Rockslide

June 2008

And you thought April was bad.

If the first two months of the 2008 baseball season are any indication, last season's Rockies World Series run was, indeed, a fluke. Around May 1, the folks at The Elias Sports Bureau, a group that tracks the most granular of sports data, informed us that the team had completed the second-worst April of any previous season's World Series participant in the past 30 years, leaving Colorado nine games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks team that the Rockies swept in last year's NLCS.

Rockies fans can only pine for a return to such happier times. The team followed its dismal April with an even worse May, going 9-19 for the month, including a butt-ugly 1-11 road record. (As of this writing, the team had just completed a 13-game losing streak away from Coors and was 12.5 games out of first place.) The team's mile-high offense is 22nd in the league in runs scored, and its suspect pitching staff has been disastrous, as many suspected it would be, allowing the second-most runs in baseball, giving up an average of more than 11 per game during its recent eight-game slide.

How did everything go so far south so quickly? During the off-season, the Monfort brothers--long derided by local fans and media as know-nothing, cheapskate owners-- made some unusually bold moves, signing youngsters Troy Tulowitzki, Manny Corpas, and Brad Hawpe to contract extensions. (The team also extended more proven veterans Matt Holliday and Aaron Cook, and the two have been rare bright spots for the team so far this year.) At the time, some media--including 5280--credited the Monforts for locking up their young talent and perhaps saving a bundle down the road.

But Hawpe had three homeruns and a .231 batting average before going on the DL in May. Corpas lost his closer job after blowing several early save chances and has pitched even worse since then. Meanwhile, Holliday also got hurt, and Tulowitzki--looking every bit like a kid who was desperately trying to prove he's worth all that money--got three hits on opening day and then went 13 for the rest of April before tearing a leg muscle that will keep him out of action for about half the season.

Yes, the owners finally spent a little money, but they did it on the cheap. By going all in with some of their young talent before they really needed to, the notoriously inflexible Monforts have limited their financial mobility if it turns out that the kids aren't alright. At this point, even a repeat of last year's miracle won't be able to salvage this abysmal start, leaving the Rockies' faithful in for yet another long, dry summer.