just 14 starts in the majors because of shoulder issues, but now that he's healthy again, he's striking out just 5.27 batters per nine innings. The good news is that Chacin has just a 3.40 ERA because his walks are at a career low, but for a guy who isn't exactly a ground ball pitcher, his four home runs allowed is a figure that is bound to go up.
What about some GIFs?
Back in April, the Mets played had a four-game series scheduled with the Rockies during a Colorado snow storm. It's kind of a miracle that three of the games actually got played. Anyway, here's Carlos Gonzalez just crushing against Dillon Gee in Game 1 of an April 16 doubleheader.
In Game 2 on the same day, the Mets and Rockies wore 1993 throwback uniforms in honor of the first game in Rockies history. Gonzalez scored the winning run on Jordan Pacheco's walk-off single.
Remember Ruben Tejada? He made this amazing play during April 18's 11-3 Mets loss. Fortunately, the Mets would avoid the sweep when they defeated Colorado 3-2 on June 27.