The Colorado Rockies are playing bad baseball.
Through Wednesday, the team is the second-worst team in the game, slotted right behind the dreadful Washington Nationals with a record of 18-28.
And they actually managed to look worse than the aggregate score would make it seem.
Outside of a handful of key contributors, the lineup has been a massive disappointment. Mainstays such as shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and third baseman Garrett Atkins have looked awful at the plate and have rarely come through when needed.
The outfield is mediocre but crowded, with right fielder Brad Hawpe representing one of the team’s few bright spots. His 36 RBI and 1.008 OPS have been nothing short of stellar.
The rest of the group however, has stumbled along at an average clip. Consistency is a major concern for a group that just can’t seem to get it going for a sustained amount of time.
The pitching staff, however, is home to some of the Rockies’ worst problems. Every regular starter has been wildly inconsistent while the bullpen has been almost completely ineffective. The staff as a whole has accumulated a combined ERA of 4.93, good for 14th in the league and light years behind the division-leading Dodgers.
So what is to be done?
Recently whispers have become louder calling for manager Clint Hurdle’s job. Management has become increasingly vocal about its displeasure with the team’s performance and has begun making public statements regarding the safety of Hurdle’s job.
Unfortunately, firing the coach may do little to solve the team’s problems.
Consider Hurdle’s options, for instance, in the infield. Atkins has been one of the single worst players in the league this year, batting .195 with a minuscule slugging percentage of .292. Tulowitzki hasn’t been much better, with his recent struggles at the plate dragging his season average below .230.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that these players should ride the bench until they can get things worked out. The problem is, there are no better options on the bench.
The young up-and-comer Ian Stewart (Atkins’ main backup) actually has a worse average than his third base counterpart. Clint Barmes has hit .234 over the course of the season and still refuses to take a pitch. Infield options run out with Omar Quintanilla, who is a career .226 hitter (albeit with stellar defense).
The situation is just as dire in the bullpen. Every reliever with more than 10 IP, except closer Huston Street, has an ERA over 6.00.
Recently, Josh Fogg, Randy Flores and Joel Peralta have all been called up from Colorado Springs, despite the fact that none was pitching particularly well in the minors.
For Hurdle and the rest of the Colorado Rockies management team, the situation looks bleak. The core of the team is underperforming on an almost nightly basis, and the bench has been unable to pick up the slack, with little help coming in terms of major league-ready prospects.
Only one prospect has emerged as a someone who might be able to help the big league club, and that’s Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a center fielder, simply doesn’t have a place to play with five of the Rockies six best hitters this season all playing the outfield.
Usually with a team playing this poorly, there is some kind of silver lining. Someone the team can use for trade bait or someone on the verge of stardom tearing up Triple-A.
For the 2009 Colorado Rockies, this isn’t the case.
Whether Hurdle sticks around to see the results or not, if the core of this team doesn’t begin to perform at a higher level, the season may be a total loss.
There is no help coming around the corner, no release valve for a team that seems to always under-perform. If things don’t turn around soon, this one’s going to be on the players.