PHOENIX – If you want to gauge the mood of Rockies players at the end of the season, ask pitcher Kyle Freeland.
The Denver-born native says what others won’t. Freeland may not be realistic, but he speaks from the heart.
During the early days of spring training, when baseball pundits were picking the Rockies to lose anywhere from 92 to 104 games, Freeland succumbed.
“I mean, I think that should be our only motivating factor,” he said. “That’s the kind of position I like to be in: being an underdog, being someone who the general public thinks isn’t going to perform at all. As a whole team, we’re going to be in this season. I am using it as a chip on my shoulder to propel us forward and shock the world and prove the skeptics wrong.”
Of course, that didn’t happen.
Despite Freeland’s fightin’ words, the Rockies were never good enough to run into the playoffs this season. And, despite what owner Dick Monfort said on February 1 after trading Rockies star shortstop Nolan Arenado to St. Louis, chances were always long that they would be a .500 team in 2021.
“I really believe in my heart that this is a very talented team that has done poorly over the years,” Monfort said. “I’m not even going to count last year because it was a tough year, but I think we did poorly….. This could be the challenge they need. They need to go ahead and fill this void. needed.”
Colorado entered the final two games of the season in Arizona with a 74–85 record, 31 games behind first place San Francisco in the National League West.
But that reality has not quenched Freeland’s resolve.
“I’m looking forward to winning with this team, whatever people we have on the field,” he said last week. “I hope we get out guns blazing next season and we start winning wins left and right. I want to go to the playoffs. Knowing that we’re not going to the playoffs, it will eat me up. gonna eat me all off season.”
Much will have to change between now and when the Rockies open their 2022 season at the Dodgers on March 31, in order for Freeland to fulfill their playoff desire.
Reality now. The Rockies endured their third consecutive losing season, their 20th season in 29 years of existence. This is despite a home record of 48–33.
“We play at home with the confidence most teams play in baseball,” said manager Bud Black, who entered the final year of his contract in 2022. “There’s rest to be at home and confidence. The batsman’s eye, the batsman’s box, the repetitions at home, the mound for the pitcher. We played well at home. We have to transfer it to the road.”
Hope of 2022. The building block of the Rockies is their relatively solid initial rocker. If it stays healthy, becomes more confident, and adds depth, it could be even better next season.
The shaky bullpen – its 4.90 ERA is the third highest in the National League – should be sidelined. That means adding some quality weapons, either through free agency or trade, and it means relievers like Tyler Kinley and Lucas Gilbreth keep getting better.
And there’s no doubt that the front office will have to find some way to add power to the lineup. Colorado’s 178 home runs entering the weekend rank 23rd in baseball.
decisions decisions. Change comes relatively slowly for the Rockies, who, long ago, labeled themselves as a “draft-and-development” organization.
But major changes this season began with the Arenado business and culminated in the surprise resignation of General Manager Jeff Briditch in late April, followed by the appointment of longtime head scout Bill Schmidt as interim GM on May 3. .
In addition, assistant GMs John Weil and Zach Wilson have also left the club.
On Saturday, Schmidt, 62, was named permanent GM. Although the move was not surprising, the Rockies did say they were going to interview candidates outside the organization. He decided not to.
Also on Saturday, the Rockies announced the promotion of Danny Montgomery to vice president and assistant general manager of Scouting and the promotion of Jack Rosenthal to vice president and assistant general manager of baseball operations and assistant general manager.
When the Rockies hosted the All-Star Game in mid-July, new club president Greg Feisel was asked about the work Schmidt had done up to that point. The writing was on the wall.
“I think Billy and everyone else has done a great job during this transition period,” Feusel said.
Colorado’s roster is also in flux. Two-time All-Star shortstop Trevor Story will test free agency and Sunday’s game at Chase Field will almost certainly be his last game in a Rockies uniform. First baseman CJ Krone, who leads the Rockies with 28 home runs, will also be a free agent, as well as the team’s mid-rotation starter right-hander John Gray. Although both Krone and Gray have expressed interest in staying in Colorado, it is not a deal that the Rockies will sign them again.
Schmidt, naturally, believes he will correct the ship.
“There are a lot of good people here,” he said. “Not only the staff, scouts and player-development people, but the players as well. The time is right to turn it around. I can take us to that.”
maybe maybe not.
But one thing is for sure that it will not be easy to get the Rockies back on the winning track.
month by month
The Rockies slowly came out of the gate and then played above .500 baseballs for the rest of the season. A glance:
Rockies vs NL West
The Rockies fought hard against the Giants and Dodgers going into the playoffs:
*with three games left
7: Longest losing streak, April 9-17.
5: Longest winning streak, three times.
16: Times Off, All On The Road
4.76: Era overall, ninth best in franchise history.
4.55: Home ERA, sixth best in franchise history.
4.67: Starters era, seventh best in franchise history.
4.90: Bullpen Era, 11th 3rd Highest in Franchise History
99: Home run hit at home, ranked 16th in franchise history.
178: Total home runs, 23rd in Majors.
.280: Home batting average, highest in the NL.
.215: Road batting average, lowest in NL.
.817: Home Ops, Highest in NL.
.638: Lowest in Road Ops, NL.