Rockies need to quit obsessing over Coors

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
4:00
PM ET
Over the weekend, Jerry Crasnick wrote an excellent piece on the struggles of the Colorado Rockies this season -- specifically, the issues with the starting rotation and the team's decision to go to a four-man rotation with 75-pitch limits.

One quote in the piece stood out to me, from general manager Dan O'Dowd:
    The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and hope for a different outcome. We're not giving in to the ballpark. At this point in time, we're just giving in to the idea that maybe the traditional way to do it isn't the right way for the Colorado Rockies.

O'Dowd goes on to say, "Every year our pitching has been an art of survival. We're just trying to figure out a model for sustained success rather than periodic success. There's a difference there."

Look, there's no doubt pitching in Coors Field is more difficult than pitching in Dodgers Stadium in the 1960s when the mound was about two feet high. But here's my suggestion: Quit obsessing over Coors Field. Find and develop good pitchers, whether they're groundball pitchers or strikeout pitchers or whatever, and don't expect them to contend for Cy Young awards.

In fact, for all the worry over their home field, check out the home/road win differences for each National League team from 2007 to 2011:

Rockies: +58
Pirates: +58
Diamondbacks: +49
Brewers: +48
Astros: +47
Nationals: +44
Braves: +38
Giants: +37
Cardinals: +33
Dodgers: +33
Reds: +32
Cubs: +27
Padres: +20
Phillies: +19
Mets: +19
Marlins: -2

The Rockies are tied for the largest home-field advantage! The Rockies' problem through the years hasn't been winning in Coors Field, but winning on the road. It's a problem of player evaluation and development, not the thin air in Colorado.

Take Carlos Gonzalez, for example.

2009: .943 OPS at home, .811 on the road
2010: 1.161 OPS at home, .775 on the road
2011: .999 OPS at home, .757 on the road
2012: 1.174 OPS at home, .806 on the road

Is Gonzalez one of the best players in baseball? Or one of the most overrated? Is Dexter Fowler a good player (.324 at home) or a mediocre one (.209 on the road)?

Look, the Rockies have proven they can win in Coors Field, making the playoffs in 2007 and 2009. The problem with the 2012 Rockies isn't Coors Field; it's that they're a bad team, a team that actually thought bringing in non-strikeout, fly ball pitchers like Jamie Moyer and Jeremy Guthrie was a good idea. A team that thought signing a 33-year-old right fielder with poor range was a good idea. A team still relying on a 38-year-old first baseman with a bad back and whose best player is injury-prone. Blaming Coors is no different than blaming last season on the clubhouse culture. Enough with the excuses.

The Rockies are 15-21 at home this season. They're 12-23 on the road. It's just a bad team, no matter where they play their games.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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