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Woody Paige: To stop Roxslide, Rockies must spend money, give prospects

June 27, 2017 Updated: June 28, 2017 at 7:41 am
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photo - Colorado Rockies' DJ LeMahieu argues a call with home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Friday, June 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Colorado Rockies' DJ LeMahieu argues a call with home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Friday, June 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) 

Over the past weekend, while driving north near Raton Pass and the New Mexico-Colorado border, I abruptly became aware of a colossal mound of boulders spilled onto Interstate 25.

The unsightly mess reminded me of the local baseball team's current plight.

WARNING: ROXSLIDE!

The Colorado Rockies have hit a major bump in the road.

On June 10 the Rox led the National League West by 2½ games over the Dodgers and three over the Diamondbacks.

On June 27, before the game in San Francisco, the Rockies had slid to third place in the division 4½ games behind L.A. and three behind the Snakes.

A six-game losing streak has transformed the Rockies from the team with the best record in the league to a club on a slippery slope.

The Rox will reach the midway juncture of the season Wednesday in an excellent position to make the postseason, but not in such a great place to win the NL West for the first time in the franchise's quarter-century existence.

And the Cubs are objects closer than they appear in the Rockies' rearview mirror.

The Rockies have won 11 of their past 20 while the Double-D's have won 16 and 15. Neither the Dodgers nor the Diamondbacks would go away, and the Rockies are starting to swoon in the last half of June.

The gap-toothed Alfred E. Neuman would smile and say: "What, Me Worry?''

But there is fretting.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is calling the repairs to I-25 "Rockfall Mitigation,'' and contractor "Rock Solid Solutions'' has been hired to clear the road and the mountainside.

But the work won't be done until mid-August.

The baseball team needs mitigation from its rockfall and rock-solid solutions before the end of July.

What are the Rockies' problems? Pitching, pitching and pitching. Hitting throughout the lineup. Defense in right field. And Injuries.

The rookies in the rotation are struggling. The middle relief continues to slog. And the back of the bullpen, except for closer Greg Holland, is scuffling.

That disintegration by Adam Ottovino on Sunday - when he allowed five runs on four wild pitches - was excruciating to watch. Imagine how he must have felt. "It was pathetic,'' the reliever said afterward. At least, ''Otto'' was honest.

However, he is not alone. Manager Bud Black has been tormented by his starters, who had been so effective for the first 21/2 months. The twin Tylers, Chatwood and Anderson, are now 9-13, and Anderson has returned to the disabled list. Kyle Freeland lost a couple of starts, and the earned-run averages of Antonio Senzatela, German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman have risen above 4.00 while the three failed to go seven innings or win. Senzatela - an All-Star candidate until a week ago - has been moved to the bullpen, apparently to preserve his arm and his honor.

The league and, particularly, the division are beginning to catch up with these first-year guys.

Jon Gray to the rescue? The Rockies' ace in the hole returns this week, but, then, he was 0-0 after three starts at season's outset.

The relief corps has lost its core. Even though Holland has converted 25 of 26 saves, with a 1.61 ERA, the Rox are having troubles taking the lead to him in the ninth.

Just when Carlos Gonzalez was finding an improved groove, he goes on the DL with a sore shoulder. Cargo has played stellar defense despite his hitting woes. But his replacement, Raimel Tapia, is playing right field as if he's wearing oven mitts on both hands.

Meanwhile, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond really aren't producing meaningful offense.

Should panic set in?

Absolutely not.

But the picnic is over before the Fourth of July, and the Rockies have to make moves. As I've maintained all season, they must have a veteran, stabilizing arm in the rotation, and another seasoned reliever. And they can't wait for another month. They should take action by the All-Star break.

Because the Dodgers and the Cubs, as we know, will be splurging on pitchers.

A dozen pitchers are available for trade, but the Rockies will have to spend money and surrender three prospects.

If the Roxslide is to be stopped, it's a matter of geology.

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