Colorado Rockies: Clint Hurdle Dragging NLCS Champs Down Bumpy Road

steve falconiContributor IMay 7, 2008

Watching the Rockies over the last three weeks has been one of the most frustrating things to do. You see a team like the Dodgers and one thinks "easy series sweep." Think again, Denverites.

Easy sweep indeed, just in the wrong direction. The Rockies managed to lose three straight games to arguably the least talented team in the National League. Where do the Rockies problems come from, though?

Well, two nights ago in their game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Rockies were down two runs in the eighth inning with runners on first and third with two outs.

A tough left-hander was on the mound for the Cardinals, making it nearly impossible for a left-handed batter to hit. At the plate was recently brought up Omar Quintanilla, a second basemen who swings the stick left-handed.

In this particular game neither Clint Barmes nor Jeff Baker had played. Both were eligible to pinch hit for Quintanilla. However, Clint Hurdle leaves the shaking Quintanilla to see three straight sliders and strike out swinging. We later lost that game by two runs.

I've got to question Hurdle's thinking in this situation. Any sane baseball expert knows you should never, under any circumstance, take your chances with a lefty-on-lefty situation. Always pinch hit with a righty and hope that the odds are in your favor.

Also, does anyone remember that unbelievable one-game playoff with the San Diego Padres last October? Holiday dives into home, controversially missing the plate and scraping off half his face.

Does anyone remember Hurdle pulling the hottest hitter on the team, Kaz Matsui, in the fifth inning? Or how about Hurdle's bullpen antics, burning through our entire lineup when it was obvious extra innings were inevitable? Yeah, you can imagine that I was screaming obscenities at the television.

As nice of a guy as Hurdle seems to be, he is a terrible manager. He just seems either so out of the game or way too into the game. Sometimes the best coaching move is letting the game play itself out. Other times the game needs a little more kick to it but regardless of the situation, Hurdle needs to find the happy medium.

I don't know if he and Cockrell get into deep conversations about god knows what, but the fact is that the Rockies' losing is getting progressively worse.

Now, it is understandable that the Rockies have a tough go-at-it this year, with stud shortstop Troy Tuolowitzki recently tearing his quadricep. However, he wasn't even batting a buck eighty before he got hurt so, that has very little effect.

The Rockies' problems do not lie within their bats or hiding in the grass of Coors Field. Colorado's problem is the inconsistency of their pitching staff. Last season, Cook, Francis, Jimenez, and Morales were unbeatable in the postseason. All threw effective strikes and stuck to their games.

This season the winds are changing. Jimenez and Morales can't buy a strike from the devil himself, and Morales has now been sent back down to the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs to figure things out.

Cook and Francis are the only two with any consistency, and we lose even when they pitch because the bullpen can't seem to throw quality strikes either.

Remember Fuentes' melt down of six straight blown saves? Multiply that by 10 and you get Manny Corpas' performance. Corpas comes in with the game on the line and either walks the bases loaded or throws a hanging slider right down the heart of the plate.

Also, we have lost quality relief appearances from Taylor Buchholz and the newest addition to the staff, Kip Wells, who is simply unprepared.

So what do the Rockies do? Firstly, they need to play solid baseball. This team is not made of 20 highly bank-rolled all-stars. It is a collection of good players who, when put together, pack a massive punch.

However, the energy is going in opposite directions. The Rockies need to get momentum on their side again and play winning baseball.

The pitchers need to throw quality strikes, the hitters need to consistently score runners on second and third, and Hurdle needs to pull his head out of unmentionable areas and manage a first class, world series team again.