By Gus Jarvis | Montrose
“If the Rockies fail to make the postseason this year, I’m finding a new team. Maybe the Dodgers? Or even the St. Louis Cardinals? Whomever it is, I need to jump on the bandwagon of a team that’s serious about winning in October.”
That’s what I told my wife and a few of my friends at the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. As a fan, life’s too short to be invested in shitty baseball. Every year I get really excited about the Rockies and the small glimmer of hope that they may sneak their way into the playoffs, and every year I find complete disappointment. Disappointing to the point where I simply stop caring about baseball and cease watching/listening to it completely. This usually happens early in the season, sometimes in June.
So I decided that this was the make-or-break year for me and my relationship with the Rockies. Should they make it to the postseason, I’m a solid purple and silver fan for the next few years at least. If they don’t, I’m jumping ship to a team that wants to win. Like I said, life’s too short.
Well, here we are just past the halfway point of the season, the Rockies completely stink and are at the very, very bottom of the National League West Division. My mind starts to wonder what team I should attach myself to. St. Louis? Great beer in that town but I don’t think I’d fit into St. Louis’s high-minded baseball culture – the so called “Cardinal Way.” Sure, the Cardinals are a great organization and they tend to win more often than not, but I just can’t get into their baseball smugness. Very lame.
With the Dodgers, I initially thought, here’s a team that will do just about anything to win a World Series. With new ownership, a huge pocketbook, and a do-anything attitude to win, the Dodgers are the Yankees of the West and are throwing every bit of cash they can at good players to win a World Series. Hell, I’m sure the team ownership would go to the bargaining table with the devil himself if they thought it would help. Maybe they have?
With my utter hatred of the San Francisco Giants always fresh in my mind, I figured, why not jump ship to the boys in blue and become a Dodgers fan? They have a win or die attitude. And why not do it now instead of waiting until the end of this season?
So it was last week, I was ready to make the drive to Grand Junction where I would head to the mall to purchase a new pro-style woolen Dodgers baseball hat, size 7 and 3/4, to make it official. Just as I was about to leave, I received what is probably the best news to come out of the Rockies front office in a long time and it stopped me in my tracks.
The big news, of course, was that the Rockies had just traded the best shortstop in all of baseball, Troy Tulowitzki, to the Toronto Blue Jays. Why is the Troy Tulowitzki trade such good news? First and foremost, it shows that the Rockies front office, including new general manager Jeff Bridich, is beginning to put a serious emphasis on pitching.
In what was deemed a blockbuster deal with Toronto, the Rockies sent Tulowitzki and relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins and received veteran shortstop Jose Reyes and three young right-handed pitching prospects including Jesus Tinoco, Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro. None of those three are older than 22 years old.
The reality in Denver is that Rockies owner Dick Monfort is never going to be the type of owner to throw exorbitant amounts of money around to build a championship organization. As much as we would like the Rockies to be rich like the Yankees or the Dodgers, it’s just not going to happen. Like many teams in the majors, the Rockies are fairly cheap when it comes to throwing cash around. (Name another baseball team that hires a high school baseball coach to become its new manager? Nothing against Walt Weiss here, but just sayin’.)
To build the best team possible, Monfort, Bridich and Co. have to rely on their farm system – which I believe is good; they have to rely on the draft; and then they have to make some magic happen with some gutsy trades. And the Tulo trade was just that: Gutsy.
Only time will tell if the three young pitchers were worth the best shortstop in baseball, but I do believe it’s a step in the right direction for the Rockies. If I were sitting in with Monfort and Bridich in deciding how to move the Rockies toward success, I would find a way to acquire as many young pitching prospects as possible. Forget about the bats and build a stable of young pitchers. At some point if you keep doing that, you’ll find a set of starters and if you are lucky, find a set of relief pitchers that won’t collapse after throwing ball one.
Are the Rockies rebuilding? Absolutely. Are they rebuilding with a pitching mindset? It would seem so. Losing Tulo was certainly painful but it’s a step in the right direction. The Rockies need pitching, plain and simple.
And while Tulo said he was blindsided by the trade, I believe it’s the best he could ask for. Tulo deserves a shot at a World Series and with the way the Rockies had been kicking the can down the road the last few years, he was never going to see October baseball. I, for one, didn’t want to see Tulo and his talents die on the vine in Colorado, à la Todd Helton.
For Tulo, the Blue Jays are playing their best baseball in many years and Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos feels the time is now to strike while the iron is hot. Tulo joins the American League’s best offense. The Blue Jays also picked up ace David Price from Detroit before the trade deadline to boost its mediocre starting rotation. Toronto is making a run and Tulo finds himself right in the middle of it now. It’s what he needs. It’s what his career needs.
Did you see his first game in Toronto just after the trade? Tulo had three hits including a bomb to left/center field that never seemed to land. It was fun to see Tulo trotting the bases after his homerun with a stadium full of hopeful Toronto fans excited about the rest of the season with their new shortstop.
Now you may be wondering if I am having a change of heart now that the Rockies are dedicating themselves to rebuilding with pitching? Well, while I am certainly more hopeful about the Rockies’ long-term future, the short-term outlook is still grim. So yes, for the time being, I am jumping ship. I still plan to drive to Grand Junction to purchase a new blue woolen baseball hat, size 7 and 3/4, as soon as possible. Instead of a white ‘LA’, however, it will sport that beautiful ‘Toronto Blue Jays’ logo.
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