During this past offseason Dan O’Dowd acquired a few players based solely on the fact that they were “good clubhouse” guys or had a “slow heartbeat”. Unfortunately neither of those statements indicates how good the player is on the field. These sorts of descriptions of players are problematic and I think are generally a way for someone to describe a player to avoid stating a simple fact: they aren’t very good.
During the Rockies broadcast on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs Drew Goodman and Jeff Huson were talking about David DeJesus and they came to an agreement: DeJesus is a “lunch pail” player. What does that mean? Well, Huson described it as a guy who comes to the ballpark everyday ready to play and will play hard. I think this essentially can be extrapolated to mean two things:
- Not every player comes to the yard everyday ready to play. I think this is BS. The insinuation is that DeJesus has to work hard to play baseball for a living where as a player like Carlos Gonzalez might not have to work as hard. I think it is bunk. CarGo works his butt off in the offseason to be as good as he is. Albert Pujols is as much of a “lunch pail” player as there is in baseball. Roy Halladay is renowned for his work ethic before and after games and just a few weeks ago it was reported that Shane Victorino was giving Los Angeles Dodgers players a hard time because they were getting to the park too late: not working hard enough. I guarantee that any All-Star in baseball works his hands raw and definitely works as hard as DeJesus.
- Secondly, I think this statement has another meaning about DeJesus: he isn’t that good. He is average. He will never be great but can be a solid contributor to a team. He can play defense OK and is decent at the plate but a team shouldn’t try to build their team around him as he is a complimentary piece to a puzzle. Anytime a player is described as “scrappy” or “versatile” or any other abstract, non-fact based description it means they aren’t that good.
This is essentially what O’Dowd signed last winter: a bunch of guys who aren’t very good.
I will give O’Dowd credit in that he realized Troy Tulowitzki and CarGo are the main ingredients in any recipe of success for the Rockies (hey, O’Dowd has missed many observations that appear obvious to many), but the money he spent on a guy like Michael Cuddyer would suggest he thought Cuddyer would also be a main ingredient rather than a contributor. When Cuddyer was signed and given $10 million a year for three years the reasoning O’Dowd gave was that Cuddyer was “good in the clubhouse”. I wrote many times since that if that was his reasoning for bringing in Cuddyer it would certainly insinuate that Tulo, CarGo and I guess Todd Helton are NOT good in the clubhouse since there was a need on the team for a good clubhouse guy. Right?
Marco Scutaro was also brought to the team because he would be good in the clubhouse. Neither player was supposed to be good on the field, I guess.
All of this leads me to my point: the Rockies are 10-4 over their past 14 games and Scutaro is not on the team anymore and Cuddyer has seen action in three of those 14 games (two of which the Rockies lost) and has been on the disabled list for the others. So much for “clubhouse guys”.
But this stretch of solid play is really more confusing than just heaping the struggles of the Rockies on Scutaro and Cuddyer; it isn’t nearly that simple (I just like to take shots at O’Dowd’s decisions whenever I can).
There is a long list of players who were supposed to be integral to the success of this team at the start of the season who are not playing. Tulo, Helton, Cuddyer, Scutaro and Ramon Hernandez have either not played at all during this stretch or played very, very little. It has been a mix of offensive players who have helped during this stretch: Dexter Fowler has been banged up and not played every day, Eric Young Jr. was hot and then got hurt, Josh Rutledge has been stuck on the bench due to bumps and bruises and guys like DJ LeMahieu, Tyler Colvin, Wilin Rosario, Chris Nelson, Jordan Pacheco and other guys still sucking on their pacifiers have helped the Rockies win.
The past two weeks have given many Rockies fans a glimmer of hope but I am going to kill that, being the pessimist I am.
During these 14 games the Rockies have played the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. There are many baseball fans that will see this list and still think of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Johan Santana, Alfonso Soriano and maybe still Aramis Ramirez because these are the names usually associated with many of these teams. Not the case any longer, obviously. Many of these names are no longer with their former teams, some have switched (Ramirez from Chicago to Milwaukee) and some just stink now.
When the Rockies played the Brewers the Brew Crew was 12 games below .500 and they were 21 games below .500 on the road. Without Fielder and Rickie Weeks stuck in a season long slump the Brewers are not the same team of recent history.
The Marlins were supposed to be one of the better teams in baseball this year after all the money they spent this offseason but they have fizzled. Ramirez has been traded and Mike Stanton has battled injuries this year (the Rockies wish he had been hurt when the Marlins were in town because Stanton broke all kinds of records in home run distance while in town). The Marlins currently sit 13 games below .500 and were 12 under when they arrived in Colorado.
The Mets were a big surprise to everyone at the start of the season after hitting the All-Star break six games over .500. Since the break, however, the Mets are 16 games below .500 and 17 below since July 1st. Before the Rockies swept the Mets they were 5-10 in their past 15 games.
And the worst team of the bunch, the Cubs are 28 games below .500 for the year. And that isn’t even the worst of it as the Cubs were 4-18 in their past 22 games leading into the series with the Rockies.
While the Rockies are 10-4 over their past 14 games they have played four teams over that stretch who are a combined 63 games below .500.
The Mets and Marlins are in the basement in the NL East and the Cubs and Brewers are only better than the Houston Astros in the awful Central division. The worst records in the NL look like this, from the bottom up: Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Marlins, San Diego Padres, Mets and Brewers.
The Rockies got fat off of really bad opponents and with the Los Angeles Dodgers (and their newly acquired team of All-Stars…) coming to town I expect the losing ways to return this week for the Rockies.