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Rockies Mailbag: Why can’t Colorado win playing “small ball”?

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies- or MLB-related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

In your (recent) Sunday article, where you interviewed general manager Bill Schmidt, he used the word “execution” multiple times. Why can’t the Rockies try to execute as follows in a tight ballgame: The leadoff hitter gets a bunt single, he steals second, he advances to third on a fielder’s choice and comes home on a sacrifice fly?

— Judy, Denver

Judy, forgive me, but your question prompts a legendary sports quote. When John McKay was coaching the terrible Tampa Bay Bucs, a reporter asked McKay, “What do you think of your team’s execution coach?” To which McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it.”

The problem with your scenario is that the Rockies simply aren’t built to play that way. Few of their players are reliable bunters (that’s true of most big-league players). And although the Rockies have a little more team speed than they used to, beyond Brenton Doyle and Nolan Jones, they lack true base stealers.

Bunting, as you probably know, is a dying art, in part because trying to bunt on a 99 mph fastball is very difficult.

But your main point is accurate. The Rockies — who lack home run power — need to be better playing “chain-reaction” baseball. When Schmidt said, “At some point, you have to focus on somebody else and not necessarily yourself,” I think that’s part of what he was getting at.

When will fans and media learn that “on-pace” talk is meaningless early in a baseball season? Baseball performance is cyclical, not linear.

— Dom, Longmont

Dom, I’m guilty as charged. I am among those who have projected the Rockies’ record based on their current winning percentage. With their current .317 winning percentage, they are on pace to finish 51-115. To paraphrase some former pop singer, “Oops, I did it again.”

I’m not sure such speculation is “meaningless.” Baseball has always been about trends and numbers. Early in the season, “on-pace” is a tool to describe how well or poorly a team or player is performing. It’s a long season, full of ebbs and flows. Are early season projections often off-base? Yep, but it doesn’t bug me too much.

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